Questions for Moral Relativists

Out of the blue the other day, a fellow began commenting on a nearly-five-year-old post in which I referenced a letter he’d written from his (liberal) point of view.  That post, and his comments, are here.  Incidentally, because he did not clearly identify himself, I didn’t at first realize who it was who was writing, as may be evident in my first response to him.

Briefly, in his original piece, the gentleman writes, “one person’s morals may not apply to someone else. Morals are, for the most part, personal views, and cannot be forced on people.”

I would term this “moral relativism”, the idea that morality differs from person to person.  Now, let me add to clarify: it is certainly true that different individuals view morals differently, that what one person believes is moral and right may be, in another person’s eyes, entirely wrong.  That’s not what I’m arguing against; we all see things differently.  What I’m arguing against is any viewpoint that says that all viewpoints are morally equal; I submit that we cannot say that one particular moral system is just as valid as any other.  I argue instead that there is one standard of true morality, that whether I, or the writer of the article, or anyone else may choose to agree with it or not is immaterial: morality is morality, and it isn’t subject to individual choice.  Put another way, anyone’s standard that deviates from God-ordained standards of right and wrong is a wrong standard; my standard is the wrong standard to the degree that it misses God’s standard.  By definition, then, far from “one person’s morals (not applying to) everyone else”, real morality stands above any  individual, and applies to every individual.

At any rate, rather than belabor points I made back then, I will ask any moral relativists reading to simply attempt a cogent answer to any of the following questions (take your pick; they all lead ultimately to the same place):

– If my morality suggested that punching you in the nose was the right thing to do, could you fault me for acting in keeping with my morality?  How?  Why?

– Was Hitler wrong to exterminate 6 million Jews if to his way of thinking he was acting morally (i.e., advancing the Aryan race)? On what basis, if morals are “personal”?

– Is it wrong to torture babies for fun and profit?  Why, if doing so doesn’t violate my personal standard of right and wrong?

Attempted answers that stick to one of the questions will be addressed with respect; “answers” that devolve into name-calling, stereotyping, or anything else will be deleted.

115 Comments

  1. Rodney on June 7, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Right on Byron! Of course, the tricky part is finding out what God’s standard is. That’s why we have the Word of God. Here’s a question for thought: if I don’t know what God’s standard is, am I still responsible to adhere to it? I have my opinion, but I want to hear from others.

  2. Ryan on June 8, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I never said that all viewpoints were morally equal, but you do make some good points. All I’m saying is that while morals are basically universal, there are varying degrees of moral virtue depending on your personal experience, that’s all.

    • Byron on June 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      OK, Ryan, now maybe we can get somewhere. You do realize, I suppose, that there are many, many people who would take that step, who would say that no one can judge any one else’s value system/morality (because all are basically equal), to which I say, “baloney”. Again, my point isn’t that I am always right, or that my understanding of morality is without flaw; it is, rather, that there exists a universal standard of right and wrong. We may not be nearly as far apart as I thought (or as you thought, perhaps). Question: what do you mean by “varying degrees of moral virtue depending on your personal experience?” I’m not sure I follow exactly what you’re driving at, there.

  3. Vicky Silvers on June 8, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I am an editor for Christian.com which is a social network dedicated to the christian community. As I look through your web site I feel a collaboration is at hand. I would be inclined to acknowledge your website offering it to our users as I’m sure our Christian reformed audience would benefit from what your site has to offer. I look forward to your thoughts or questions regarding the matter.

    Vicky Silvers
    [email protected]

  4. Ryan on June 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I suppose I mean that two people may believe in the same concept, but the degrees to which they believe, or the strictness of their beliefs. may vary considerably. You may take the bible quite literally, I do not. Just look at the different values of dems and republicans. To me, Dems are better at treating people equally, that is we do not discriminate against gays or minority groups like Latinos or African Americans. Is that not a higher moral standing than those who believe that gays shouldn’t be allowed to get married, or who want to stereotype against all muslims? Just because someone has morals, that doesn’t make them right.My brother said it well just now, he said that there are mores in society, and also individual morals that are personal to each individual within society, which do vary. I believe that torture is morally wrong, some on the right do not. Who is morally correct there. Plus, some of the loudest preachers are morally bankrupt, like Pat Robertson, who calls for the murder of world leaders. Also pro- life people who murder abortion doctors?

  5. Jack Brooks on June 9, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Ryan: Can you show why treating people equally is the right thing to do?

    Also: Is it right or wrong to say that certain values are always right?

  6. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Treating people equally is right because not doing so is discriminative and wrong. For example, republicans can attempt to justify their need to stereotype all muslims as terrorists by saying that it’s a value, but it’s discriminative and wrong. Certain values are always right, but not just because someone can justify their ignorant beliefs, but because our society says that they are. There is a difference between being right, and believing that you are right because you can make excuses for your behavior. the KKK have values, are their values as valid as mine are? I don’t think so. It’s right to treat people equally because we live in a free country. It’s morally wrong to make this a country of religious rules and then attack people of a different religion. That’s just a religious war. You asked why it’s right to treat people equally? How about because, as a religious person, Jesus preached it? Or how about just because it’s the right thing to do?

    • Byron on June 9, 2010 at 10:39 am

      Ryan, I appreciate you taking the time to explain a bit about the basis of your understanding of morality, because while we may get into some of the specifics you mention—I’m certainly open to doing that—the first and most important thing to discover is to ask why a certain action is moral or immoral, right or wrong. Our basis for belief is ultimately more important than the beliefs themselves. So I understand you correctly, it seems as though you’re grounding standards of right and wrong in what “society says”. I’d be curious to know any other bases for morality you believe in.

      But here’s the problem: right now, American society, if the polls are to be believed, is against “gay marriage”. Now my point isn’t to argue about “gay marriage” right now—as I said, there may be a place for that later—but every state that has voted on the subject has voted down “gay marriage”; the only places where it exists are states where either courts or legislatures have decreed it. In this case—at least for now—“gay marriage” would have to be considered “immoral” by your definition. Further, just to press my question home and see how you respond, you’ve argued with regard to “gay marriage” that people who want to engage in it ought not be discriminated against. OK…but my questions then would be, would you “discriminate” against those who want to practice polygamy (after all, it has far more historical precedent than “gay marriage”)? What about those who believe in “group marriage”; would you discriminate against those who believe it ought to be legal for 4 men to marry 7 women? If so, on what basis?

      Also, continuing on the “society says they are” reasoning, you are undoubtedly aware that there are a handful of societies around the world that have approved of things like cannibalism, suttee (widows being burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands), child sacrifice, etc. If—and I’m not saying this is what you’re saying, but only asking—if we ground the basis of our morality on the values of society, then how can we reasonably say that in these societies, such actions are immoral? Further, how can one society, say ours, ever sit in judgment on another?

      I’ll be interested in hearing your answers on these questions, because again, it all gets back to what we are grounding our understanding of morality in. Once we deal with these issues of authority/bases for morality, we can then get into some of the various issues that you mention. Thanks.

  7. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 10:59 am

    once again, you took my words out of context, and managed to do so while i was agreing with you on some points. ‘m saying, for the third or fourth time now, that there are mores in society that we live by, and then thrsonal values. As far as Gay marraige is concerned, discrimination is wrong, period, conversation over. The fact that someone (anyone) can justifying their ignorant beliefs doesn’t make those beliefs moral, or right. I don’t base right and wrong on what other people believe, as you may. The fact that many people are against gay marraige only proves that there are many ignorant people in this country. Having a majority on any subject doesn’t make that opinion the correct one. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what kind of pretty package you wrap it up in. no offense, but are you even listening? I feel like you’re only hearting what you want to hear, and I’m repeating myself. Again, no offense intended.

  8. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 11:01 am

    more typos:

    personal values

    hearing

  9. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 11:13 am

    not thst i sm sdmitting in any way that those people who are against gay marraige make up the majority, I don’t believe that they do. It sounds to me like you are only going to hear what you want to hear while you justify what can only be seen as ignorant, hateful beliefs. Your 1 man marrying 4 wioman scenerio already happens, it’s called Mormonism. The agruement that a man marrying another man or a woman marrying another woman will lead to people marrying animals is stupid, far fetched, and is an obvious attempt for some people to justify their hateful, ignorant beliefs. No offense, but I don’t need to justify myself, or my beliefs to you or to anyone else on a web page who feels like they are morally superior, you are not. Sorry, but i’m getting a little tired of repeating myself.

    • Byron on June 9, 2010 at 11:38 am

      Sorry, man, I don’t mean to take any words out of context at all; I’m just trying to get to the core of what you believe, and my main means of doing that is by asking you questions to clarify. I’m not sure why this elicits such a negative response; I’m giving you the forum to explain what you believe and why. “Mores in society” and “personal values”—how do they differ? Perhaps you mean to make a distinction that I make, between legality and morality. If so, I’m saying that my purpose—what prompted me to write my first post years ago—isn’t legality, but morality: what’s right, what’s wrong (regardless of what’s legal), and the main question is, what “yardstick” do you use? I know what yardstick I (try to) use; to what authority do you appeal when determining right and wrong? I’m not asking you to justify yourself, but just to answer this question, so let me phrase it differently; fill in the blank: “discrimination” is wrong because ____________________.” “Punching a stranger in the nose is wrong because ____________________.” “Hitler was wrong to kill 6 million Jews because ______________________.” If the answers to those questions are the same, fine, and if they’re different, fine, but those “personal values” you hold, where do they come from? Yourself? Society? Other people? Something else?

  10. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    The dictionary definition of morals is:

    Of pertaining to, or concerned with the principals or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.

    Founded on the principals of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom.

    Of pertaining to or acting on mind, feelings, will or character.

    The moral teaching or practical lesson contained in a fable, tale, experience, etc.

    Mores: folkways of central importance accepted without question and embodying the fundamental moral views of a group.

    So the difference is that mores are the unquestioned moral views of a society, which does not include Christian beliefs. those are personal morals, which are gained through personal experience, personal beliefs, and which can vary from person to person. Does that answer your question? Sorry if I was aggitated before.

    • Byron on June 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      OK, I see what you’re driving at; when you’re talking about mores, you’re not talking about legality, but as the definition suggests, the moral views of a group. Of course, mores vary from culture to culture, and while they have a moral component, they are not absolute. I remember visiting Brazil back in 1992, and there is a hand gesture that we make here (with no hidden, vile meaning) which is some vulgarity in Brazil (incidentally, it’s a hand gesture that I rarely use, but caught myself once while in Brazil ALMOST doing). It’s not illegal, of course—and thus not one of the two categories I mentioned; neither, on the other hand, is it morality in any absolute sense. We can judge the mores of other cultures—cultures which approve of headhunting and suttee can be judged to be wrong, and cultural mores change over time—but this raises the question I keep coming back to: is there any ultimate, unchanging “yardstick” by which any/every “morality” may be judged?

      Similarly, we each have our own moral viewpoints—“personal morals”, to use your term—that we attempt to live by, that we might even attempt to persuade others to live by (you and I both do this, at least to some extent). We each have the freedom as human beings, and as Americans, to believe as we wish (and I wouldn’t attempt to deprive you of that in any way, shape, or form). You say that your bases for those beliefs are “personal experience (and) personal beliefs”, and in one sense, I can’t disagree with that either—but only in one sense. In a different sense, I would argue that absent some standard that transcends you and me, some great unalterable yardstick that says “this action is right, and this action is wrong—period”, we really can’t speak of “morality” at all, but only privatized, personal choice (and anyone else can say, with justification, “sez you!”). Again, Ryan, this isn’t a criticism of you at all. But we then come back to the questions that either intentionally or unintentionally, you’ve not answered: “Hitler was wrong to kill 6 million Jews because _______________”, or “it’s wrong to discriminate because _________________”, or “torturing babies for fun and profit is wrong because _____________________”, because we can’t rely on mores, a society-by-society approach to the question (some societies advocate atrocities), nor can we leave it to personal choice (because Hitler apparently believed it was morally right to exterminate Jews in the name of Aryanism).

      I won’t string you along; in the next post I make, I’ll give you my answers to those questions (you might can guess them).

  11. Jack Brooks on June 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Ryan, I didn’t ask whether you thought discrimination is wrong. I’m asking how do you know that discrimination is wrong?

  12. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Jack, because I was taught by my mom and dad, and decided for myself that I must treat all people with respect, and not to discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual preference. That’s how I see it, anyway.

    Byron, Hitler was wrong to kill 6 million jews because it’s insane, it is wrong to discriminate because it is self righteous and hateful, and torturing babies for fun and profit is wrong because it is also insane and violent and for many other reasons. Now if that was a comment on abortion, I must add that is is a VERY far right wing take on the subject, and the question was loaded. It was asked with an opinion alrdy inserted that is not agreed upon by everyone. IF that was what you meant, it may not have been.

  13. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    In the case of Hitler, it was wrong for so many other reasons, some of which include the fact that it was unnecessarily violent, hateful, and self righteous (his belief that white people were “superior” to Jews and other groups).

  14. Ryan on June 9, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    you could also answer each of those questions with it’s immoral.

  15. Jack Brooks on June 10, 2010 at 11:35 am

    How did your parents know it was wrong, Ryan? Do you believe your parents cannot err?

  16. Ryan on June 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Because they, and I, have (in my mom’s case had, she died last year) a conscience. That and my grandparents taught her, and so on.

  17. Ryan on June 10, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Honestly, I’m getting tired of having to explain or justify my beliefs and why I believe them to a couple of pastors, one of whom has dedicated two websites to provimg a complete stranger wrong. That seems a little strange to me. Almost like an attempt to justify your own beliefs. No offense, but I’ve seen right wing websites with links where you to become a pastor online. How difficult is it? Again, no offense, but you did attack my beliefs first. This is getting tiring. We have free will and free thought. I don’t buy into the idea of destiny that much, we all think differently and have different personal morals. That’s it, the end.

    • Byron on June 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      I had hoped to post a final response this evening, but I need to get in bed for a long day tomorrow. Ryan, I do appreciate your posting. I do hope that you know that my purpose wasn’t/isn’t to attack you personally at all—I don’t know you, and don’t feel any animosity toward you—but was critiquing your article, and some of the things that it expressed. I hope I can find a few minutes tomorrow before I go on a short trip to put a post together.

  18. Ryan on June 10, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Sorry, guys, but we seem to just be going in circles here.

  19. Derlin on June 10, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I think that relative morals are fine for much of how our society works. There’s certainly a very close relationship between legality and morality simply because most legality is an attempt to represent a consensus of morality for a given group of people.

    By choosing to live in a particular city, state, country, etc, I’m essentially agreeing to comply with their morality, or at least whatever part they choose to enforce legally. Each level up gets broader and broader (until you hit the UN and it’s rare for that organization to get anything done because it is so hard for people to agree on anything).

    A relative or organic pursuit of morals breaks down when you try to compare two groups or cultures. Different is not necessarily wrong, and old is not necessarily outdated. My conscience may tell me that people of any race are equally qualified to lead a company, or fix a machine, or work a farm. My counterpart from 200 years ago might disagree. Who is/was right? By what authority can I say that I am enlightened and more developed in my moral belief system? I can’t, unless I invoke a third party morality that is constant for all people for all time. This is where moralities derived from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam come into play (possibly more, I’m not familiar with other religious or atheistic absolute moralities). While Christians and Muslims may disagree on the particulars of their moralities, they agree that there is a third party authority on what is good and right, and what is evil and wrong. That authority is a god. God’s morality determines for all time, and all mankind what is right and wrong. Any deviation from that from mankind is simply better (or worse) understanding of that law given through the Bible (Christians) or the Koran (Muslims). This doesn’t answer the question of which absolute authority is correct, but does give good reason to seek out a morality external from our own conscience, so that we can find a measuring stick that won’t change over time or whim.

    I recommend everyone interested in this topic to listen to Timothy Keller’s sermon on Absolutism (~35m), where he covers this topic including various philosophers’ and Jesus’ perspectives. It’s very interesting, and doesn’t require any biblical knowledge:

    http://questiongod.info/can-i-believe.php

    http://www.bethinking.org/truth-tolerance/intermediate/absolutism-dont-we-all-have-to-find-truth-for-ourselves.htm

  20. Derlin on June 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I think that relative morals are fine for much of how our society works. There’s certainly a very close relationship between legality and morality simply because most legality is an attempt to represent a consensus of morality for a given group of people.

    By choosing to live in a particular city, state, country, etc, I’m essentially agreeing to comply with their morality, or at least whatever part they choose to enforce legally. Each level up gets broader and broader (until you hit the UN and it’s rare for that organization to get anything done because it is so hard for people to agree on anything).

    A relative or organic pursuit of morals breaks down when you try to compare two groups or cultures. Different is not necessarily wrong, and old is not necessarily outdated. My conscience may tell me that people of any race are equally qualified to lead a company, or fix a machine, or work a farm. My counterpart from 200 years ago might disagree. Who is/was right? By what authority can I say that I am enlightened and more developed in my moral belief system? I can’t, unless I invoke a third party morality that is constant for all people for all time. This is where moralities derived from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam come into play (possibly more, I’m not familiar with other religious or atheistic absolute moralities). While Christians and Muslims may disagree on the particulars of their moralities, they agree that there is a third party authority on what is good and right, and what is evil and wrong. That authority is a god. God’s morality determines for all time, and all mankind what is right and wrong. Any deviation from that from mankind is simply better (or worse) understanding of that law given through the Bible (Christians) or the Koran (Muslims). This doesn’t answer the question of which absolute authority is correct, but does give good reason to seek out a morality external from our own conscience, so that we can find a measuring stick that won’t change over time or whim.

  21. Derlin on June 10, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I recommend everyone interested in this topic to listen to Timothy Keller’s sermon on Absolutism (~35m), where he covers this topic including various philosophers’ and Jesus’ perspectives. It’s very interesting, and doesn’t require any biblical knowledge:

    http://questiongod.info/can-i-believe.php

  22. Derlin on June 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Ryan,

    I think the questions the others are getting at are whether you see a need for a third party “reference” morality, and if so, what it is. If not, how might you go about discerning which of two groups was morally right? In my case, I consider the Bible to be an objective authority, and would use that to determine which side was right. This has the interesting consequence that my final determination may be different from what I personally like or prefer, which basically means I was wrong, even if I don’t feel wrong.

  23. Jack Brooks on June 11, 2010 at 9:01 am

    After all, other people’s parents taught them to discriminate, and other people’s consciences don’t bother them when they discriminate.

    See? Moral relativism leaves you nowhere, standing at flat zero. You believe certain moral rules are right or wrong, but you can’t justify them. All you can do is point to yourself, but why should anyone pay any attention to your conscience, vs. anyone else’s conscience? We’re all nobodies. I have no ultimate authority. I am a nobody.

    Morality needs to have a foundation outside one’s self, otherwise you’ll turn into a sociopath.

  24. Ryan on June 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    You are referring to religion, I assume? But how many wars have been started because of organized religions? How many deaths? From the Spanish inquisition all the way to George H.W. Bush ans George W. Bush’s wars on the Muslim faith, which is what they amount to. You can keep your organized religion, I’ve had enough of it for a lifetime. I was put in catholic school for eight years, and i have fond memories of those years, but the brainwashing didn’t take. Ultimately, I decided that God made us intelligent being who were capable of making decisions, so following blindly wasn’t an option for me. Too much of the catholic faith is too far fetched to buy into. I mean talking snakes, talking bushes, people raising from the dead. Science and logic say no, and I’m with them.

  25. Ryan on June 11, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Jack, once again, I don’t need to justify myself, or my beliefs to a guy on a website. What makes you the authority on which morals are good enough and which ones aren’t? Get over yourself, Jack.

  26. Ryan on June 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    And I never said that anyone needs to pay attention to my conscience, or my values. That’s why they are mine! thank you for proving my point that everyone has personal morals that vary from eachother.

    And I know that some morals are better than others, like for example the Democratic party’s view on equal rights for gays, or woman’s right to choose.

  27. Jack Brooks on June 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Ryan: You weighed in on this thing to begin with, attacking Byron’s fundamental beliefs. So don’t act like a victim now.

    The answer is, we all recognize that you recognize that there is no way you can answer the question without abandoning your own claim. Why not admit that there has to be some sort of objective basis for right and wrong? Otherwise, there is (hypothetically) no reason not to slaughter homosexuals, or Jews, or people of different color? Your view leads to total social and mental breakdown, when carried through consistently.

  28. Ryan on June 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Actually, Jack, it was Byron who dedicated a website to attacking my letter to USA Today originally, let’s not get our facts wrong. Secondly, I don’t need to “admit” anything to you. You are not going to paint me into a corner so that I admit to your religious beliefs. It’s never going to happen. I am also don’t agree that I need to abandon my original claim. I maintain that people have different values based on a combination of what they were taught, and personal experience, because that’s what the facts (and the dictionary definition) support. I hardley need anyone’s consensus.

  29. Emily on June 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I think there’s a bit of a misunderstand here. Ryan, I think that everyone here would agree with you when you said “People have different values based on a combination of what they were taught, and personal experience.” You’re exactly right, people most definitely do have different values.

    I think what the people here are trying to say though, is that some people have BETTER values than other people. I’m not sure exactly what “better” means in this case, I think you might say that better values are the values that don’t discriminate against anyone. The other people commenting here would probably say that better values are the values closest to what God values.

    I think the real questions are:
    1) Can some people have better values than other people?
    2) How do you decide which values are better? (i.e, how do you decide that the values that are least discriminatory are the best values, or how do you decide that the values presented in the Bible are the best values?)

  30. Emily on June 11, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    misunderstand = misunderstanding, in case anyone was wondering

  31. Ryan on June 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I understand what you’re saying. In ten minutes, it’s my birthday, so I’m going to enjoy myself, take a day away from the computer.

    • Byron on June 15, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      Sorry that I’ve been away for a few days on a three-day weekend, and with both limited access and limited time. I’m going to post my “wrap-up”; frankly, I’ve not really done much opining, but rather merely asking questions. First, a word of thanks to Ryan, for having the guts to post here, knowing that he’d likely be in a minority. To make something very clear as best I can, my original post was never intended as a personal attack in any way, but rather I used a post Ryan wrote to illustrate what I believed—and still believe—to be a significant issue. The discussion has gone down many paths; I never made it political; despite your contentions, Ryan, I was not writing about Democrats or Republicans, but rather about liberalism as a philosophy, vis a vis its approach to morality. Granted, contemporary liberalism finds its current home in political movements such as the Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, and to some extent, the Republican Party, but I’m not aiming at politics. Neither am I talking about political positions, but rather moral ones.
      Further, we agree that every person has a moral viewpoint, and has a right to make up his own mind about such things. I’ve never contended otherwise, of course. I do think that Ryan has clarified one thing in that he has brought up the entire idea of mores, which are culturally-bound understandings of what is proper behavior and what is not. That is an important addition to the discussion.
      Here is the main point I make, one with which I’m sure Ryan will disagree, but it seems unavoidable, and to make it, I’ll use an illustration from my days playing backyard baseball. We’d play out back with a tennis ball and make our own fun, but we did so without the benefit of having foul lines down first and third base. And, of course, this would occasionally prove to be grounds for arguments. When there is no clear, unambiguous line, we cannot know when a ball is fair or foul. The same holds true, I would argue, when it comes to morality: without a clear standard, the term “morality” becomes effectively meaningless. What is right? What is wrong? If it’s merely a matter of cultural mores, cultures differ from each other—and who is to say what is “right” and what is “wrong”, why child sacrifice isn’t better than altruism, if we have no standard other than our own minds? Personal choice doesn’t work either; I asked Ryan why Hitler was wrong, and his answer was that he was “insane”. For the record, I disagree; I believe that Hitler was quite sane, and acted logically—given his twisted version of morality (he was evil, not insane). Either way, Ryan dodges the issue, because it’s ultimately not about Hitler, but rather about the basis of one’s morals—I merely used Hitler as a talking point, a person that rational people agree did some egregious wrong. Ryan says that he was taught values of right and wrong by his parents, and I’m sure they were fine people who instilled in him some very good values—but an appeal to one’s parents isn’t compelling, and as we all know, some parents get it very wrong, and no parents get it all right. I can’t well be expected to answer to his parents, nor he to mine, of course (nor to me!).
      The point is that Ryan’s morality—or my morality, or yours—can’t be spoken of in absolute terms of “right” and “wrong” unless there is an objective yardstick by which to gauge it. If the root of our “morality” is our own personal views, rather than an objective standard, then we will always alter our “morality” to justify what we want to. Ryan isn’t alone in doing this; if it were up to me, there are some things I’d certainly change to make things easier on me! But again, if there is no “foul line”, then we cannot ever say that any particular ball is “in” or any other “out”.
      Finally, we have no basis for law if morality is merely a matter of personal choice. Instead of laws being made on the basis of right and wrong, they will be made on the basis of sheer power. We see this happening in America today, of course—but that’s another post for another time.
      What is the source of morality? If there is a law, there must be a Lawgiver; if there is no Lawgiver, no Standard-Giver, there can be no law, only personal ideas and preferences—and certainly nothing we can speak of as “morality”. God alone makes the rules, and He has revealed them to us, not that we might become better people by keeping them—because ultimately, of course, it’s not about being moral, but recognizing that we cannot possibly always keep the moral law of God, securing the forgiveness that He has provided for us in Christ.

  32. Ryan on June 15, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    And there it is, Byron’s insertian of religion into the conversation, and the certainty that his beliefs make him right (as seen by his need to talk down to me). Now you see why I despise organized religion, it is the cause of most wars throughout history, murders, pedophilia and of course forced conversion, as in the case of the Spanish inquisition. You can keep your theories of the brainwashed, I have no interest in them.

    • Byron on June 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      Ryan, I’m certainly sorry that you feel I’m “talking down” to you; I don’t know what gives you that impression, but that’s not my purpose nor desire. I’ve tried to engage you in a respectful conversation, and I mean neither to talk down to you nor to give offense. We disagree, of course, on some fundamental things; I respect your right to your viewpoint. I will only point out that the only person who has made statements to the effect that “I know I am right” would be you, Ryan; I have not said that, my friend. I do appreciate your willingness to engage in conversation, though, and best to you.

  33. Ryan on June 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    just heard a joke that i thought the people on this site might appeciate.

    A man once asked God “What’s a million years to you?”
    And God said “A Second.”
    So he asked “What’s a million dollors to you?”
    And God replied “A Penny.”
    So the man smiled and said “Can I borrow a penny?”
    God smiled and said “Yes, just a second.”

    It’s supposed to be nice here tomorrow as well as through weekend, so I’m going to be riding my Harley. Needless to say, I won’t be on my computer. And yes, I am a Harley riding, leather jacket wearing, seven tattoo having (so far) kind of guy, but that doesn’t mean that I fit into any stereotypes. Have a good one.

    • Byron on June 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Have a great ride, Harley dude.

  34. Ryan on June 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

    The bottom line is, I don’t agree with many of the views of organized religions, especially christian ones. Despite what religious people believe, you are not on the right side of an issue like abortion when yu claim to be pro life, but are for the murder of abortion doctors. Similarly, you can not be on the side of freedom for all Americns and preach love and understanding while holding up signs that say “God hates Fags,” as if anyone knows what God likes or dislikes. This is a perfect example of the holier than thou attitude often seen in religious people. know, I spent eight years in Private school.)
    It is also obvious to many that pushing religion on people is also wrong, and before you deny the fact that it happens, take a look at Texas. Texas just changed their textbooks to deny evolution and instead push the absolutely B.S. theory of intelligent design…In public schools! If people want to teach that stuff to their kids, they can send them to private school, if you can’t afford private school, too bad! That doesn’t mean that your beliefs automatically outweigh other people’s beliefs and should be immediately changed to fit your personal needs. There are many parents who don’t want their religious beliefs taught to their kids, and the authority that they posess as parents absolutely outweighs that of an individual with an inflated ego. Texas also changed the term slavery to deny that it ever occured. Don’t tell me that the religious right isn’t trying to push their beliefs on people, it’s so obvious that they are. This is just another example of the self righteous religious types in this country never being satisfied that they believe in something, they have to convince EVERYONE. Unfortunately, you are never going to convince intelligent people that discrimination against the gay community is the right postion, or that being pro life and murdering abortion doctors is not hypocracy. Or that Christians will ever stop attempting to cram their beliefs down everyone else’s throats while pretending to be accepting of different beliefs. The fact remains that Christians do ALL of these things, and on a regular basis. As I said before, if you want to believe that people and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time, be my guest, but you’re never going to convince me…EVER! I went to school, I know that they were not, just like know that evolution is more likely to be true than intelligent design, or that the earth is not flat, or any of the other ignorant beliefs that organized religion pushes. You’ll never convince educated people like me of your religious fantasies. Bushes don’t talk, nor do snakes, Adam and Eve is a fairy tale, that’s it and that’s all. The end.

    • Byron on June 24, 2010 at 6:32 pm

      Dude, I think you’ll be encouraged by how much we actually agree upon; since you’re not a long-time reader of this blog, I searched for previous writings of mine, right here on this blog, which address some of the things you mention in your most recent post.

      First, here’s what I wrote about murderers who take the lives of abortion doctors in cold blood:

      I’m Not Anti-Abortion; I’m Pro-Life

      Here’s what I wrote about the non-Christian phonies who picket homosexual funerals:

      Truly a Great American: Mike Gallagher

      Here are some of my thoughts on public education:

      Time for Christians to Leave Public Schools?

      As to what I think of the “Religious Right”—and whether or not I’m a member of it—here’s what I wrote in 2008:

      Whatever the “Religious Right” Means, I Hope They Listen to This…

      Kinda funny on the “Religious Right” thing: if I’m a member of it, I’m a member of the “legalize marijuana, decriminalize prostitution, anti-School-Prayer-Amendment, agreed with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell back when Democrats liked it and Republicans didn’t” faction of the Religious Right. Makes for fairly small gatherings at the conventions…

      Finally, here are some of my thoughts about homosexuality, and how Christians ought to treat them (this was the last of a seven-part series I did recently on the subject):

      A Treatise on Homosexuality, Part 7 (And Last): How Should Christians Approach Homosexuals?

      Reading these, Ryan, will give you perhaps a different perspective on the things that some Christians think. Hey, that can only be a good thing, right?

    • Byron on June 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

      Now let me tackle two more things you bring up; one is the way you seem to want to lump all Christians together with the looniest, in some cases most godless, elements of what might loosely be called “Christianity”. For instance, I’ve known several thousands of Christians in my life, and never once have I heard a single one profess any sympathy for the Westboro Baptist, picket-homosexual-funerals nutjobs. Just because they claim to follow Jesus doesn’t mean they do; I denounce them in the strongest terms. Same with shooting abortion doctors; I’ve never heard one Christian justify this, though I know that there is a fringe element of professing “Christians” who might. But here’s the point: now, you haven’t come out and said you were an atheist, and maybe you aren’t, but just for the sake of argument, let’s say you are. So was Mao Tse-tung. Would it be fair for me to say that you are in favor of murdering millions of people because another atheist is? Of course not. It’s just not a fair method of argumentation to take the worst, fringe elements of a particular group and then tar the whole group on the basis of the antics of the nutjobs.

      One other item, and that involves talking bushes and snakes (incidentally, the Bible doesn’t say a bush spoke, but that God spoke from a bush; it does claim a snake spoke, of course). Here’s the thing: if you accept the possibility that a God exists, then there should be no problem with accepting the possibility that that God could/would work in certain ways that we would call “miraculous”, or unusual, or whatever. Now of course, if you’re an atheist, then it’s perfectly reasonable to laugh at the idea of some of the stuff you do; I don’t fault you for it, because you are acting consistently with your premises (and of course, the arguments for/against atheism are arguments for another time). But if a person accepts the possibility of a higher Being, then he should not try to limit his conception of that “God” in ways that are more pleasing to his own sensibilities. This, for instance, is why I have no use for “liberal Christianity”. These people are the most mediocre bunch of thinkers that exist; I have a lot more respect for an honest atheist. A “liberal Christian”—whom I don’t classify as a Christian at all, as I understand it—is a person who wants to claim to believe in God, but then deny that God might act in miracles, in supernatural ways, etc. What good is a 98-lb. weenie “God”? What kind of “God” is that after all? So…if you’re an atheist, sure; you’re acting and thinking consistently, and while we disagree, at least you and I are both being consistent. But for Pete’s sake, if you think that there’s a God, there ought not be a problem with any of the miracles mentioned in the Bible, right?

  35. Ryan on June 24, 2010 at 10:40 am

    On a side note, I wasn’t trying to say that religous people feel that the world is flat, it was just an example of theories that were once believed to be true, and were later disproven, as I’m sure intelligent design will be. In my world, it already is, as a theory, a completely ignorant belief.

  36. Ryan on June 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

    First, I am not an atheist. As I’ve said, i went to catholic school for eight years. I believe that there is much that is unexplained , but do not participate in ANY organized religion, or assign responsibility of the unexplained to some all powerful being that lives in the sky.
    As far as miracles, you asked me “If you think that there’s a God, then there ought not be a problem with any of the miracles mentioned in the bible, right?” Wrong! I do have a problem with God talking through a Bush, snakes talking to Adam and Eve, water being turned into wine, and people who are raised from the dead, because that all amounts to magic, and if you believe that, why not Hans Christian Anderson’s stories? Or Grimm’s fairy tales? No offense, but like these books, the bible too is meant to teach morals and good behavior, not to be taken literally like so many Christians tend to do.
    We are very different in many ways, you a I, and yet not so much so in other ways. You are willing to believe without question, I question everything. o me, this is why we are intelligent beings, so we can think for ourselves, not to just follow blindly. As Bill Maher said “faith is making an attribute out of not thinking.”

    • Byron on June 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

      OK, that helps me to understand where you’re coming from, Ryan; correct, you never did say you were an atheist! But here’s the thing: help me understand what kind of “God” you believe in who is unable to do some of the things you’ve mentioned. What exactly can/does this God you believe in do? I readily grant that God doesn’t everyday speak through a burning bush—in fact, there’s exactly once in history where He’s recorded as doing that—but if He’s really God, why couldn’t He? This is a serious question; I’m not trying to be confrontational at all, but I’m just not sure what good it does to believe in a “God” that we set a bunch of our own limits on. What did He do? What does He do now? Just curious how you’d answer that.

      Second, you assume something that I don’t believe you’ve demonstrated, and that is that I “believe without question”. I question a lot of things, more than you’d probably guess. Further—and you’ve got to really think about this one, but you say you “question everything”, so I’ll take you at your word here—it seems clear to me that everybody in the world (Bill Maher included) has “faith” in something. His definition of faith is as bogus as they come; what I’d call his definition of “faith” is my definition of “blind faith”, and incidentally, the Bible never calls us to such “blind faith”, but rather says, “here is the Story; investigate it; believe it or not”. Before I actually make my point, I’ll say it this way, and very clearly: the Bible claims that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave, having been physically dead for a period of time encompassing parts of three days. If that is not true, then Jesus is the biggest fraud in history (as is the faith that bears His name). If He did rise from the grave, then that’s pretty darn good evidence for our faith, and my challenge to you is, have you ever “questioned” whether that historical claim is true? A lot of people have, and many have come to the conclusion (even though they started out as atheists) that the evidence was irrefutable.

      But back to my main point, which is this: you, me, Bill Maher, we are all people of faith; it’s just a question of what we put our faith in, the reliability of the objects of our faith. You may not be an atheist, but I’m pretty sure Maher is, and so he has to ultimately believe that everything we see (what we Christians would call “creation”) came about as a result of an unguided process moving upward, etc. (Darwinism). How does Maher answer the question, “why is there something instead of nothing?” In other words, neither he, nor you, nor I, were around at the beginning; we each have to place faith in an explanation of our origins. I believe it takes less “faith” to believe that an intelligent Being created than that it all came about from chance; I believe it’s more reasonable that God is eternal than that mere “matter” is (where did the matter come from?). I mean, look, the fact of the world’s existence creates a problem either way we go, because something had no beginning, either God or matter. Neither you, nor I, nor Bill Maher, can fathom mentally anything other than cause-and-effect, and so either way we go, we have to place “faith” in something. I don’t begrudge anyone believing that pure naturalism explains everything, but that person ought to be intellectually honest enough to admit that that, just as a belief in God creating, is a faith commitment.

      And if I may say so, I’ve been real nice, I think, and not criticized a whole lot, but Bill Maher seems to me to be the definition of a pompous jackass.

  37. Ryan on June 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

    spelling corrections/ typos

    you and I

    To me

  38. Ryan on June 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    What I especially have a problem with are these so called “christians” who claim to know exactly what God likes and dislikes, as if he or she has had personal conversations with God, they haven’t. No one knows what God thinks because no one can hear God speak to them. It is nothing less than self righteous and egotistical to believe that any human being can possibly know anything as fact when it comes to a being that is far beyond ANY one person, let alone to assume that they have a firm grasp of what it is that other-worldly being thinks or believes. It is a self serving notion.

  39. Ryan on June 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    It’s not about what I believe God can do, it’s about not taking the bible literally. If you want to believe in talking snakes and such, feel free, but you’ll never convince me. As I said before, I believe that the bible should be seen as a series of stories meant to teach morals, not to be taken literally. You say that God can do anything and that makes anything possible, fine, but then why not believe in gremlins, or Jedi, or even the Lord of the Rings. I don’t because I am too old to believe in fairy tales, whether they are written in the Bible or in Grimm’ fairy tales.
    I would also like to point out that your feeling concerning Bill Maher are taken with a grain of salt. I know that you deny being a republican, and I am POSITIVE that you’re not a Democrat. Seeing as how you are a religious guy, I’m going to assume that you lean much more right than left, and as such that you are quick to dismiss anything that Bill Maher says. Unfortunately, disliking Bill Maher does not make the things that he says any less factual. Faith IS making an attribute out of not thinking. It is literally believing in something without any proof or evidence. That IS blind faith.
    I understand what yo believe in, now you need to understand that you will NEVER convince me of your beliefs, which is ultimately what religious people need in the end, to convince others. This is why the feel the need to push religion in public schools despite the fact that people put their kids in public school because they don’t necessarily want their kids to be taught religious mumbo jumbo. This is why they demonstrate and hold rallies and loudly voice their opinions, because they will never be satisfied with the fact that they believe in religion, they need confimation. You won’t get it here.

    Oh, and the definition of a pompous jackass is Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and these other right wing half wits.

    • Byron on June 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      You do realize, don’t you Ryan, that I’ve tried to continually say that what you believe, while I disagree with it, is up to you, and I really don’t think I’ve tried to push anything or persuade you, but rather merely argue my own points. I’m really not trying to convince you (though of course I’d love that!), but I’m not trying to argue points so much as asking you questions about what you believe and why, as well, of course, as stating some of the ways I see things. But I think we can have a respectful conversation even as people who disagree significantly; it seems to me that one of the worst things about our culture is that we scream at each other across ideological divides rather than having discussions. We many never convince each other, but we can learn to appreciate different points of view even as we disagree with them.

      As to the Democrat/Republican thing, you’re exactly correct; I am not a Democrat, have never voted for a Democrat, and find it hard to believe I ever will. I have voted for people from three different situations: Republicans, independents, and Libertarians. I am a conservative; don’t mind saying that loudly and proudly, to tell you the truth; the fact that I’m a conservative (I actually call myself a libertarian conservative; you read some of my libertarian leanings in a recent post) is one of the reasons I do not any longer identify myself as a Republican, and George W. Bush is one of the key reasons I left the Republicans. Whatever he was, he wasn’t a conservative, and that’s why I left.

      One more thing, and then at some point (not this afternoon) I’ll see if I need to answer your second post, and that is this: I don’t know if you got what I was trying to say about the nature of “faith”, and that is this: if I believed that faith was “literally believing in something without any proof or evidence”, then I would totally agree with you, and mock that kind of “faith” just as you do! I have never, ever, once in my time as a pastor encouraged anyone to take the attitude of “just believe it” without investigating it; to the contrary, I believe that the things the Bible claims ought to be investigated as to their trustworthiness. If the Bible is a fake; if Christian faith is phony; if the truth claims the Bible makes can be disproven, then throw the thing in the trash and go on your way! Seriously! I want people to think. I want people to investigate. I want people to get to the bottom of things, look at the facts. I don’t fear that at all. If that sounds like “blind faith” to you, I don’t know what else to say. I also, by the way, want people to investigate the claims of Darwinism as well, or the claims of socialism, or Democrat philosophy, or what have you. Get to the truth by investigating. I wish more people would.

  40. Ryan on June 26, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    what irrefutable evidence are you pointing to that jesus did, in fact, rise from the dead? That he was in the grave and then he wasn’t? Hardly irrefutable. Have you ever heard of grave robbers? I’m sure they existed then as well as now. What about the idea that someone moved the body? Too far fetched for you? You are doing a pretty good job of showing blind faith now! What evidence is there of ANYTHING in the Bible? You do realize that the Bible was written long after jesus was alive, right? Because it was.
    You say that you find it easier to believe in a higher being than chance, except tha it wasn’t chance, it was evolution. It’s easy to make your theory look better by explaining other theories in their simpliest forms. That’s just rigging the arguement to be put into the terms that best suit your needs, it proves nothing. Any belief that I have in God was put there by eight years of going to a catholic school that taught only what they wanted kids to know and left out all of the parts that they didn’t, like the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, or the fact that Mary Magdelene may have been Jesus’ wife and was in the very least an apostle, or the spanish inquisition. I find that one especially relevant. Again, to believe that the bible is literally true, which MANY people do, is the very definition of blind faith. You want people to dismiss science for what amounts to magic, and I, for one, won’t do it (and I’m not the only one).
    Again, if you want to believe in walking on water, magic snakes that can talk, or in the idiotic theory that humans and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time, feel free. I choose to stand over here with the people who don’t insult the idea of being educated like these right wing religious people who act like being educated is a bad thing. They insult the President for going to Harvard and call him names like “professor” and “elitist,” sorry that all politicians can’t be idiot trust fund babies who get into the White House because they had their brother stop the recount in the state that he is the Governor, which also happens to be the deciding State. What a joke!

  41. Ryan on June 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    It’s nice to hear that you encourage people to investigate things and not to follow blindly. We agree on many points. One thing that you said, however, does get under my skin, and that is when you said that you want people to investigate “socialism, or Democrat philosophy.” that’s a serious slant on reality. How would you like it if I said that I encouraged people to investigate being dictatorship, or the conservative philosophy? That is obviously not the case (although George W. Bush was close). We are NOT socialists, we are Democrats. If you want to have a civilized conversation, as you claim to, let’s stop with the conservative slant and veiled insults.

    • Byron on June 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Sorry, Ryan, you misunderstood my point there. I wasn’t equating the two, merely listing them one after another with a comma in between.

  42. Ryan on June 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    First, of course you’re trying to push your beliefs. Whether you want to admit it or not, that is what Christians do. Again i point to the Spanish Inquisition, and on a much less violent note, Pat Robertson and other so called “evangelicals”, and the pro- religious changes in Texas text books. You said yourself that you would love it if you did convince me of your beliefs. Now that that you’ve admitted that you can go ahead and get it out of your head, because, with all due respect, it is never going to happen. If eight years of catholic school didn’t convince me, then you are certainly not going to.
    Secondly, conservative or republican, what’s the difference? You are either right leaning or left leaning. You are right leaning. As for never voting for a democrat, that’s EXACTLY how I feel about republicans AND Conservatives, and every other variation including the obviously intelligence impaired tea party. As far as I can tell, Conservative republicans got us into two illegal wars of agression, outed a CIA officer, took us from a surplus into a giant debt, tried to sell our borders to another country, then tried to blame everything on the guy that they handed the mess to. As far as I’m concerned, conservatives had their chance, and they messed up beyond anyone’s expectations.

    • Byron on June 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm

      Sure, Ryan, and wouldn’t you like it if you could convince me of yours? Isn’t that true of anyone who believes that what they believe is worth believing? Don’t we all love to persuade other people to see things our way? Frankly, I wouldn’t want to hold to beliefs that I was apathetic about; I assume you would agree with me on this, right?

      The difference is that conservativism is a philosophy, whereas Republicans form a political party. Some Republicans are conservatives; there are some who are not. There are some, like George W. Bush, who say they are conservative, but are only conservative to a degree, an inconsistent degree at that.

      And I guess that you weren’t watching and listening to the same things I was; Bush was villified by the left at least as much as Obama has been by the right, it seems to me (he was certainly called Hitler; I remember that very clearly). Shame we can’t speak with decency toward people with whom we disagree. I don’t think much of Obama, but he’s sure not Hitler, not remotely so, and people who try to link the two are idiots.

  43. Ryan on June 28, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I would also like to point out that while I understand your desire not to include George W. Bush into your political affiliation, He is a conservative. He pointed it out on many occasions and made it clear in his policies. I don’t, however, remember Democrats, through all of dis poor decions, ever calling him a nazi, or comparing him to Hitler. That’s because we didn’t. I’m not accusing you of anything, mind you, but Conservatives and Republicans (although i find little difference between them, if any) are more than guilty of such immaturity. Of course, in most cases I attribute it simply as being a poor loser. Republicans seem to have a bad case of short term memory. When Bush was in office, or rather when Bush was acting as Cheney’s puppet pretending to be the president

  44. Ryan on June 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Conservatives said that it was, in their own words, “unamerican” and “unpatriotic” to speak ill of the President. Now these same people are calling Obama “Hitler.” Can you say hypocrites? Not to mention these birther morons, and don’t get me started on the tea party half-wits. If Conservatives are so concerned with the problems that are currently facing, why didn’t they do anything when they were in power? Why did they just make it easier for corporations to make money, and now thanks to the right leaning Supreme Court, have made it easier for corporations to sway elections? Thanks a lot, John Roberts. I know that this wasn’t originally a political discussion, but I think that we agree on the idiocy that was, and is, George W. Bush.

  45. Ryan on June 28, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    spelling corrections/ typos

    his poor decisions

  46. Ryan on June 29, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Sure, Byron, but the difference is that I don’t push my beliefs on people to even nearly the same extent as the Catholic Church does. I don’t try and brainwash people from a young age to believe in the things that I believe in. I allow my nephews, for example, to grow up and decide what they want to believe in for themselves. I don’t have buildings all over the world with people preaching my beliefs, either. There is a HUGE difference between one guy (me) who doesn’t preach his beliefs to people, and an organized religion that does nothing BUT preach their beliefs to people and try to convince them to follow those beliefs. An organization who tells people that their beliefs are the only correct beliefs and that everything else is wrong, except that ALL religions say that their beliefs are the right ones, and obviously they can’t all be right. This is why I assume that it’s all crap!
    As far as politics go, I don’t doubt that you heard Dems call Bush Hitler, but I didn’t. I heard people say that he was a dictator, because he was. I also don’t remember us Dems having anything even close to a Tea Party movement with people holding signs of Bush with a Hitler mustache, because it never happened. These people are idiots, and their opinions will continue to be dismissed as ignorant talk from uneducated morons.

  47. Ryan on June 29, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Let me add one more point. You have said, on several occasions, that you are not making any judgements, just asking questions and making observations. And yet the title of your original webpage is “Can you say morals? iberals can’t.” Isn’t that a judgement? and before you answer, that was a rhetorical question, it was a judgement, and one coming from a Christian pastor, who, much like Catholic priests, (and I know from 8 years of the Catholic school experience, and a lifetime of personal experience) are the champions of making judgements from atop their high horses of moral superiority. Tell me something, Byron. As a Pastor and a man of God, does it bother you that there are hypocrite pedophile priests out there who believe that they have a right to judge others simply because they have enough sense to question things and think for themselves? Because it bothers me a little. Although, those types of people, and their opinions don’t amount to much anyway. The easiest opinion in the world to dismiss is that of a hypocrite. That is why I find it so easy to dismiss religion, and republicans.

    • Byron on June 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Certainly, Ryan, we all make judgments; there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. You do it, I do it, etc. And you’re right, my original article certainly did involve “judging” your approach to moral philosophy; again, no argument. What I meant was that I wasn’t trying to make a lot of hard arguments, or taking up every point you’ve brought up, and trying to hammer home an argument against it; I’m generally—and I suppose you could say that that’s what I meant to say, “generally”—asking questions and not trying to argue back and forth. Of course you are correct that every person makes certain judgments; again, one has to in order to simply live life (“I judge the chicken salad to be better than the ravioli”, for instance).

      At the same time, I’ve tried to make it clear that I do my best to judge everyone—myself, first and foremost—by the same yardstick, and while of course I believe, and will argue, that I’m right—as do you, of course, and again, nothing wrong with that—I try not to come off as though I’ve got everything figured out (I haven’t), as though I don’t sin myself (I certainly do), as though I am superior as a person to anyone else (I’m not), or as though I’m certain of everything I believe (I am not). I hear what you’re saying about people, some of them Christians, who come off as though they know it all, are certain about everything, etc.; that’s a shame, IMHO.

      As to pedophile priests, two thoughts: one, it bothers me that anybody is a pedophile, so of course it bothers me deeply that priests do it, regardless of judging others, and nobody has the right to “judge others”, which is different, of course, from judging actions (which we all do, which we all ought to do). I can never look at Ryan and say, “he’s going to hell”, because only God determines such things. I can look at Ryan’s actions, and my own, and say, “that was a lie I told”, or “he spoke in a very ugly way.” See what I’m saying? I cannot look inside your heart and know your motives; I can judge your words and actions. I can’t even accurately judge my own motives, because my own judgment is warped (as is everyone’s) in some very important ways; what I can say is, “lying is wrong”, or “adultery is wrong”, judging the action.

      Second, though, I wrote a post a week or so back in response to something you wrote, and I’ll paraphrase it here: I don’t carry the water for “religion”, and as I mentioned in that post, I don’t carry it for Catholicism. The differences between what I believe and teach, and what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, are substantive and critical, not at all points, of course, but at enough that I can say that the teaching you get in a Catholic Church and what you get at mine are fundamentally different in ways that make a real difference. You may not understand all that, and I don’t expect you to, necessarily, but the Protestant Reformation drew a divide that placed me on one side, and the Catholic Church on the other. In case you’re wondering, though, I don’t mean at all to suggest that my particular denomination (of which you’ve probably never heard!) is the “only right one”, or anything silly like that; there are any number of movements/churches that I believe are faithful to what the Bible teaches, at least in the main; I do not count the Catholic Church among those—in my JUDGMENT! 🙂

  48. Laurie on July 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Funny how the idiots are always on the OTHER side of the fence. Why can’t we be reasonable and agree every group has some? Isn’t it convenient (when we disagree with someone else’s philosophy, world view, political/religious bent) to write off a whole group as being ignorant when in fact it is usually a smaller group, or even individuals, within that group that is/are exhibiting the idiocy?

    Disagree if you will, but please don’t fall back on that tired tirade about how only uneducated, ignorant, backwoods oafs believe something different than you do. That’s a lazy argument, and disingenuous to boot.

    If you want credibility, argue your case on the strength of its merits.

    One of the things I find interesting about this discussion is that Ryan is so offended by Christians “pushing their beliefs” on people, yet here he is doing the very same thing. He has very strong opinions about what he thinks is right and wrong, and wasn’t shy about sharing them on this blog – but it’s not okay for Christians to have beliefs and talk about them? He said he wasn’t trying to push his beliefs on anyone – okaaayyy – whatever. I lost count of the number of times he called Christians hypocrites, yet I’m sure he doesn’t think he made any hypocritical statements himself – amazing. I guess Webster’s dictionary forgot to mention only CHRISTIANS practice hypocrisy.

    I especially liked this comment from Ryan, “What I especially have a problem with are these so called “christians” who claim to know exactly what God likes and dislikes, as if he or she has had personal conversations with God, they haven’t. No one knows what God thinks because no one can hear God speak to them. It is nothing less than self righteous and egotistical to believe that any human being can possibly know anything as fact when it comes to a being that is far beyond ANY one person, let alone to assume that they have a firm grasp of what it is that other-worldly being thinks or believes. It is a self serving notion.”

    I’m thinking – he’s not just stating this as an opinion; he’s stating it as if it’s a fact – but how in the world could he possibly think he could know he’s right about this? Answer – he doesn’t know – he can’t know.

    If I were to tell him I’m in pain – how can he know if I really am or not? When it comes to the question of whether or not people can know/hear from God, he has no way to know or understand something he himself has not experienced, so rather than give it the benefit of the doubt, which seems the more reasonable response – he condemns and denies it.

    Wow. Always fascinating to see into the mind of someone who comes with a different perspective.

  49. Ryan on July 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I am a little suprised to have to point this out yet again, but unlike Christians, I don’t have people standing on an altar preaching my beliefs, or attempting to shove my beliefs down the throats of school children, without their parents consent. Sure Christians have a right to believe what they want to believe, they do not, however, have a right to dictate to everyone else or force their beliefs on people, which they do every day, in many different ways. If you want to have this arguement, Laurie, i’m more than willing to have it. I can think of many ways in which religion forces it’s beliefs on people that I do not, the spanish inquisition being an important one. As far as i know, there is no organized religion called Ryan’s beliefs. There are no buildings all over the world where people can gather to hear my opinions, which is all they are, opinions. important to you, useless to everyone else.
    As far as your theory that I can not possibly know about things that i have not experienced, you are wrong. I do know that bushes do not talk, neither do snakes, people do not rise from the dead, people were not on the Earth at the same time as dinosaurs, and a guy from the Middle East did not have pale skin and blonde hair. It’s called an education, I suggest you stop listening to self righteous religious freaks and get yourself one.

  50. Laurie on July 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Ryan,

    Regarding people standing behind altars preaching their beliefs, let me point out they are speaking to people who have chosen to be there to hear it; and as far as school children having beliefs shoved down their throats, well, every child is being taught or influenced by someone’s beliefs – whether it’s in school, at home or on the playground. My son was taught nothing but evolution in school, so we had many discussions at home so he could have a broader base on which to form his opinions. I was not a Christian when he was young, but I didn’t think it was fair to only expose him to what I believed.

    I don’t know how you think Christians (as a whole, not small groups or individuals who teach things that conflict with the spirit of Christianity) in this day and age, have the ability or the desire to dictate or force their beliefs on anyone – I didn’t/don’t live in the past, nor should I be expected to answer for the individuals involved in the Spanish Inquisition – to me that would be like holding today’s Americans responsible for slavery, something we all agree wasn’t right, so what would be the point of continuing to rail against it? It was wrong, it’s over – move on.

    You have a problem with “organized religion” – ok, I get that; so if I’m hearing you right, you disagree with any organization whose focus is on teaching a particular set of beliefs that you yourself don’t agree with? That would include most if not all world religions, right? I’m thankful that there are many people that don’t agree with you; I’d hate to live in a country where I was prohibited from going to a church if I want to, or made to attend one I didn’t want to. What is that part of the Constitution that addresses this? Oh yeah, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    As far as experiencing things outside the natural realm – can’t help you with that. I had my doubts too until it happened to me so I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s not a classroom on the planet where you can “learn” to experience this type of thing because it’s not in our control. As long as you are so deadset against giving the possibility the benefit of the doubt, it probably won’t happen to you. I’ve not heard a bush talk, or seen any of the other things you mentioned; but there’s a reason for that, and I have experienced other things – and these are things that no person could have showed me, so it would be useless to share them with you – you would have to experience something yourself to know if it’s real.

    I’ll tell you a little secret, I can’t stand self-righteous religious freaks either, and I stay as far away from them as I can. You and I may have a different definition for that, though, because I don’t just include people who have beliefs about the supernatural – I include anyone who attempts to influence my thinking to see things their way by using manipulative measures like name-calling, intimidation, attacks on my intellectual capacity, charges of weak character or mental illness, hatred, anger, etc.

  51. Ryan on July 23, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Laurie
    First of all, most of your last post was you telling me what I think. No offense, but I’ll decide what i am going to think, thank you very much. I don’t need you to tell me what i think, or twist my views to fit into your little arguement. If you must know, I went to catholic school from 1rst grade until 8th grade, then spent my Sophmore year of high school in a Catholic Prepatory school where I lived in the dorms, which was run by a franciscan monk. I went to church twice a week (yawn) for 9 long years. After all of that, I realized that the catholic church was just a way for people to brainwash chldren who are too young to question things at an early age, and I stand by that. Since I have become an adult, people find out that priests are sexually molesting children, more proof of theultimate hypocracy, as far as I am concerned. People teaching kids about morals, except that they have no morals.
    It has nothing to do with people “teaching things that I don’t believe in,” (and please don’t put words in my mouth, or speak for me, you don’t even know me) it has to do with stories that are meant to teach morals, but should not be taken literally. There are good morals in the bible, but again, snakes do not talk, nor do bushes, people can not walk on water, or turn water into wine, or part a sea with their minds. This is fantasy. Plus, when you teach kids that evolution is not true, or that people were on the earth at the
    same time as dinosaurs, or that global warming is not real, or that the earth started with Adam and Eve, you are teaching tngs that go against proven science (in most of these cases) or at least the scientific concensus. We KNOW that dinosaurs existed, fact. People came much later than that, fact. As far as evolution and global warming are concerned, they are theories, just like gravity is still a theory, but no one is denying that, are they? Do you deny that a sepration of churc and state exists? because it does, very clearly.

  52. Laurie on July 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Ryan,

    Not sure why you think I was trying to “tell you what you think”; for the most part I was responding to things you said in previous posts, and asking if I was understanding you correctly because it seemed to me that if you don’t think it’s good for Christians to teach their beliefs thru the forum of organized religion then you must have the same opinion of all other religions who do that as well – you were free to correct me if I was wrong.

    I didn’t have a particularly great opinion of the church I was raised in, but I never felt like they were trying to brainwash me just because my parents attempted to pass on their beliefs and what they felt were good values – when I became an adult I chose not to accept some of what they taught me and do things my own way for many years. Kids can be “brainwashed”, if you will, by both religious and atheist parents alike; a lot of it has to do with how things are presented to them – but they grow up eventually and decide for themselves what they want to believe.

    I know many parents, both Christians and unbelievers, that try to pass on good values to their kids even if they themselves don’t always succeed in living up to them. I think a good parent hopes their children won’t make the same mistakes they did, or fall into bad habits that they will struggle with for much of their lives.

    Your opinions regarding what the Bible teaches are just that, your opinions/beliefs; and you have the right to believe whatever you want. I would agree with you that generally speaking, bushes and serpents don’t talk, people can’t walk on water, etc. The Bible doesn’t present those things as something we could ordinarily expect to see, however; it presents them as one-time, supernatural events – not as something that could “naturally” happen, but as something completely outside our experience by means of a Being outside our experience (i.e., the things we can normally see and hear). Not trying to convince you of this, I’m just sharing my opinions/beliefs.

    Separation of church and state has nothing to do with whether or not it’s legal (or right) for people to assemble and teach religious beliefs. My point in bringing up the subject of our freedom to do so was that our forefathers clearly thought it was a good thing to protect this right; without it we might be at the mercy of people who would like to see some/all churches shut down. We have the right to believe what we want, and if that includes rejecting religion and choosing to trust in “scientific consensus” (which could change tomorrow), you are free to do so.

  53. Ryan on July 23, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    No, I don’t have a problem with organized religions teaching their beliefs, what I have a problem with is religion being taught in public schools where it has no business being taught, that what private school is for. If you can’t afford private school, you’re out of luck. I guess you need to teach it at home, in that case. I also have a problem with science being taught incorrectly, as is the case with dinosaurs and people having been on the earth at the same time. And yes, that goes for all organized religions, however many do not go to the same extent to push their beliefs as Christianity does, like Buddists, Hindus and people of the Hebrew faith.

  54. Ryan on July 23, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    corrections:
    I meant to say “that is what private schools are for.”

  55. Laurie on July 24, 2010 at 12:57 am

    Ryan,

    As far as I know there are very few places where public schools teach anything other than evolution, and in those few places that do – obviously the majority of residents in that area felt strongly about what they wanted their children taught and took steps to change it, so I guess in those instances any parents who have a problem with their children not being taught evolution in school have the option of teaching it to their kids at home or sending them to a private school.

    You are correct in stating that religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism don’t make it a point to reach out to people of other faiths; there’s a reason for that, which becomes clear when you study their history and their teachings. Jesus, unlike those other religions leaders, commissioned His followers to share the good news of the gospel – they were not to keep it to themselves; He wanted everyone to have the opportunity to hear and respond. There’s not much good news in most other world religions.

  56. Laurie on July 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Ryan,

    The question of the origin of life is clearly important to you, and I respect that; but you may have noticed that although it’s a big issue for you, it’s not necessarily so for everyone. A lot of people just don’t spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about it, or being concerned about what other people think/believe about it, or who has the real 411 on how we came to be. Some prefer to focus on the here and now and not worry about where we came from or what may/may not happen after we die. This is a subject that fascinates some people, and bores others; even higher education does not motivate everyone to spend any more time thinking about this than they have to.

    Being that most world religions began and their scriptures written before the “age of science”, so to speak, it’s not surprising that the subject of the origin of life isn’t written using the scientific terms we’re familiar with today; not only that, but their focus wasn’t on proving the existence of a higher being or a spiritual realm or even the origin of life, it was more along the lines of testimony or the assertion/faith that these things exist, and how that should affect the way we live.

    None of these beliefs claim to have all the answers to all the questions about this, and I think that’s because they believe the way we live our lives and whether we’re accountable for our actions is a more important subject.

    The focus of science is purely on the physical, so it would not be the logical place to look in search of the answer as to whether or not a spiritual realm/beings exists. I know of many people who at one time believed as you do, that evolution is the only explanation – end of story – and who now acknowledge that evolution is an unproven theory, albeit with evidence that can be viewed as supportive based on the knowledge we have up to this point; and who now believe that there is more to this than currently meets the eye. Most are unwilling to completely disregard the findings of science, but more willing to accept the idea that a Creator was involved although they may not be too sure just how.

    Since none of us were there to see how it was done for ourselves, and there are still many unanswered questions, I don’t see why this has to be a subject that causes people to be at each other’s throats.

  57. Ryan on July 26, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Science is actually important to many people. I refer to these people as intelligent and or educated. Then there are the people who believe far fetched stories about things that never happen in the real world. Things like walking on water, talking snakes and bushes, and magic (turning water into wine). People can believe whatever they want, but if Christianity is so right, then why push it on children who are too young to decide for themselves? The answer is fear. Religious people know that unless these stories are shoved into their brains at a young, impressionable age, no one would believe them, especially not an adult. This is why religion is decided for a child, as opposed to chosen by an adult. Why the need to decide for kids what religion they will be a part of unless there is a fear that unless their religion would not be the one that the child chose, or didn’t that they wouldn’t choose to be a part of any organized religion? The answer is that the parents believe in and are a part of an organized religion, and because THEY believe that this is the way it is, their kids have to also. This is brainwashing, and I don’t agree with it, never have, never will. It is self righteous garbage, no offense to you.

  58. Laurie on July 27, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Ryan,

    Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree that teaching your beliefs to your children, and whatever moral code you live by is always brainwashing, no matter how it’s done. As I shared before, I was not a Christian when my son was young, but I told him some people believed in God, etc. I figured if he wasn’t interested, I’d leave it alone and let him figure it out for himself, but he was surprisingly receptive and wanted to hear more. When he asked what I believed, I said I wasn’t sure and hadn’t made up my mind yet. He was fascinated by Jesus, and loved hearing about Him. One day he told me he prayed and Jesus spoke to him. I was taken aback and said, “Really? What did He say?” (He didn’t learn that from my example!). It was something fairly generic that I supposed He could have said, so I made no comment, but I did wonder… He started going to church with a friend when he was in Jr. High; and after he became a Christian, when he was in high school, he asked me one day why I had never taken him to Sunday School – he felt cheated, and that I had done the wrong thing by not taking him to church.

    Some unbelieving parents not only choose not to tell their children about God, but actually make an effort to keep them from hearing about Him. One such parent was having a conversation with a Christian and saying how she doesn’t believe in all that, etc., and in the middle of it her 4-year old was trying to get her attention, asking her who Jesus was – the mother ignored her, so finally the child shouted “WHO’S JESUS?!?!” Reluctantly, kind of choking on the words, the mother told her that Jesus was God and died on the cross. I thought it was interesting that she didn’t present it as something some people believed, but as if it were a fact, particularly as she had just been stating she didn’t believe in God.

    Another such parent was my own uncle. When my father became a Christian, it drove a wedge between him and his brother; my uncle wanted nothing to do with it – we rarely saw his family after that. Years later, my cousin met a Christian, went to church and became a believer. When she found out that my father was a Christian (she never knew that) and that my uncle had purposely kept her from knowing anything about Christianity, she was very upset with him.

    This is why I say that “brainwashing” can happen on both sides of this issue. I’ve seen religious parents who use fear, and unbelieving parents who use mockery to influence their child’s thinking, and I disagree with both methods.

    I think teaching children anything at a young age is the best time, and that includes religious beliefs, and there’s a reason for that. The mind of a child is very open to learning and accepting new ideas; as he grows, it starts to close up – a young person begins to make up his mind what he thinks about things, wants to find things out for himself, and is less likely to want to accept things he doesn’t want to hear. People don’t learn as easily as they age, and they’re less likely to want to change the way they think.

    What I’ve observed is that no matter what beliefs children are exposed to growing up, they have a mind of their own and the ability to either accept or reject those beliefs when they become adults.

  59. Ryan on July 31, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Media Matters: Conservatives’ perpetual dishonesty machine

    Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh regularly tout their supposed accuracy and often claim their critics never prove them wrong. Fittingly, this in itself is a complete falsehood. Limbaugh and Beck are wrong for a living, but have been rewarded for their perpetual wrongness by assuming the role of the two most important cogs in the conservative media.

    Every day, the conservative noise machine — Fox News, Beck, Limbaugh, and other prominent conservative talk radio hosts and bloggers — hurl false accusations with the hopes of damaging the Obama administration, Democrats, and progressives politically. Make no mistake: this is the primary motivation for the majority of the stories they promote. Pesky things like “facts” and “reality” are, at best, a trivial concern.

    Often, these attacks are baseless, easily debunked, and laughably absurd — yet conservative media outlets rarely (if ever) offer corrections when they are proven wrong. Instead they either double down on their attacks or simply ignore that they were wrong in the first place and move on to the next overhyped bit of nonsense.

    While it may seem like a minor story in the grand scheme of things, one example from this week perfectly exemplifies the utter lack of journalistic standards endemic to conservative media.

    Early this week, conservatives were in their usual panic mode over what they claimed was evidence that the Obama administration “backed” or “preferred” the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the terrorist better known as the Lockerbie bomber. As we pointed out, reports — often the same reports these conservatives were linking to in order to make their arguments — indicated that the administration wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned, with the stipulation that if he were to be released, he should remain in Scotland rather than risk him receiving an “extremely inappropriate” “welcoming reception” upon being transferred to Libya.

    Fox News twisted reality to claim that the “U.S. Backed Freedom, Not Prison, for Bomber.” Matt Drudge splashed a huge headline across his website announcing that the “White House Backed Release Of Lockerbie Bomber.” Pam Geller — whose deranged rantings have earned her frequent appearances on Fox News and bylines on Andrew Breitbart’s “Big” websites, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller, and the American Thinker — called for a “special investigation” and a “charge of treason” for Obama.

    Rush Limbaugh — while bragging, as he often does, that he was “executing assigned host duties flawlessly” with “zero mistakes” –claimed that Obama “backed the release” of the Lockerbie bomber because he wanted to “make nice with the Muslim world.”

    Late Monday, when the State Department released the administration’s correspondence with the Scottish Ministry of Justice, it confirmed in unambiguous terms that the administration was “not prepared to support Megrahi’s release on compassionate release or bail,” and that “it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence.”

    So, after this story completely fell apart, did conservative media figures correct the record and let their readers/listeners/viewers know that the administration did not “support” or “prefer” the release of the Lockerbie bomber?

    Of course not.

    Conservative blogger Jim Hoft — whose ongoing popularity and influence in conservative media says a lot about their complete indifference to accuracy and credibility — linked to the letter and proclaimed that the administration “preferred” his release. This was akin to pointing at the ground and saying “this is the sky.”

    Fox Nation, almost 48 hours after the story had completely fallen apart, still had the following headline and image on their front page:

    And you can be sure that in a few months, whenever Sean Hannity or anyone else in the noise machine decides to twist a news story to claim that the Obama administration is “weak on terror,” they’ll point to the time the administration supposedly “preferred the release of the Lockerbie bomber” in order to buttress their point.

    It’s a perpetual dishonesty machine.

    If this were an isolated incident, perhaps it would be possible to (partially) excuse conservative media outlets for their shameless performance “covering” this story. But as we detailed this week, the right-wing media routinely promote fake stories (for example, the epic freak-out over the imaginary Obama proposal to “ban sport fishing.”)

    For another good example of how the perpetual dishonesty machine works, have a look at this segment from Tuesday’s Fox & Friends. In it, Glenn Beck, Steve Doocy, and Peter Johnson Jr. seized on reports of the U.K. supposedly “admit[ting] its socialized health care is a mess” in order to attack health care reform. They rehashed some old favorites from conservatives’ misinformation campaign about health care reform, claiming that we “modeled” reform on the British system and fear mongered about imaginary “death panels.” Neither of these attacks were true when they appeared last year, they weren’t true this week, and they won’t be true the next time Fox’s hosts bring them up. 

    This pattern is undeniable, and at this point is just expected behavior for the conservative media. The larger problem is that “mainstream” outlets still frequently treat garbage from conservative media figures as newsworthy, and ombudsmen at major newspapers like The Washington Post regularly chastise their colleagues for not seizing on conservative nonsense faster.
    It says a lot about the state of the media when Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and other prominent media conservatives can be caught pushing a blatantly false story, offer no correction, and have their behavior met with a collective shrug. Conservative media outlets retain their unfortunate power and influence over the public discourse because they are able to lie largely without consequence.

    They did it all this week, they did it all last week, and they’ll do it again next week.

  60. Laurie on July 31, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Ryan,

    Groups like Media Matters and The Media Research Center exist to provide balance for what they believe is an unfair liberal or conservative bias in the media. I have no problem with watchdog groups, they definitely serve a purpose; I just try to keep in mind that since such groups are biased, they too need to be monitored because they have opposing views of what should be considered media propaganda. There’s a wide range of viewpoints in the U.S., with no one single perspective being completely right or completely wrong.

    I don’t spend a lot of time reading articles by conservative watchdog groups/individuals, but I’m sure anyone who does could provide instances where reports by liberals were less than 100% accurate. This just serves to illustrate that we shouldn’t accept everything we hear as fact just because we like the spin they’re putting on it.

  61. Ryan on August 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    The article seemed to me to hit the nail right on the head.

  62. Laurie on August 2, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I’ve seen articles about reporting by liberals that I felt the same way about.

    It is not only conservatives that are guilty of speaking before checking their facts. On these types of news shows you are never going to get just straight reporting; you’re always going to get their opinions, and sometimes those opinions are wrong.

    I’ve seen both conservative and liberals have a wrong opinion on something, and typically neither comes back and admits it; they just move on to the next issue.

    I understand your frustration, I’ve experienced it myself, but I don’t see the good in hating “liberals” because of shoddy reporting practices.

  63. Ryan on August 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Yes, you’ll always get some opinions in news programs on Fox & MSNBC, but the people on MSNBC, like Keith Olberman, admit when they were incorrect about something and make the proper correction, not so at Fox. Fox is often wrong, and NEVER admit it, ever. Fixed news is not a news organization, it is an arm of the republican (retardican) party.
    Oh, and I believe what I hear from Keith Olberman, Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow infinately more than I do anyone on Fox “News.” I know that it has some Liberal slant, but it is accurate and truthful. I don’t think that anyone can say the same of Fox. Just look at the Shirly Sharrod incident, or WMD’s in Iraq, or the question, created by Fox, posed to people on the street just last month. ” Half of Americans think that Obama is not doing a good job, what do you think?” I think that Fox is, as usual, setting up the question in a way that distorts the facts and attempts to sway people’s opinions by how it is worded to get the answer that Fox is looking for, but then again you don’t need to listen to me, I’m just one of those annoying edumacated liberal types. Please, continue listening to morons like Sarah Palin.

  64. Laurie on August 3, 2010 at 12:23 am

    By all means, listen to whoever you think is trustworthy; I’m not sure, though, if you’re assuming that anyone who is a Republican or who leans toward that ideology only listens to Fox, etc. Personally I like to listen to different sources so I get a broader spectrum of perspectives.

    I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to say “half think he’s not doing a good job” instead of “half think he’s doing a good job”. If it had been a liberal asking that question, he’d probably have gone the other way; it’s what I would expect. I think most people have a strong enough opinion of how he’s doing that it wouldn’t matter how that question was posed.

  65. Ryan on August 3, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I have plenty of right wing family and friends who listen only to Fox and repeat the lies that they hear as if it is fact. My uncle is one. He doesn’t get news from anywhere but Fox, and that is one of the multitude of people that I know personally who do the same thing (my step dad is another, and Yet another aunt and uncle, and several friends). I am VERY confident in saying both that right wingers, more often than not, get their “news” from Fox and only Fox, and that MSNBC, while left leaning, is not even close to as close minded and one sided as is Fixed “news”. If you want to be one of the easily manipulated, go ahead, but I will not be fooled…EVER! Every news program has a slant, but Fox takes the cake on one sided journalism and working directly for a political party. it is, in a word, a joke.

  66. Laurie on August 3, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Ryan,

    Well, you know what they say about discussing politics; I have relatives with whom I can’t talk about politics either – when someone starts becoming insulting and derogatory it becomes unpleasant to talk to them. I don’t mind having a conversation with anyone about subjects that we disagree on, as long as we can hold a mature, reasonable discussion that doesn’t disintegrate into name-calling and a hateful attitude – we’re not in the schoolyard anymore.

    Not long after Mr. Obama was elected a relative and I got into a conversation and he started getting really ugly about it so I had to tell him it would be better if we stopped; I love him (no matter what he believes) and respect his right to have a different opinion.

    As far as I can tell, discussions of this sort never result in anyone changing their minds. I never enter into conversations expecting that, and it kind of blows my mind when someone comes off aggressively; as if they either want to wish me into the cornfield or don’t know/care that being insulting is unlikely to cause people to really listen to their point of view. Let’s face it, an insult is like a slap in the face; now, I may choose to turn the other cheek rather than strike back with an insult of my own, but how can there really be an exchange of ideas if I constantly have to duck and weave and keep my gloves up to protect myself?

    I guess if we, the constituents of this country, can’t hold a mature, reasonable conversation, we shouldn’t be too surprised that our conservative and liberal reporters and government leaders can’t do it either.

  67. Ryan on August 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Laurie,
    I know what you mean. Back in June, I invited my uncle to ride his Harley up to my house and then we could ride around where I live. he helped me buy my first Harley last fall, and I thought that it would be fun, and it was… for an afternoon. The same day that he arrived, we rode a little, then went to my brother’s house to say hello. When we got back to my place, he started in with the Fixed news talking points/ lies about Obama not being born here, and death panels and all of these other already debunked stories. I did the same thing that you did, I said that we shouldn’t discuss it anymore due to a rise in tension between us and he agreed. Not two seconds later he was at it again, he just wouldn’t let it go ( a typical trait in republicans, I find). Then after bringing it up again, he blames me for bringing it up again, except I didn’t, HE did (another right wing trademark, juxtapose your guilt on to others. Like Obama’s debt…wrong, that was Bush. Obama’s wars…wrong, Bush again). He then had a little temper tantrum and threatened to leave. I said do what you want, so he left, on his bike at eleven o’clock at night, to drive 300 miles back to the Detroit area. This seems, at first, to not be a big deal, but now put it on context. He dis EXACTLY the same thing to my dad in California. He flew out there from Detroit, wouldn’t quit with the right wing [email protected], then threatened to leave a week early, and did. I love my uncle, but he is a typical right wing, Fixed news watching moron. He just can’t stop hself from needing to be right, even at the expense of alienating his own nephew and his brother, my dad, who won’t even speak to him because of this very thing. My dad may not even invite my uncle to his (my dad’s) wedding in November. My uncle is a perfect example of a brainwashed individual. He watches only the lies on Fixed news and believes them to be fact. No one on the left is even close to that brainwashed, tea party brainwashed. Not even close.

  68. Laurie on August 4, 2010 at 11:40 am

    That’s too bad about your uncle. If that is what “typical right-wingers” do, then I hope I’m not typical.

    I’ve only been a Christian, and a “right-winger”, I guess, for 13 years; before that I was sometimes critical of them. Not to the same extent that some people are, I wasn’t angry or hateful toward them; I just didn’t want them in my face.

    Now, I try not to do the things that made me shy away from them – unfortunately I still have to deal with the fall out from the ill-advised behavior of some; I guess there’s no avoiding it. I choose not to have problems and get ugly with family, friends or fellow bloggers over politics, but apparently not everyone feels that way.

  69. Laurie on August 4, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Ryan,

    I just came across this article so I thought I’d share it, since you mentioned it in a previous post:

    “Fox News host Greta Van Susteren is apologizing for “a doozy of a mistake” made on her show Monday when a picture of Shirley Sherrod was used to illustrate a segment on Rep. Maxine Waters, the Huffington Post reports.

    Waters, a California Democrat, has been charged by the House with ethics violations, and Sherrod was fired from the USDA for incorrectly being cast as a racist. What the two visually have in common is that they’re both black women.

    Van Susteren took to her blog Monday to issue an extremely effusive apology, calling the incident on her “On the Record” program “a very bad mistake and a painful one for which we are very apologetic.”

    “We really don’t know what to say and there is nothing that you can post to make us feel better (not that we deserve to feel better!) This mistake was bad, very bad and we are immensely sorry,” Van Susteren wrote.

    Though slip-ups are bound to happen on live television, this isn’t the first time Fox has issued a public apology for mixing up black political figures. In 2007, a Fox host apologized after the network ran footage of Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan while discussing the ethics troubles of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana.”

    While I realize this may not affect your opinion of their viewpoints, perhaps it will make you feel a little better knowing they have been known to acknowledge mistakes.

  70. Ryan on August 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    “I choose not to have problems and Get ugly with family, friends and fellow bloggers over politics, but apparently not everyone feels that way.” Yeah yeah yeah, you’re better than me, I get it. You can step down from your high horse now. As far as Greta Van Susteren is concerned, it’s one Fox “news” “anchor” apologizing for one of thousands of mistakes. WMD’s in Iraq, Obama not being born in the U.S., death panels and the list goes on and on and on and on….. Until Hannity, O’Reilly, Kilmeade, Douchy and all of the other inflated egos over at Fox news stop making excuses as to why they’re still right when they couldn’t be more wrong, I will NEVER take Fixed “News” seriously. Like I said before, it is a joke.

  71. Laurie on August 4, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Better than you? Nah – I was talking about your uncle, and I don’t think I’m better than him or you; I do, however, think it’s better not to have problems with people over politics – but that’s just me.

    Like I said, didn’t expect you to change your opinion of Fox over one apology but maybe you’d consider upgrading them to “hardly ever apologize”? 🙂 Lighten up, Ryan, everything doesn’t have to be so serious, I was just teasing you a little bit.

  72. Ryan on August 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Not likely. Fox is opinion television, and always right wing opinion. I want to hear the news, then form an opinion, I don’t want to have my opinion told to me. That’s what Fox does every day, seven days a week. They give you the news with a right wing slant, as if to tell you that their opinions are facts. that may work with the less intelligent segment of our society, but I am not a weak minded moron.

  73. Laurie on August 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Like I said – not asking you to change your opinion of them. I was merely pointing out that when you start using words like “ever” and “never” you run the risk that someone will point out exceptions; but I guess saying “hardly ever” doesn’t have quite the same impact when you’re doing your level best to discredit someone.

    I’m not really interested in defending Fox, by the way, I’ll let them answer for themselves. What makes me sigh and shake my head is the notion that everyone on the right is a moron, uneducated, yada, yada, yada. That idea is schoolyard mentality, in my opinion; like some kid saying “you’re stupid!” to someone he’s fighting with at recess.

    Now don’t take this personally, because you’re by far not the only person who talks this way about “the right”; I’m simply sharing how it comes across to me. I don’t have alot of patience for broad-brushed, over-the-top, blanket statements that unfairly criticize a whole group of people, and are absolutely not based on fact, but on a mindset.

    The FACT is that there are many, many people on the “right” that are very intelligent, highly educated, well-informed, reasonable and sensible. I could say the same for people on the left. That is a FACT that can be proven by looking into their backgrounds, schooling, history of employment, etc.

    Sometimes I listen to people on the left and find myself cringing and thinking “ugh!”, just before I change the channel – I may not agree with someone’s ideas or values, but I’m not going to make unfounded, disingenuous statements about their intelligence, education, etc., because I don’t think that’s a fair way to argue my point of view.

    But that’s just me.

  74. Ryan on August 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

    That’s good, because I’m not going to change my mind. As far as the left is concerned, they lie far less than Fixed “News” does. Every other word from that network is either heavy spin, or a blatent lie. The way they give the news is with a heavy right wing slant. Like I said, worthless.

  75. Laurie on August 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Ok, I’ll let you have the last word on Fox news.

    Regarding the subject of this thread, the question of whether our morality stems from our own personal sense of right/wrong, or whether there is one standard of true morality; a thought that came to me as we’ve been conversing is that although I do believe there is one standard, and I think it’s far superior than that of any individual I know of – it’s been my choice to submit to and attempt to bring my lifestyle and life choices in line with that standard rather than live solely by my own sense of right and wrong, which is as flawed as anyone else’s I know.

    As I read your posts, I’ve acknowledged your right to believe what you want, knowing at the same time that just because you have the right to believe it, what you believe is not necessarily right. The same goes for me, of course, so I’m not trying to get all superior on you. If I don’t agree with you, clearly it’s because I think you’re wrong; but I don’t think getting mad at you and calling you names would serve any good purpose, and it certainly wouldn’t motivate you to consider my point of view. I don’t want to be forced to live by the moral values of the left any more than you want to be forced to live by the moral values of the right – but we have a system in place that allows us to vote on major issues to settle these differences. Some of these differences cannot be reconciled because they stem from different world views but in my opinion that’s not an excuse to be hateful to and about people.

    So here’s the thing; I can’t answer for the behavior of everyone on the right, I can only control myself. I can choose to follow the bad example of those who behave inappropriately – or not. I can point fingers at the bad behavior of those on the left, but that would never be an excuse for me to behave badly. I don’t have a problem discussing issues with someone I disagree with, but I try not to let it turn into a personal attack.

    Having said all that, let me add that I began making those choices after I became a Christian; before that I went by my feelings, which greatly affected the way I acted – anyone/anything that offended my feelings justified whatever behavior I chose to respond with – and I didn’t really care if I was being offensive in return, which is pretty hypocritical if you think about it.

    To sum up, even though I agree more with the ideology of “the right”; it’s not because they’re perfect (they’re not), or because I think they’re right about everything (they’re not). I think our sense of right and wrong is flawed, and living solely by our own standards is what causes the problems in our society.

  76. Ryan on June 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve looked at this site, let alone read anything written on it, but I can honestly say that my mind has not changed in the slightest. As long as the right continue to be the hateful, ignorant, hypocritical half wits they they continue to prove themselves to be (I’m talking to you Newt, Sarah, Michelle, any an every right Wing radio host), you can kiss my vote and the votes of 99% of my family and friends good-bye. Case closed, discussion over.

  77. Ryan on January 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    It’s been a while since I looked at this insignificant web site, but after reading all of the comments again, I can see that I came off as a bit hostile, I apologize. This does in no way, however, change the fact that Byron thinks a lot of himself and tends to put more importance in this site than reality suggests, which is to say that any fool with an opinion can make a site to spout off at the mouth. No education is needed to create one.

  78. Ryan on January 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    It’s been a while since I looked at this insignificant web site, but after reading all of the comments again, I can see that I came off as a bit hostile, I apologize. This does in no way, however, change the fact that Byron thinks a lot of himself and tends to put more importance in this site than reality suggests, which is to say that any fool with an opinion can make a site to spout off at the mouth. It isn’t as though you need an education or any intelligence is necessary to create one. What I said about people on the right is still as factual now as it was then. Arrogance and a self righteous attitude are still the norm when dealing with the religious right.

  79. Ryan on January 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    People who refer to themselves as the religious right can attempt to justify their belief that they are morally superior and know better than everyone else when it comes to subjects like abortion or who should have the right to get married, and therefore should have the right to make these decisions for people, but that arguement will never fly. Having an ego and an inflated sense of self worth is never a legitimate arguement. Al Sharpton hit the nail on the head when he said “There was a time when woman not having the right to vote was acceptable, or that blacks had to go to the back of the bus. A lot of things were acceptable, until we decided to stop accepting them.” On that note, these old, ignorant, antiquated beliefs are no longer accepted to us as a society. If some people want to involve themselves in an organized religion that teaches these beliefs, that is their right, but don’t assume that we all believe in them or that we all agree with or take part in organized religion. A woman’s right to choose is not only the right belief, in my opinion, it is also the LAW. If you don’t agree with the law, I guess you had better just get over it, period. As far as gay marriage, who gave anyone else the right to decide who should and should not be able to get married? Get over yourselves. I think that If you believe in the bible, you should be more worried about who is getting divorced and remarried several times over. Isn’t the bible against that as well? That’s a rhetorical question.

  80. Laurie Anthony on January 6, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Good grief, don’t you have anything better to do than come back on here and try to stir up these old, stale arguments?? LOL!

    • Byron on January 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Welcome back, Laurie!

  81. Ryan on January 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Laurie, I’m sorry, I was under the impression that the box at the bottom of the screen was for people to leave comments. What’s the matter, do differing opinions hurt your fragile sense of self worth? Let’s just agree that i can and will voice my opinion, and that you have no say in the matter. So how about you save your childish attempts at insulting me. Or do you not have anything better to do than show how fragile your sensibilities are that you can’t handle someone voicing an opinion that may differ from yours?

  82. Ryan on January 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

    If you are looking for me to prove my views on the religious right being arrogant, I can do that. For starters, last summer I had a guy come to my house attempting to push his Christian beliefs on me. Let’s just say he failed. He could have just knocked on the door then left when no one answered, but he had to push it, so he walks around the house into my back yard. That’s when I noticed him, trespassing on private property, I might add. He then went into his speech about the bible, because the fact that he believes it wasn’t good enough, he needed justification. He left disappointed. He was a nice enough guy, but what right did he have walking around my house, looking through the windows? None. Then just today I get a DVD in the mail from some guy downstate called “America and God,” with a letter telling me that he’s not trying to push religion on me. Who is he trying to fool, of course he’s trying to push his religion on me. He sent me a DVD called “America and god!” which went directly in the garbage, because I won’t be told what to believe by anyone, period. If eight years of catholic school didn’t convince me, these self righteous fools aren’t going to. So I say again, organized religion is full of self righteous know-it-alls with beliefs that are self serving and, more importantly, wrong. No one can tell someone else (a woman, for instance) what they can and can’t do with their bodies. Abortion is legal, those who believe that it shouldn’t be are in the minority, end of discussion. No one can tell someone else (like gays and lesbians) that they can’t get married because the bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. Believe it or not, many people could care less what tje bible says. The bible also says that divorce is wrong. How many of these dictator religious people have been divorced? Save your speeches and your self righteous attitudes, religious Hypocrites.

  83. Ryan on January 13, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I suppose Laurie lives in a world where people can take a letter someone wrote to a newspaper and, in a cowardly fashion, dedicate an entire page on their website to saying that person is wrong without the person knowing to defend themselves, then have his equally cowardly friends insult the person when he finds the website, by chance, and defends his position. Real mature. Who doesn’t have anything better to do with their time, now? What a bunch of spineless garbage.

  84. Laurie Anthony on January 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Sorry, Ryan, but your insults are just rolling off my back – I truly find it funny that you’ve come back here trying to start a fight.

  85. Laurie Anthony on January 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Hey, Byron! Nice to see you back too!

  86. Ryan on January 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Laurie, They aren’t insults, they’re facts. And your comment is a perfect example of the pot calling the kettle black. And as far as trying to start a fight, that’s your take on the issue, and an obvious attempt at spinning the discussion in a way that suits your needs and tries to make you look like the bigger person. It failed, but nice try. No one put a gun to your head and made you respond to my comments. If you had anything better to do yourself, you wouldn’t continue to come back and respond to what I say here. Also, if you can’t handle the facts, that’s your problem, not mine. Facts don’t change just because people are ignorant of them. Welcome to reality.

  87. Laurie Anthony on January 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    You call this a discussion? Looks to me like you just want to rant. So rant away, if it makes you feel better.

  88. Ryan on January 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Laurie,
    Spoken like someone attempting to seem superior, and failing miserably. Like I said, no one is forcing you to respond to my comments, it’s your inflated ego that is causing you to continue to come back and put in your two cents, (which your opinion isn’t even worth) even as you pretend this is all beneath you. I also find it sad and humerous that the guy who started this by dedicating an entire page on my letter is now silent. If you don’t like what I’m saying, ignore it. That is your only option here. As i said before, whether or not i comment here is not up to you, and never will be. If you want to continue having an arguement that you’ll never win, that’s up to you, but your sad attempts at looking mature while engaging in childish behavior us a joke. What would make me feel better would be both you and Byron to get over yourselves. Believing in something blindly doesn’t make you better, it makes you gullible.

    • Byron on January 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      I have been silent because I feel we pretty much exhausted the topics upon which we spoke earlier. I’m not sure I have anything further to add to the discussion.

  89. Ryan on January 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    It makes no difference to me what you think, Laurie. Honestly, this was originally a discussion between Byron and I, until you and some others decided to butt in, so don’t act superior now. No one asked for your opinion, you decided to engage me on your own, which makes you as guilty as I am of wanting to ‘rant.’ You are a typical egotist who only sees what you want to see and hears what you want to hear, ignoring the facts that are inconvienant to your arguement. If you don’t like what I have to say, I have an idea…piss off.

  90. Laurie Anthony on January 13, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Ok Ryan, I will leave you alone. Have fun doing whatever you’re doing here.

  91. Ryan on January 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I will, Laurie. And you’re not ‘leaving me alone,’ that would imply that you had any impact on me. You never did. You also have fun continuing doing whatever you do when you aren’t on this site acting superior and engaging in arguments by your own free will, then acting like the arguement that you chose to continue having is beneath you. In short, living in a dream world where facts and logic don’t matter.

  92. Ryan on January 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Fair enough, Byron

  93. Ryan on February 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

    What is with the religious right insisting that there is a “war on Christianity?” since when did thinking for yourself and having a differing opinion amount to “attacking Christianity?” this is just another example of religious people being needy for attention. You have G.O.P. Presidential candidates like Rick Santorum saying things like “the president is forcing his views on people.” if anyone is forcing their views on people, it’s Christians, who pretend that Creationism or intelligent design is science and should be taught in public schools. These are the same people who talk about morals, regardless of how many times they have been divorced, or tell woman what they can and can’t do with their own bodies even though they have zero say on the matter. And aren’t these priests in the catholic church who preach about morals the same ones who are in trouble for having sex with little boys? There’s your moral superiority. What a joke. And now it’s all about contraception. These religious people are up in arms about Catholic hospitals having to give out birth control to woman. Who says that these doctors and nurses are even Christians? Maybe they just want to practice medicine and have no religious beliefs at all. Just because a hospital is called St. Hostile or Sy. Jude’s doesn’t mean that every person who works there is a Christian. It’s all just a bunch of hypocrisy from tje right, as usual.

  94. Ryan on February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Typos:

    St. Joes or St. Jude’s

    the right

  95. Ryan on February 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I’ll also add to my previous comments that there is even one doctor or nurse in any ‘catholic’ hospital who doesn’t consider themselves to be catholic or christian, but who just wants to practice medicine and has no problem with birth control, then not allowing those doctors and nurses to provide birth control is forcing your Christian beliefs on them. That is the very defination of forcing tour beliefs on people. I have always believed, and still believe, that the two things that Christians can’t get through their thick skulls are that not everyone believes what tjey believe, and that believing in any religion doesn’t automatically make you right. Never has, never will.

  96. Ryan on February 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    You have to love Sen. Mitch McConnell’s latest comments that “the government doesn’t get to decide what religious people’s religious beliefs are, they get to decide that.” this coming from a guy who believes that these same religious people should be able to decide for woman what they can and can not do with their own bodies, or whether or not the L.G.B.T. community should have the right to get married, or adopt children. I guess that old Mitch believes that only religious people have the right to make decisions for themselves. Hypocrite much?

  97. Ryan on February 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    The latest in Republican hypocrisy has to be the religious right complaining that, in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s words “The government shouldn’t get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are, they should decide that.” At the same time, the Governor of Virginia is preparing to sign a bill forcing any woman who wants to get an abortion to have a transvaginal ultrasound, whether she wants one or not. So apparently to the religious right, no one should be able to tell them anything that goes against their religious beliefs, but they are free to force those same religious beliefs on woman and tell them what to do. Hypocrisy at it’s finest. Then there’s Gov. Chris Xhristie of New Jersey, who vetoed a bill legalizing gay marriage, because it went against his religious beliefs. Beliefs, I might add, that not everyone agrees with. So republicans can force their religious beliefs on others and tell them how to love their lives, but no one Had ever tell them how to live their lives, what a double standard.

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