Religion -vs- Theocracy

Posted by jhagen 2 years, 10 months ago to Politics
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I'd like to see the group's thoughts on why there isn't more politicians or media pointing out that Islam is technically a theocracy, and therefore arguably does not deserve to be protected as a religion.


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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
    While your observations are correct, I would like to propose several possible causes for inaction.

    From the conservative viewpoint, freedom of religion is not only guaranteed by the Constitution, it is sacrosanct in protecting one's own freedom to worship. The real conflict comes when those who choose Islam want to override the Constitution and create a sub-culture where Sharia is supreme. And we have seen plenty of objection to that from conservatives.

    From the progressive standpoint, they don't see any problem with it because Sharia's authoritarian bent is exactly what they want. Their problem is in deceiving themselves that if they give in to Sharia and support it that it won't eat them alive afterwards. It's very similar to the mainstream media's suicidal support of the progressive agenda because the progressive agenda wants to ban free speech!

    Libertarians are probably some of the most outspoken about this because they want neither religion nor a theocratic/authoritarian government. But this portion of people is rather small and not particularly paid attention to in the news media.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
      Very well expressed blarman.
      The part that confuses me is that we know Islam comes with Sharia, it's inseparable, it's part of it, you can't have one without the other, and we can't abide Sharia, yet we don't attempt to stop Islam simply because it has a religious element.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
      All religions create theocracies. (See my comments below. ttps://www.galtsgulchonline.com/posts/b0ecc1... )

      Among many examples, the "penitentiary" was invented by Quakers. Prisons were never intended as punishment per se, but only as a holding cell before execution of sentence (fine, flogging, death...). The Quakers locked people up in solitary so that they could get right with God. Solitary confinement, of course, is torture. And those were Quakers, perhaps the nicest of all religionists...
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      • Posted by philosophercat 2 years, 10 months ago
        Really! , to be alone with one's self is torture? Your soul must be writhing in agony. Read "Alone" by Admiral Richard E. Byrd on his stay alone for 6 months in Antarctica. Or, Slocum's "Sailing Around the World Alone". Check out the 400 years of the Spanish Inquisition or the Gulag for torture techniques.
        and you will see the Quakers were correct, being alone is not torture, the rack is..
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      • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
        A more accurate statement would be that all religions acknowledge a theocracy: that a god (or pantheon) is the ultimate head of all government. Theocracy as it is commonly used in reference to a terrestrial government as that of a governmental rulership taken from the clergy and invested both with secular and ecumenical powers.
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  • Posted by philosophercat 2 years, 10 months ago
    Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions of the Semitic tribes of the Middle East. All three are based on false premises about reality and depend on a religious basis of tribal law. The difference with the US is law is based on the principle of individual sovereignty while all religions are based on moral sovereignty of their non-existent God. The Mullahs or Priests become the rulers based on false premises and personal predilections. .Sharia is not law but arbitrary religious doctrine. Go individual sovereignty and get real law.
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    • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
      But when religious doctrine is enunciated and enforced by the state it is the law.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
        Well, yeah, but philosophercat was making a different point. Perhaps he should have capitalized Law or called it "objective law" or otherwise demarcated his meaning. I thought that it was a nice point. Capital-L Law must be based on reality and reason.
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  • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
    Theocracy is religious. No crime should be 'protected' just because it is motivated by religion. Any 'protection' for religion is far too narrow. All freedom of thought and speech should be protected without any special status for religion.
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    • -3
      Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
      One can not have freedom of thought without it taking shape in action, and that is religion. The choice of one's god can take many forms - from money to people to ideas, but they are all religion.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
        Freedom of thought in action is not "religion" and pursuit of values in a secular world is not a "choice of one's god".
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        • -1
          Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
          If you want to offer an alternative definition, please do, but simply opining what something is not neither adds to the discussion nor provides an opportunity for commiseration. I stand by my assessment, however.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
            Your pronouncements promoting religion as the meaning of all freedom of thought in action and all values as "god" are false and ridiculous. Almost everyone else here, having at least read Atlas Shrugged, knows what values and thought applied to action means. It need not be repeated in every post rejecting your proselytizing of religion.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
        You are extending the word "religion" beyond its meaning. If anything, to gain what I think is your intended perspective, you need to take it back to its root. What is a ligature? Religion binds people to their society. That was the understanding of the Greeks, Romans, and everyone else. After all, religion is a Latin word and you used it in lieu of faith, belief, understanding, assumptions, or many other synonyms with importantly different shades of meaning.

        Philosophy is not religion. Science is not "creation science." A fascist dictatorship is not just another kind of constitutional republic, even though just about every nation on Earth today has a constitution, even those ruled by despots and hetmen. Words have meanings.
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        • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
          I recommend to you to read the original writings of our Founding Fathers. I don't use religion in any way different than they did - giving broad latitude to its use. They saw religion as the right of an individual to pursue their own happiness according to their own beliefs. How such a definition separates "philosophy" from "religion" I do not know. To me, it's two sides of the same coin: Florin and Guilder.

          The primary objection I see with many in today's world is that they want to attribute to "religion" the notion of the divine and attribute to "philosophy" a purely atheistic approach. You could try arguing such a point to Socrates and Plato, but you'd be met with an immediate rebuke. Philosophy itself is a Greek word rooted in filia (friendship) and sophia (wisdom): put together it is the wisdom of friends found in discussion. Socrates himself died from hemlock poisoning not because he was atheistic, however, but because he denounced the Greek Pantheon and their capricious ways in favor of a monotheistic approach - absolute heresy to the Ancient Greeks.

          If one chooses to pretend that only one side of the coin exists, that is their prerogative and their own self-deception. I choose to ignore the appellations and meaningless strawman arguments and focus on principles. I look for truth wherever it may be found. A kernel here, a nugget there, but I am very suspicious of any who claim an exclusive authority. Those who seek to disparage other lines of thought are generally those who are trying to protect some fundamental doctrine that should be called into question.
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  • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 2 years, 10 months ago
    I would suggest that its because people here look at either as irrational whereby they discount/invalidate both. Besides, you can't have a theocracy without a religion and here one religion or faith is as irrational as another.
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  • Posted by WilliamRThomas 2 years, 10 months ago
    Catholicism is a theocracy, too. It has it's own state.

    Plenty of American Christians think America is or should be a Christian state.

    Islam has had a history of religious tolerance at times. It's not monolithic. That doesn't deny all the violent and theocratic aspects of its history and teachings.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
      When has Islam truly exercised religious tolerance? (I'm not being a smart ass, I really don't know of any instance that they actually had power and didn't treat infidels as second class)
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      • Posted by WilliamRThomas 2 years, 10 months ago
        The Spanish caliphate was known for its religious toleration, and pre-unification Spain was a center of Jewish culture. It was the Catholics who drove the Jews out--or burned them at the stake.

        I'm not going rehearse all of Islamic history here, but other times and places have known tolerance, too. The Ottoman Empire was nominal Muslim and indeed, IIRC, claimed the Caliphate (i.e., to rule over all Muslims). But it was a mix of religions, much more tolerant than its successor states.
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        • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
          Yes. But has there ever been a Muslim controlled state (when the Muslims were the controlling body) that treated non-Muslims as equals? ...Again; I'm just asking, and I'm asking because I'm under the impression that it is not possible within their 'rules'.
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          • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 years, 10 months ago
            In pre-revolutionary Iran, under the Shah, all religions were equally accepted, the majority Shi'ites, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, even the Baha'i. But maybe that doesn't count under your question, since the Shah as our puppet ran a mostly secularized society. We lived there from 1975-1979 and saw it for ourselves.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
        See, for instance, Making Big Money in 1600: The Life and Times of Isma'Il Abu Taqiyya, Egyptian Merchant by Nellie Hanna. In Cairo, 1600, Muslims, Jews, and Christians had three separate but co-existing communities. The Cairo Geniza (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_G... ) documents going back to 1100, substantiate the relative freedom of religion in that place in those times. Others here cited the Abbasid Caliphate of Spain before 1492.

        Tolerance is a rare commodity.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
      And I am very glad that (despite being Christian) the Founders established a secular state which enshrined freedom of religion. Else America could never have risen to enjoy the status it has. And I would note that Islam has not risen for the very same reasons: a history of violence and intolerance.
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      • Posted by WilliamRThomas 2 years, 10 months ago
        I an glad, too, that freedom of religion is the bedrock of the US. But that arose for a reason, too: many of the states (Massachusetts, Maryland, and Pennsylvania most notably) were founded to promote one version of Christianity or another. But in order to deal with people from other states, religious toleration was required.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
          The bedrock of the US is protection of the rights of the individual, including freedom of speech, not freedom of religion, which is only one aspect of that. The right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of one's own happiness was not about religion.
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      • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
        See above https://www.galtsgulchonline.com/post... You cannot put all of Islam in one basket. It existed across four continents (now all seven) for a thousand years. The current affairs are one chapter, much of that in reaction to what they perceive as a military invasion. It would have served our purposes better to stick to fashions, music, and university education.

        I also must point out that no one here was very concerned when the IRA terrorists raised money among the Catholic communities in the USA.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 2 years, 10 months ago
    You're correct in stating the Islam is not a religion it is a codification of all the tribal beliefs. Sharia Law is the overarching rules how an Islamic society is govern. Thereby it is a Theocracy. to bad the main stay media doesn't understand that. They refuse to recognize that the Mullahs that rule that society want to make the rest of the world into an Islamic Caliphate. It seems like the colleges and universities don't teach real history any more. That area of learning is now up for interpretation. There is no longer the truth in events.
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  • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
    What I was attempting to get to is that a theocracy isn't technically a religion (It's a theocracy. There is a clear difference.), and should therefore not be covered under freedom of religion. Why do politicians on both sides give Islam a pass when Sharia Law is clearly prohibited under our constitution and it is inseparable from Islam?
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    • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
      Theocracy is part of the religion. It is their political enforcement of their religion. It isn't "technically not religion".

      Politicians don't publicly reject the Sharia law agenda because they are morally intimidated to not say anything against religion.
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    • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 2 years, 10 months ago
      Does not a theocracy require a mystical belief structure to exist?

      Theocracy is a form of government in which a deity is the source from which all authority derives.

      In Objectivism, to Objectivists, Self is the origin of all things so to seek or cede authority outside Self (particularly something mystical) is irrational.
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      • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
        Yes. It does require a mystical belief, but since it's combined with a "form of government" it becomes a theocracy and is therefore no longer technically a religion - so it conflicts with our form of government. I'm wondering why this conflict isn't brought up every time someone mentions Islam in the USA. Freedom of religion, yes. Freedom to form whatever government within our borders your "religion" dreams up, I would think should be a big no. I'm curious why this isn't brought up by people within our government who presumably would like for our government to be the law of the land.
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        • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 2 years, 10 months ago
          "freedom of religion" applies only to the government mandating a religion or belief that people must adhere to. At the time States were requiring people to believe a certain way in order to hold public office AND there was great anxiety that government would force the people to change their religion (as England did).

          You cannot separate a person from their beliefs, even in government.
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          • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 2 years, 10 months ago
            You can find info on Original intent when it comes to freedom of religion and other Constitutional matters on this site (first one I came across). Oddly enough, for those always griping and pretending to know, there is no direct wording for the separation of church and state anywhere in the Constitution.
            https://www.varsitytutors.com/earlyam...
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            • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
              Freedom from government coercion for religion means separation of church and state.
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              • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                Yes, but the phrase "separation of church and state" from Jefferson in that letter does not mean an irreligious government as many claim. Instead, it means a government which gives broad leeway to the practice of religion, neither burdening one to pay for things he does not believe in nor proscribing any sort of religious test to hold office. Washington says as much in his addresses as does Madison. Without exception, the Founders were all Christian - yet of differing sects. What they didn't want was one particular version of Christianity becoming like the Anglican or Church of England to the English with taxes being diverted in its support.
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                • Posted by philosophercat 2 years, 10 months ago
                  As Ayn Rand said to have a moral government it must be established on a morality of reason free from the arbitrary irrational caprice of established religions and chemical phantasies. Government itself must be moral which means enacting laws that affect all people equally. Seperation of church and state means separating government from irrational church doctrines of any kind not just allowing the practice of religions what ever that means.
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                  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                    The Founders agreed that reason was key to good governance, but again, felt that a lack of religion would be to the detriment - not the good - of the people. Washington makes this very point in his farewell address (where he also warns against political parties and long-term relationships with foreign nations).

                    "Seperation of church and state means separating government from irrational church doctrines..."

                    And what is rational to one isn't going to be rational to another. That's the challenge. There is a very fine line between allowing everyone the right to pursue happiness according to their own desires and proscribing certain behaviors because they violate someone else's pursuit of happiness. But the very act of proscribing certain behaviors is in fact to act based on a belief in what is right and what is wrong. Instead of falsely labeling an idea as a "church" doctrine, a secularist doctrine, etc., it's simpler to avoid the guilt-by-association fallacy and just state what the moral principle under discussion is. Let the evidence speak for itself and the chips fall where they may. There is nothing that says that a principle espoused by a religion is automatically false nor the contrary.
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                    • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
                      Faith is guilty of irrationalism because of what it is, not "by association". If a principle espoused by religion happens to be true it is from a rational source in spite of the religion. Church "doctrines" are by their nature irrational by their very process, even if they happen to coincide with something correct once the faith and duty is removed from them.

                      A government based on defending the rights of the individual to protect his freedom of action does not "proscribe certain behaviors" based on whatever someone pronounces as a "belief in what is right and what is wrong". There is no place for religious beliefs, or any other arbitrary, non-objective emotionalism, as a method in government.
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                      • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                        (PS - proscribe as used by the Founders meant to curtail or limit and that is how I am using it.)

                        This is your opinion, but it is based on a view which accepts only a limited existence. For those who believe that this existence carries on into another, they accept a whole other range of possibilities. Is it irrational to wish for one's continuation? Only an advocate of suicide says yes. Is it irrational to believe that what follows this life is better than what exists now? No one who lives seeks a worse existence now. Is it irrational to believe that actions in the here-and-now have consequences that carry over into the next existence? Not to anyone who believes in the irrevocable law of choice and consequence: of precedent and consequent. Those are the foundations of the "faith" you decry as irrational. They're not irrational at all - just different from what you believe.

                        Let us suppose the following question: would enforcement of a belief in limited existence upon society be any more just than the enforcement of the opposite? Reason cries "No". It would by very definition constitute an "establishment of religion". And it is for that reason that the Founders neither proscribed religious sentiment nor allowed for its funding as a function of good governance. They recognized the dangers in trying to force the conscience of men and they wisely resisted the temptation. They even went so far as to enshrine the liberty of such in the Bill of Rights.

                        "There is no place for religious beliefs, or any other arbitrary, non-objective emotionalism, as a method in government."

                        Governments are created by the governed to seek their interests based on their beliefs about what is good and what is evil. Are people going to be perfect in ascertaining what that may be? As evidenced by the millennia of civilizations which have come and gone prior to the Constitution, even the Founders admitted that it (the Constitution) was only the best they could come up with. As much as we might wish otherwise, men are irrational. Given that governments are a product of their constituents (even the best of them). What you are talking about is the notion that there exists a person - let alone a group of people - on this planet who is wholly objective. If you seek for such, I wish you well in finding them.
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                        • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
                          Reason rejecting faith is not another kind of "religion" and rejection of the supernatural is not imposing a "limitation". Please stop the religious proselyting on this forum. You know it has no place here.
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                          • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                            You accuse those who posit an afterlife of being unreasonable. I merely demonstrated that such a claim is not only unwarranted but wholly false. If demonstrating flaws in your rationale is "proselyting" then no, I will not cease.

                            You can choose to reject what you want. I reject any definitions and logic as being descriptive of reality which rely primarily on negatives to do their work. I reject defining things predominantly in terms of what they are not. It is self-limiting. I focus on what is - not what is not.
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                        • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
                          "Is it irrational to wish for one's continuation?"
                          I am for leaving alone non-falsifiable claims, such as your claim of an afterlife. I take issue with part of how you get there. You say an afterlife is desirable, but that in itself is not evidence of its existence.

                          "men are irrational."
                          Regarding your point about humans never being wholly objective, I agree with that, but I think we should try our best.

                          "Instead of falsely labeling an idea as a "church" doctrine, a secularist doctrine, etc., it's simpler to avoid the guilt-by-association fallacy and just state what the moral principle under discussion is. "
                          Yes! I agree. Talk about the individuals, not the whole group.
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                          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
                            A society based on religious faith is done for. Such emotionalist thinking has no place in making government policy. A nation based on widespread acceptance of reason and individualism does not tolerate theocrats exploiting government power in the name of their supernatural claimed "existence" beyond the "limitations" they accuse the rational of somehow imposing in rejecting the nonsense. Yes, it is irrational to seriously "wish" for "continued existence" in a supernatural realm; they can do that wasting their own lives if they want to but have no right to use it as an excuse to impose on any one else in the name of representing the "governed".

                            There is also no evidence that the imagined 'afterlife' is desirable, but it's all irrelevant; those who confuse knowledge with whatever they want in their fantasies will claim anything they want to about what is "desirable" just as they claim whatever they want in everything else, including the fire and brimstone they imagine in order to try to frighten those who reject the fantasizing in a metaphysical good-cop bad-cop scheme. The irrational faith mongers do not have "just different beliefs" no worse than anyone else; they are irrational on principle and entirely cognitively irrelevant.

                            Rationality is required to live. It is our means of survival. The philosophical question is how to be objective and rational in thinking by following the right principles, not writing off humanity with a slogan of "men are irrational" in order to excuse those who want to be irrational with the "I'm no worse than you are" fallacy.

                            Keeping church dogma out of the government is about the moral principle, not a "fallacy". The 'guilt by association' is a consequence after it's too late for those subjected to it.
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                          • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                            "You say an afterlife is desirable, but that in itself is not evidence of its existence. "

                            I agree. But at the same time, we only seek what we desire to find. The question of whether or not an afterlife exists presupposes one's desire to explore the possibility. Without such a desire, there is no effort made.

                            "I think we should try our best."

                            Agreed. It is all we can do.

                            "Yes! I agree. Talk about the individuals, not the whole group."

                            No. Talk about principles - not people. People are mutable because they exhibit self-will. They change their minds. We can objectively analyze principles because we can identify what they mean. Talking about people in groups only adds to the problem.
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                            • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
                              "Without such a desire, there is no effort made."
                              Yes, but we try to overcome this. We try to make ourselves look into questions we may not like the answers to.

                              "We can objectively analyze principles because we can identify what they mean."
                              That's true. I'm saying people aren't always aligned with principles. For example, you cannot understand the Northern Ireland Troubles by looking at theological differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. It's worthy to study the principles, but they don't explain human behavior.
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                              • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                                "It's worthy to study the principles, but they don't explain human behavior."

                                Principles are explanations about why something is desirable, but they don't impel behavior. Human behavior is based on the comparison of outcomes according to one's perception and guided by principles. They are value judgments but are only accurate insofar as A) people have sufficient information AND B) are principled enough to seek truth. It is an inclusive logic test where both must be true for the outcome to be true.

                                To further complicate matters, behaviors are individual. Trying to study people in groups leads to very ambiguous results because of individual differences in perception. The larger the group, the less precise the results.
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                                • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
                                  " The larger the group, the less precise the results."
                                  Yes. Except in the world of science fiction, where Hari Seldon's psychohistory could actually predict events better in large groups. The only reason I bring up this off-topic point is a I remember Seldon saying exactly the opposite of what you said. That was fiction, of course. It seems like Asimov had the view that great people don't drive history but rather when the time is ripe a "great" person will appear. I have almost no knowledge or opinion about this, but I find it intriguing.
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                                  • blarman replied 2 years, 10 months ago
                • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
                  The facts are somewhat different than your claims. Congress was prohibited from establishing a national religion. The states did tax people to pay for churches. Massachusetts collected taxes for the Congregational church until 1839-40. Also, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts in particular did require belief in God to hold office, vote, be a witness in court, and serve on a jury. When the southern states rejoined the Union, they copied their new constitutions from the existing models of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and likewise barred atheists from public office.

                  As for the "Anglican" Church, Virginia specifically did tax people to support the Episcopalian church... the low-church American instantiation of the high church British confession.
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                  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                    I never claimed that the States did not attempt to fund individual religions. Remember, Federalism did not really take hold until the Civil War. Prior to that broad deference was given to the individual States according to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to see to their own affairs. It took several generations and the principal of Judicial Review and Supremacy for the assertions of the First Amendment to trickle down to the respective States.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
            You cannot use the coercion of government to promote your religion whether or not you get away with 'conversions'.
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            • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
              Agreed. The Founders were very specific in that they didn't want any religion to be supported by taxation. That being said, both Washington, Adams, and Madison all explicitly lauded the role religion (Christianity specifically) had in spreading virtue and upholding society. Each feared greatly for a country that set aside the moral virtues of religion for secularism.
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              • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
                Because you said it again, I will correct you again. The federal government was prohibited from establishing a religion. The states were not so constrained and in point of fact - historical fact - did establish and support churches for which they collected taxes. AJAshinoff also pointed you to religious tests for office holders at the state level. That was in place until 1990.
                See here http://hettingern.people.cofc.edu/Phi...
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                • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                  I never talked about the States. Don't read into my comments any more than is there. I am well aware of what several of the States did in their early days, but if you actually read Madison, Jefferson and Washington, they all individually decried all such.
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              • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
                Secular thought is not "setting aside moral virtues". Washington et al did not laud the mysticism of religion -- they valued secular virtues that had become part of American Christian culture with its mixed premises, despite the religion that had been the philosophy of the Dark Ages, not America. They most lauded the egoism implicit in the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of one's own happiness, which clashed with the altruism still paid lip service to. For all its emphasis on reason and individualism in the Enlightenment, its philosophers did not produce a proper explicit ethics challenging tradition, which in turn led to the anti-Enlightenment. The country has suffered from that ever since as the American sense of life with its implicit egoism and empirical reason has been pushed down by a more explicitly promoted altruism and mysticism.
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                • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
                  Then you have never read much of Washington. He constantly referred to the "guiding hand of providence", "God" specifically, and "the Creator" in a distinctly Judeo-Christian way. I strongly recommend reading his Farewell Address. In it Washington specifically admonishes the nation from long-term treaties, political parties, and departing from a worship of God. Madison and John Adams as well cite the necessity religious values play in society as a whole. They did not advocate any specific religion, and why? Because they specifically stated that religion is beyond the purview of government, being an individual choice which can not nor should not be constrained.

                  What happened during the Dark Ages? Paganism - for that is what Constantine turned Christianity into - ruled for more than 1000 years. Corrupted priests lusting for power invented the notion of supererogation - that somehow "saints" could pardon sins for money. The clergy controlled most of the Western world and did to scientific inquiry what the Islamic nations now do to their own: they controlled, repressed, and persecuted those who pursued truth. Was that wrong and reprehensible? Absolutely. Was it a violation of natural rights? Yes, unquestionably. What I would point out, however, was that the Founders did not ascribe to this false notion of "Christianity" at all.

                  Then we had the invention of the printing press. What is interesting is that the very first thing to be mass produced was... the Bible. People began to discover for themselves that these paganists who called themselves Christians had been looting them for centuries, preying on their ignorance. So they revolted by seeking out the truths - both scientific and religious - that previously they had been forcibly denied. Many sought to escape the nations of Old Europe for the Americas because they would be free to pursue a life unfettered by a coercive belief system. Couple this with Henry VIII and his divorce (pun intended) from Catholicism and major philosophical shockwaves permeated the Western World. And the powers-that-be were also confronted with invasion from Eastern Lands. Thus the religious stranglehold over Old Europe fell, and the Enlightenment began. The monarchy of France (supported by the clergy) was overthrown. The strict feudalism of England (also supported by the clergy) was replaced with a bicameral legislature due to popular unrest, forging the path for the independence of America based on a governmental structure that respected free thought rather than constrained it.

                  Are there religions based on false ideas? Absolutely. Many of them. I simply object to the overly-broad disparagement of "religion", however, because it literally encompasses every train of thought imaginable. It is a proverbial windmill to tilt against. Instead, I look at principles. Those religious sects which embrace false principles will be doomed to the results of their own fallacy just as the secular philosophies of men which follow the same path. Truth is truth.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
          Theocracy is religion in action when they get the power to impose it. It isn't "no longer technically a religion". It is their religion. Politicians are morally intimidated by religion.
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      • Posted by  $  AJAshinoff 2 years, 10 months ago
        self (sĕlf)
        n. pl. selves (sĕlvz)
        1. The total, essential, or particular being of a person; the individual: "An actor's instrument is the self" (Joan Juliet Buck).
        2. The essential qualities distinguishing one person from another; individuality: "He would walk a little first along the southern walls, shed his European self, fully enter this world" (Howard Kaplan).
        3. One's consciousness of one's own being or identity; the ego: "For some of us, the self's natural doubts are given in mesmerizing amplification by way of critics' negative assessments of our writing" (Joyce Carol Oates).
        4. One's own interests, welfare, or advantage: thinking of self alone.
        5. Immunology That which the immune system identifies as belonging to the body: tissues no longer recognized as self


        Self = individual

        Why adopt reason as a guiding light if not to benefit self?
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      • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
        No one says "self is the origin of all things". That doesn't even make sense as a sentence. Rejecting belief in the supernatural does not mean every individual is somehow the "origin" of everything, whatever that is supposed to mean. Individualism, let alone Ayn Rand's philosophy, is not solipsism.
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        • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
          Who is the clown who downvoted the rejection of the bizarre claim that Objectivism means that the "self is the origin of all things" in contrast to religious supernaturalism?
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago in reply to this comment.
    As I recall, however, several of the "great people" in Foundation history weren't necessarily great by principle but by accident of position. Then there was the one significant antagonist (the jester-type character) who came within a hair's breadth of co-opting the entire system.

    Yes, the Foundation series was interesting, but I found the notion that someone could chart the course of human development using an algorithm (however complex) to undermine self-determination. Could be just my lack of imagination, however. ;)
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 10 months ago
      Yeah. I didn't ring true to me either. I remember the Mule being a "great" person outside the predictive power of psychohistory. Sometimes when I meet a goofy person working in a low-level position, I imagine what if this person were actually a genius masterminding the whole organization and using the goofy persona to get information people would never give to the top boss.
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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 2 years, 10 months ago
    In Texas, you cannot cannot buy "hard liquor" on Sunday. You cannot buy beer or wine before noon on Sunday. All car dealerships must close either Saturday or Sunday (pick your sabbath).

    All religions create theocracies because all people base their political ideas on metaphysical assumptions, even if those are only implicitly accepted without examination.

    As I pointed out above, until 1839-40 Massachusetts collected taxes for the Congregational Church. Until 1990, 14 states barred atheists from holding public office.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 2 years, 10 months ago
    religion or religious as defined by Webster:
    "relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity."
    Taken this way it could be good, bad or perverse, as long as one is completely devoted. We tend to view religion in terms of , God, good and altruistic in the US. However, it could be something darker. It could be a dvotion to politics, to cult ideas, obsession with nature. In all cases, it seems to lead to something that soon surpasses reason, and becomes out of control in volence against others, as the group tries to force their views on others. Look at the violence done in the name of politics. Look at the violence and damage in the name of environmentalism. Then look at the ultimate goal of ISIS, All trying to demand other fall in line with the beliefs of their group.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 10 months ago
    Religion, of any sort, tends to be malleable, allowing followers to see it as they choose. Even Islam has believers like the Sufi, who take a mystical view of the faith that rejects violence. Christian Identity is very theocratic, but they are an extremely small population of believers.

    Should we attempt to create a set of attributes that define a legitimate religion acceptable to have 1st amendment rights? We could define a set of attributes, such as recognition of the supremacy of secular law, and rejection of violence except in defense of the national interest, but undoubtedly we would find ourselves in court, accused of violating a religion of its 1st amendment rights. That may be a fight worth having.
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    • Posted by ewv 2 years, 10 months ago
      Religion is malleable because it is based on arbitrary feelings from the beginning. But it isn't malleable in practice for the subjects under the rulers in a theocracy who enforce their feelings.

      The matter of characteristics of a religion required to qualify for 1st amendment rights is nothing less than recognizing rights for freedom of any thought, not just that called "religion", while recognizing that whatever one thinks it doesn't justify violating other people's rights in the name of "religion" or anything else. Religion should have no special status as either a kind of thought or exemption from proper laws. That is a "fight worth having", but it begins with spreading the right ideas, not a futile attempt to enact the politically incorrect, which today would lead to a lot more and a lot worse than "finding yourself in court".
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    • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
      Very interesting thought. As Islam expands in US, we may very well need to have that fight.
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      • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 10 months ago
        Like freedom of speech, which is recognized to have practical limits, religion should not be free from limits. Obviously we would not tolerate a religion that espouses human sacrifice, we have resisted allowing religion to act as cover for polygamy (without outlawing the subject religion). The question for experts on constitutional law and religion is whether or not laws forbidding the promotion of a theocracy would hold up. I believe they would, since advocating theocracy requires advocating the overthrow of our form of government.
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        • Posted by 2 years, 10 months ago
          Exactly! And this is the gist of the reason I find it peculiar that this isn't brought up whenever some politician starts going on about how wonderful the religion of peace is.
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  • Posted by PiPhD 2 years, 10 months ago
    VIDEO: Does "Satanism" count as a "Theocracy"?
    Does the deliberate killing or torture of a human being, or, the DELIBERATE poisoning and destruction of our ecosystem count as a legitimate expression of "Freedom of Worship"?
    https://facebook.com/piphd/videos/101...
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 10 months ago
      Does Satanism count as a Theocracy? Sure. What is interesting to note about such, however, is that it violates the very principles of governmental creation in the first place: which is to seek the welfare and well-being of its constituents. Therefore it can not serve as a principle of legitimate government. In very fact, because it openly rejects the notion of a government being formed with the interests of its people in mind, it can not be a morally "good" society as a result. If someone were to claim that the Constitution protected such they would of very definition be arguing a contradiction.
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