Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Argument Against Homeschooling

A couple of our friends, some of Paige's cousins, and even a colleague who teaches with me at the high school are all seriously considering homeschooling their children. At the risk of offending, please allow me to offer some arguments against, which some parents might have overlooked.

Homeschooling has some advantages, and I'm willing to recognize those. It offers parents a dramatic level of control over their childrens' education. For those concerned about political or religious bias in education, it allows parents to control the spin (or maintain the illusion that they could possibly present the content with no spin at all). At its best, it can allow a child to learn at a far more accelerated pace, and could personalize that education to best meet the individual child's learning styles as determined by the person who knows him or her the best. It seems like the perfect solution in so many ways. But it isn't. Let me tell you.

I see homeschooled kids come through my classroom when their parents decide they need to begin attending public high school, and they are lacking in remarkable ways. And if you think those are just the bad parents who failed their children in some way, saw the error of their ways and put the child in public school, and therefore represent a flawed sample from which to judge homeschooling in general, let me assure you: These are some of the better homeschooling parents I've come across.

I attended a small, denominationally affiliated Christian school for my undergrad education, so we had a disproportionately high number of homeschooled students there, and these students exhibited many of the same characteristics as their ninth and tenth grade counterparts, often to more extreme degrees. And these parents weren't the worst of the homeschooling bunch, either.

The worst homeschooling parents, in my experience, are those who allow their children to attend public schools but provide very little at-home support for their kids. Then, when these kids struggle, these public-school parents join the ranks of the homeschooling parents because they've come to believe the schools failed in some way, only to provide their kids with little or no instruction at all once the kid is removed from public schools. Once I came across one of my former students sitting in her front yard as I walked home from school, and I asked her why I no longer saw her at school, because I knew she hadn't graduated.

"I'm being homeschooled now," she told me. As it was then the end of the school day I knew it was entirely possible she'd spent the day hard at work participating in the same kinds of activities as her public school peers, but seeing her sitting there, alone, lounging in the grass, I couldn't help but be skeptical, and I let that image burn into my memory. The next year she returned to school, and we could all tell she hadn't received any instruction and was now a full year behind her peers; more than a full year since she'd dropped out because she'd been struggling in the first place. The existence of homeschooling as an option created a circumstance where her mother could abuse the avenue in order to neglect her child's education. To me, every homeschooling parent has an obligation to uphold the institution of homeschooling to a higher degree than merely providing something comparable to the public schools, in order to balance out the parents who use homeschooling as a means to neglect their children. If homeschooling, as an institution, isn't going to be a burden on society, parents who make the choice can't settle for just-as-good-as-public-schools. They have to commit to being better.

I don't expect that anyone who is thoughtfully considering homeschooling their child before kindergarten would become one of these negligent parents, but there are a handful of concerns even the best parents should bear in mind.

First and foremost: Education. I’m not talking about your level of education. You may have a B.A. or a Masters or a Ph.D. But have you studied education itself? We teachers sit around and badmouth our educational programs, complaining about the amount of jargon that’s thrown at us, but jargon is shorthand for real concepts, and we may have heads filled with educational buzzwords, but those are connected to strategies we wouldn’t know otherwise. You can read (obviously. You’re reading this) but that doesn’t mean you know more than one way to teach someone to read. You know the strategy that worked for you. Often students struggle in a particular subject or a particular class because they have a teacher like me who just can’t figure out why they can’t understand the information in the way that made the most sense for me. I do my best to try to figure out some other strategies, but one of the strengths of public education (or private, large school education) is that if I can’t figure out a way to reach a student, the next teacher might. Think back to a particular teacher who taught you in a subject in a way that just didn’t work for you. Now concede the possibility that you just might be that teacher for your child, at least in one academic subject. If you are your child’s only teacher, they’ll have the experience you had, only for their entire education.

Another consideration: Experience. Every time I teach a lesson I think to myself, how could I do that better next time? And almost every day I think of some little tweak that will make my classes better. They estimate that it takes a teacher seven years to reach the level of expertise desired for the profession. At the end of our careers we tend to trail off in energy, due to burn-out or the simple, inescapable biology of old age. In between, we’re at our best because we’ve had a chance to refine our practice and get really good at what we do. I’ve been teaching for a while now (three years as an Ed. Asst., one as a student teacher and sub, five years in my own room) and I don’t feel like I’m where I want to be as a professional, but I’m a lot better than I was my first year. In fact, part way through my second semester of teaching Creative Writing, when I’d run across someone who took it the previous semester, I’d apologize. I’d done my best to create the course for them, but I learned so much during that semester which I simply couldn’t foresee on my own, and the folks who take it from me now are getting a much better teacher. Over the course of your child’s education in the public schools, they will have some first-years teachers who bring a lot of energy and new ideas to the classroom, but also lack experience. They’ll also have some teachers who have plenty of experience, but may be burned-out. And, let’s be honest, they will have some teachers who just aren’t very good at it. But over the course of your child’s thirteen years before college, they won’t have any one of these every year. If you homeschool, at the very least they’ll have an inexperienced teacher every year. Just when you have a year of first grade teaching under your belt, you’ll be an inexperienced second grade teacher. And your child may have a teacher who finds that he or she also stinks at it. By then end, you might even be all three, the perfect storm; an inexperienced, unqualified burn-out.

Public education gets attacked often in the media because we have these bad teachers in our midst, but these criticisms generally don’t stand up to real scrutiny. Look at the literacy rate in the U.S. against other industrialized countries, and you’ll be appalled. But look at the growth in literacy by percentage of population over the last hundred years, and you’ll realize our public schools are pretty amazing. We’re frequently compared to businesses, but it’s a false comparison. Businesses get to choose what raw materials come in, in order to control the quality of the products that they produce. We don’t have that luxury. And yet, when you adjust our outputs for things like socio-economics, we’re doing remarkably well. The schools in some countries may be better, but their kids are richer, have socialized medicine, have a shared culture and language, have enough to eat every day, etc., etc. A fairer criticism is that we pay our teachers poorly, commensurate to their education and our expectations of them as professionals. That’s true, and I’m not just saying that because I want a holiday bonus. If we know that teachers are at their best seven years in, we should do what it takes to retain them. The problem is that we want to hold on to the good ones and get rid of the bad ones, but it’s very hard to judge which teachers are best. Test scores can’t do this, because different teachers teach radically different groups of kids, and individual teachers get different groups each year. More subjective methods can’t weed out bad teachers because, well, they’re too subjective. One administrator may think I’m great and the next may think I stink, and both for reasons unrelated to my classroom performance. We, as citizens, don’t want to invest in education if some of the money will go into the hands of the bad teachers, but we, as teachers, don’t want to give up any protections if we’re not going to see some serious investments in education. It’s a stalemate, but we overheat the rhetoric on both sides by trying to make our cases at the expense of public education as an institution. The folks who want more accountability say the schools stink because they want to get rid of teachers. The folks who want higher teacher pay say the schools stink because they want to show the need to recruit the best. But the fact is, the schools don’t stink. As a parent, you really are the one who benefits from the stalemate the most (though as a citizen you suffer), because schools keep chugging along on what conservative columnist David Brooks calls the “Missionary Model”. Your child’s teachers will be there, working as hard as they can in that classroom, not because they are being well paid, but because they care about students. This model might not be sustainable, as Brooks warns, but in the short run it means your child gets a professional teaching them who doesn’t expect to be paid professional wages. When considering whether or not to homeschool, don’t forget the gift-horse you’re looking in the mouth.

Now, for some parents, the greatest motivation to consider homeschooling is religious. They want to make sure that religious instruction is tied into every portion of their child’s education. Undergirding this concern is a fundamental belief that religious neutrality does not exist; that teaching a child without formal religious instruction is tantamount to evangelical atheism. In some cases, this is simply untrue, and that’s a reason not to homseschool. But in some cases it might be true, and that’s still a reason not to homeschool.

At the lower grade levels, the basics of any subject will not be fundamentally altered by incorporating religious instruction. The times tables are the same for Hindus, Christians, Atheists, and Mormons. Unless you want to teach your children hard-core young-Earth creationism, the sciences won’t be affected, either, and if you want to go that route don’t waste their time with any science at all. And don’t buy the “Intelligent Design” cop-out. That hyper-qualified bastard child of Creationism isn’t about science, really. It doesn’t actually make any scientific claims, but explains what we don’t know by defending the possibility that an intelligent space alien or magical unicorn had a hand in creation (think I’m exaggerating? Look it up. That’s what its foremost proponents argued for in court in its defense). Die-hard Creationism throws all science out the window. If you want to keep your child home to teach them that, fine, but be consistent and tell them your cell phone is powered by the beating of angels’ wings and the microwave oven heats food because magical fairies get very angry when they are trapped inside. Barring this kind of instruction, there’s very little that your religious bent will change in the actual content of your child’s education in the early grades.

At the higher levels, it actually might start to make a difference, and that’s a reason not to homeschool, too. By the time your child is in high school, a particular teacher’s take on, say, Old Man and the Sea, will certainly be colored by their religious beliefs. That’s because the book itself was colored by the author’s religious beliefs. As was everything by Shakespeare. And the writer of your child’s History textbook. But your child needs to learn how to interact with beliefs that are different than you own, not only to formulate and independent opinion, which is important, but also to isolate subtle bias. Unless you want to add Oscar-caliber acting to your resume, you can’t teach this through formal instruction by yourself. Students need to get to know many different teachers so they can come to identify the way different people spin information.

Now, you may be thinking that your religious education will affect the moral instruction your child receives throughout school. This doesn’t fit with my experience at all. When did you first learn swear words when you were a kid? When did you first say them openly and comfortably in front of your parents? I’ll bet there’s a distance between those experiences. That’s because you learned that different rules apply in front of your parents. Everybody learns this, and it’s healthy. It helps us learn that different behaviors are appropriate with different company. This year, in my class, we did an activity where students were supposed to come up with examples of homonyms. Guess which kid shouted out “Pussy and pussy!” and “Cock and cock!” Yep. The formerly-homeschooled kid. Because he’s trying to figure out boundaries other kids already know. I’m sure he wouldn’t have said those things in front of his parents, but now he has to figure out what will impress his friends, and what the consequences will be from the teacher. He couldn’t learn that at home. And don’t get me started on the formerly-homeschooled friend I had in college, who tried to catch up with his peers by attempting to out-do everyone with his drunken antics. Sheltering people from moral dilemmas does not make them more moral; it makes them less capable of analyzing moral complexities that have been postponed, because now they lack the experience to make those judgments. Your kid will be exposed to things that frighten you in the public schools. It’s better for your child to be exposed to those things incrementally, rather than thrown into a world full of those moral dilemmas without the proper preparation when they are old enough to be expected to know how to handle them.

This brings us to the most important reason not to homeschool your child: Social Development. You’re probably thinking you can get your child involved in play groups, sports teams, Sunday school, and a host of other social activities. I know these groups have become highly evolved within the homeschooling movement, because there's been a recognition that the isolation of homeschooling damaged children. The assumption is that these new social developments within homeschooling will prepare children for the real world in the same way school does. Wrong. Being on a sports team prepares you to be on a sports team. Sunday school teaches you how to act in Sunday school. But, as an adult, the shared experience which provides all the other employees in the office with their social attitudes came not from Sunday school or tee-ball, but from school. Social psychologists say the most important predictor of success in the adult world is emotional intelligence, the ability to interact with others on an emotional level. This can’t be taught through direct instruction, by me, by you, by any adult. It’s learned through peer interaction, especially when adults aren’t around. When is it appropriate to propose a new, made-up rule in a game of kickball or four square? How many rules can one propose before being dismissed as annoying? And how does one tease to let someone know they are part of group, as opposed to the kind of teasing that lets someone know one wants to exclude them from a group? And how does one flirt? Who will teach your child to flirt? If you say you’ll do it, that’s just gross. They will learn that on the playground, or on the school bus. Consider the other places where they’ll have to learn it if they’re homeschooled. Movies? The Internet?

Just about everybody thinks their child is of above-average intelligence, and, statistically, around half of us are correct. We worry that the public schools will not be up to the task of educating our little geniuses. But intelligence is more than the ability to perform difficult mathematical calculations in our heads or count toothpicks when a box is spilled. In our house we have a term for people who lack emotional intelligence. We call them “Sotards”. It’s short for Socially Retarded. This isn’t a knock on the mentally retarded. It uses the term "retarded" in its literal sense; to be slowed or impeded in growth. Just as the socially adept weren’t born that way, sotards aren’t born; they’re made. Those who choose to homeschool their children need to make that decision conscious of the fact that they may be raising the next generation of sotards, and that they were the ones responsible for retarding their children’s development.


@bdul muHib said...

Excellent article, Ben. I totally agree.

I went to 13 schools before college, a mixture of public and private and home-schooled. My very best year of schooling before high-school (which is really a different animal) was 7th grade in a home-school in our commune, with 13 kids and 4 teachers. I was the only one in my grade level. My very worst year of schooling before high-school was 8th grade at a YWAM school. The worst was because the teachers had no training, but were picked only because they'd completed a DTS. The best was because the adults did the research to find those who knew their subject and could teach it well. My mom taught me literature and history (and later went on to formally teach it), and we hired someone to teach science and math. And I rate it good and bad by how much I learned in those respective years. It just so happened that my learning style corresponds to my mom's teaching style, and the most common teaching style in America, so I lucked out.

I think home-schooling can be appropriate in rare cases. It works better for some kids, because everyone's different. But you have to have that rare case where you and your spouse can meet every subject adequately for your student. You have to not only know how to teach well, but you and your spouse have to know math, history, science, and english through and through, or, if you don't, hire someone who does. I've though about the possibilites were I overseas. I know I couldn't ever teach a child math well, unless they were in 3rd grade perhaps.

Very few parents can meet this, and it becomes far more difficult in high school. I'd never recommend home schooling for high school, for all the reasons you mention above, and because of electives. Part of growing up means being able to make decisions, and choosing your electives, what you want to study, is, I believe, a key part of that. And no parent, even the Nobel Prize winner, can possibly teach all the electives their son or daughter might want.

And I totally echo you, of course, on the key area of science. The most often stated or unstated reason I hear for home-schooling is evolution. They want to teach their children without that. There's a reason that our nation's children are now getting alarmingly poor scores in the sciences as compared with other 1st World nations- and even with some 2/3rds World nations now. And it's not just the sad level of science instruction in home schools. Many of the biology teachers in the South and Midwest also teach Intelligent Design or Literal Creationism, to the severe detriment of both their students and the nation. Yes, I think a parent has a right to remove their kid from school, and teach them ID crap. They also have a right to necrophilia. I don't recommend either.

Shannon M. said...

LOL, a child best learns appropriate social behaviors by spending 35+ hours a week with same age peers? Please! That's the blind leading the blind. If your argument that putting a child on sports teams prepares them for sports and putting them in Sunday School prepares them for Sunday School, then putting them with other children all day, every day prepares them to... be prepared for the adult world? Huh? Do you see what is wrong with that argument?

No, locking them into the mentality that they are best off to socialize only with children born within 12 months of themselves (your average classroom) limits their abilities to socialize. Those are the teens that can barely utter an appropriate greeting to you when you go through their line at the grocery store. Those are the kids that are using profanity on the corner, with their friends. Tell me, how old are your friends? Do you all share a birth year? Wouldn’t you consider it weird if you did?

Majority of kids in school learn the social skills that they need to *survive school.* Wear clothes that look just like what everyone else wears. Make fun of kids that aren’t as cool as you. Smoke, because all of your friends are doing it. Cheat on tests, because that is better than studying or failing. Have sex in middle school because you want attention. Go along with the crowd, never standing up for what is right, because you don’t want to appear to be different.

My church, nowhere close to fundamental, has an extremely high number of homeschoolers- I'd say we are 50/50 homeschooled versus public and private school. I rotate through various age groups throughout the year and, by far, the homeschooled children are more mature, more responsible and always ready to work. They come in with their verses memorized, have all of their supplies and will actually have a conversation with me.

These same kids come to co-op every Monday at our church, where parents share resources and take turns teaching. They have holiday parties together, volunteer in the community, raise money to donate to those less fortunate and more! They are more productive members of society than a good number of adults that I have run across.

Most homeschool parents I know (I work for a homeschooling magazine and am the homeschool coordinator for my county) take their jobs very seriously. If they do not understand a subject, or just can't seem to teach their child, they find someone else to teach it- either their spouse or another family member or another homeschooling mom. They figure out a bartering system, and if all else fails, they hire a tutor.

We, as parents, have so much more vested in our children doing well than any teacher. These children are my responsibility; If they don't become productive citizens, I have to deal with it. OTOH, most teachers won't ever know what becomes of their students 15 years down the road. They have too many students to worry about.

We haven’t even begun to discuss what is wrong with the current structure of the educational system. Really, isn’t there a better way to divide classes than by birthdates? Why not use skill levels instead? I was bored most years in school because the teachers would rarely have enough work for me. The best 2 years I had was in high school, when my math teacher (had him 2 years in a row) realized that I didn’t need all of the review. He gave me my packet of work (for the week) on Monday and I would finish it by class on Tuesday and then would spend the rest of the week in the school library. Most teachers didn’t care enough to allow that. Instead, they would have me “tutor” other kids (who really only wanted me to tell them all of the right answers).

Homeschooled children work as fast or slow as they need to. They get more 1-on-1 learning than any average classroom taught child could get. Learning materials are not taught to the average, unless that child truly is average. There is no falling behind, because Mom and Dad can just adjust the school schedule for that child. If only all kids could have a completely customized education, they would all be better off.

The children that are pulled out of school in a fit of anger, and then are not taught, are not homeschooled. Not teaching your child is truancy. Simply put, most states have some kind of educational requirement for homeschoolers, and by not bothering with those the child is truant, not homeschooled. As for the children that are put into the schools after being homeschooled, keep in mind that they were put into school for a reason. Homeschooling was not working for those families. That does not negate the fact that homeschoolers outscore traditionally schooled children on both the ACT and the SAT tests (look it up…it’s true).

There is no one method out there that is right for all students. Parents are free to make the choice that fits their family best, and more families are choosing homeschooling every year because they are seeing that it works. I am not anti-public school (I taught elementary school until staying home with my own children), but I am against parents sending their kids to school without ever considering all of the options. If, after researching, you feel public school is the right place for your child, then that is wonderful. Take the time to know your children and pick the education best suited to them and your family.

@bdul muHib said...

Most home-schooler parents I know act like they can teach all the subjects, but, if you happen to be an expert in one or more of those, you can see they really, really can't. Since my and Shannon's experiences disagree, while definitely being equally valid as experiences, I'd say we can't rely on my and Shannon's personal experiences with home-school parents on this issue, but rather would need to see an exhaustive study on the matter.

Shannon M. said...

Honestly, most teachers aren't experts in what they teach, either, so why try to hold homeschoolers to a higher standard? My focus was K-2, but I taught 4th and 5th. My high school biology teacher was an English major, and we had 3 teachers at the elementary school I taught at that weren't certified at all. They were brought in under a special circumstance that allowed them to work for a certain amount of time before they had to be certified (all of these circumstances were public schools; I know that private schools also have issues like these.) Are all teachers in public schools that are not "experts" in what they teach bad teachers? Not at all! And parents, even though they are not experts on everything they teach, are experts on their own children! I know how my children learn better than anyone else and can seek out the resources that they need.

@bdul muHib said...

In 13 different schools before college, I ran into one year where the teachers weren't experts in what they taught, the aforementioned private school. Now, I am of course not arguing that a high school or junior high teacher is an expert in what they teach to the same extent as a college professor- they've got different kind of jobs. But a high school biology teacher should know the basics of his field, how a theory works, and what the central principles of their discipline are. Too many homeschooler parents don't know this. And yes, there are a good number of biology teachers in public and private schools who don't know this either, and they should be summarily and instantly fired.

Shannon M said...

Homeschoolers outperform public schooled kids, according to ACT scores. The most recent scores I can find that have a breakdown by where a child went to high school is 2005. Check out the chart that comes straight from the ACT website-

I found the SAT scores that show the same result as the ACT- homeschoolers (listed as 'independent' schoolers on the results) are doing better than public and private schools. Here are the reading, math and writing averages for those 3 groups:

Table 6: Type of High School
SAT Reasoning Test Test-Takers Percent by Gender Mean Scores
Number Pct Male Female Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
Public 498 509 488
Religiously Affiliated 531 526 527
Independent 546 569 548

Let's face it- school is an artificial environment. It does not mimic true society, with everyone answering to a bell at the same time and being expected to always be on the same page as everyone else. This alone is enough to convince me that keeping my children out of school, because I need them prepared to live in the real world. In the real world, you have choices and aren't expected to conform to the masses.

Could you please provide some statistics that show that most homeschoolers do not do a good job? Test scores? Anything that is not an opinion piece? I have yet to see proof that homeschoolers do as poorly as some seem to insinuate...because, quite honestly, if such proof existed the NEA would be shouting it from the rooftops.

Shannon M said...

Also, curiosity is killing me here- did you truly switch schools every single year in grades K-12? That must have made it extremely difficult for you. So many schools have such different approaches to education that it would seem that you spend the first month or two simply adjusting to the new system.

I just went and reread your first reply. Most homeschoolers don't feel that they can teach everything. The thing we have to be most in tune with is our own limitations. That's why I run a co-op... we all share our resources when we need to. As far as electives, we have everything from your basic home-ec to AP courses available to us. We have the ability to go to our local Christian school for some of those; we have also started our own sports teams, band and chess clubs. Our varsity volleyball team went to Nationals last year and did very well. It does take a bit more effort, but to most homeschooling families, the effort is well worth it. We do this because we love our children and want to give them the best.

@bdul muHib said...

Sadly, the ACT, or for that matter the SAT, don't test for science. Being that that's my field, I've seen lots and lots of data that show that home schoolers and private schoolers in general (there are significant exceptions) don't do as well in science. Unfortunately, there are too many home school parents and private schools teaching odd hypothesis or misunderstandings of science, which severely retard their children for decades, if not their entire lives. And yes, I know nothing of the NEA, but there are many scientific organizations like the NCSE decrying this.

As for your other question, I didn't switch schools every year in K-12. Some years I switched 3 times; sometimes I had the same school for a whole three years in a row. However, as I had the constant benefit of a supporting commune around me, that provided the stability rather than my schools. And this goes to Ben's point- I adapted to my own culture that way, and not American culture.

@bdul muHib said...

Sorry- I missed that last part of your comment. Yes, I agree, Coops are better than home schooling with just a parent.

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Shannon M said...

Co-ops are the greatest, in my completely biased opinion, LOL. This morning I was looking around at the parents in our co-op and realized we have:

1 artist (she teaches all of our art classes and is AMAZING!)
1 mom that is a writer and also works in marketing and advertising. The kids really like the fun spin that is put on a typical writing class by having them write ads for their favorite toys.
1 dad that majored in Ranger services in college. He took classes such as botany, dendrology, biology, zoology and taxidermy. He is wonderful with all things science. 
1 mom that majored in some type of mathematics. She also teaches the kids all about Excel and other computer programs that she uses in her job. (about half of our moms work- some from home, some part time, etc…)
1 dad that is a nurse. He takes over health classes.
1 dad that is a firefighter. He teaches phys ed.
1 mom that is amazing in the kitchen and takes on home ec with the kids.
1 mom that trains service dogs. She is teaching a really cool class on animals next quarter.
1 dad that can only come every other week, due to his job, but he is a history buff that loves to tackle history and geography.
3 moms that aren’t specially trained in any particular area, but they sure are gifted in many. 1 teaches our preschool class and another assists. Another teaches logic and critical thinking classes.

We have a wonderful blend of parents that come together and share everything we have. As you demonstrated by saying that your commune provided great support, it may take a village, but I reserve the right to choose which village raises my children. Ours is a village that teaches acceptance to all, love to all and teamwork to all. I am a picky parent that will not settle for the mediocre offerings from the local schools for my children.
Your big issue is that science lacks in homeschooling, (I would love to see the data and studies on this, as I love statistics). That may (or may not) be true, but for arguments sake, let’s say that it is. Is that really enough of a reason to not homeschool? Is science more important than writing, reading and math (subjects that homeschoolers do better than traditionally schooled children in, based on ACT/SAT results)? Yes, you may use science everyday in your job, but how many adults really need the higher level sciences more than they need excellent communication and math skills? And are public schools really doing a phenomenal job of teaching science? Not in my experience, and not according to our ranking in the world.

Benjamin Gorman said...

This has been a fabulous discussion so far, and I'm hesitant to weight in, for fear of slowing it down. I do want to just make two points, though. Shannon M., it seems to me that you have a wonderful homeschool option for your kids, but it also seems that it's greatest strengths come from the fact that you have a group of qualified teachers working together, sharing their experience, and providing a group of students with opportunities no one child would have if only served by a single parent. In other words, the best thing about your homeschool is that you and your co-op have created a wonderful school. Short of a Creationist co-op, I don;t think any of my concerns about homeschooling really apply to that model, but then I would categorize it differently. I'd call that a co-op private school. My son is in a co-op preschool and it's wonderful. But I wouldn't say he attends a homeschool preschool. So, maybe it's semantics, but to me this seems like a substantive difference within the broad category of homeschooling.

Next, you LOLed at the idea of students learning from their peers ("blind leading the blind") but as a fan of reasearch you should look into Vygotsky's work, because that really is the best way we learn. Direct instruction from adults just isn't as efficient or effective. Think about how quickly kids pick up catch phrases from their peers; this may seem trivial, but lacking in common vernacular is a portion of what makes someone a sotard. Now go back to the example of flirting. How do you propose a child not blessed with a school (public, private, or co-op) learn how this is done, if "blind leading the blind" is unacceptable?

One last thing; you said you're a statistics fan, so you know that 63.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot, and of those some 25% or spontaneously created on blogs, but I'd add that some dangerous quantity of statistics which can;t be measured are not made up but measure things other than that which they purport to measure. The ACT comparison is a good example of this. It's a self-selected test. Do you know what percentage of homseschooled kids take the ACT? Does that number include kids who claim to be homeschooling but eventually simply drop out? I'm not saying homeschoolers do better or worse, academically, than their public school peers, but I don;t think it's any easier to measure that for homeschoolers than it is for public school kids, and the measures we use in the public schools are (let me tell you) pretty rotten. But then, in this case, I'm not sure how useful the averages would be. I know I can greatly enhance my son's public education by being actively involved as a parent, by providing him additional instruction at home in things they don't cover (and which I don't want them to cover) like religious instruction, by supporting his teachers, by having high expectations at home, etc. As a parent with a child in a co-op, you have even more control, and can make sure your child's education is even further from an average which includes parents who abuse the homeschool model to neglect their kids. So if the outliers are our goals, are the averages useful in choosing a model for education?

If the averages are useful, would you support having homseschool students take the same tests as public school students in order to earn a diploma? As we focus more and more on testing our students to death, one of the conundrums will be homeschooling as a haven from all the incessant testing, or homeschooling as a model within the same testing regimen. Where do you stand on that one?

Shannon M said...

I wouldn't call our co-op a private school, as we only meet once a week. The vast majority of the education is taken care of by the individual parents. And I don't recall ever stating it was a "Creationists" Co-op. A bit of an assumption, I presume, based on it happening at a church? ;-) The science texts in my home are secular.

The last thing I am interested in my children learning is flirting, but since that is the example used, I'll go with it. My 6 year old son, heaven help me, has no problem with the flirting. He scares me at times, LOL. I think that social nuances like that depend more on the inherit personality of the child than what they learn from other children. We have all seen plenty of backwards and shy kids in school that never seem to pick up on these no matter how long they have been in school.

I think one thing that is hard for people that have not taught in a homeschool to understand is that it is rarely "school at home." I had to learn this coming from the classroom to the home to teach, because I wanted so badly to recreate what I had in a classroom setting. My oldest is 9 and is pretty much self-directed at this age. We sit down together and go over the "have-to" subjects for the day (math and reading are non-negotiables) and then figure out which subjects he wants to tackle that day. I believe that a child learns best when they are interested in what they are learning. Anything we can do to help them "understand" versus "memorize" is utilized. And this is all made easier by not having a classroom full of fidgety kids distracting my children. No whispering, no spitballs, no squeaky chairs or notepassing. No interruptions from a teacher to shush the trouble makers in the back of the class.

I use testing averages because it seems to be something that outsiders can relate to. It is also, in my experience, the first thing outsiders ask for to prove that we are "doing a good job." (I would still love any proof from those same outsiders that homeschoolers aren't doing well. I mean, there has to be some research out there somewhere done by a pro-public school organization.)

I do test my children every year, only because it allows me to compare their own growth from one year to the next. I think testing in schools has become a pain in the backside- more of a hinderance than anything. Teachers are now worried about AYP, and how it affects their jobs, when they should be able to strictly focus on the needs within the classroom. Some years are just bad for testing, and depend on more than just the subjects covered that year (for instance, did everyone get enough sleep? or enough to eat? was the room too warm? etc...)

So, no, I do not believe homeschools and public schools should use the same tests to obtain a diploma. Homeschools are like private schools and all vary so much from family to family. Children learn at different rates and those tests do not take that into account. Honestly, it irritates me that some schools will now refuse a child a diploma based on those tests, even if that same child has carried a decent GPA all the way through. Some kids just do not test well. :-)

Sorry if this post is more rambling than anything (or full of typos). I am rocking a little one to sleep and she just seems more interested in smacking the keyboard than anything else tonight. *sigh*

@bdul muHib said...

Let me address the issues of science you raised. I don't have the statistics at my fingertips, but I might suggest you'd probably find that at the NCSE website, or the Panda's Thumb website.

I'd say, yes, that is enough of a reason not to homeschool on science, and homeschool (maybe) for everything else. Now, if you can get some homeschool teachers who really do know science, that's a different matter. What I mean is that you shouldn't just wipe out the idea of homeschooling science because it's been so bad so far; rather, say that one shouldn't homeschool science, unless people change the way they do it. And those few who are homeschooling science well should continue to do it well.

Is science more important than the other subjects? I don't know. It's certainly not less important. I'd say it's more important, but I only say that because I'm biased. (Sorry Ben.) But more to the point, does the average adult need to know about science in order to survive? Yes- and much more so than knowing about math, literature, and history. Because our world is about to be destroyed in a cataclysm of our own making, through global warming and the 5th Mass Extinction Event, the spread of pollution and increasing acidity of our oceans. And frankly, a lot of the reason things have gotten as bad as they have is 1) the masses don't know about science, and 2) many have believed fables and lies about the scientific world, because they have no real grounding in science. Consider one little aspect: being taught that evolution doesn't exist means that people don't realize the real danger of antibiotic resistance, which has lead to increased demand for antibiotics for viral illnesses (of all things), increasing the chances of a pandemic, and in the short-term leading directly to the deaths of individuals who receive antibiotic-resistant infections. Science education does matter.

Our ranking in the world in science is increasingly poor. And the culprits, most experts believe, are home-school teachers, many private schools, and public schools predominantly in the South and Mid-West. Again, this isn't to say there aren't a few homeschool teachers out there who are doing a good job. But it's not the public school system per se that is teaching lies about science. It is a subset of the American population, in public, private, and homeschools, who happen to be a larger percentage of homeschools than the other two.

Benjamin Gorman said...

First off, Adbul, I have to agree that the ecological situation makes science more important than literature. I think the most important thing I teach is critical reading and persuasive writing, since these will be the skills to weed through spin and then persuade others to change their actions. I think it's a safe assumption that homeschools disproportionately present Creationism. But then, there is no good data on this, and I think homeschoolers would chafe at the kind of mandatory standardized testing that could compare homseschoolers to public school students. I know they would, because we certainly do, but I'll bet they will fare a bit better in the battle to keep this kind of testing out of their curriculum.

which brings me back to your last post, Shannon. First off, no, my reference to Creationist homseschools wasn't to your school. Somehow I got that you don't have that kind of school. But as someone who likes science and statistics, you have to admit we won't have real hard data on the merits of homeschooling until homeschool students take the same tests as public school students. Now, you and I both do our own testing of our students, and we do it for the right reasons; to assess their performance, and to plan our instruction. But these tests are designed to measure the teacher's performance. The scores come back too late to help guide instruction, and the scores are too simple to be used to assess student performance. They're measuring us, not our kids. It's worse than that, because, in states like Oregon, the kids have no incentive currently to pass the tests (they aren't tied to graduation, though they keep threatening to do so), so we're measured by a test kids have no incentive to take. I don't recommend doing it, but if you really want a one-to-one comparison of homeschooling and public schools, it's the only way. GPA is too subjective. ACT/SAT are designed for another purpose, are expensive, and are self selected. I guess I'm just saying, when you say you'd like more hard research comparing the averages of the two, be careful what you wish for, because there are very powerful forces who'd love to ram their tests down your throats the way they have to us.

@bdul muHib said...

Hey now, Ben- without mandatory testing, how would the US military know who to recruit?

Anonymous said...

Hey all - I just want to thank you for an interesting debate. "Conversations" like this, in my experience anyway, tend to move pretty quickly towards namecalling and you all have managed to keep this very civil while still disagreeing. My guess is that trait makes you all pretty good teachers! :) Anyway, thanks for the interesting reading and for showing me that intelligent adults can disagree respectfully. Maybe there is hope for the world... - Bill

Benjamin Gorman said...

No, Bill, the world is screwed and you're a doody-head.

See, you think I'm a good teacher, but my kids all leave my classes with some serious emotional scarring for some reason...

Anonymous said...

Teenagers use the word doody-head? And you assume too much, I think Abdul and Shannon are good teachers; I spent too much time in college with you to know that you aren't (though I think I share some of those emotional scars...) - B

Shannon M said...

Oh, wonderful guys! My 9 year old son was reading over my shoulder and said, "Doody head?" You should be proud to know that you have lowered his IQ by a point and a half just for learning such a word. ;-) Thanks! LOL

Benjamin Gorman said...

Okay, Shannon, make sure your son isn't reading over your shoulder.


Okay, the other day one of my students came into class and said, "Mr. Gorman, I found your blog online. Creative use of the term 'Doucehbaggery'."

By comparison, Doody-head ain't too bad.

By the way, Bill, thanks for mentioning that we went to college together. I realized after the post that Shannon and Jed, not knowing that we are friends, might have thought I leave snotty, insulting, apocolyptic messages for strangers. No, I save that kind of thing for only my closest friends. Which, now that I write it down, seems kind of strange.

Benjamin Gorman said...

Oops. Creative spelling of Douchebaggery, too.

Shannon M said...

*cough, cough* Yes, well, perhaps you should have a huge warning at the top of the blog about the language used here, LOL. I'll try to keep my son away, haha. Scary thing is, he loves these types of sites. Luckily his computer has a strong filter, hahaha.

And I am glad to know that I am not the only one that chooses to insult those that are closest to me. My husband asks why I am so nice to strangers, but horribly sarcastic to him and our friends. Hmmm.... wish I knew. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just for other readers, if there are snotty "anonymous" comments about Ben...odds are they came from me and I forgot to "sign." - B

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Not sure where you got the angel in the microwave stuff from, but it is painfully obvious that from the old diehard adages about homeschoolers lacking "socialization" (never proven, but, say, I wonder if that's also a qualification for being the best at neurosurgery and software development--I'll bet not), lack of parental input, the necessity of getting the kiddies to learn about body parts right out of kindergarten, among other myths, some things never die.

Not to mention the continuous lack of investigation into ID and the secularist mythology that if you can explain how airplanes and cyclotrons and can openers work, then explaining the very existence of the Cosmos is a piece of cake where the consensus lies that the universe popped here from nothing.


For more on that, see, for example, the entire history of science and this fabulously annihilated myth that it is ever at war with faith.
Rodney Stark, among other REAL historians, has some interesting insights on this you won't hear from the baloney crowd like Andrew Dickson White, et al.

As to the lofty Sweetness and Light hand-holding results of, say, murders, mockery of religion in the classroom disguised as social cohesion, tolerance, and other PC blather, or traditional values being mocked, or mythology about socialism being the advanced path to the future for mankind, logos posted showing guns with strikeouts on them on school doors,
radical environmentalist claptrap as "science", but no references to Julian Simon (just who the hell is he, you might ask?), or funny admonitions to leave the drugs at home, teacher abuse and sex scandals, court harassment of homeschooled kids and their parents all in legal literature on flimsy charges such as nosy neighbors noticing "dishes piled high" in the sink, lackluster performance of public school kids flunking out in so much as balancing their first check book or reading the Micky D's employment contract, and yet.....

.....utter amazement is expressed from educators that anyone would "shield" their darlings from the public schools. Socialization indeed.

As victim, er, product of the lofty goals of social cohesion from the public trough, I'd say I was glad to escape the gladiator-in-training route for my own sons this go around.

I have one chance--JUST ONE--to raise my own children rather than the State and all its paroxysms of neurosis, collectivism, and PC conformity and other liberal Cloud Cuckoo Land adventures far worse than teaching the kiddies that God made men in His own image. One can imagine things worse than this. Secularists have their own mythologies to sort out before reality hits hard. One is the notion that science is paramount and holds the answers to everything. The other is that egalitarianism and Euro styled socialism equals science. They do not.

Why risk the public schools for that large task? They're not up to it.

And yet another accusation: We homeschoolers are unfairly deigning to educate our kids. Amateurs, at best, so says the NEA's latest platform for socialization and making sure condoms get rolled over cucumbers as paramount instruction long before quadratic functions are mastered and we learn about the Maldives going under water due to hot air from St. Gore. No study confirms the myth of teacher qualification having anything to do the learning of students or for that matter the price of tea in China .

Its not just the wondering (while going down any modern public school hallway and seeing the coddling the necking near the lockers and the filthy language not even bothered at being hidden) and asking if there is any "socialization" here I'd like to see my sons emulate as a requisite to a better, more amicable kum-ba-ya society.

Rather, it is more along the lines of:

Is there really any evidence that the NEA and other organizations that shill for their own pocketbooks more than the kiddies really have any proof that this "isolationist" take on education (homeschooling) really harmful to the Commonweal? No, but that has been the argument from time immemorial. No proof is ever given.

Talk about "faith based." in....well, the copious lack of citations and research from people making broad sweeping claims about homeschooling and socialization.

In fact that opposite is often seen.

Oh, there are arguments a-plenty about why homeschoolers outperform their public school peers. They are white, middle class (but then you have to be careful throwing out that line of thinking, too, or you'll get nailed for being a spawn of Charles Murray and Bell Curvish sentiments), the parents are in a reduced classroom size. Good teacher to kid ratio.

Or, as shill Gerald Bracey likes to posit, these kids have wealthy underpinnings and would do well in any case under any circumstances just shy of being imprisoned without books at Auschwitz.

And then there is the HORRIBLE argument called the Blueberry Story circulating on the net; a myth far more pernicious than Noah's pet Brontosaur, this tall tale, most likely untrue, presents this notion that once upon a time an ice cream maker named "Mr. Vollmer" used the Blueberry Analogy and had a Lightning Hits Mount Sinai epiphany moment and changed his hard-nosed, erring, capitalist pigdog ways to become a hero to the NEA.

Vollmer recognized that the public schools are "unfairly" blasted for not being able to weed out (as he was) the "bad berries" from the "good berries", the "raw material", in the sorting process. Having to accept all comers and butts in the seats regardless of background, social status, and benighted behavior, the public schools are hunkey-dorey in their mission to help America get education at all levels, classes, and persuasions, and create tolerance and diversity in the commonweal!

WOW! What a bargain.

Too bad the story is an urban legend. And in any case even if such a speech or series of speeches were made, as Joseph L. Bast pointed out, "The analogy that apparently convinced Mr. Vollmer is transparently wrong. Children are not "raw material" in a production process. They and their parents are customers with legitimate expectations of being properly served. The real inputs are teachers, books, other supplies, and facilities, and a good principal should indeed reject those that are low quality or have an inflated price.

Moreover, it is a myth that public schools accept, much less graduate, every child in the community. Public schools have historically contracted with private schools to educate children with the greatest learning handicaps and worst disciplinary problems. In recent years, many public schools have adopted "zero tolerance" programs that result in the expulsion of a rising number of difficult-to-educate children.

Many urban public schools today operate as "magnet schools" with more highly selective enrollment policies than most private schools. Finally, with drop out rates averaging 50 percent in the nation's larger cities, it is plain to all but the most partisan apologists that public schools are no longer keeping the promise of providing universal public education."

And so it goes.

Then I caught that snipe about science and homeschooling from this site. Hmmm. So at a whopping 1 million homeschooled kids, (far from any kind of statistical majority or major hold over legislation OR what local school boards plunk into the curricula), while excelling in all areas where reliable data have been collected, are THEN blamed with as much Blueberry Zest for killing America's standing in science?

That is absurdist at the very least. I once challenged one of those "experts" at the purportedly "neutral on religion" Panda's Seismoid Bone site (the one that has the mockery of religion to a fine honed art in the commentary section as well as the articles), regarding the real history of Western science and how Christianity, in the plupart, actually helped develop it and nurture it and how its primarily now transmogrified into a faddish pop-enviro, semi-political weapon used to slam religion and promote political correctness.

I had no challengers, and only name-callers. They felt that was damned good enough.

So does, apparently, the NEA.

@bdul muHib said...


I had some trouble following what you said- and that isn't to denigrate you, for you write better in English than I would write in a foreign language. But to just focus on the science part of what you said, since that's something I know something about- I completely agree with you. There is no need to perpetuate the false myth that science is at war with faith. The two have too often worked hand in hand. And I also affirm what you say, that there has been no investigation into the ID hypothesis. Indeed, the principle advocates of ID, the Discovery Institute, have gone on the record as saying there has been no research, and will not be for the foreseeable future. It simply is inherently untestable- at least by scientific methods.

As for Panda's Thumb, did you perhaps mean sesamoid bone? I think you may be mistaken as to the nature of Panda's Thumb. It's not actually neutral towards religion, nor claims to; nor is it "unneutral", and claim that. Rather, it is a series of articles, by Christians, Jews, atheists, and agnostics, all scientists. Some, like PZ Myers, hate religion. Others, like the founder of Panda's Thumb, are devout Christians. I agree, also, that it is sad how Christianity has often now transformed into a fad and a political weapon in the US, as adherents argue against the clear teachings of Jesus, for war and materialism, for nationalism and patriotism, confusing their country and religion to the extent that they worship a Flag instead of God. Some even go so far as to argue that the Bible should be interpreted literally, and thus make a mockery of our faith, advocating that the Bible can teach science more than the scientific method- as St. Augustine pointed out long ago. Good on you for pointing this out.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

One more note I think is of interest before I move on to @bdul muHib, in that from above, I must sternly disagree with this notion of horizontal learning among peers in the public school type setting.

Notice among siblings in the family environment that the younger kids will model after parents and OLDER siblings. Why? A natural input here? Homeschool groups in fact frequently have great success in using this model as extended in their various groups, of which many I've been a part.

I think so. This is the experience of many people. Not just mine.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

As to the Panda's Thumb, no, I'm not immune to misspellings by any stretch. What I also should have said is that this site has claimed on more than one occasion that there is no such inherent conflict between Darwin's ideas as studied today, or strict materialist thought (in the philosophical sense, not in how you below describe American penchant for base gluttony), and religion. Even to the point of offering quotes from official church positions.
In the very next breath, or poison pen dipped in bile, is an article that does just that kind of mockery of religion.

The net result of this admixture of tendencies to your claim of multiple sponsorship is that on the whole, the P.T. more often has mockery of faith than not.

Which I admit to some degree makes sense, if (as seen in the author above) Christians think angels power the microwaves in the kitchen (and no doubt the stainless steel upgrades are even more exotic), then if what the P.T. articles have to say is on the whole correct, then if there IS some kind of God as posited by the Jews and Christians who either founded or cruise that site, surely they must know in their hearts he is a rather pathetic one. A God who relies on mechanisitc forces that biologically create over vast eons of time is one who has no creative skill, and very little interest in the health, safety, and security of His worldly charges. Nature is about death. As Ayn Rand said, Death on the Wholesale. I have to give credit for the Dawkinsonians and Harris types out there for their consistancy on this one point.

Now as to the other. Wow. Where to begin. Well, some Christians and non-Christians alike like to pick and taste what they don't like about Scripture. But the key is context. The Bible does not directly mention Colombian dope lords either. But that is not license to become one. So we have to reach down and discren intentions and pull this apart from history. Thus for example while its true that much of the critique of, say, the Old Testement is over the top, and we really must see the context for the killing of the Amelekites in the defense of Israel, and slavery, and polygamy, and that much of this was done away with and was local to local conditions in those cultures due to hardened hearts, this is NOT the same thing as saying that ALL Old Testement notions are to be jettisones. After all, contained there are the 10 Commandments also. Right?

Right. Murder is still not legal. Nor is adultery, or lying. But yes, much critique of the Old Testement as being uncannily brutal and sadistic needs some context updating before getting slammed. Thus for example a one Steve Kangas, a liberal blogger now deceased but famous for interesting arguments on behalf of radicalism, stated that the bible had a OT/New Testment double face. Supposedly the Old Testement was pure evil and written not by God but by evil, archaic, brutal, sadistic, misogynist, polygamous, racist, Mosaic, homophobe, priestly, elitist men who wanted (to paraphase your charge about Conservative Christians) a "tradition-bound" tyranny on earth dressed up in robes of Heaven.

Question then: Why is it in today's Bible?

Not being able to touch it all or address everything, like honoring of parents (this is a cultural issues not common in Western society compared to Near East societies with shame/honor dichotomies), you can still see a bleed over to the New Testment.

The Apostle Paul was a former pharisee and we can safely assume he knew the Law as much as anyone, and if we claim Canonical input from Paul, then we must also not only take up Christ's admonition that you sometimes need to defend yourself with a sword, but Paul's as well, and that the executioner's sword is not swung in vain with a just government.

What kind of government? Secular government? Liberals might cheer at this.

However, it is not what some might think. It is not all about peace and love and holding hands. There is to be worldly justice as well as spiritual. Just as people have an inherent right to self defense (also, see Heller vs. Washington DC on this one), so too nations do as well. Else we'd have to (comically) ban cops and armies alike. If this is what is meant by nationalism and "war", then I am for nationalism and "war", if by this we have a just war theorum of the type the Church fathers have known about and laid down for centuries. I don't see either a harm in this or in patriotism, if this means a pragmatic pride in a nation's accomplishments all the while knowing that Christian's ultimate home is in heaven. On this point, ironically, I must agree with my more liberal pals who insist we have earthbound duties, and we are to pay attention to and also honor those secular societal issues of importance and justice. If we don't help, then we're getting in the way. Or as my own preacher put it, don't be so Heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.

It is all about balance. An extremist separation from secular society would create the very thing my liberal Christians friends worry about: A fractured soceity of enclaved religion.

Is that the Christian mission?
Are we to stand by in the face of horrid oppression of the Saddamic variety? Of course not. No more than I would stand by and watch some gal get raped by thugs, reach out my hand and declare "peace be upon you, I shan't call the cops since I'm a lover of Peace!"

As to materialism, once again this issue is balance. All across the globe it is true there is much gluttony and waste. Yep. But notice that the sumptious benefits for the poor and the workers, particularly in the advanced industrial societies of North America and Europe, are exquisitely dependent upon wealth creation, due to the need to tax it on behalf of these same programs in addition to the ever growing political class. Again, balance.

@bdul muHib said...

I agree, a mechanistic God is rather lame, and no God of mine. This is why I utterly reject the God of the Literal Creationists. What we find in the Bible is an organic God, a God who delights in his creation, and who has the imagination to put something together like evolution. (Seriously, we have such a cool God- I mean, what an awesome concept!)

Nature is about death- and sex. Don't forget the sex. Please.

Actually, Jesus admonition about needing the sword was ironic, as is very clear from the immediate context. He labels it as sin.

You speak of Church Fathers. If you're looking pre-Constantine, you'll find them rather extreme Pacifists. If you're speaking post-Constantine- they're not called Church Fathers.

Yes, the US government says there is an inherent right to self defense. Jesus kind of disagrees. This is the whole point in regards to nationalism. Choose this day whom you will serve- Jesus or America. No man can serve two masters.

Yes, we should stand up to the oppression of George Bush, but not through his same means. Torturing him as he did those in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo is not the answer, for if so, then we become just like him. We perpetuate the cycle of violence, and the myth of violent mimicry. Jesus did not come to do that, but to bring an Upside-Down Kingdom. The way of Christ calls for action, for imaginative assertive non-violent action, for "everywhere men are seizing the Kingdom of God with violence". Yes, it's much more difficult than simply responding with more violence. But we should not shrink from something just because it is hard.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Those responsible for the "torture" at Abu Graibe have been punished. I take it as given that to lay this on Bush is absurdist.

We perpetuate the cycle of violence?

I noticed there is no more killing by Gary Gilmore these days.

IN all the bruha about Abu Graibe and now GITMO, where the bozos are fed and housed at taxpayer expense and handed the complementary copies of the Koran with gloves so as not to offend the practitioners of head nipping, I also take it that it is not just a matter of this irony giving in to Islamic paranoia (which makes thing worse, actually, as the Brits are finding out with the implementation of Sharia Law), but also here we have the issue of pragmatic self defense.

The Apostle Paul, whom I consider as of this writing to still be canonical, mentioned the exexutioners sword as being wielded in justice.

A society that cannot or will not defend itself is one run by chaos, which is anathema to all notions of cosmic order. All nations deal with this in one way or another. It is also the mark of a superior culture. A nation that would not defend itself, or down to the personal level, is a moral failing that puts one on par with actually encouraing the violence of others, no matter how splendid one's other accomplishments. Thus Tibet would fall into this category as well in moral darkness even though elsehwere it has moral splendor, and rank somewhere around Yemen in moral standing.

Civilization as you and I know the term, rather than goatherding and living like Laura Engalls and scratching bare subsistence off the land, would not be possible without this policy of self-defense for nations as well as individuals. We'd be extinct, and run by lords of tyranny.

What was that the AIDS activists sayeth?

Silence=Death? All too true.

And silence in the horror and oppression of others only perpetuates it.

Though I'm not talking about feeding men on the tax dole and giving them their prayer rugs, but actual oppression in history.

As to the remainder of arguments about the Panda's Thumb, the biggest indicator from whence they flow is the very fact that on most any atheist website of one's choice, you'll find their handy link being referenced as much as Dr. Dawkins.

As to ID, it is not exactly true that they've not posited any notions of testability. It's true that some statements are a-priori, untestable, but then again so is the very putative dedication to materialist science. Even sympathetic philosophers of science like Michael Ruse have stated that this rule of deferring to material arguments only can be deemed untestable and arbitrary.

Those in control of the reigns of science have decided that God is superflous to the scientific process. But either God has something to do with the Cosmos--or not. Those are the only choices. If not, then no problem.

But if so, then it seems logical that there would at some point be some practical methology for detection beyond the Scriptures and contained in the evidence of the very structure of life itself.

Ruse and others declare this is cheating to even try and guess at this, and though their Herculean (or perhaps, Sisyphusian?) efforts at sticking to purely mechanistic/materialistic forces for all explanations are admirable, it is an arbitrary rule.

The real issue is not science, but materialistic philosophy. It is complained that the ID proponents are not producing papers that are peer reviewed, etc, etc. This is not strictly true, but under the current rules of the game, they are not even allowed to.

It is the equivlanet of slapping a child every time he reaches to peek inside the refrigerator, only to turn around in the next hour and complain that he is not learning enough about the contents of the fridge to make fridge-based statements.
Lastly, I don't SERVE the United States.

I AM, however, a citizen of this nation. And with the rights implied come responsibilites, else you're about to tell me you pay no taxes and have no responsibilities other than as some kind of outside observer?

And the police are to be disbanded due to their "perpetuation" of the cycle of violence? Or perhaps police and military work is left only for the heathens among us?

Moral folk don't do that gig then?

The Apostle Paul must have been some kind of moral monster, then. He took full advantage of Roman citizenship, even advocating obeying the laws of that land and paying the taxes required, which in turn all of know fund various operations of government.

He led by example, including the method of his death--also prescribed by Roman law.

@bdul muHib said...


I'm having difficulty following you again; again, not to denigrate you, as I know it's difficult to write in what is not one's first language. But forgive me if I misunderstand you.

You have been getting some bad information on Abu Ghraib.

Yes, all those who engage in violence perpetuate it. That is an axiom. See the link I provided for a more detailed exposition of this as a Biblical principle.

You have been getting some bad information about Guantanomo.

I'm glad you still consider Paul's writings to be canonical, though troubled by your use of the word "still", as it implies in the future you may not see him that way.

Yes, the passage on the executioner's sword, though not the same passage as what you and I were previously referencing, is used by Paul. Again, context is everything, and it is clear in that context that he is not supporting the use, but rather reminding his readers of the ramifications of their actions, to inspire them towards greater morality.

It depends on your use of defense. A society that will not defend itself with violence describes the early church of Acts and the first few centuries- and I would certainly not call that institution chaotic. Would you? However, they were great defenders of Christ in written apologies and by their actions- again, reminding us, that true pacifism is never passive.

Be careful, though, in your use of the terms "superior culture". In that way lies some of the greatest evils of our age. Indeed, those cultures who were most fond of that term were often the greatest defenders of themselves through the use of violence.

Have you been to Yemen, or do you base your allegations simply on what you hear others saying?

Civilization as you and I know the term...I'm not sure if we know the term. As I know the term, the term has become rather passe as a relict of bygone imperialistic era that most would prefer to forget- unfortunately.

Laura Ingalls didn't live at a subsistence level. Unless you're arguing that the way she lived is contrary to what she wrote in her books?

Yes, silence in the face of oppression is wrong, and positively anti-Christian. Of course, neither of us were advocating that.

Actually, what I said about ID wasn't that their notions are untestable. It was that the leaders of ID, the Discovery Institute, have reversed their previous statements and now declare that there is no ongoing research and will not be for the foreseeable future.

God has everything to do with the material world. Science doesn't investigate God, because science is imperfect and unable to do so. Unless you are advocating that every engineer who puts together a plane turn to prayer rather than sound engineering? Would you get into a plane where the engineer told you, "Yes, I don't really know much about air torque, or how a plane flies, but I built something that looks like a plane and gets off the ground, and then I prayed over it real hard."?

The Early Church Fathers would disagree with you that the presence of God is testable by science.

I'm glad you've read Ruse- good on you. Have you read any other authors looking at how evolution can influence our theology? See here if you want to read more.

I hope you are able to differentiate between the philosophical belief of materialism, and the belief that there is a material world. To believe the former is heresy; to not believe the latter is equally heresy- and the Church counts both heresies to be great ones. The philosophical belief argues that this is all there is, and everything should be decided on the basis of that "reality". Contrarily, methodological materialism is what science is based on, stating that there is a difference between the material and spiritual world (though, for Christians, one should believe that the two often intermix), and that one is capable of studying it, using material means.

Again, someone has been feeding you bad information. There are two peer-reviewed papers on ID out there. (Most of the other ones commonly listed by the DI are not actually existent- at least on a material level- but are merely listings of non-scientific writing about ID.) One was mathematical, and was subsequently refuted. The other was submitted, and then withdrawn. And actually, nothing keeps the ID folks from submitting research for peer-review, as long as they follow the same rules that everyone else does. The Scientific Method requires you to be able to perform a repeatable experiment. Again, as I said before, the DI now states that there is no scientific research currently going on. (I can't be responsible, however, if they reverse themselves yet again on this position. Who can keep up with the latest positions of the DI? ;-)

I'm glad to hear you don't serve the US. However, what you were suggesting earlier was precisely that. I completely agree with you that being a citizen or resident of a country comes with certain responsibilities- like obeying the government to the point where they ask you do something immoral or against conscience. In our country, as in most, yes, this includes paying taxes. (It does not, however, include the obligation to pay taxes to our country when one resides in a foreign country. Sorry. Complete red herring.)

You raise an interesting proposition, on if the police should be disbanded because of their use of violence. Let me say, at least, I favor far more the British system of law enforcement.

As for the military being done only by the heathens- remember in the first few centuries, the Christians considered immoral to be part of the military. And the writings of the Early Church Fathers make it clear that this was not just because of the common idolatry within military ranks. And remember, at the time, there was no difference between the military and the police. The early Christians just felt that any use of violence was against the ethic and politics of Jesus.

Your conclusions as to Paul being a moral monster are faulty. He advocated repeatedly being a good citizen, but not engaging in the violence of the state, nor doing that which the state asked, if the state was immoral. But you'd do better to see the full ramifications of how evil the then state was by looking at John's last writing.

Yes, Paul lead by example, at times escaping from the authorities, and at times submitting to them, but refusing to back down, even to the point of death, when they asked him to do that which was against the Law of Christ. Not just Paul, but hundreds, thousands, followed in his footsteps. Indeed, it was those that obeyed the state which were condemned as traditors, from which we get our modern word of "traitor", and who's actions launched the great Donatist schism, the only schism of the early church that did not involve heresy. (Yes, I know, some make the same claim for the Montanists, and I would agree with them, but at the time, they were considered heretics by many.)

Wakefield Tolbert said...

First of all, before venturing into anything else, I'm mystified as to what you mean by not writing in one's first language.

English--specifically American English, is my native languauge, and I have only a smattering of others.

Or perhaps this is some kind of jest?

I'll have to get to the other stuff later.

And if my King's English is somehow not up to par, well then, I'll defer you to the wonderous powers of skill and panache inculcated by our public school system.

Perhaps they need another property tax hike to help undergird the public schools?

@bdul muHib said...

I am very surprised to hear this. I assumed this because your grammar was just so atrocious, and it is therefore exceedingly difficult to follow what you're saying. I have to say then, that either you are a poster child for why people shouldn't be doing home schooling, or you are coming on here purposely and surreptitiously to actually discredit the home schooling movement, by supporting it and yet using such bad grammar. It's not a matter of the King's English, Wakefield- standard Webster's English would do.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

That's funny, most people like the way I write. And I've frequently been quite liked even at hostile sites like Slate (proof that chimpanzees can learn to be liberals and also learn to type).

Yeah--and while running your latest missive about Brit passivity as moral posture, I found more than a few questionable spellings. Run that through Webster's as well. Make him turn in the grave at that.

Now then. I'll still homeschool if for no other reason than

1) I can improve upon what the public schools failed to do, (and yet public money is not refundable! Too bad.)

2) no study indicates that teacher qualification has much to do with schooling and student success, but rather parental involvement, I'll do fine.

Reminds me, somehow, of the "atrocious" spellers down the road from me, who, after homeschooling their three kids for years, produced two who got full scholarships to elite colleges and the other was accepted to a private school with rather high standards. They routinely whip the competition when it comes to every imaginable test you can throw at them. And they excel in not only several musical instruments a piece, not to mention topics as varied as geography and poetry and chess.

Wow. What a gang of dumbunnies. Perhaps their "socialization" near the lockers is still somehow amiss.

I'm imagining also, however, that the kid who took my last inquirey over at the local Department of Motor Vehicles, who opined "it be due to da facts of da matter when dem facts of da matter be due" was just majesterially brilliant and hailed from the public school system.

@bdul muHib said...

I'm not questioning your writing ability. I don't have an opinion on that. I'm saying the grammar is bad. As far as my spelling, I actually run it through a spell check - beauty of Firefox - as I don't claim to have great spelling. I further, upon reading your last post, ran it through Word. The only spelling errors it found were for words like "traditor", since Word tends not to know ancient Greek. If you are questioning the spelling, you'll have to contact the people who set up spell checks, and disagree with them.

Yeah, I actually never said anything about Brit passivity.

I assure you, that nothing need be said against the concept of home schooling, and yet the idea of you're home schooling is frightening. Maybe you would be great at math or history instruction, and better than I would be. But at teaching English and literature- definitely not. Nor, from the ideas you have expressed, would you do a good job at teaching science.

Unless you have been purposely using bad grammar in this entire conversation, which I won't disagree with if you state it to be so.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

You certainly did some something fawning over Brit passivity, though perhaps that was not your intent.

Or, more likely, you don't like term passivity, and think that the Brit legal norm of having terrified citizens not able to defend themselves is on moral par with some other shining example of pacificism. Which there are few, but that's another post.

I'll get to all that later on.

I'm tired, I'm usually perpetually busy, and as one of those pigdog capitalist exploiters who nontheless is the glory milk cow of all tax proposals, I don't have time to comb over every post to scan for odd sentence construction and have to get the message out as fast as possible before another distraction hits my ears.

So, I readily admit my writing might not meet the standards of the expert Grammarians. Nevertheless, I seem to make myself clear enough to most people.

As far as science, like the TV actors who play lawyers say, I am not an "X" (take your pick), and don't pretend to be one in real life.

But I'm aware of the issues, and how Christians are often shamed into knuckling under to materialist explanations of...well..just about everything.

And if you think,for one brief moment, you can forge some kind of compromising alliance with what are mostly secularist and materialist scientists who talk out both sides of the mouth about how on the one hand they don't disdain faith and say Darwin has no input on such, and yet on the other use Darwinism as the ultimate backdrop to disparage religion, you are being taken for a ride.

Eugenie Scott even mocks people who think this. Openly. Darwinian ideas can only undergird faith or morals so long as they are NORMATIVE in nature. Which obviously they are not, and cannot be. The attempt to create NORMATIVE input from Darwinian descent has in turn created monstrosities in thinking that rely on base instincts and Skinner Box action/reaction relations as substitutes for what are commonly called "morals."

For more on this, you might enjoy Beastrabban's website, where he goes over in detail the dangers of using materialist interpretations of human origins to explain morals.

Of course you'll claim, why goodness, you have no such intents.
Aye--but your comrades at PT certainly have this in mind. It's a means to an end.

If I'm on a pirate frigate and MERELY toss potatoes at the crews we attack rather than swords, I'm still culpable for the collective attack.

Be REALLY carefull whom you call allies.

That's worrysome enough.

Regardless of my lack of insights in science or not.

@bdul muHib said...

Well, Wakefield, when you phrase terms in ways that you like to make a particular rhetorical point, but these terms were not previously used in a particular conversation or debate, you'll have to expect that people won't have any idea what you're talking about.

Likewise, I and others can't afford the time to carefully parse your statements, to wade through what you really mean when you're not using common grammar. It's not a matter of criticizing you- it's that you're not understandable. I dare say many of your problems at PT (without knowingly having read any of your posts in the past) stem from the same issue. You can choose to be in a hurry when you post something on line, but you'll have to pay the piper in lowered expectations that anyone will understand you- no matter how astute your points.

No, you don't claim to be a scientist; the question is rather, if you were to be teaching science in a home schooling situation, do you have any basic grasp of science. From your posts here, you don't.

Actually, many science teachers have shamefully knuckled under the demanding cries of Religious Right extremists.

You don't want an alliance with people who are materialists and not Christians- perhaps we should then just kill them all, then? Too extreme? Maybe just expel them from the country? Mark my words, Wakefield, in a democracy, you're going to have to work with people you disagree with. In the US, you'll have to work with people who are even (horrors!) not Christians. You could learn a thing or two from our President Elect. So could I.

Darwinism is a made-up word for rhetorical purposes. But you know this. If you want to discuss, or even argue, fine- but I'm not going to discuss with you when you quite purposefully use rhetorical insults to try to change the playing table a priori in your favor.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I dare say many of your problems at PT (without knowingly having read any of your posts in the past) stem from the same issue. You can choose to be in a hurry when you post something on line, but you'll have to pay the piper in lowered expectations that anyone will understand you- no matter how astute your points.

You dare say too much.

Well now, they can claim that too, I suppose, but that posting to me was fairly straightforward. In fact much of it was a series of quotations from various people about the history of science. With only brief commentary from me. They decided that the best response was to use a LOL to suggest that science and Christianity were not eternal enemies.

No, you don't claim to be a scientist; the question is rather, if you were to be teaching science in a home schooling situation, do you have any basic grasp of science. From your posts here, you don't.

This is a rather old canard. I'd get the impression it would have been answered by now. But since no doubt those materials would not be read even if I referenced the myth of teacher certification, which in turn has been used as a political hammer to attempt to kill homeschooling in places like The Peoples Republic of California, certainly I've no more failings in this department than the fact that often even at the high school level you'll have fill-ins from the coaching staff teach science and history. Not that this is wrong, but its kinda quirkey to slam parents when in fact the real issue is parental INVOLVEMENT in tutoring and encouraging what are generally the learning habits from various materials. Otherwie, on the standardized tests that nearly all states require by LAW for the purposes of accountability, my kids a doing above average. Whether at this point that says less positive about my kids than it says something yucky about the public school comparisons, it seems per the soveriegn state they are doing just fine, without all the monkeyjabber in the hallway and gladitorial combat.

Actually, many science teachers have shamefully knuckled under the demanding cries of Religious Right extremists.

Those darned extremists, with all their jabber about personal and individual rights in everything from guns on the wall to educating the kids at home! What WILL they think of next?
The next thing you know they'll have the name "Creator" in official documents similar to those the ACLU likes to reference to this day. Or dumping tea into harbors. The nerve. Raw nerve.

You don't want an alliance with people who are materialists and not Christians- perhaps we should then just kill them all, then? Too extreme? Maybe just expel them from the country?

I don't recall advocating that. Hmmm.

I don't hang around bars, or the hard core drinkers and chain smokers and other somewhat questionable characters where dogs fear to tread either. I can work with them in some contexts, yes.

Alliances for business contracts? Sure. Why not? Cigs and booze and hangin' out with the boys? No sire. In other words, the best policy is probably to just go on home to the wife and kids. We can meet elsewhere.

And YET, I am not one of those Nanny State advocates pitching for prohibitions and what people do either.

Same for "alliances" in other realms. Depends on what the issue is, what is being pitched, and what is being offered.

Mark my words, Wakefield, in a democracy, you're going to have to work with people you disagree with. In the US, you'll have to work with people who are even (horrors!) not Christians.

Yes, but working with does not include sacrifice of certain values. You said so as much in the other post upon refusal to bow to pagan customs. Now of course our context is different in this nation than under Roman rule and base hedonism. True. But this does not necessitate accepting everything down the pike. In point of fact, I get along better with some agnostics than other Christians, because we agree on the full meaning of darwinism, what it truly entails, how its truly not compromising in spirit any more than deed or word, and what cultural norms are at stake. This is less horror and a case of the vapours than sheer candor

You could learn a thing or two from our President Elect. So could I.

Worse than untrue. Obama has not run anything in life but his mouth, and comes from Chicago's big heavy political machine, and he's steeped in egalitarian piffle. His "tolerance" and diversity includes sitting in the pews for 20 plus years of hateful jive from his own pastor in order to obtain "street cred", kicking an opponent off the ballot to ascend to the Illinois legislature, and standing idly by while his "community organization" skills enabled and enouraged the scam artistry of ACORN, the CRA, and other shakedown artists in Chicago. Things are as dreadful in Chicago as ever, education wise, poverty wise, job-creation wise, political scandal wise, etc---as I'm quite sure you and the whole nation know by now. You wouldn't be in the market for a Senate seat, by chance, would you?


He and his cohorts hail from academia (mostly), which is ironic for the fact that many critiques of his chief opposition--conservative capitalists--is that they rely on things like the "theoretical only" Austrian School of Economics, and other such claims.

I prefer to work with people who have what can be called a "hinterland" existence, a world of work BEYOND politics and creepy self-absorption. But then I realize among pols that's a rare commodity these days. Too bad. People who have mostly ghostwritten memoirs before the first step onto the podium, and have no real world work experience, are of little interest to me. One can get better consultations on human nature and the nature of government from reading Lord of the Flies or working at your local IHOP.

Setting positive examples in political leadership includes stepping up to the plate sometimes and challenging the local party machines, challenging the hatemongers, and challenging your own assumptions about what works. There is little evidence Obama has done much of this. He's gone along all his life steeped and marinated in the basic egalitarian notion entry requirements of his cohorts and allies. To govern is to CHOOSE. Whence the choices for Obama? When he let 20 years of hate drift into his ears in the pews, with all the railing against whitey and the Jews? When he voted to deny surviving "fetuses" of botched abortions medical treatment? When voting with his party about 96% of the time on issues like gun banning? When the questions got too nettlesome and he dodged them every so artfully?

Darwinism is a made-up word for rhetorical purposes.

Well, its true some compare this to the lack of terms like "plate tectonicism" and the like.

But not always. Some are proud of that label. From a philosophical view, they don't seem to mind this particular badge of honor.

@bdul muHib said...

Actually, I was referring to Obama's willingness to put Republicans and conservative Democrats in his cabinet. Perhaps you oppose this working with the other side too.

You don't hang out at bars?!? Okay...

You only made one post to PT? Just trying to get it straight.

You should read The Faith of Barack Obama. It might open your eyes to what the Rev Wright actually taught, as opposed to what was highlighted in the media. Unless you trust everything that the media says? Truthfully, most white Americans are woefully ignorant of the Black Preaching Tradition. Personally, I don't cotton so much to making allegations and slander against brother and sisters in Christ, no matter how much I might disagree with them.

Actually, most don't like the term. They recognize it as a rather bald-faced attempt by Literal Creationists to paint the acceptance of the Theory of Evolution as a form of religion.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Actually, I was referring to Obama's willingness to put Republicans and conservative Democrats in his cabinet. Perhaps you oppose this working with the other side too.

Right. But I was talking about his ideological background, which has grave clouds over it and for the long term is far more important than temporary alliances. Everyone talks the big game of compromise, but as with Western Europe's leftward lurches that no one ever votes for in one fell swoop, leftward we go to a more statist, regulated, controlled, micromanaged, and regimented, class warfare society.

Now. Like so many other innocuous and fluffy-sounding political statements Obama likes to brandish, this one too sounds wonderful. And who would disagree. But the devil is in the details. Now in some aspecs Obama has been taken aside, shown the true Intel and world situation in some briefing rooms, and after the full monty is given came out with his eyes bugging out of his head. To his credit, he DID keep Robert Gates on as national security advisor (a.k.a. Mr. Waterboarding and Iraq Surge, the last aspect of which Obama criticized heavily.) But the problem here is that when the leftist bent wants compromise, what they often choose to demonstrate "bi-partisanship", while compromising on some issues, generally ends up being codespeak for "that which the media approves of", which is why John McCain was referred to as a noble "jutjawed" old warrior. Until, like others who've gotten that title, they no longer needed or wanted his input and then became Old McSame.
When your usefulness as a water-carrier for the major dinosaur media is over, and you've had your day in the sun after numerous compromises on major issues where liberals win out in the end (environmentalist claptrap and illegal immigration come to mind, but there are others), then you get tossed aside for the Merry Changemas dude. More to the point about Obama, reaching "across teh aise" from that far left will take some rather long arms most humans are not equipped with

You should read The Faith of Barack Obama. It might open your eyes to what the Rev Wright actually taught, as opposed to what was highlighted in the media. Unless you trust everything that the media says? Truthfully, most white Americans are woefully ignorant of the Black Preaching Tradition. Personally, I don't cotton so much to making allegations and slander against brother and sisters in Christ, no matter how much I might disagree with them.

Not sure about slander. There is disagreement on non essentials like this ultimate origins business you and I are into, and then there are minor doctrinal issues and customs of denominations. But there is also candor about what almost amounts to apostasy from some men. I can't read or judge all the way through, the Rev. Wright's inner spiritual clockwork. No doubt some people don't like me either. Touche'

But then we have some rather curiously hateful sounding statements coming from the pulpit.

That old saw about "Christians are the only army in the world who shoot their own wounded", while true in principle on some occasions, often leaves out vast swaths of context. One is that hateful statements are to be recognized as such. As too some deeds. I don't go around wagging fingers at people for whatever habits, and if a hammer falls on someone's toes from a high shelf I don't really anticipate they'll saw something as mild as "aw shoot" every single time. But I know hatred against the Jews and others when I see it, and when, ludicrously, the US is blamed for every woe, folly, and shortfalling in the Third World. (logically, this is not even a tenable idea, but understandably it IS common). It is one thing to slam US foreign policy, which, granted, is a mix of good, bad, and ugly and good attempts gone bad. But in some areas the good Rev. is really off his rocker when it comes to domestic policy.

Perhaps the good Rev. up there in Chicago thinks average whites folks are chaw-chewin', redneck crackers who don't know Liberalism from the far more pernicious Liberation Theology, of which the latter ideology we get the Rev. Wright, and his tirades about the Man and other oppressing blacks and other conspiratorial madness. But I do. As a political science major, I'm well-versed in Liberation Theology and its North American Yankee variations in black churches. Jesus Christ wearing a red beret rather than a crown of thorns. This theme is somewhat muted North of the Border, but is there in attitude. Perhaps all this could be driven home better by wearing one of those ever so funny "G--d-- American" buttons on the lapel out in public.

@bdul muHib said...

I'm not familiar with "across teh aise". What did this mean?

Again, I would encourage you to read that book. It's really short, and, in order to reveal Obama's faith, spends a great deal of space on the Rev. Wright and Trinity. A lot has been obscured by the media's lust for a titillating story. For instance, that sermon, where he said "God damn America"- turns out most of that sermon was about how we can't depend on the government for a handout but we have to do the work ourselves. And his domestic policy- his claims about AIDS are about the only thing (that I've heard) of the Rev. Wright's that I disagree with. But considering what our government did to blacks with syphilis, it's not really a large stretch from that to purposely giving Blacks AIDS.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I'm not familiar with "across teh aise". What did this mean?

Hmmm, I think you knew it was a misspelling of "across the aisle"

A point nestled in there someone?

Tell ya what: On the day I achieve perfection, I'll contact the media and then you next. My wife and kids last.

As to the good Rev:

Yes, we made some mistakes in the past on both the domestic and international front. But, in the proxy warfare against thuggery and tropical transplantations of Hail Marx and Stalin, it was not for "no reason" that certain ideological predilections were attacked by US forces or proxy forces. Marxism is evil. Period. It's destruction is, or should be, a paramount objective of humane internal and international policy just as much as the eradication of malaria and AIDS. Intervention is a package deal. We can't say let's deal with just fashionable disease cure that has its own domestic lobby, like AIDS, but malaria (necessitating the resurrection of DDT) and mundane child killers like dysentery. So too for ridding the worlds political swamps as well as physical ones via military force on occasion.

Wright does not get this.

By the time the United Nations gets around to things after deliberation about the meanings of dictatorial regimes intentions, often the bodies are piled like cordwood.

See Mark Steyn on this one.

All societies have errors. If we accept that humans individually are the product of a biological evolution, then so too are whole societies. And thus societies evolve constantly. An imperfect society is not the same as a worthless one that is to be damned. In the sense of damning sin? That's up to God. But to invoke it? Not so sure that that's not a little over the top for his litany of perceived sins stripped of context, both historical and moral.

His associations and assumptions are goofy, at best. Horribly ignorant of the realities of the world, at worst.

@bdul muHib said...

Actually, no, it was so different from "across the aisle" that I had no idea what you were trying to say.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Ahh well.

That's OK, then.

I was under the impression with the talk about "working together" (regarding politics and the like) that this would have been clear. But then maybe not.

"Across the aisle" is a common phrase in politics. It's one of those naughty (according to George Orwell) henhouse phrases that gets stacked together, like "let us now stand shoulder to shoulder", etc.

As in "John McCain was famous for reaching 'across the aisle'", which is true as far as that goes, but when the dinosaur media got tired of him, they dumped the old war horse off at the glue factory.

Possibly due (to their credit on this matter, as usually I don't give such positive credit to the Midstream Media) the fact that compromise on some things is worthless or counterproductive. Like ideology and freedom from Statism.

But I digress....

More later..

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Happy New Year.

Now, onto the other late pleasantries. This is fascinating to me, so I wanted to follow up in more detail.

My comments in bold.


You have been getting some bad information on Abu Ghraib.

No. I have not. But, perhaps I DO have a more balanced perspective than from those looking to satiate some political agenda. Individual lapses in treatment of others incarcerated, while deplorable, are not indicative of the rightness or wrongness of an overall policy like war or detainment of prisoners. It is like saying that the police should be disbanded based on the accidental killing of a child in the course of apprehending a suspect. The Civil War had atrocities on both sides, but had the positive effect of preserving our union as well as the emancipation of millions of human beings. As George Will rebuffed the modern naysayers of Lincoln, "where once we had Slavocracy, we now had a truly unified nation." If it were the case that no violence is ever warranted, then in principle nothing on earth requiring fortitude and resistance to tyranny would ever get done, NOR would we live in a relatively free republic, or be able to engage in commerce at will, or practice religion or lack thereof, and would be subject to a world of Tojos and Hitlers and Stalins and other power brokers. The dime store level of the world's modern Mussolinis and Little Adolfs over in Iran is bad enough.

For that matter, this current discourse between you and me might even be illegal. In some places on earth, it WOULD be today. Communist China comes to mind, as my contacts there have reminded me.

Granted, anyone can claim to be doing to Will of God as the Will of the People, Vox Populi, Vox Dei, etc. But the distinction comes about not in individual moral lapses among overenthusiastic individuals, or lack thereof, but rather the nature and intent of government action in resistance to tyranny and invasion and the maintenance of public order. See William Henry III on this one. He has a great précis on all this. This is not to say that individual rights should be trampled, but rather than society is ever a balance of public and private interest. Which is why I'm neither a libertarian nor a socialist. We must be careful to distinguish between individual lapses in morals among all people (and all are guilty of this, else we'd be sinless) and the deliberate policy SOME governments have of justifying horrid behavior on putative "moral" grounds for some "larger" moral or societal purpose. The Lenin axiom, in that "sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make a nice omelet", and other such claims. I freely admit this is not always straightforward or easy.

Yes, all those who engage in violence perpetuate it. That is an axiom. See the link I provided for a more detailed exposition of this as a Biblical principle.

If all axioms were true, then the world would be a much simpler place. We'd never have to learn from the hard rote of experience and all we'd have to do is drop handy quotes. But some atheists HAVE lived in foxholes, books CAN often be judged by covers, love is NOT always blind (nor is justice), and some old dogs DO learn new tricks for the master.

By your interpretation of this particular axiom, lions should be fangless and starve (or convert to celery and onions) , chicken sandwiches should be banned, and murderers are to roam free from harassment by authority and/or live on the public dime. From Scripture, we'd have to ask what kind of unGodlike God would have had Jericho overthrown, the Amelekites utterly destroyed, not spared Goliath from David's slingshot, among other killings of various irritants and annoyances to the Jews. Later, Jesus would at the least have reached over, and while not saving Himself, pulled the nails from the hands of the men at either side of Him on the Cross. Then too, hearkening back to the OT, we'd find no death penalties for anything whatsoever. One assumes that the OT is there for a reason. While not all of its manifestations are pleasant, and not all Mosaic Law has meaning for Christians (separating custom and dietary laws) I'm guessing the prescriptions against murder carry the possibility of punishment the same today as then. For that matter, in the current round of the renewed rocket attacks on the sovereign state of Israel by various Allah's workers, like Hamas, Israel is to just sit back and take the hits every few months or years, until, at long last, the Jews are finally "cast into the sea" (Yasser Arafat's choice phrase and quest). Or perhaps wait for the UN to broker yet another "land for peace" deal that always (suspiciously) ends up with land given up by Israel in exchange for....more rocket attacks on Israel later on.

Come to think of it, my nephew, who just got back from serving in Iraq, must have surely been taken by the Dark Side.

You have been getting some bad information about Guantanomo.

Seeing that I am not there at the moment and have no immediate plans to be so, and much of the base is off-limits to the general public, full disclosure of such settings is impossible. But with apparent daily Koranic readings and free food the norm, and giving in to Islamic psychoses about us Infidels, and with all complementary copies of the Koran untouchable by Infidel hands, I'll take that to mean I have all the RELEVANT information I need. It's true there are some who consider stern questions-in-the-chair sessions to be torment. I hold no brief for such people. No other society in the history of mankind has given so much cultural leeway, even in imprisonment for slicing off human heads from living victims (as is the case of some of these jackals imprisoned at GITMO), for individual needs, wants, and preferential treatment. The difference is that many people do not understand the Geneva conventions do NOT apply to non-uniformed combatants and hostiles, nor does the Constitution, strictly speaking. Treatments is at the discretion of the military courts, as is tradition. To proceed otherwise in civilian court as knucklehead Obama wanted to do at first, is to tie up the civilian courts for YEARS. It took 4 SOLID YEARS to try some of these cases in civilian courts; longer than our nations' entire participation in WWII.

Military justice is swifter, surer, and more appropriate to the goals at hand.

I'm glad you still consider Paul's writings to be canonical, though troubled by your use of the word "still", as it implies in the future you may not see him that way.

That was in jest, and in response to liberal Christians of some stripes who hate Paul and call him misogynist, among other far as the future, Paul lies OK with me. But for some actual theologians, his case is not sound. He's just ignored as an irritable crank who needs a female in his life. But that's another issue....

Yes, the passage on the executioner's sword, though not the same passage as what you and I were previously referencing, is used by Paul. Again, context is everything, and it is clear in that context that he is not supporting the use, but rather reminding his readers of the ramifications of their actions, to inspire them towards greater morality.

That is not the angle taken by my pastor, nor of several others from various backgrounds and schools of theology, but I've read the passage too and while I disagree with you, I'm not hear to twist arms. But to point out your take on this is far from universally accepted, and it seems counterintuitive. I admit the latter point can have flaws too....

It depends on your use of defense. A society that will not defend itself with violence describes the early church of Acts and the first few centuries- and I would certainly not call that institution chaotic. Would you? However, they were great defenders of Christ in written apologies and by their actions- again, reminding us, that true pacifism is never passive.

You're partly right for that context. The institution itself might not have been chaotic. But the larger society WAS in many cases. Anyway, you're talking about an enclosed group with very different ethics from the surrounding culture. VERY different. But in today's culture, matters are more difficult, and the scattering of souls across the domain ensures that many of us are in positions among unsavory elements next door and isolated from direct support of other Christians except during church.

(After all, if everyone in the world were on board with Christian precepts, there'd be no problem with violence, or theft, or chicanery, in the first place!)

The early Christians, while they might have been able to fight back against SOME torment and oppression from the likes of Nero, knew this was, overall, a losing hand from the start. Better to hide than become a chew toy for Leo the Lion for cheap crowd amusement. They didn't have the ABILITY to get far with that idea in any case. The Scriptures to me seem very pragmatic. The early Christians were also under the impression that Christ's return was imminent, as hinted by Paul. Which is part of the exhortation not to marry and thus get your heart rendered by the horror of what the Romans might do to spouses and loved ones. In a sovereign nation like ours, things are different. The citizenry, not Caesar, sets the tone. WE ARE the Government on earthly matters. And it is the responsibility of government, as Paul indicates, to punish evil and establish justice. It is a collective effort. I think that is fairly straightforward. The early resistance to getting involved in the Roman army, as did some of the Goth tribe converts and captives, as well as some of the Gauls, was likely due to the notion that such service was repugnant and serving a pagan society that oppressed Christians more than it aided them or allowed their very presence. This is not the case in the United States, even if many secularists would like to also drive Christianity underground. The Constitution gives more weight to freedom than P.Z. Myers' poison pen. Regarding other obnoxious people, Caesar WAS lord of the Romans in the old days. By contrast, the Constitution allows wide ranges of individual rights unheard of elsewhere in history. Now, if such a situation arises that we find ourselves under the boot of government and are no longer welcome in the political process and things change drastically, then my position might be closer to yours, and it would be time to huddle in the catacombs as in Paul's day rather than fret with fighting a losing battle to authority. But that day is not here. Yet.Your point would be very well taken, but just in a context that does not exist today in a relatively free society where decapitation festivals and lion feeding time is not routine spectator sport. Usually the worst we have in spectator violence is Monday Night Football. And while you might claim true pacificism is never passive, that IS NOT the interpretation of some. The idea being that one's peaceful example alone stops the violence. It's possible, but it takes some gall to stand down tanks and offer to get squished on behalf of others. Sometimes this works. Often not. You also have to judge whom you're dealing with. Neither oppression nor criminality is not a standardized cup of tea.

The results of radical pacificism elsewhere? Of course, Ghandi had a more active peaceful "resistance", yes, but Ghandi's Nice Guy act indirectly led to the partitioning of India into what are still today two distrustful nations (both nuclear today), and at the time led to about a million human beings losing their lives in sectarian fighting. What is that phrase about Hell, and good intentions?

When asked if such pacificism could have stopped Adolf Hitler, he said he did not know, but seemed rather doubtful. His tactics worked against the more gentle giants of his age that were troubled by more pressing concerns than holding power in India. Giants like the 1940s British reeling from economic chaos. They gave up, more than were driven out via shame. The Sun was already setting on the British Empire by the time Ghandi was on the scene. What was once the proudest and freest nation of Europe is now a beggar's haven of passive people trembling from a little tart named Sharia. However, had the Brits never been in India, as Mark Steyn pointed out, India would never have benefited from modern infrastructure, modern law, and the cohesion of the single system---and would be more like Pakistan today. Rather, India would be a nutty, crazy, patch quilt fabric of sultans, sheiks, corpulent Rajas, fiefdoms, and jewel encrusted kingdoms at constant war with one another and regarding the populace as most of history always has. Meat to be used. Those interested in Islamic law and tradition went to Pakistan, and did Allah's will. Those interested in a superior civilization stayed in what is now called India. Instead of producing innovation, medicine, relative wealth, computers, and other items of note as does India, the sister state, Pakistan, by contrast produces mostly.....JIHAD, murder, and gory snuff films from its many training camps, and wholesale death. Such is this kind of "traditional" society's ......splendor.

British Imperial ambitions for resources and markets did more for India than Ghandi did, or the Indian people themselves. Sorry, that's just the way things are. This is not some theoretical construct. It's reality. By the same token, British Common Law, though altered through the years into some mamby-pamby milkwater socialist mush, was the core inspiration for American jurisprudence. Imperialism, if you like, and not peace activism, is what primarily made India into the modern and relatively successful state rather than a squabbling patchwork of warring tribes. Imperialism brought order more than letting your head get clunked by a cane.

Be careful, though, in your use of the terms "superior culture". In that way lies some of the greatest evils of our age. Indeed, those cultures who were most fond of that term were often the greatest defenders of themselves through the use of violence.

Precisely. As they should have been. See Below.

Civilization as you and I know the term...I'm not sure if we know the term. As I know the term, the term has become rather passé as a relict of bygone imperialistic era that most would prefer to forget- unfortunately.

I know the term. But wow. Look what the Romans did. Those crumbling limestone roads and exclamations of "Great Caesar's Ghost" is all they left us! Right? Actually, their imperial ambitions not only left us with a "dead" language (that added the vast bulk of many other tongues, including an erstwhile, restricted tribal Germanic now called "English"), it turned Europe from a cacophony of grubby, hooting warlords into a more prosperous realm, that while still conflicted, allowed for the flourishing of law and culture. Imperialism is the tendency of superior cultures, not ones that are hidebound in tradition and tribal squabbles over women and crops and simple food-gathering implements. It can be horrific while you experience it, but long term it brings stability to the realms it conquers. There was, after all, a Pax Romana, and that's not just a handy advertising blub.

But let not your heart be troubled: Empires fall too. The seeds are self-destruction are in every regime, from small to large. From tribes to empires. Whether those seeds ever sprout depends largely on cultural confidence. For her case, Rome fell primarily due to not being able to sustain cultural confidence in the onslaught of barbarian invasions, the inordinate attention to hedonistic rites, cults of personality, and the overconcern with worldly affairs that distracted from other duties. Such as, well, let's be blunt here: Reproduction, family, fiscal responsibility. The outsourcing of the army to tribalists and the pagans, and the cultural affinity for homosexuality and sumptuous living put more primal responsibilities on the back burner. Rome fell to barbarians for the reasons of demographics as much economics. Demographics IS the game of the last man standing. Which is why now Europe in her turn, is in deep trouble. Society is always a balance between private and public interests, but in Europe the advanced Nanny State has created an imbalance by hijacking the primal responsibilities of individuals to the degree that almost all major life decisions are now outsourced to government. This is supposed to mean "family-friendly" government protections, as Marxian economist Paul Krugman likes to yammer. But it should occur to the Nobel Laureate at some point that if people are no longer having a replacement level of children (2.1 kids per household is the statistical threshold), the society will not survive this "family" arrangement, and will fall to the more fertile Islamists. Also, that due to the bad math of luxurious state benefits predicated on retirements and pensions that need ever more infusions of cash, the alleged benefits to families will simply not be there. And besides, if you're not breeding new kids, ya know, little people, tricycle motors, rugrats, whatever, you can hardly talk about benefits being "family friendly." In Europe most of the native population disdain's children in favor of lifestyle concerns. A birthrate that average 1.2 tricycle motors per family creates a society that halves every generation, with income generation and tax revenue falling on a select fewer people in addition to immigration. What burger flipper can really be the cash cow for the old folks home? Or wants to be? Busy nursing homes, but relatively quiet maternity wards (except for the newborns whose mothers are wearing the Hajib) is hardly what I would deem a good sign.

If someone wants to say that the U.S. is imperialistic, that's fine, but it's certainly a reluctant and faint-hearted one. Ever since Vietnam, any body count over 100 G.I.s and about that many in civilian losses sends politicians into either a funk or a hysterical stammering about US oppression of cherished Islamic and Nicaraguan ways of life. I'm reminded of a Victorian mistress who, upon seeing her first squeaking mouse under the table, makes sure SHE's on TOP of the same table far away from the deadly gnaw.

What will be the death threshold of the catcalls to cut and run from terror lords next time around? 50? 10? A female G.I. getting her hair mussed or a fingernail cracked?Many people use this hyperbolic "imperialist" term in its more disturbing manner, and to a degree this is understandable: MOST nations the size and influence of the U.S. WERE run in an imperialistic manner at one time or another. Imperialism is, technically, the rule over conquered people, not mere involvement in trying to drain the world's retched political and moral swamps. If this claim is in reference to the international front, it is false. If domestic, the claim is contradictory and curious at most. On the face of it, this accusation seems false. But, as this accusation chiefly comes from the Left, fretting over the rise of intrusive government power regarding privacy, it is odd in light of the Welfare State's increasingly loud advocates under the new Merry Changemas edicts of Obama. Thus, the OTHER complaint (that government does not do enough with its power) not only seems an odd way to reign in the overall power of government, it seems just what the doctor ordered for some. I.E.--You can't have the Obamania level of Welfare Statism and redistributionism without big government, and the increased power to take from Peter to give to Paul.

(Pocket A is Peter. Pocket B is Paul.)

Funny how a cultural conservative like me will sometimes reference people who'd hate that term. So, see the late WILLIAM HENRY III's work on this one. Granted, he's controversial due to being an agnostic who gets under the skin, and blasted as being elitist. Which, well, he IS. But I think his core arguments are sound. As are those of Steve Kangas' radical website which nevertheless points out that, despite his personal hatred of religion, Western society has alleviated what the Church Fathers could not in their own day while they debated the pin-dancing habits of angels. Just a sampling of what superior cultures give us in the material sense of the word: Modern sanitation, birth control, infrastructure, toilet paper, dental hygiene, modern medicine, including vaccines against early childhood disease that used to take a heavy toll, surgery, modern mechanized agriculture, government appointed legal representation for the indigent, poverty alleviation and public assistance, scientific modeling of various issues, modern monetarist policy, and so the list goes on....and when I say science I mean not theoretical construct about the mating habits of bonobos as it might relate to human female jealously, or a tidy précis on the Anthropic Principle's effect on cosmology, but the frozen form of science--technology--and it many manifestations for practical life matters.

Laura Ingalls didn't live at a subsistence level. Unless you're arguing that the way she lived is contrary to what she wrote in her books?

If not, then she didn't live much above it either. And, with the exception of legal counsel (in case Laura was a really bad girl after maybe, say, hitting Nellie Olsen upside the head), she didn't have access to much else of the above list. In an existence that depends mostly on weather cycles for sustenance, where backbreaking labor and dreary days in the blistering heat are the par for the course for most jobs, with little or no hope of rising above your surroundings, scant aid from outside sources, and constant danger from predation and the brutality of others in frontier America, not to mention living in a provincial state of affairs where mechanized agriculture, hybrid food genetics, most labor saving devices, modern medicine, modern surgical techniques, indoor plumbing, potable water, food safety inspection, most vaccines, electricity, phone service, personal hygiene, sanitation, and other taken-for-granted issues are not extant? Where constant paranoia of other people due to rural isolation is quite common? Well, this IS, approximately, "subsistence level" compared to modern America, and even compared to the America of about 50 years after Ingalls' death...

Having said all this, yes, you are correct in that we need to be careful on definitions. Civilizations being "inferior" materially is not quite the same argument when applied to other issues, such as morals. Happily, however, there can be some overlap.

What is meant by "Superior", then? Well, in that department, the late culture critic and commentator William Henry III pointed out that the case is far from clear that on the MORAL front things were better in the so called "good old days", or among tribal regimes, and guffaws at the notion that the world is invariably, morally, going to hell due to rank materialism:

There are always exceptions to the rules in lists like Henry's. But the exceptions demonstrate the general rule. None of these alone qualify by themselves. But, taken as a package, demonstrate what a Superior Culture yields. (One imagines people going down this list happily enough until at last they find something that gores their own particular ox.)

Paraphrasing W.H. III, a Superior Culture, and especially one that uses the engine of modern capitalism as the base of wealth to fund its ends as well as government, is featured as:

1) One that preserves the liberty of its citizens to the maximum practical extent possible, even at the cost of allowing offensive or unguarded opinions to venture out into the open. A culture that maintains autonomy despite the cost of fighting for itself is superior to one that fails to fend off invaders and interlopers, to secure its borders, and to have legal protocols about who shall enter, who shall not. Now of course we can't allow people to do ANYTHING their hearts desires. You don't have a right to shoot up a church or drive ruts in your neighbor's yard out of spite. But for most actions that don't harm others, wide girth is given for personal freedom.

2) Second, a superior culture provides--or attempts to-- a comfortable life relatively free from privation and want. It would foolish to make straight line connections to this issue, admittedly, as this should not be seen as advocating rank egalitarianism or to dispense with merit considerations in the process. Or preach, like the Obots (the Obamaphiles and other Coalitions of the Cockamamie), that life is so capricious, the rich don't earn their wealth, and that it needs to be smeared around in mockery of Joe the Plumber. Or Joe Anyone, for that matter. A superior culture recognizes the needs of the poor and the need for educational and material advancement are often interconnected. But it does NOT conclude, contra Obamamania, that wealth is sheer accident and that no mention is made of business interests, or that everything is about government power and prowess. Now, the accident of oil wealth in Kuwait and other squalid locals does not elevate Kuwait to the moral status of the US or Italy or Sweden. But a valid attempt should be made at many levels to offer the poor a chance to escape privation and subsistence living off the land and weather. As in little Laura's life. Lord bless her.

3) A superior culture promotes science in the practical format and maximizes medicine and health access, and extends this knowledge to others. Not just interesting coffee house discussions about space-time bubbles and their relation to the price of steak. When it comes to health, this is also done even at the cost of stepping on the heads, once in a while, of mosquitoes and other pests, regardless of the frets of Rachel Carson. It disdains jibber-jabber about wetlands when necessary, and offers to render malaria and dysentery extinct with all the more fervor that the AIDS crisis lobby monopolizes. DDT was one such miracle saver of human life. Politically Correct, radical, and false information about biomagnification placed this genie back in the bottle and led to the deaths of MILLIONS in the Third World--not earnest science. Superior cultures should ideally hold humans to be more important than bird eggs in any case. One cannot extend this to every need, of course. We can't treat the whole planet with every procudure on the taxpayer dime. And the wait lines in the local ER rooms in my neck of the woods would be somewhat lessened if not for the gooey hands and noses of illegal immigrants taking full advantage of "free" medical care whenever a bambino gets a fever.

The society should also have an attitude regarding sex that is neither phobic nor promiscuous. Neither Ozzie and Harriet, nor Hugh Heffner nor Larry Flint. Real medical advancement acknowledges what has been known for some time, in that adult stem cells (ASCs--the one you're not hearing about from the major media) are doing all the leg work and actually treat human ailments, whereas the controversial Embryonic Stem Cells that celebrities and leftist activists are pining to fund with tax dollars, are inferior, and take human life in the process. In a superior mode of science and research, these subtleties are known, and science is guided by ETHICS and reality rather than what Matt Damon and abortion right's activists and journalists like Ann Quindlin happen to think. It recognizes in reality these chuckleheads are actually agenda-mongering, and using "Stem cell research" to soften up the culture on issues like abortion. When the ironic reality is that the non-controversial adult stem cells (which can be taken from you and me) is doing all the real work.

Yes, Russians, Chinese, Peruvians, Mongolians, Latvians, and even remotely-based Pacific islanders have had wonderful theoretical constructs come from the mind as much as American scientists have. But a superior culture can use a combination of private and public initiative to channel these discoveries efficiently into practical use, and pull them away, at some point, from the academic world of after-hours coffee shop debate and pour the resources into various advancements. The United States, Canada and Western Europe, more than most, have done this. This is not advocacy of socialized medicine any more than "comfortable life" means socialism in economics. Rather, it means that an approach should be made to have technological innovation, and those services tied to them, commonly available at all levels of society.

4) A superior culture produces artifacts that express esthetic and humanistic (with a small "h") principles appreciated by other cultures. On this one, the bag for America is mixed. A bullwhip up the rump from some Mapplethorpe encounter at the local museum is not what I had in mind. Nor bare or smudge canvases and artsy folk crafts funded by the NEA. Or, for that matter The Vagina Monologues and other "men are all bad" plays and Vaudevillish routines put on by slatternly girls and women. Cursing on stage about their body parts, and lesbian/feminist intrigue with "de-contextualized, contextual analyses"(sic) of shaved twats is not high art form. No, I mean to say REAL art. Articles and stories of lasting value--not the trials of housewives, or gals with nasty boyfriends. Articles that demonstrate skill, precision, cultural awareness, with meaning for a time period greater than one's own age, and that demonstrate truths for all ages. As well as ingenuity and invention and insight. A mixed bag here. America produces much of what the world calls "kitsch". As one commentator said, the best way to think of "kitsch" is to ponder the carving of a Mickey Mouse head as a memorial---on Mount Everest. In this department, Europeans in particular have an historical edge over America. But this could be a function of time, too. From Chartres Cathedral we find the embodiment of timeless art on many levels. Other nations both past and present have a better case to make in this regard, from ancient China, Greece, and Rome to some Mesopotamian artifacts detailing the majesty of kings and kingdoms. But America does have some bright spots, mostly in literature and the occasional point someone makes about Andrew Wyeth and his family's brilliant painting--and similar notes. This is not universally accepted as a valid example, though.
It can be pointed out that many Europeans ask what is so special from American stories about men hunting big white whales, and smartass guys from Missouri talking about boys on rafts down the Mississippi river, or paintings of men's mothers sitting in rocking chairs. The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. is great, but lacks the full majesty of the great structures of Europe. But at least we're acknowledging the reality of what art is here.

5) Fifth, a superior culture provides education that is rigorous and open to all and not just an elite or priestly class, but ALSO tends to separate the quotidian masses from the elite early on, rather than to pretend that all students are the same, or could be. At first glance, this seems counterproductive to the goals of a common interest among races and creeds and faiths. But not every PC notion on togetherness can be entertained. Nor is it necessary to do so. It must be sufficient that helping society, overall, rests on the maximal contribution, which is aided more by excellence than by learning among peers in some instances.

6) Sixth, a superior culture expands, by trade or outright conquest or cultural imperialism. Or all the above. It will then find its tenets embraced by the erstwhile captives long after the initial conquest is long over ages later. Again, this is and of itself, as with any of the above, is not always indicative of a superior culture. But most superior cultures exhibit this trait as well as the others over history.

7) Lastly, a superior culture organizes itself hierarchically, tends to central authority, but gives some leeway to local control on minor issues, and overcomes tribal and regional divisions, all without suppressing the individual opportunity for self-expression and advancement. It allows the individual and his group to "paint on a larger canvas", so to speak.

Contrast all the above with some other cultures, like the various permutations of Arabian fiefdoms, who, without the accidental discovery of oil, would be as economically bankrupt as they are culturally bankrupt. The gut splat brigades of the Palestinians speak also of a culture so utterly bankrupt that what should be its greatest treasure--its children--is used as fodder for gory demonstrations of angst.

(A literal "baby boom" in many cases.)

So too the terror tactics of their allies among Islamists living in far flung places like Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and The Philippines, still at war with the modern world. Ditto, the so-called "insurgents" blowing up fruit stands in Iraq, usually doing more damage to their own countrymen than U.S. forces, and ever fighting the better restructuring of their own society.

Yes, silence in the face of oppression is wrong, and positively anti-Christian. Of course, neither of us were advocating that.

Actually, what I said about ID wasn't that their notions are untestable. It was that the leaders of ID, the Discovery Institute, have reversed their previous statements and now declare that there is no ongoing research and will not be for the foreseeable future.

That Demon be gone too, brother:

God has everything to do with the material world. Science doesn't investigate God, because science is imperfect and unable to do so. Unless you are advocating that every engineer who puts together a plane turn to prayer rather than sound engineering? Would you get into a plane where the engineer told you, "Yes, I don't really know much about air torque, or how a plane flies, but I built something that looks like a plane and gets off the ground, and then I prayed over it real hard."?

What a charming set of things to say.

If God has "everything to do with the material world", then how in Blazes is this known to those who don't acknowledge that science might be able to detect His presence in worldly affairs--or just material interactions? By Faith alone? How do you convert a Sam Harris, or a Christopher Hitchens? Or a Bertrand Russell? On what basis or evidence?

And as far as our handy plane engineer or pilot flying on faith but not sound principles of physics---this is EXACTLY the mock of faith that comes from the chortling of Richard Dawkins and William Provine. Only they take it a step further, so rather than declaring faith and science to be "Separate But Equal" spheres of influence (to his credit, Stephen Gould did indicate this), they say this is absurd. "Separate But Equal" means to Dawkins and his ilk for (science and religion) what race and schools meant as "Separate But Equal" back in the racist days of the old Jim Crow Laws. No, while we can't take that route with science (and it DOES seem that Scripture indicates an orderly Universe), scientists DO make a claim that needs our response at some point. To wit, while religion makes no claims about science, Dawkins surely would disagree on the converse. He thinks science can CERTAINLY make claims about religion. That is to say, science says it is malarkey. Others feel about the same, and will be happy to show why.

In a recent Newsweek article, the amiable Skeptic Michael Shermer, who bills himself as a FORMER Christian, indicated it was science that finally drove the stake in the heart of his faith. So too the many testimonies of others with similar claims. Like famous biologist E.O. Wilson. In a realm where all can be explained mechanically, what room is there for God to even have a busy schedule with life? Shermer goes on to point out the latest breaking research about "false positives" in the human brain. From this research, also based in part on the work of Stephen Pinker, it seems the human brain evolved for fitness---not truth. The two are often confused, but separate, notions. We used to be more in danger from night beasts, predators (both human and animal), and other assorted needs like food gathering, etc. Our evolved "instincts" made sure we saw miscellaneous "connections" in nature not always obvious at casual glance. Those with more developed sensitivity to this evolved better "instincts" for seeing things not actually there, in addition to things there WERE there, like danger, but subtle. Fast forward from Og, the proto-human, to the Greeks, who saw heroes and beasts and gods in the "patterns" of the stars. "Orion the Hunter" was over the horizon just last night. Today, no such real association exists, and astrology is all but absurd to ponder. Likewise, Christians and others today, say Shermer and many brain researchers as well, like Daniel Dennett, suffer from the same "False Positive Syndrome" hangover/leftover from evolution and have taken to seeing ghosts and specters and UFO's, Bigfoot, up to and including the Holy Ghost. Thus, science allegedly demonstrates (so Shermer tells us), that God is yet another "false positive" ghost: Poppycock in the minds eye, etc. An evolutionary holdover at best, that used to serve some function against noticing the faint paw prints of lions in the grass three days old following a particular path to the water hole, etc. Today, according to Shermer, the "false positive" is a mere nuisance (except for fun ghost stories around the campfire, and Hollywood fantasy). Part of this is understandable from Shermer and Co.'s point of view. In an age where religion can be used as the pretext for rather creative uses of airplanes and low altitude encounters with some select tall buildings, it might be to be skeptical of some claims of the Prophet, or any prophet.

So, be careful whom you call your science allies. More than one can play at this chess game called "Science And Religion Can Make No Logical Claim On One Another but Give Leeway and Respect Just The Same." Balderdash.

(As I just showed you, from one such media darling and scientist of note.)

If God cannot be detected in any form or format working at all in the material realm and all is imaginary, then it seems Harris's gauntlet toss shall not be met anytime soon.

The Early Church Fathers would disagree with you that the presence of God is testable by science.

It BETTER be testable in some fashion, or we have a hard road here, brother. The atheist/agnostic rate of NAS members polled on belief is running about 94%, at last check.

How shall they be witnesses to?

In any case this is not their (the Fathers) only error. They had many great insights, but ultimately the appeal to authority--any authority--is limited at best. The other reason this is the case is that it depends on WHICH authority you defer to. Some thought the Bible taught that sex is dirty, and later used Scripture to justify hatred of Jews and all manner of political horrors and persecutions, and great schisms occurred over faith vs. works as the road to salvation, or which was more important throughout life, etc. A couple of years ago I conversed with a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church who opined her opinion that per the Church fathers in their tradition, also claiming to go back all the way to the very earliest days, she gathered that we can never really have assurance of salvation. Certainty is to be held as a sin. Hmm. Sounds rather nerve-racking.

Anyhow, the late but always fascinating Stephen Jay Gould certainly seemed to think such "testing" can be done. That Church Father memo apparently never reached his desk over at Harvard. Perhaps he saw the numerous Scriptural passages about how the Earth and Heavens declare the Glory of God? Sorta ironic, I know. On the one hand, Gould also claimed one cannot "test" for God, BUT then certainly felt from his research one can do just that when if fits the billing. This is fascinating, since one of your favorite sites, the Panda's Thumb, takes its name from the notion proposed by Gould in a a book by that very title. To wit, God would have used better design parameters than to have a sub-optimal thumb. He would have done a better and more tidy job. While its true that some varieties of Design Parameter questions have been debated and bandied about since the days of the Greeks, the Early Church Fathers might have not felt this to be an issue worth consideration. It is worth noting they DID debate some rather odd and abstruse things that today might seem laughable. How in the blazes does Gould even know what God would do? But test for God, he does!

So while it might be true that the early Church Fathers didn't take "design" arguments to heart, and felt this wasn't backed up by Scripture, I'm willing to bet that they DID have an answer to Creation evidence in a general sense. If the fool says in his heart there is no God, and elsewhere we see the evidence of Creation points to a Creator, how then is this manifested? The Early Church Fathers were apparently not challenged that much on this point in an age long before Darwin came on the scene to point out that snowflakes are explained via purely mechanistic forces, and the familiar beasts of the field were not only not always the same, but share common lineage with humans. That being the case, it must be admitted that the appearance is given for little room left for God's craftsmanship. There is nothing left to do. So why posit a God?

The early Church fathers were not challenged thusly as are Christians today, and certainly not by the VERY aggressive atheist agenda that uses such evidence as the ultimate back up argument. You like to mention others? See Stephen Weinberg, the late Carl Sagan, William Provine, Richard Dawkins, BF Skinner, Crick and Watson, E.O. Wilson, Michael Ruse, Richard Rorty, John Dewey, Francis Fukuyama---the list goes on and on and on and on and on from those who see that God is by naturalist definition not only not testable, but rather UNLIKELY. There's a difference there. Your moderation between the two views is noted. However, in a world where matter is deemed all that exists, then...well....MATTER IS ALL THAT EXISTS. I've asked "deistic evolutionists" how this bloodshed and horror and predation of human young ones (that were no doubt requisite to the creation of the modern homo sapiens, in order to weed out the less fit and less agile) squares with a God of love and justice. Also, I've asked the "theo-evolutionist" crowd about the canonical book of Genesis (unless maybe this book is a devious, right wing political evangelist scheme to sneak in some nefarious literalist goal into Christianity) and how bloodshed could exist prior to the Fall, when all indications were this was not the case. The collective response to date has been the Charlie Brown one, as when called on the phone by Peppermint Patty, of just saying "well, I, um....."

The alternative from the God of the Bible is a God of gradualist evolution--one where, as Alfred Lord Tennyson said, nature is "red in tooth and claw", where horror and pain and death are the mixing bowl that processes development. I'd say that's a sadistic God. Sam Harris says it best. A God of this type, where rainfall is missing upon the Veld grasslands, and where the infernal heat and predators take their toll on children is not one worth worship and honor. I agree in principle. This kind of God is more sadistic than even the Greek conception of their gods' ambitious toying with humans, could match.

The envies of Zeus and Hera have nothing on a God who allows eons of human meat predation from lions and hyenas, and casts a cold eye to birth defects, droughts, slavery, misogyny, incest, the social problems caused by polygamy, and just plain home grown nastiness in nature. There is a counterargument to this, but it flows from the events due to the Fall. Not before.

I'm glad you've read Ruse- good on you. Have you read any other authors looking at how evolution can influence our theology? See here if you want to read more.

A few

I hope you are able to differentiate between the philosophical belief of materialism, and the belief that there is a material world. To believe the former is heresy; to not believe the latter is equally heresy- and the Church counts both heresies to be great ones.
Good for you on pointing this out.

The former version is what Darwinian descent is all about. Period. There is no other input implied. Glad to see both flavors declared heresy. And the latter version and declaration is certainly a good retort to Gnosticism, I'd deem.

The philosophical belief argues that this is all there is, and everything should be decided on the basis of that "reality". Contrarily, methodological materialism is what science is based on, stating that there is a difference between the material and spiritual world (though, for Christians, one should believe that the two often intermix), and that one is capable of studying it, using material means.

I understand. But for most Darwinians, there is no fine shade of grey between flavors of materialism, there is therefore no "contrarily" of anything---no line of demarcation---between what you call "methodological materialism" and "methodological naturalism", or just "materialism" (as in, matter is all there is, or can be). The terms are deemed by many as virtually interchangeable, the largest difference being in how they are used in regards to the scientific method. This is what is called "distinction without a difference", and one that for most of the Dawkinsonian crowd, is therefore largely irrelevant. Other than Stephen Jay Gould, who might have said his peace on this, tongue-in-cheek, I've never heard any Darwinian spear carrier declare any kind of meaningful distinction between "methodological materialism" as supposedly contrasted with plain vanilla "materialism". Or, say that it is "stated" somewhere that there is a "difference between the material and spiritual world."

And the notion that we Christians have that the twain realms somehow "intermix" is ripe for the pickings of mockery. In fact, "Christian Dualism" has been EASY pickings since before the days of Descartes. Victor Reppert, over at his blog Dangerous Idea has some insights, but they are abstruse and hard to follow. Sam Harris weighed in on this as well as all "ghost in the machine" statement-makers earlier last century. As one wrote, it is impossible that this occurs, as it would mean that something undetectable is a pipeline from God or some other realm to the human mind. Yet, nothing but emotion and guesswork can ascertain this notion, if that's even the right word. Not good enough. And I'd agree. Of course, we can always just rely on faith and make guestimations, like the church fathers and their obsessions with angels on pinheads. But if Richard Dawkins were to ask you about why he believes in God, but not Santa or the Easter Bunny, or Ramthar the Cabbage God, or for that matter why God exists but not ghosts in the swamps (also claimed from some), and why YOUR version of God is the one True one, and not some rural superstition, then what say you? What about Shiva? What about Zeus? What about Thor? If they too are not "testable" by these arbitrarily constructed rules of the Game, then is the existence of Thor testable within theology alone? If so, then how so?

Thus, materialists would conclude that, via Occam's Razor, the quickest way to reality is to declare all theological insights as poppycock, and be done with the whole affair. As Einstein said, what cannot be detected by any inference or methodology whatsoever cannot be said to actually exist, except in the mind. Is this your position then? If not, then why not? If materialism is the only game in town that has the Science equivalent of the Good Housekeeping (or Good Lab-keeping?) Seal of Approval, then

As a recent children's book has it, (no doubt on the NCSE approved list), "Nature is all there is, and all there ever will be!" Or so says Papa Bear of the Bernstein Bears.

Materialism, of the non-duality type (and indeed, why would science affirm any other is valid?), is considered a-priori, necessary to conduct science:

For an example of a site that agrees with the one above, but for the reason that undergirds and supports atheism, and makes sure we all understand that materialism is merely just that--and only that--see also Science Avenger's blog.

Again, someone has been feeding you bad information. There are two peer-reviewed papers on ID out there. (Most of the other ones commonly listed by the DI are not actually existent- at least on a material level- but are merely listings of non-scientific writing about ID.) One was mathematical, and was subsequently refuted. The other was submitted, and then withdrawn. And actually, nothing keeps the ID folks from submitting research for peer-review, as long as they follow the same rules that everyone else does. The Scientific Method requires you to be able to perform a repeatable experiment. Again, as I said before, the DI now states that there is no scientific research currently going on. (I can't be responsible, however, if they reverse themselves yet again on this position. Who can keep up with the latest positions of the DI? ;-)

I don't know about "keeping up", but it seems that one of the great things about all science that materialists crow about in their defense is that things are always in motion. Not static. Everything is up for grabs.
As to "peer-review", the rules of the game thus far have made things cumbersome. They are excluded by definition, not by methodology per se, in many cases.

If you think this is truly a novel claim of yours (or others) against ID, then have at it, and see. Actually, it seems this has all been hashed about before, but the message never seems to sprout legs and run far:

I'm glad to hear you don't serve the US. However, what you were suggesting earlier was precisely that. I completely agree with you that being a citizen or resident of a country comes with certain responsibilities- like obeying the government to the point where they ask you do something immoral or against conscience. In our country, as in most, yes, this includes paying taxes. (It does not, however, include the obligation to pay taxes to our country when one resides in a foreign country. Sorry. Complete red herring.)

You raise an interesting proposition, on if the police should be disbanded because of their use of violence. Let me say, at least, I favor far more the British system of law enforcement.

I'm sorry to hear that.

Several cases (and case law edicts) have come down from the courts in Britain regarding British law, to the overall effect that you're not even allowed to use nail clippers--or even your own fingernails--to defend oneself, holding the majority of British citizenry in fear of mugging and intrusion at the whims of invaders. This includes not just the London Tube, but your own home. Even IF you don't draw blood but merely brandish a weapon. Including your teeth and nails. This situation is intolerable, asinine, against all pragmatic human instinct ingrained for self-defense, and gives wide girth to the criminal element.

Now granted, most of this flavor of passivity, or this absurdist notion that the British police can be Johnny-on-the-spot with every home invasion case, is from secular PC notions that are beginning to afflict advanced welfare states in Europe. So, this is a cultural prescription from liberalism's continuous Cloud Cuckoo Land edicts, and not religion. One that, in the name of stability, puts the onus of intent and guilt on the regular citizen as much as it does on the criminal element. For more on this regarding American culture, see the ACLU. But the problem of extreme pacificism now influencing how regular people can ward off crime remains. Worse, extreme pacificism cuts close to holding the victim is nearly culpable in the commission of crime as the criminal due to various hobgoblin "societal" conditions. So in some cultures, especially socialist ones, you see not only the collectivization of money and talent and merit, but of crime too.

Cultural factors, not the absence of guns, are the majority reason the situation is not worse. And with the rise of terrorism and the rapid rise of Sharia-zation and Islamicization of the British Isles and much of the Continent, there IS some MAJOR rethinking about the older policies (from more peaceful times) when the British Bobbies and other forces never even carried guns. This is changing as we speak. In any case it is an odd position to sit in comfort and denigrate those who've fallen in the defense of liberty and against tyranny. It's like being perched high on the penthouse level of a corporate building with all comforts and fripperies, pretending to oneself that the bottom floors (where the laundry and mail is handled, where the rats and roaches often scurry from the light, but where the concrete is strong all the way to the bedrock), are of little use, and can thusly be blasted out from underneath you with no consequences.

As for the military being done only by the heathens- remember in the first few centuries, the Christians considered immoral to be part of the military. And the writings of the Early Church Fathers make it clear that this was not just because of the common idolatry within military ranks. And remember, at the time, there was no difference between the military and the police. The early Christians just felt that any use of violence was against the ethic and politics of Jesus.

Again, living in the catacombs, or being on the fringes of a society on the outside looking in, is a different context than what most of us live under today, regardless of all our other problems--both real and imagined. These issues are examined in more detail--and historical context--by John MacArthur's Why Government Can't Save You. The author takes a look at the relation of Christians to government, and goes back to those days you mention as the Early Church. He references numerous Scriptural principles. He has pointed things to say to both the so-called "religious right" activism and those on the Left who for different reason see government as salvation. There is something for both sides to dislike in his book, since he maintains neither a pacificist approach for lawful government as indicated by Paul, but warns against activism as evangelism.

Your conclusions as to Paul being a moral monster are faulty. He advocated repeatedly being a good citizen, but not engaging in the violence of the state, nor doing that which the state asked, if the state was immoral. But you'd do better to see the full ramifications of how evil the then state was by looking at John's last writing.

***My comment about Paul being monstrous was in jest. Obviously he was not. Unless you talk to Naomi Wolf or Eve Ensler and other harridans about this. But he HAS been accused of misogyny and hatred of females and homophobia all in one crisp package. Come to think of it, some liberal theologians take this road with Paul too.

Benjamin Gorman said...

Wakefield, I've been out of circulation due to illness, and I hardly know where to start. First off, I am a liberal, and thus you've described me as a chimpanzee. So before I engage in any argument, I should ask, is there any point? Do you think you could be convinced by a chimpanzee to change your views on anything at all? Conversely, are you so rhetorically skilled that you can convince a typing liberal chimpanzee to become... whatever it is you are?

@bdul muHib said...

Wow. You wrote a lot, Wakefield. I read it all, but of necessity, my response won't be nearly as detailed.

Actually, in regards to Abu Ghraib, I was referring to your claim that only the peons were responsible at Abu Ghraib- there's actually been a ton of evidence to indicate that the blames goes way up towards the top. In reference to everything else you said, I'm not sure I agree, but that's a different issue.

All axioms are true. That's the definition of an axiom. You have a right to disagree that something is an axiom, but not that an axiom is true or not.

I would agree that lions are violent and perpetuate violence. It seems that your response to my statement that those engage in violence perpetuate it, is to give the example of a lion, saying that I'm suggesting that they should be fangless? And so it would seem that you are suggesting that lions are not violent and/or do not perpetuate violence. Which rather makes no sense to me.

The issues of violence in the Old Testament and God's role in it, have many answers, which I'm sure you know. Suffice to say, as The Year of Living Biblically shows beautifully, we certainly don't want to be obeying everything the Old Testament says, or even a smidgen- and not just in regards to the purity laws, but in reference to many of the moral laws as well.

I'm sure that neither the people of Israel nor the people of Gaza should simply accept the violence perpetuated on them.

On Guantanamo, Bush has now admitted that he authorized waterboarding, something explicitly listed as torture in the past by the US government. So were talking about something a good deal more important than whether or not a Qur'an is touched. Torture is immoral. Actually, the Geneva Conventions apply to all those in war, and have always been interpreted as so, until now. And the Geneva Conventions are beside the point. The Constitution was put in place because of the ethics behind it. It's not holy in itself. Rather, it enshrines holy ideals. The Founding Fathers thought it was something of how we should treat others, all humans. It was the right thing to do. Torture is wrong, and it doesn't matter what the Conventions do or do not say. Imprisoning people without trial is wrong, whether or not they happen to be US citizens or not. We aren't better than the rest of the world, and it's immoral to act as if that's the case.

If neither of us are suggesting that Paul is misogynist or not canonical, then why are you bringing it up?

Most of the world isn't on board with the precepts of Christ. That's hardly an excuse for us not to be. A Christianity that doesn't strive after the practices and beliefs of the early Christians is not a Christianity I'm familiar with. But what you said doesn't negate what I had said- that the early church didn't use violence to defend itself, and yet wasn't a chaotic institution.

I have seen nothing in all my studies to indicate that the early Christians were "hiding in catacombs". They were doing far more, far more overt, far more active, than just that.

There are many forces in this world that would seek to discredit pacifism. Yes, true pacifism is never passive. False pacifism is. And Ghandi is perhaps the most obvious and glaring example of successful pacifism, but he is by far not the only one. I refer you to Buttrey's Christian Peacemaking as an excellent book for listing the many, many examples of successful non-violent action. And we know that there were times when imaginative nonviolent action worked against the Nazis, such as in Denmark. Sadly, then, as now, and always, few people have been willing to give it a true chance- probably because there seems to be a greater risk of death to the one acting in nonviolence, though in the long run, this, too, is questionable.

I have never, in all my studies, run into an inferior or superior culture. Just different cultures, all with good and bad aspects, all with a bit of God, and a bit of Satan. But I'm glad that you separate technological superiority from the ethical.

But I have no doubt that the injustice of the American Empire will eventually come to an accounting, and God will judge us as well.

There are actually very few Islamists. They are not horribly more prolific than others. Indeed, their high suicide rate precludes this, as they often die before producing offspring.

You're right, America is a reluctant empire.

Your link to the ID website was too broad, and I couldn't find the specific argument you were referring to. Let us assume it addressed the question at hand. 1) Uncommon Descent is hardly an unbiased source.
2) They can claim all they want that they didn't state that there was no ongoing research and would not be in the foreseeable future. (Again, this assumes that the link you gave me actually addresses the point I raised.) Unfortunately, we have the records that they said this. If the link instead claims that they no longer claim this, I redirect you to my previous statement saying that I can not be responsible for reversals of belief by the DI, as they do it so often.

I'm not sure what you keep on bringing up Richard Dawkins, other than as a red herring, as both of us don't subscribe to his belief system, nor have claimed to, nor have hinted at it, nor have claimed him as an ally. The same goes for a good number of other people and arguments you mentioned in your post.

It's actually not a mockery of faith, but an acknowledgment of it's power and truth, to say that faith is not blind belief in any old thing, but rather an assurance of things hoped for and a certainty of that which is not seen. My faith in trusting that God is for me (and everyone else) has nothing to do with, and does not negate, the power of my mind that he has given me, or the ability to reason. This has been the consistent witness of the Church throughout the ages- that reason is God-given, and it is indeed heresy to refuse to use it. Likewise, it is heresy to suggest that God has not made an ordered universe, working by certain laws, suspended only in cases of miracles, which are not the ordinary, by definition. Thus I refuse to put my faith in a man, or an engineer, rather than God, assuming that that man can by magic make a plane fly, though he knows nothing of it. I insist on a lawyer actually using the law, and not divine divination to determine guilt, as much as I want evidence to prove a scientific theory. If I hear God telling me to get in that plane that the engineer who knew nothing designed, there is no problem- I'm in that plane. But otherwise, I do not get in the plane, for I do not reject the mandate God gave me to use reason, in the mind he created in me. I will not blaspheme God.

Again, I'm not sure why you go so far into red herrings. You convincingly prove that there was disagreement on issues by the Church Fathers, but that was never really in question, and is far beside the point. The point, to go back to what I said, is that the Church Fathers, the ones who spoke on the matter, felt that God wasn't something testable by science (or what passed for science at that time). Now, if you actually have some sources from the Early Church Fathers who say the opposite, not only do we then have something to discuss, but I would be grateful for your pointing this out.

It's actually not true that Gould felt that God could be tested. It is true that there is much, much evidence that we have an Unintelligent Designer- if, in fact, we were designed. My backache at the moment proves that if nothing else. (I already know your responses to that, and you know my responses to your responses, so let's skip ahead.) This is why I am convinced that there is an Intelligent Designer, for I am convinced of an intelligent God, and evolution is such a superb and beautiful system, I must give all glory to God for it- which then very convincingly explains my backache, despite the intelligence of God.

You ask how to resolve the issue of theodicy with the fact of evolution, and state the Theistic Evolutionists you've spoken to haven't been able to answer the question. If you were to look at some of the books I'd earlier referred you to, you'd find your answer. In particular, I'd point you to Falk's Coming to Peace With Science.

You set up false dichotomies. You say that the God of the Bible is the alternative of a God of gradualistic evolution. In truth, the God of the Bible fits exactly with gradualism. But you also imply in that statement a second false dichotomy, as if the choice was between the Biblical God and Gradualism, when, if there was going to be a dichotomy, you could also alternatively propose a God of Punctuated Equilibrium. But in truth, that God would also fit with the God of the Bible. Remember, Lewis himself said that the question of theodicy is not raised by evolution- it is only accentuated by it.

I have no idea what a Darwinian is, and have never run into one, in life or in print, and have no interest in defending these people, if they indeed exist, so I'll skip over your discussion of them.

I have, however, heard many good discussions on the distinction between methodological and philosophical materialism.

Yes, one of the great things about science is that it is constantly changing, being updated with new evidence. The Discovery Institute has developed a fine art of constantly updating their press releases. I give them this, as Flock of Dodos so well pointed out- they have great PR.

I don't claim to have novel claims. I'm not sure what lead you to that assumption.

Actually, recently, all Bobbies have been equipped with tasers.

@bdul muHib said...

I'm sorry to hear you've been ill, Ben. I hope you feel better; may God give you perfect and complete healing.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Well, I tried to answer a few of these, but the post got zapped.

Maybe later.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Well, Benjamin,

Hope you are feeling better.

I DO recall saying that Slate was the entity that contained liberal chimps, or liberals in training, with occasional insights, but also a rather mulish way of looking at things overall. When a site like Slate has hundreds of articles posted in single sitting, naturally once a while a point sticks. But I got tired of their argument via inundation. Besides, real journalists start out by investigating the truth, not investigating their perceived enemies. Thanks to "journalism" web outposts like Slate, we now know--ever so delightfully--more about Bristol Palin's boyfriends' mother's-friends-dope-charge, and even the bail amount, than Obama's carefully concealed background and deep marination at doing nothing all his life but politics in the Chicago Machine--and running nothing but his mouth. He knows less about how to run a business and other icky, quotidian mass issues, than I know about running cyclotrons and do-it-yourself ACME Hadron Collider kits. By contrast, other people of note have RUN commercial operations, understand the situation in ANWAR, and actually understand the job and principle applications that most Alaskans also understand, have RUN a town AND a state---yet get called Snowbillys for their efforts. I guess on-the-job training for the world's most powerful desk job is just dandy.

Still, that's kinda chimpy of Slate to think this. They must really burn through a lot of keyboards--chimps are not scrupulous pounders.

I was not suggesting this for you. YET. This is sorta like the gun vs. rifle dichotomy. (All chimps can be trained to be liberals, but not all liberals are chimps).

If you'd like to force the issue and join their ranks, feel free. I'm armed with bananas as well as Clorox. :)

But in no sense do I hope to convince anyone of anything here. That's too tall a task for almost any man--and beyond my pay grade and profession. However, for those window shoppers peeping in, just reminders that there is more context to the usual bruha about homeschooling; the now-famous urban legends, myths, and anecdotal asides about "socialization", and social cohesion concerns that have been answered over and over and over, and also to the pointing out of the very contradictory claims made by opponents of homeschooling. I might be posting later on my own site regarding this with some nifty info about "horizontal" learning modes among peers being inferior to the homeschool model for many children from researchers as various as Brookings and Scientific American research that touches on this, tangentially, in the myth of the "teen brain" and how children learn best from "real world" events via adults and older children. If I have time, which I might not these days. So enough of that for now. And as far as the SOTARDS, well, since I went to the public schools gladiator-in-combat training myself, I can attest that this mixed bag, at best, has no more edge on homeschoolers than any other application of force.

(Unless bullying and peer pressure conformity is the new mod-flop pop psyche paradigm of social health. I'm sure it is.)

@bdul muHib said...

So, do you have issues with all apes, or just chimpanzees?

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Chimps make good research subjects---just not good research subject matter writers.

They do NOT make good pets, as anyone who's taken on this grim task has found out the hard way after cleaning the kitchen after a rampage.

Our youngest son, however, we call The Monkey Man.

So, every creature has a charm of sorts than can be anthropomorphosized with some good human qualities.

There is, ya see, Pro-Simian, and then just prosimian.


@bdul muHib said...

I must agree. I had a Barbary Maquaque in the house for two weeks, and that was just hellish. He could be cute at times, but the rest of the time...

I much prefer living with the more intelligent apes.

Nice pun.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

SOME people, with very stern and understanding patience, have made headway with tamarins (but they are not legal in some areas, and have VERY specialized diets, as well as most of them on endangered lists of various degrees).

But then, those who do stick with it, get them the care and space, say they are worth the effort.

Strictly speaking they are not apes or monkeys, but are simian of a degree.

The capuchins are probably the best bet (so I hear), and highly trainable.

The interaction of great apes is something that yes, could be rewarding, but very dangerous to the novice. I spoke to several Georgia State University and some Emory students who work with these guys as the Yerkes center here in Atlanta (and I interviewed one of the researchers too), and they indicated that yes, while highly intelligent, they are often unpredictable and one girl was pulled by her hair and slammed against a cage by a gibbon.

I have all manner of exotic pets in the house, including a caiman. She's fairly clever for a reptile, and you MUST be careful about routine (they key in on this). But the others?

You have more patience than I would have.

@bdul muHib said...

"The interaction of great apes is something that yes, could be rewarding, but very dangerous to the novice. I spoke to several Georgia State University and some Emory students who work with these guys as the Yerkes center here in Atlanta (and I interviewed one of the researchers too), and they indicated that yes, while highly intelligent, they are often unpredictable..."

I think that's the best explanation of war I've yet seen.

Wakefield Tolbert said...


As far as the dictionary definition of an "axiom", from a mathematical formulation that would be correct yes. Or perhaps a philosophical statement widely regarded as true as a starting point. But then when it comes to a-priori assumptions, not all starting points are considered valid.

Including the "axiom" you started with.

Feminists are prone, as one example, to crique the "hetero-normative" presumption. Marxians refuse to allow that price has any measure of, well......measurement, and claim that starting points on these matters are just dreamy-eyed ruminations from the libertarians with no relation to reality. And that market economics is mere religion.

So if you want to piddle with THAT, I'll just say that its not an axiom.

Now then.

That should make everyone happy for the moment.

@bdul muHib said...

Wakefield, all tautalogies are axioms. That obviously means that many of them are not helpful axioms, though I would argue this to be an exception. There is no way to logically see that a violent person is not being violent- which was the original axiom that I stated.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

In a world that bears no context, you can make a case for almost anything you like. But what happens is always contigent on something else. Else we couldn't even function as humans.

I believe the way you phrased that "axiom" was the effect of perpetuation of violence in the sense of "in perpetuity"--which would indicate a belief system where crime would in turn actually be CAUSED by, and not halted by, the proper use of force. While some crime SYNDICATES are tough nuts to crack, we also know that individual criminals have been brought to justice. The old excuses for crime keep having the ante upped by various social science busybodies eager for government involvement. They tell us poverty causes crime, or even "relative" poverty, or lack of self-esteem, or that society is not honoring certain kinds of people enough. But as Samuel Samenow has written, the essence of crime is not societal conditions as bad as things can get--else we'd see a larger and more meaningful proportion of these kinds of bad karms to crime.


And part of this thinking is the notion that for the most part you can get away clean with it with no consequences. One COULD argue about the glorification of violence and media. But that is a mixed case. Toronto gets the same programming as New York in some cases but the crime rate is lower. So there are cultural differences also.

Obviously the use of force implies violence. So what?

People who are married also engage in an activity from time to time that looks suspiciously like the same things whores do. Context is key. Whores do it for money, but lovemaking with one's spouse is for intimacy in marriage and not defiling.

As CS Lewis said, since you found favor in one of his other paraphrases, to say that all killing is murder and "bad" is like saying that all sex equals rape. Since so obviously from a biological point of view the action would seem to be about the same.

Your absurdist take on the categorization of evil as being identified as activity only, stripped of all context, is the same kind of mulish absolutism that is just as dangerous as moral relativism from secular society.

But your axiom for the Christian is a useless mind trap that would criminalize police action and self-defense, and only by a severe and absurdist de-contextualization of Scripture could you arrive at such an absurdity.

And yes, police do stop crime, and yes, people have lived productive lives after defending themselves.
The reason's its not always succesful and the prosecution does not "stick" has to do with the legal system's aggrevating loopholes and boggy proceduralism so that we err on the side of presumption of innocence, even where the jackal is caught red-handed.

Yoder's work was from a Mennonite heritage of an extreme separation from society, even if this was not advoated himself. And that is how they live today, a separated enclave of people with no more contact than necessary to the outside world and who, like the Amish, cannot use context to discern Biblical principles on self-defense and security. The actions of this heritage are almost on par with the Jains of India, who have beeen known to wear kerchiefs in the field to prevent the untimely deaths of accidentally inhaling bugs.

In a way, it is a type of moral disintigration and squalor every bit as horrific as a crime syndicate like the Mafia.

Except that once in a while the Mafia actually has come to the rescue of ordinary people.

God himself destroyed or had destroyed via proxy entire civilizations. God is a God of justice as well as love. He ordains government to do this to the criminal element if the punishment meets the crime, and in fact this was prescriped in both OT and NT laws, as implied by Paul.

In fact, from both a Biblical and societal point of view, punishment of crime and up to and including violence is necessary not only to stop crime, but to show the connection between action and reaction of society. Not to punish is to make a loud statement that there are no consequences to be had. And even the "soft" versions of punishment, like incarceration or fines, imply the need for violence if further recalcitrance is encoutered.

To have Yoder's radicalized interpretation that leaves out vast swathes of context, in fact, is WORSE morally than the criminal elements' morals as well, as it says it finds there is no such thing as legitimate authority, and treat humans as though they have no control over their own actions and are therefore not held liable for any action.

Either government has a legitimate function in society.

Or it does not.

Those are the real axiomatic choices for societal organization.

Choosing the latter means we hide in little cubby holes and abbeys hoping the next month want bring horror or one type or another as in the days of the Viking raids.

@bdul muHib said...

No, it wasn't.

Actually, Mennonites are usually not at all separated from society; rather, the opposite- more engaged with society than average. It doesn't seem that you know too many Mennonites.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

They are involved in a number of disaster relief agencies mostly of their own instance and design, yes.

And they are involved in various organizations of "social justice" and "peace advocacy" that sound fairly much like what the radical socialists preach from their own pulpits. The main difference being that guys like Steven Kangas don't talk about Jesus. But the political agendas seem about the same on cross examination.

However, political agitation or advocacy or making some kind of statement about why Israel or the US should allow themselves to be smashed into oblivion (which, as one Muslim aquaintence of mine, is a more than fair assessment when all the diplomacy fluff is flushed) of one kind of another, while "involvement" of a variety, yes, is not what I had in mind.

Their communities are separate enclaves from the general population. There are exceptions, and not all sub sets do this. True.

But the point is that when it comes to...oh...say, a nation like Israel, fighting for its very existence against not only Hamas and the so-called "palestinians" ( a term that used to mean Jewish), they must also fight the UN, which created the partition in the first place. The Mennonites and other groups itching to have a moral and positional equivalence between the two "sides)?

They are not terribly helpful on where they fall on things.

Ironic, really.

@bdul muHib said...

Actually, the majority of Mennonites are not separate enclaves. A minority are. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, just as I'm sure you wouldn't assail my own culture.

Unless you're referring to the Mennonites of 1600? In which case, we should really be talking about Catholics, Anglicans, and Quakers of 1700.

Benjamin Gorman said...

I've largely stayed out of this conversation, both because I've been under the weather and because I've mostly agreed with Abdul. But I did just want to weigh in, as a liberal chimp. We liberals were thoroughly embarrassed when Bill Clinton tried to pull the "it depends on what the meaning of is is" defense to weasel out of his perjury, and conservatives really raked us over the coals for it, trying to relate that kind of linguistic maneuvering to every kind of incidence of political correctness and cultural sensitivity. But now we've watched eight years of conservative rule, and I think it's more than fair to point out that many of the arguments you're making, Wakefield, relate to this very linguistic flip flopping. It's torture, except when the U.S. does it, and then it's not a program but the act of a few low level people? It's a tautology except when it's not? Axioms are true except in certain contexts? Jesus' advocacy of radical pacifism isn't really what Jesus meant? Wakefield, I'm picturing you, Clinton-like, on a stand, saying, "when Jesus said to turn the other cheek he didn't mean in cases of self defense or the defense of others or... I mean, love your enemies? Well, that depends on what the definition of love is." Next you'll be telling me Jesus wants the rich to get richer and supports wars of choice.

@bdul muHib said...

Hold on, Wakefield. I didn't see your rather grievous misunderstanding of biology till just now. Actually, biologically, there is a difference between rape and sex. This is why biologists can speak of rape in the animal kingdom, outside of humans.

And the proper analogy to sex and rape would not be killing and murder, but rather voluntary assisted suicide and killing. The only difference between killing and murder is a moral one, which we are the only animals to have a care for. Biologically speaking, it is not the morality that distinguishes sex and rape, but rather it is forced or not- which is why we can speak of rape among the non-human animals, but not murder.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

It's a little strained to use changes in covenant law to argue for changes in God's nature. It's all very contrived.

And...Someone forgot to tell God in the OT that war is never legit.

Perhaps, with the possible exception of the Society of Friends and other left wing outfits that feel Israel is up for grabs but Islamism is sacrosanct, you can be the first.

Perhaps in your theology, since it has been loony enough thus far in many assessments and axioms ever so conveniently pulled out of thin air, you can phone him yourself, along with CS Lewis to mull things over.

And on this business of my ignorance of science, I dare so you make a statement that is irrelvent to modern case law. Why do that? What I meant to say, while probably I shouln't have used the term "biological", was the same as Lewis: The APPEARANCE of things. The contrast based on volition and intentionality. Force is not the main deal in case law. At least not modern law, regarding rape and other sexual assault.

So my take on things need be no more sophisticated a set of field notes on what some animals do than the notes of the local District Attorney.

Who went to law school. Not the apostate church of the Church of secularist socio-biology and other fads.

How astonishing and utterly bizarre your angle on this. Wow.

@bdul muHib said...

You're slipping again, Wakefield. I get that you are in a hurry and don't have the time to write in complete sentences and standard English grammar. Unfortunately, I can't have any remote understanding of what you're saying if you don't. Thus, I couldn't even figure out you were responding to me until half-way through the post. I still don't even get how what you said in the first half remotely addresses my last post, or even the one before that. So I'll ignore it.

As to your ignorance of science, yes, I was responding to the scientific statement, because your argument was scientific, and wholly based on biology. Perhaps you shouldn't have used the term "biological", but unfortunately, you're ipso facto above was on the biology, which is what I was responding to. If you want to change it to a discussion of case law, that's fine, but I'm not in the middle of that conversation- I was talking about biology, because you were talking about biology- which I made very clear in my post.

Wakefield Tolbert said...


I leave for a few days on a combo of job and work-related issues that the Chatter Class and the Obots mock me for, while nonetheless being more than happy to access my pocket, and things go right to pot. Interesting.

Though I'll say its a rather linguistically inventive pot.

No--I was not arguing "wholly" in the biological arena.

I was merely pointing out appearances without references to other notions about rape. The issue is not even about force per se.

Obviously something like this has many social dimensions.

Biologically speaking, it is not the morality that distinguishes sex and rape, but rather it is forced or not- which is why we can speak of rape among the non-human animals, but not murder.

I'm not sure what that thicket from @bdul even means. At least not completely. So, now we're equal. And from above, I'm not sure that "voluntary assisted suicide" has enough of a history to make hay out of. The laws in some states are in limbo on this idea. And in the case in the other nations, like the Netherlands, for example, this notion has several variants. Some of them unpleasant--and not all that "voluntary". The government of the Netherlands hasn't gotten a handle on the term, so I doubt on this side of the Pond we know much more at this point. So we'll have to leave that be for now.

I will point out, however, that I sent similar missives to JP Holding over at Tektonics, and to a theologian using the name BeastRabban over in the UK. No problems in translation. So I imagine you're pulling gorilla dust distraction here for kicks. So this explains all the mess about my "slipping again", whereas you didn't mention non-slipping episodes.

In any case, its time to pull out the machete and see if we can make any headway. Grab a cup of coffee--unless that too is some kind of "abomination" inherited from Rome.

I really don't care about what biologists speak of concerning "rape" in the rest of the Creation. You might as well tell me the plot line of Dune.

AGAIN. AND YET AGAIN: When I used the term "biologically", I referenced the mere appearance of things. That was the modifier. And we need not delve any further. Indeed, why would we???? It is NOT germaine to anything. Nor was there any reason to imply anything else. Even IF something deeper were needed regarding human beings, it was certainly NOT necessary to bring in animals, for whom the very term "rape" is questionable among many researchers, at best. Anthropomorphism is a risky and tendentious business. Best we not go there.

In fact, even IF "rape" is something that happens in the animal kingdom elsewhere, that is largely irrelevant to the human condition. And force is not always the distinguishing feature for humans anyhow.

Force-centered with other parts of animalia, or not---that's irrelevant at best. Distraction at worst. But just for shiggles, I'll consider passing on this sparkling but irrelevant bio-insight to the assistant D.A. who works downtown, for future considerations in court cases.

I'm sure Mary will get a kick out of this one.

And I'm willing to bet good money she'd also nod in agreement that it is fine, for humans, to speak of a "biological" appearance in passing to describe the fact that rape and other sex LOOKS THE SAME, without the extraneous crap you pulled out regarding your non-human animal pals.

So again: When I spoke of "biologically" in one of the above posts regarding rape, I was referring to the APPEARANCE of something, which, again, I think I also mentioned. I was not speaking of interactions in other parts of the animal kingdom. Why would I have done so? We can speak of mere appearances of something without referring to field notes about beasts working on autopilot. No? Just as with, say, two kinds of hummingbirds, the ruby-throat vs. the black chin hummingbird. They DO look about the same. And yes, biologically; that would be the correct term. Do I need to go into some long drawn out précis about the very real differences? Not necessarily.

I DO know a thing or two about crocodilians, from the biological world, and I can attest that when you see one species of caiman that unless you know what to look for, you've seen them all.

For example, we can, as humans, be productive and hammer railroad spikes---or use the same hammer and pop other people on the noggin. I got pop someone on the noggin to be offensive, or to nab a mosquito (and still be one-up on the World Health Organization and the banning of DDT!). From a distance it looks the same. The issue with Lewis was that the appearance of something is not always indicative of what is actually going on.

I probably shouldn't have used the term "biologically." But then, I didn't expect you to continue your pageant of pedantics.

Not to sound too "Clintonian" for the moment, but even IF what the animal world does had any relevance here (highly dubious), that would also depend mightily on what you mean by the use of "force." Even IF we were to inject that issue here, it is not a complete, or sound, little précis about what constitutes "rape" for human beings. Another complicating factor is that force is not even visually evident with the witnesses of rape, the victim, or medical examination. Nor is it the sole determination of things--NOR is it always even necessary.

Only partly, in some cases:

And legal experts and investigators alike will be happy to remind all budding he-men out there that neither force nor consent, in themselves, are sure fire ways to avoid trouble with females in a certain chronological or other state of being. And yet the intercourse would have all the appearance of a wham-bam one night stand of two adult strangers out for a pelvic fix. In fact some might not even see anything wrong until the male side of this personal interlude of fun gets slapped in handcuffs and fingerprinted.

Did you not know this? And is this the situation with birds and bees, or perhaps a potential unrequited Koko love?

This is getting surreal. I knew that at some point you'd favor the biological sciences over Scripture to make some irrelevant point about the human condition. So you have. Took longer than I thought, but you did it. And this is one of the many problems with materialist/biological explanations that seek--as predicted--to default to some kind of mechanistic argument about behavior that in reality has little bearing. Sociobiology is all the rage today as it was in various times past, but is no closer today than in yesteryear in its fashionable assertions to helping what is called "the human condition."

Interesting, that just like a hard core atheist friend of mine, you use the biological sciences to make some kind of point on moral suasions. Likewise, you both have disdain for the progress bequeathed the world under the Romans and create metaphysical constraints on government that are impossible, YET no doubt would agree that certain socialistically-oriented programs are necessary. From a metaphysical point of view, this is fascinating: Two views that begin divergently but end up pointing to the same ineffectual place, all the while arguing for moral and social progress except for the rest of the planet, which is welcome to burn in hell so long as we don't get involved. Handing out bags of grain and providing medical assistance is valid for both of you with some of those prim-helmeted autocrats from the UN or Peace Corps, but stopping dictators from creating gore and horror in the first place is off limits. Hmmm.

Well..*sigh* If the addenda of biological considerations regarding moral suasions WERE helpful to some large degree as its proponents claim, then faith in God would be jettisoned completely--as would "moral" failings and other "outdated", or "unscientific" concepts. Just as you've decided to jettison vast swaths of Biblical contexts on other topics, so too you've decided the best course of action is to just go full Monty materialist right here. Alas, it usually is not. Except maybe that observations about dogs wanting to return to the vomit.
But then again, that's in Scripture too.

Biologically speaking, "force" just IS. It's akin to saying that big dogs push away the mating prowess of the smaller ones, or that male lions fight over territory. So what?
It's just activity--one that includes sexual activity, but I'm not sure the word "force" means the same here as it does for humanity. Indeed how could it? The animating principle in law, both past and present, is volition and intentionality. The rest of the natural world does not use much of this--if at all. That's debatable, but largely irrelevant.

Theologically speaking (where CS Lewis was coming from, on the Scriptural grounds of some vital distinctions), we are not required to enter into THIS kind of biological discernment here, because it is neither necessary nor warranted nor relevant to the discussion.

So, you missed the issue Lewis was going over. I expected this, but didn't expect some bizarre précis over non-human interactions as a comparative.

Lewis was merely indicating that there IS a conceptual difference between "killing" and "murder", as commonly defined. And so there is. Modern findings among the fine feathered friends and the bees is hardly his consideration. He may have had morals in mind, yes, but of course there is more to it than that. There is intentionality. Animals lack this. Just as there is a difference between vanilla and chocolate candies and puddings, and the issue there too would not merely be flavor but color and chemical derivatives as well. Just as there is the conceptual difference between fruits--while still being "fruitlike" among grapes and watermelons. Force is just one facet on a large gem here.

Force, or not, is largely beside the point for animals: ALL of non-human nature has, or uses, force at one point or another to achieve ends. So do cute little hummingbirds using sex play to fight over territory. A tree burrowing into rocks that are particularly hard, but get shunted out of the way after a while, is a type of "force."

If THAT kind of definitional laxity is taken as the gold standard, then morals have no place in society in such considerations for transaction. So the most charitable thing we could say about biological definitions in this case is that you've noted a distinction that is largely irrelevant to both ancient and modern human law. What my poor mother would call "a distinction without a difference." While its true that modern law is based on Positive Law and is mostly about prior restraint, ancient law certainly had moral considerations regarding areas like rape. And modern law, as you can read in the legal link above, has cast aside the issue of force as the only animating, or distinctive, concept in "rape."

What matters, just as with murder, is volition and culpability.

So, my take on science, Mr. @bdul, is not relevant to this current discussion about rape vs. sex, or murder vs. killing, any more than my take on the origins of cotton candy and indoor plumbing.

Neither is yours.

Or the local District Attorney's. She gives not a flying rip about that. Why would she?

I was speaking of the LAW, not biological definitions. Yes, PART of the issue is the assumption of force. Or I should say, it CAN be. Yes, it is ALSO one of morals--and volition.

Not that you care about contexts. You've spent much time pulling alleged axioms out of thin air and can't distinguish between "perpetuate" from "in perpetuity" and have set up absurdist parameters of human governance.

*sigh* .......nevertheless......

The Law will consider many forms of rape, in fact, and not all of them would necessarily indicate the use of force per se, though in many instances they would. At least not in physical evidence.

There is also the category of STATUTORY rape, where the female (or usually female) gives "consent" where none is deemed by the law to be relevant based on age considerations. Force is not always indicated here, either in physical format OR in what a state considers a child's input on "acceptance" would be.
This is why we have such laws, and yet the punishment for sexual activity with a minor is very severe, even with the other partner's "permission." Just as severe as a good old fashioned donnybrook beat up with a golf club to get the same ends.

Now granted ,the law is, in modern days, separated from most moral considerations--but the two notions overlap in the minds of orthodox Christians and many other faiths, and the main consideration of VOLITION is key. Force is just one component anyhow, and not always an overriding one at that.
So again, yet another separation from considerations from our animal pals.

The local DA could have an "F" in science, and still hold to the very distinction that I made--and hold it to be valid. If the doctor uses the crime lab slang and reports to the investigator that "yeah, there was some 'action' here, Chief", meaning penetrative sexual intercourse, then regardless of what biologists claim for other animal species, or evidence of force, you WILL have rape if the victim says the sexual contact was not wanted, OR if the law stipulates no consent was legally binding.

Force, or no force, involved.

Legal scholars generally go to Law School, and are not known or prone to do field work with various animals. What animals do is genetically predetermined. So while you might be thinking your ugly aside about science included some earth-shattering input from field notes about power and territory acquisition, it is not relevant to moral considerations of rape vs. sex among married individuals--or for that matter, among consenting adults after hitting the bar scene.

Your take might be the equivalent of reprimanding people about their eating habits based on the feeding routines of hummingbirds and coyotes.

The issue--once again--is volition and choice.

This holds true under the law for humans, but not for animals, and holds true for humans even if we uses say, the radicalized feminist take on rape as control and power. The issue is the same. This is the distinction between rape and other forms of intercourse done in OTHER contexts you've decided not to address and to add extraneous material that has no bearing here. Not all aspects of the birds and bees is clarified for people with studies of...well...the birds and the bees.

And you know this.

This subsegment of science may very well be something some biologists consider, but your presentation presents several problems.

First, in your clarion call for the majesty of the public schools, keep in mind this "rape among animals" issue was not brought to my attention in MY public schooling.

Second, this did not appear in my college level biology courses either.

Third, even if it had, it has no more relevance to what the law and human morals say about rape and other ethical HUMAN issues than the price of tea in China. This would hold true even IF animals had some kind of moral or volitional choice in such matters. Which they don't. You lose on all these accounts in your desire to cast barbs.

The issue for human beings is key here, NOT what some of the great apes go through in their (mostly) non-volitional tribulations amongst their troops. So, while the king of Spain recently DID authorize an "official" notion that equate humans and the higher apes (and why not just have the king stipulate, that, by royal decree, henceforth, pigs shall now fly?), and while some other European courts have taken the issue of "humanity" as a whole for such creatures, this is really all still non-germane. There MIGHT be some loony legal scholars who think animalistic behavior has bearing on what the LAW, or human morals, say about volitional behavior, like Ruth Ginsburg. But then, such individuals are insane. Too bad. The issue, volition, makes the comparison all the worse, for it is not generally regarded as something animals have, where genetic predispositions are the plupart of control for the animal. Not free choice.

Christianity assumes the latter for human beings. So does both modern and ancient law.

This has been the distinction of orthodox Christianity since its very inception, going back through time all the way to Judaism.
The local DA will have my side on this, not make your kinds of oddball distinctions that give no moral clarity (like much else of what you've said thus far), and have no brief for animalistic interpretation bereft of moral and volitional considerations.

Animals have no real volition other than what genes dictate, even for giving the appearance of using "force" for sexual encounters when in fact this is a power play dictated by evolutionary instinct alone. They are gene machines, acting out a great drama that often give the appearance of behaviors that in some cases mimic human action or an endeavor, but there is no rational input to their decisions. The genes are bottled up in the vessels of the being, but the field of play allows the expression of these genes nonetheless, giving the mere appearance of forethought.

Otherwise, researchers would have already told us the opposite of what you did, that territory games and fighting culminate in MURDER. Which, as you said, is not the case.

Fourth, even IF what you unnecessarily added DOES have some input to legal notions--which it assuredly does not--the distinction Lewis was speaking of is still completely valid. It is valid as he was detailing that regardless of the reason, the fact remains that whether the issue is force, volition, consent, or other contexts, we know that society makes a moral AND legal distinction between MANY kinds of activities that, while LOOKING similar on the surface, are actually different in intent. Thus too, killing is not always on the same moral and contextual par as outright murder. IF this were the case, then you're setting up a metaphysical situation where government itself could not function, as the very formation and existence and proper role of government metaphysically assumes and implies force as one tool of governance. The cross-comparison by simple analogy sufficed in and of itself, as in fact it did not even stipulate what kind of primary difference there is between activities that look similar but metaphysically are not--just merely they we all acknowledge that they ARE different. So, you lose on this account also.

Having said that, although your apparent apostate take on various things allows for much variation from Scripture, decontextualizes passages, adds other material not germane to anything except to heap insults, and piddles over alleged axioms that get yanked from thin air and thusly devoid of all context, there is a bright point in all this. Noteworthy also that this apostasy also, at least in metaphysical terms, makes government itself all but impossible if force and restraint (which are mere tools) are verboten.

The bright spot is this: You like CS Lewis on some things, so perhaps, since you didn't like his take this particular issue with its distinction between murder and "killing" (which might outlaw a roast chicken to boot), perhaps in your theology a séance is allowed. Why not? After all, perhaps your theology's take on the Wise Men would suggest that the Church teach that we can take up astrology as well!

Take it up with the creator of Narnia himself! Give him the latest. Make a ringy-dingy to the spirit realm! You've pulled "axioms" out of the Netherworld to make presuppositions.

Now simply go there and I'm sure you'll gather lots more. But I guess that's OK. As to my grammatical shortfalls with the axioms and tautologies you tossed around: In the first place, I'll point out again you yielded nothing but a presupposition easily falsified by the criminal justice system. In the second; in an age where the majority of the populace and the media elites have taken as given that "tax cuts" (welfare checks, as we used to call them back on Earth) to those who are not paying Federal taxes, and where basic questions about background and policy are routinely ignored concerning some people, I'll be just fine. Even if I'm not left two dimes to rub together. Perhaps I'll contact the Obama administration and let him know I have a windmill on a farm and I'll get an Energy bailout. Who knows? The fact that it spins without generating much energy never seemed to bother environmentalists before.

If the new Commander-in-Grief gets to slaughter the King's English and get a free pass, then I feel entitled, in this age of entitlement, to at least meet him part way. Fair enough? I realize its not the best comparison, as the New Messiah has kicked people off the ballot in order to get his junior Senate seat in prep mode for the world's most powerful position. But still.


As to the other mess about me being Clintonian on several issues just because I demand a rehash of context (whereas Wild Bill chopped definitions to his liking to REDUCE clarity, not enhance it, from his catbird seat of power over young girls, and actual rape of other women that passed over by the media), the falsification of this is rather easy:

If this were true of me, I'd have a book contract here by now, hit the talk show circuit on what's left of Air America and Bill Moyers, and be hailed for my martyrdom.

Though on second pause, once I mentioned also the context the loving your enemies is not a prescription for self immolation, or that a nation can't defend itself, then I guess that gig would be up. On the OTHER hand, yet again, perhaps another handy dose of context cues might land me back into the Clintonian Camp yet again!

I guess I'll get my water-cooled pen handy to sign books.

I told Ben he was not in the chimp zone just yet. So I'm not sure why he insists on forcing the issue. So take him to Narnia with you. It is a land of magical talking animals. Who knows that now that he's decided to push the envelope when such was not necessary, he can now tell his worried tales as a real chimp to Mr. Beaver and Mr. Tumnus.

(Once a chimp in Narnia, always a chimp in Narnia.)

Wakefield Tolbert said...

There is no way to logically see that a violent person is not being violent- which was the original axiom that I stated.

Wow. Almost missed this one.

How utterly irrelevent to anything.

What is the point of this even assuming that this is another axiom?

Of course violence is violence.

So while this statement above, pulled from the ether, might mean something to you, it has little utility. So why say it? It gives all the appearance also of one of those you said was unhelpful.

What would be the context of a violence in kind? In response? By government authority? In defending one's spouse on the street or in the home or going to your car in a dark parking lot?

Interestingly I say just this thing (maybe this is why my memory got jogged) aimed at theologian Francis Shaefer, who said quite frankly it would be closer to apostasy NOT to respond to some would-be murderer or rapist by at least hitting them or knocking them to the ground.

So, it comes to this, and this is probably where I should have gone instead of the other message.

Either you can use a combo of common sense and Scriptural references to God in context of both the OT and NT when He demanded retribution, and the structured governance of society, OR you can rely on the biological sciences and pedantic quibbles over axioms.

You've chosen to use the last two methods.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

People who are married also engage in an activity from time to time that looks suspiciously like the same things whores do. Context is key. Whores do it for money, but lovemaking with one's spouse is for intimacy in marriage and not defiling.

As CS Lewis said, since you found favor in one of his other paraphrases, to say that all killing is murder and "bad" is like saying that all sex equals rape. Since so obviously from a biological point of view the action would seem to be about the same.

Emphasis added.

This is only about mere appearance. Obviously matters go deeper than THAT. Which is exactly Lewis's point.

"seem to be about the same" is not the same thing as "they are the same." It is the similarity that, in fact, causes the problem.

This indicates the appearance of things--not some inner working that on the surface is invisible to the eye. Even using the biologists field notes about what some apes might do regarding "rape", we'd have to study very carefully the full context of these kinds of interactions to ascertain that. Otherwise it could look like mating.

And certainly with the other area, with prostitution, you have a distinction here were the appearance of something might look like regular sex. And it might even take more context than the fact that some couple has registered for one hour at the local Holiday Inn under "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" too.

Just as with that mulish chuckleheadedness "all violence begets more violence"

This is not only not always the case, but the violence response to violence also often quells it. As Red China and Syria have found out in crushing their own types of internal dissent. I can go to China and have a peaceful time, for the most part. Which is more than one can say of the Southside of Chicago or the "sanctuary city" of San Francisco, where gangs run rampant the the police chief can't even find a hat to fit her puny little head.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

I'm not sure about the wisdom of even responding to sardonic passages from Gorman about "wars of choice" and radical pacificism from Jesus. Nor all the other blather both of you have provided that, while you can surely go to the nutty Truthout 911 type sites, or even find vast swaths of grotesque decontextualization, are NOT part of usual church doctrine. They might be part of social activist doctrine from mop flop hipster on the Left who've made Scripture fit with radicalism. Yeah--that can be done. Even radical feminists do it to recommend Paul be banned from Scripture when not suiting their fancy. Elton John now doubt can find room for Jesus words while chunking all the inconvenient ditties from Paul and the OT that would cast a shadow over the Crocodile Rocker's champagne and Vaseline parties in London. No question.

You can find organizations ever so scrupulous that nonetheless don't discern between the fact that Hussein wanted the WMD back when he kicked the UN inspectors out (also from the Duelfer Report, BTW), or perhaps that now the Messiah about to take the Oath in, he's kept on Robert Gates for reasons which might just be sound. All these issues have been answered by me and many others regarding Hussein's support for terror networks of various descriptions, his brutalization of his own people (which in time history shows "bleeds over" to other nations), and his recalcitrant stance in circumventing the original Gulf War I Mandate. The very reason he seemed low key was the very presence of US and Brit forces in the region that gave backing to UN inspectors in the first place. So even if the war itself was not necessary the implied use of force was. Though ineffectual bombings every other week were not working long term. It is of note here that "containment"--another overvalued commodity, was deemed harmful back in the good old days of UN sanctions until we found out about the UN Oil for Food scam (talk about enriching men). During this period, the US and her allies were accused in the days of No Fly Zones of being responsible for over a million Iraq deaths due to food shortages and materials, etc. Now that war commenced and the New Sultan and his idiot sons are dead and the Iraqis have a better functioning society minus the rape rooms and decapitation festivals via Hussein, the ninnies in the media and the 911 truthout creeps now declare that the concept of "containment" was a beautiful thing after all.

The Peaceniks are quite often contradictory. Government of any type, much less response to aggression, IS implied violence. It is a tool for reaching ends. To try otherwise is akin to asking men to dig holes but forbidding shovels and even your bare hands. Pre-emption to aggression must be also violence. Either the Scriptures going all the way back to the days of Moses indicate a need for a structured society where police (or their equivalents) are legitimate in the use of force. Or they do not. Those are the choices. Restraint of any kind, even for minor offenses and incarcerations for civil violations, require the use of force. Some could argue that many laws are over the top or are not necessary. That's another issue. But to say that meeting force with force puts one on equal moral par with the perpetrator is not only an odious concept, it turns peace advocacy into a type of moral squalor worse than the criminals themselves. No society can function like this. Certainly not a modern one. I'm willing to bet more than a few peacenik groups would have all manner of social services done via force if necessary, but when it comes to enforcing the law, are they under the impression that the law does not entail force?

Saying that government can or should exist but not use force in any context is like saying people are allowed to have children, just not give birth. They are allowed to have microwaves, just no devices that emit any kind of radioactive energy. They are allowed to own homes, they can locate them in the bounds of the nation whatsoever. They are allowed to own clothing, just not put them on their bodies. In other words, it is an absurdist edict where the reality of one thing, while technically OK in theology, would be severely hindered to the point of absurdity by the modifying element. Government is no more effective without some form of implied violence up to and including killing than a rule that says you're allowed to have playgrounds on public school property--just so long as no children play on them and people are kept out. The function of government requires violence on occasion. And certainly the threat of. Which in metaphysics, is about the same.

As to other contexts about the defense of society that get routinely ignored...

Granted, WHIII is not Scriptural, but when it comes to the defending of societies, I think God can work through other means. Including people who understand that the US does not live in some kind of vacuum isolated from the rest of the planet and that sometimes you might have to take forestalling action to stave off worse problems down the road. I have always felt there can be, in some circumstances, extra-Scriptural input. In this case, the nature and type of government to have. Paul lays it out to some degree and mentions the need to respond to violence.

It is myth that Iraq was about money and oil. The Chinese are the ones sucking the oil out of the ground anyhow, and since Iraq has not tossed a dime our way, this accusation of Imperialism is then, at best, a head-scratcher. Agree or disagree with George Bush about the long fact sheets and history on this one. I've studied the facts, and other than the reality that wars are always more complicated than commonly thought, in this context I feel the war was necessary. Be that as it may, this was an ideological action on Bush's part, not money.

The one thing people MIGHT be able to argue is that we seek some kind of hegemony in the region. But as Europe seems moribund, and Israel is fighting off extinction, I'd say the creation of another representative government in he vicinity is about on par with keeping order in the world. With a world that is crumbling due to socialist warrior action and PC mamby-pambyism that refuses to address key issues, stability is more honorable than pretending that two oceans can hide us. Demographics make things all the worse. On the extreme nutcase left and the old Paleo Right are both groups that think America can just hide or disengage from the planet and the rest are left to their own devices. Hussein was merely killing his OWN people with gas? Ah well, such is life, they say. Afghanistan's resurgent jihadists hacking people apart? What's for dinner, mom, is the response from the Left. We'll be good little boys and girls, and the rest of the world will marvel at our peacenicking! Let's see here: A totalitarian China, a crumbling Russia, a Latin America that has decided the having El Presentes for life is just fine, an insane Middle East where men cut heads of infidelity against the Prophet and bomb markets, a Europe that even to this moment cannot handle its own insurgencies on the London Tube and hand wave away the demographic realities of Islam and even Sharia Law now in England?

So, we'll just sit pretty (speaking of sitting like Clinton) and be a candle of light, a beacon, in the Dark Ages now about to cover the rest of the globe? Think again, Chico. Dream on. And I say this just as sternly to the Paleo Conservatives clowns who think the world can go hang and we'll be fine with a big fence around the nation. And as long as we have guns and huntin' dogs and meat on the grill, we'll be fine. As the United Nations, the EU, and other transnational bodies seem to have PCiswm and other multi-culti muck miring them down and are ineffectual, they need to be euthanized. Imperialism might be the answer the doctor ordered. The partitioning of the planet into separate enclaves has historically done more to encourage war than make it relent, in fact.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

As to the other stuff by Abdul from previous: A few selected points:

I mentioned Paul in the beginning merely as an authoritative source on Scripture for the discussion about the proper role of government. That's all.

Yes, some of the early Christians felt they needed to hide. Not all, no. But many did this in the very earliest days. I don't stand in judgment of the decision to forestall horror and don't consider it cowardice. Paul warned to of not marrying due to his belief that in some times of duress it may be wise to refrain from having wives and kids in order to have less liability and heartbreak.

I mention Dawkins (once again *sigh*) as I said before to demonstrate that his level of argumentation needs an answer. To say that neither of us agrees with him is obvious. How to witness to his realm is another matter, and what I was getting at. I never claimed the Church Fathers said something drastically opposite of what you did about the faith/science dichotomy. But--If God cannot be seen via science, and you're asking a hard nose like Dawkins to "see" the spirit world, you've got a tall order that few can fill, not even the most hardened evangelistic worker in the field. How to get around this?

I guess I should have posed the direct question earlier.

S.J. Gould DID make a "test" out of Design Parameters, but did so in the negative, as in his statement to Newsweek around the time his famous book The Panda's Thumb came out, saying "If God had made the Panda, surely he'd have done a better job."

Ergo, God is either a sorry Designer--and His Divine bag of tricks gives us only bad backs, bum thumbs on pandas, and vestigial organs like the lachrymal glands and appendices, OR, He does not exist. This is a type of Design Argument. Though I'd point out Gould is assuming much here and there is an answer to this whole "suboptimal" design claim.

As to God's providence and evolution, well, yes, C.S. Lewis and Bishop Fulton Sheen, among others, have noted how the "material" or substance of life is not the same thing as Providence, or intentionality. Interesting you like C.S. Lewis's insights on this matter, but not his rather simple précis on killing vs. true murder. Hmm.

The How is not the Why, in this line of insight. I agree with you there could be a way in which this works out. I do not pretend to know how. Peter Kreeft has mentioned something of this nature also but did not go into much detail. William Dembski, the favorite whipping boy of P.T. and Pharyngula, has weighed in on this as well, with a paper that can be found on his other site Design Inference, as to how a loving God made death and suffering in a type of foresight, to allow for the very possibility of sin and The Fall, or the anticipation of, so that there is continuity with Grace and the fact that the earth seems a frowsy and nasty place of carnage and rot, and taking advantage of other animal meats, etc. My point was not that any of this is wrong or right. I make no such claims, but to point out (as with Zeus vs. God comparisons), that in the role of friendly witness, an amicus, to the Court of public opinion on Christianity (and it IS on trial) I am curious to see how these considerations are merging with the scientific world. This is interesting, yes, but if science cannot find God (or it is felt such because of methodological naturalism) then such supposition is speculation squared and is not likely to convince anyone not already impressed by this thinking. So we're left with the thorn of how to witness if by the very rules of science such "evidence" is inadmissible or out of bounds by very definition, and yet God somehow remains "involved" in the world of men or works things out in matter. I agree that faith is a separate realm, and is fine and not, as some tell it, completely blind. But that knowledge is often ineffable to others. How to get around this then?

Why not posit Ishtar of Zeus as the Creator by these same rules that "God, somehow, is involved in the world"?

"Ishtar loves me, this I know, for the Temple Elders tell me so" ?

Not being facetious (or, no more than necessary here), but to ask rhetorically--since I assume Christianity and salvation can be had even by the Dawkinses of the world--what then would YOU suggest be a convincing method, after he asks you such a predictable response to the effect of "OK, you say there is a God, and maybe you can work it out in your head somehow, but HOW, and WHICH ONE." Now granted, Dawkins and some others might have aesthetic reasons for disdaining the idea of ANY God, so we have a Sisyphusian task here. But you have to start somewhere. You can't just simply tell someone of Professor Dawkins caliber, as affable a chap as he is in person (so I hear), that Faith and Science are "separate magisterial" (Gould's phrase), or that SOMEHOW they merge, but you're not sure how just yet--and expect him to bite on that hook. He won't.

So--how IS there any witnessing to Dr. Dawkins? Or we'll just leave him alone? And pick and taste whom we decide is receptive to simplistic messages about "go forth and preach the Gospel" watered down with accommodating language about everyone getting along after evolving from primordial slime?

Doesn't sound like a winning hand. Certainly, Dawkins is no less important to God than the new adherents gathered from Third World mission trips.

As to Geneva, the Constitution, and legal precedent; this is where we need to expand on "law" vs. "moral norms." Yes, they can, and arguably should, overlap. I agree with you on that point. It is not about what Ben mentioned with "lower level" this or that. The issue here, as with the others, is very simple, regardless of how he tried to pain context as being of Clintonian derivation. It is about the LAW. (the real one, not what some idiot politicians think is the law).

You correctly pointed out (I think), that Western legal tradition has a long heritage going all the way back to English Common Law and some others, where Christendom added the moral impetus to make vital changes. But in modern legal trends, this is hardly the case these days. Yes, we deal with volition, as we should. Remember the issue about killing vs. murder.
And this DOES have a moral dimension. It could be said the law is supposed to recognize human discernment in such matters, whereas animals cannot.

But the two notions, while intersecting, are not really the same.

First, even in the "spirit" of the law in addition to the "letter" of the law, Geneva does not apply to non-uniformed combatant. Nor does the US Constitution. In order for the latter to take effect worldwide we'd TRULY have to have imperial aspirations. Geneva stipulates its rules apply to standard, not partisan-styled warfare. The reason is simple. The emphasis is on order, even in conflict, which breaks down in terrorism and indiscriminate and intentional targeting of non-combatants as the major strategy. To discourage this, thus the dark side of Geneva, where you'd not be guaranteed so much as shelter and food--much less fair treatment--if caught in the theatre of batter gathering human heads to add to the Jihadist wall collection. This is the majority state of affairs in the world today, and in point of notice it is difficult to conceive of engaging anything other than savagery in the modern world. Now in the "spirit" of MORAL law, separate from legal norms, the combatants deserve fair treatment. But as with discomfort, we can't take to an extreme. We cannot sacrifice the primal right--the right to life and security and liberty of the citizenry, to those who'd use the legal system to abuse it, tie us up in knots for years, and mock the very notion of jurisprudence after being placed back on the field of horrors. In fact, this last scenario has happened a couple of times.

And I never said the head nippers don't get to have trials. They do. The SAME kinds Abe Lincoln gave to Slavocracy warriors from the Deep South--military trials. To expedite the process, and not allow a mockery of justice. Taking 4 YEARS in the civilian courts is mockery. This is more than fair and moral. Geneva makes no provision for their care. The United States DOES.

Ironic. We care more than the people using terms like "Geneva" care.

There ARE bills pending from some legislators deeming even "discomfort" (which can mean anything, including being forced to sit in a chair for an hour while being ask stern questions) is off the wall. I don't have a final opinion about waterboarding. It is not quite on par with the hell of the old days of torment using hot irons and racks, but is certainly not a way to spend your afternoon. Unlike the naysayers, who claim this does no good, yields no information, and that this kind of information extraction being useful for vital information is "merely a literary device," I've heard the testimony of Intel officers who know it is valuable. There are grades of things in life, and waterboarding is not on par with hot irons up the bum as done by some in the past.

Is being "forced" to sit in a chair for more than one hour, answering rather uncomfortable questions, another handy definition of "torture." Our nuttier legislators think so.

So do many school kids, come to think of it.

I agree with you that law SHOULD reflect the history and the intent of moral suasion. But then, I don't make the rules. The legal scholars in modern times do. And the courts. And what they have said, with a few noted exceptions, is that "positive" law is where we're at now. So the deferral to politicians to help is of limited effect. With the exception of hoping for appointments that meet your fancy, which might or might not happen.

From around the time of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (who once said that because of his understanding of evolution, he gave no greater importance to humans than to baboons, speaking of biological implications that can turn sour if used....), the trend is the Positive Law notion that law and morals are separate realms.

In some ways, there is agreement from some theologians and some secularist legal scholars on this point. Both sides have pointed out that morals are above and beyond internal reasoning, and in this new tradition, legal reasoning. That MUST be, so we're told. Or at least the moral reasoning of Christianity is. With moral ideals, our individual births and our opinions and subjective statements and insights and personal experiences do NOT change the realm of morals. Matter does not find morals, nor do social interactions. Those who claim this are actually engaging in subjective utilitarianism only that builds on previous moral insights but adds nothing novel. (Or, it adds a kind of pragmatism as applied to already extant moral reasoning.) In other words, we don't add our own morals any more than we add our own mathematics. I can't proclaim that 2 and 2 is 8. Likewise I can't create new core morals. Or at least, that's the traditional rending of morals from theologians. Morals are not created by people, but God. They ARE. And ever were. They are not utilitarian, not always convenient, and above men and government. Much of today's legal tradition proclaims, for better or worse, this concept is not nearly good enough for a rapidly changing world.

In the past, many societies DID merge moral notions with law, saying that because of the high status of moral law that stands above ruler and ruled alike, and thus its immutable and unchanging (except for choice of specific contextual application) nature, this was vital to creating a better order, and encourage better behavior. Failings were moral failings, generally, and this implied free will. I agree this was a good idea. But that notion is gone from modern jurisprudence.

Positive Law says, by contrast, we can't pay attention to notions of morals about behavior---because there is NO connection. In Positive Law, "morals" are placed in quotes, and have no more to do with legal precedent than hairdryers do with meadowlarks. This notion, pulling heavily from Holmes' and others' understanding of Darwinian descent and its many implications, find that "morals" are poppycock notions from a bygone era not fit for modernity.

The law today is about coercion and restraint. Period. It is NOT about moral suasion, but social control only for utilitarian ends. Perhaps is should be--but its not.

We can talk about the "spirit" of the law in addition to the "letter" of the law, but like George Will said a few years back, modern law is not about "spiritualism."

Better yet, take it from PJ O'Rourke, who penned "The law cannot be made identical with morality. Scan the list of the Ten Commandments and see how many could be enforced even by Rudy Giuliani."

(Course, in an age where "tax cut" means a check issued to people who pay no Federal taxes, I guess definitions can be as elastic as we dare make them.)

As to tasers, yes, they can be handy in some circumstances when you're facing down an unarmed opponent, or one with less than lethal ability. Like some domestic situations. They CAN be dangerous to some people with bad hearts. They are extraordinarily painful, and several lawsuits are pending concerning this. Don't know if the suits will go anywhere.

But my point was not about any particular method, but the fact that all governments at times use and imply the use of force in some way or capacity in order to secure order.
This is not merely some kind of "literary device" as novelists and others have claimed, but in point of fact we have gotten useful information out of guys like the Shiek Khalid on particulars that possibly saved thousands of lives. This is how the Brooklyn Bridge bombing was thwarted.

This applies to more situations than people usually think. Chairman Mao, while not an honorable man for his little red brevities, pointed out that when all the mush and gush is gone the ultimate power of authority is the power of the gun. Israel at this moment is figuring out the hard way, for example, that in international relations, the Palestinians, Hamas, the UN, the US, and other jabberers about peace processes don't have their real interests or survival at heart and never did. The more territory and concessions they make, the more rockets flare down from the skies. They can't get carved up forever to stave off the inevitable rocket attack, yet again, from the peacechildren who've for 60 years plus have promised (in their less public statements) to push the Jews into the Sea. In an nation that one can drive across in 45 minutes, I'd say they'd better defend themselves, having been formed from their Balfour inception as a compromise that yielded a tiny nation almost already bisected in two.

Just the other day Jonah Goldberg reprised a friend of his in the media about the incisive analysis of the guy who dragged various columnists through all those "human rights" cases up in Canada, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry:
Said the good doctor in his diagnosis thus: "Gaza has, in fact, been reduced to a new Auschwitz: the only difference – a nightmarish irony — is that Jews are now playing the role of Hitler’s ruthless SS."

It would be too easy to dismiss this as comical bombast and hyperbole, but maybe the real nightmarish irony is that pennyante piker Hitler's ruthless SS wasn't ruthless enough?

On the streets of Toronto, an anti-Israel demonstrator of Palestinian heritage complains thusly:

"Hitler didn't do a good job!"

Charming. But Hitler, ya see, never got cash transfusions from the UN, and would not have even if they'd been around in those dark days. Their existence nowadays is to count bodies and plea for compromise with head hackers in Hamas and the Gaza mean streets. And the days are no brighter for their efforts, either.

So, it seems Judeophobic Logic dies hard in the sands of the desert. But seeing that numerous of the Hamas agents' more notable rocket experts (rocketry--both figuratively, and quite literally in recent days) have idolized Der Furher, this is hardly a surprise.

Now, I agree that not all Muslims are on board with terror and its goals. But enough are to cause hellish problems for the world. Yes, the West has its demons too. Much of it Modernity's obsession with lasciviousness and comfort over cultural confidence and moral standing. The Muslim critique of Western filth in media and public life is not without some merit. But also shows up some hanky-panky hypocrisy.

Yes, the devil is in both societies, and sometimes the Lord. Just not always the Lord's work. The Arabs gave us the numeric system we have today, and in turn got it from the Hindu mystics who gave us "place value" oddities like the mysterious Zero (the Something out of the Nothing--kinda loopy...), ever more useful to math and science than the Romans' clumsy attempts at multiplication with Ls and Vs. But they never followed through. A stultifying culture makes nothing from even the most advanced insights. Which is why the main export today from the Islamic world is oil and jihad. Little more. Discoveries and literature and other insights--however noble--fall flat in some cultures, where oddly enough, a Bedouin version of Islam IS being heralded in hitherto unreceptive places as the new strain of faith. This indicates something about Islam, yes, but also about the condition of those other cultures now infected with Jihad and worries about riding trains. Whether by design or accident, these new sources of Jihad recruiting either accept the horrid charge of radicalism and terror--or can't effectively deflect it.

I hold this criticism for Western Europe too, on the last count, just to be fair here. The secular/progressive ethic of Western Europe, where God is now on the periphery, the cathedrals are relatively quiet, and where the semi-atheist culture has left a cultural vacuum that is somehow just not appealing in its present-tense concerns among lavish government benefits, it is not surprising that many young men are deferring to REAL "alternative lifestyles", beyond Vaseline and champagne parties, to satiate their inner desire for meaning.

As we know, from a few scattered bombings that nonetheless leveled and burned and crushed thousands and did billions in property damage and did few wonders for air travel, this devil is QUITE enough, whatever the "root causes" that people chatter about. (The most basic root causes are demographics and culture, not the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as we're often scolded).

Add to this, the shielding and cocooning effect of massive silence in most Islamic nations, enclaves, and groups, and we have a tacit acceptance of the radical goals. Add to this the basic conviction among most of them that the West is too loose, too free, too this or that, or whatnot, Israel is the root of all evil (stretching all the way to Philippine terror as the claimed reason some jihads THERE are beheading children), and the goal to live under Islamic Law (Sharia in Britain appeals to most Muslims, not just the gut-splat brigades who hit the Tube), and you have the impetus for continued Jihad against the West. As with the interviews in Britain and America shortly after 911, contradictorily many Muslims by wide percentages declared that yes this was wrong on the one hand declared admiration for the panache and skill of bin Laden or sympathy for his ilks many frustrations. Bad news. This Good Cop/Bad Cop routine can only lead to trouble. Worse, this routine means that silence not only=death, but complacency in the deaths of fellow countrymen in some cases.


From the crop of Islamists who don't speak out about their brethren doing hellish deeds, we don't need but a VERY small percentage of the more radicalized Wabbiest brand to cause trouble for all of us under the perception they're doing the Good Deed. The local versions of the faint Islamic voices that do speak out, thusly get driven out and replaced by, say, the Wahhabi-Mart Globalization trend. Dynamite comes in small packages, and the ankle-biting, gnawing effect of terror should be the focus of the modern world. Ghandi's approach is arguably noble against relatively inert aging, empires like the old guard Brits. Even though he got a million people killed. It is of less use in an age of no reciprocity among the enemy in kind treatment. Captured soldiers who fall to hands of the terror lords are gutted and decapitated and their bodies turned into chop suey for the download thrills of Internet gouls all across the glove. Further highlighting another issue: The supposed "moderation" of Muslims in far flung places like Britain and Indonesia neverthelss report high usage of cell phones and computers to joyously view these snuff films. Another bad sign, even if the viewers are not taking their own form of gory action to the streets.

As far as being prolific, that is an argument for the statisticians and demographers to hash out and pull hair over if they care to, but the UN and demographers like Phillip Longman have known for a while, and placed in very mild language, the fact that on a numbers of fronts, both economic, social, cultural, and even militarily, you can't have your own stable society, as in Germany, with ONE customized baby at age 41 and an average per woman birthrate of 1.4 that falls below replacement level for pension and government payout concerns. Few burger flippers are excited about funding the ever swelling and luxuriant programs of the old folks homes in a time when the worker/retiree ratio is sagging, and Europeans in general show little interest in giving up lavish government guaranteed comfort. On the culture side, the situation is more dire. The influx of immigration was to solve the first problem in the first place, and now has turned to bite the hand in many cases. To their credit, Muslims ARE culturally confident, have an appealing ideology, and also have children. This is not a critique. Just candor.

Our culpability in all this is real, though not what many liberals seem to think about "our" harm to the charming Third World's anxieties and paranoia. The culpability is the mulish insistence on PC understanding and compash regarding the West's perceived injustices being on moral par with the radicals, and this only worsens matters for everyone.

This is the crux of the multi-culti ideal:

Whether it's been tried in the schools (as Thomas Sowell noted) to little effect on no second glances on yet another fad, or tried in international relations, or just "getting along" with jihad in Europe's quiet streets, it is not working. The reasons are simple enough. And we don't need to see what biologists in Kenya think to help us discern this, so put a sock in that idea, as with rape.


As to the Mennonites from previous, no, nothing is wrong per separation from society in that, if THAT is what you feel you MUST do in order to preserve a certain way of life. Certainly I empathize with that and in fact some of the materials WE have in the homeschool are derived from Mennonite authors. Like Wisdom and the Millers.

Certainly to a degree you'll know we have a TYPE of separation from the common culture with homeschooling. Absolutely. And in fact I'd probably be in much agreement based on conversations I've had with Mennonites at such venues as homeschool book conferences and the like, and I DO admire their more scaled-down simplistic lifestyle and keeping away from showy dress and ostentatious displays of wealth. One of the best conversations I had in fact a few years back was with a Mennonite leader their with his kids and wife who was selling various books. He was involved in forestry.

Yes, that's admirable.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with taking a chosen road to separate from the contamination of many of secular culture's more lewd elements. I don't them for that. And I'm sure THEY get the same kind of response that homeschoolers get about kids and schooling, to the effect of "well--ya can't shield the little darlings forever!"


As am sure you'll agree this would hardly be the point of homeschooling or other separations from common culture. It is about biblical training, not separation.
Their suffering and persecution at the hands of Quebec in modern times and other groups in older times is noted, and reprehensible.

My critique of Yoder was one where he seemed to have a severe decontextualiztion of certain Scriptural passages. Just like you do.
My main critique was his theology on this ONE issue. Elsewhere the Mennonites are probably very close to other Protestant doctrines, though I'm not sure about their disdain for the Roman Church. But, that's the favorite whipping boy of late from everyone from radical feminists to New Age, so as Solomon said nothing new.......

Maybe I WAS overboard on the extreme separation. But I do think some things can be taken too far. And that IS the way matters appeared at the time when I encountered them. I can't prove this, of course, but it could be this extreme separation is part of an overall ideology that sees "peace" in terms different than how I would have translated the meaning of the word.

As in, "violence against criminals and Hitlers, while necessary, is something those OTHER, those YUCKY, heathen types engage in. A 'necessary evil' that WE GOOD folks won't engage in, lest we besmirch our image and standing with God. The police department and the men in uniform, however, are welcome to burn in hell along with the Roman Whore of Babylon."

If a theology, anyone's theology, most accurately mirrors the contextless world of mutli-cult mumbo-jumbo (as with Leftist paeans), the inclusion of the biological sciences as evidence to allegedly prove that one form a violence is akin to another (as with Leftist paeans to nature and radical environmentalism like those of Al Gore, the NRDC, or Ernst Haekel), and is virtually indistinguishable from 911truthout nutcases who think 911 was an inside job, or that Bush is a criminal for doing his job in the face of trying to pre-empt what even the UN said was a dangerous precedent in terror support and WMD acquisition, it is time to jettison that theology as unblibical in outlook. It has a worldly push and a worldly agenda. Whether putatively done for noble reasons, or not.

The Mennonites seem to consider quite much of the world just "abomination". Some of it is. But the secular can be sacred also. Just as with the need for government. Yoder does not comprehend this, apparently. Or has decided that government action is just a voluntary "thing" that can be largely handled by everyday actions and not requiring of force at all. Which is FAR from the case. Or worse, has decided that government is something for "other", more unsavory types to get involved in but does involve his participation or advocacy one way or another. Far from the case. For better or worse, while some men and women might think that they have no input to the proper functioning of government, or just functioning, the government certainly has an interest in THEM. Worse still, perhaps he holds the contradictory view that in their "otherness" and abominable practices, government can exist and should but, as with the contradictory metaphysical arrangements I mentioned above, is not allowed to have the backup of force to get things done.

I discussed this with a theologian of my acquaintance who merely rolled his eyes, chuckled and said, "I'm quite sure the police on the beat, and the .45 I keep near the lamp, will come in far handier in meting out true justice than anything Yoder happens to yap about ."

In fact its worse than that, actually. In the Yoder world, and those of all other radical pacifists who've taken Biblical passages to be their social advocacy/libertarian passport and highly personalized jibes at the "abominators" of the world, we see that not only does this kind of thinking leave individuals and entire governments rendered helpless, it is anti-biblical, for it encourages not only disobedience to lawful authority, but disdains the very concept with its internal contradictions. If governments cannot defend themselves or make law that sticks or binds with the implied use of force, then government cannot even exist. All that's left is a hippy commune where you don't have any rules other than, say, you can't smoke all the pot yourself. And how to enforce even that??? Yoder's take on things makes government theoretically impossible. This is actually disobedience to Paul's missive. And a dangerous position to place the rest of society.

The result of this kind of thinking?

While "intentionality" is something I've keyed in on here (because unlike what birds and bees do regarding, well, the Birds and Bees, it deals with CHOICE), it IS true that some actions have consequences that are fairly much the same as rotten choices never actively taken. For Yoder and his kin, the results of passivity are akin to having a moral squalor every bit as bad as actually perpetrating a crime, while no doubt he'd disdain the advocacy of such. Thus for example Israel is held to be the bad guy by pacificists, and/or illegitimate in her existence in the very first place. They would not tolerate a hail of missiles coming over the border from Canada and raining down on Manhattan. That would demand action, even if some now remote tribe declared they wanted Manhattan Island back. No media outlet in the world and very few of even the most radical nutcase pacificists would say the tribe had claims to Manhattan Island and that high level negotiations were to ensue between the "two sides" (as if both were equally legitimate) and comes to some kind of terms. They DO demand this horsecrap for Israel. She has in point of fact given away much territory that the UN settlement deemed hers. The Arabs mucked things up not allowing the so-called Palestinians back into the fold of Arab society, even though Palestinians are of little distinction from other Arabians any more than North Dakotans are from South Dakotans, culturally. The Arab states, particularly Jordan, have refused to acknowledge this. Not because there is very much distinct about the "Palestinians" from other Arabs. Rather, the very issue allows them to keep this issue roiling and broiling on the Arab street and elsewhere. To the point now where Malaysian terrorists and other Jihad Johnnies are killing schoolgirls in the name of "solidarity with the Palestinian situation," and other such nonsense. Even asserting this to be some kind of connection to world terror's reasons for terror, which is most unlikely, the reality is that the Palestinians are not just making an ever growing list of claims on Israeli property, but rather claim the whole hourglass-shaped area of what the map says is ISRAEL as their own. All of Israel is to be Palestine. They have plainly admitted this in conversations not only with me, but in their actions, their logos, their arm patches on the occasional Hamas uniform, and in their teachings to the kiddies. But the world, like the Yoder Yodas and other deep thinkers, either looks away or declares Israel to be out of bounds in some kind of international game of high stakes intrigue. No sooner than Palestinians would try and enter some of these lands than they've been kicked out with extreme prejudice and warned not to re-enter. This keeps the very issue on the front burner.

The result--intended or not--is that Israel will probably be destroyed by Hamas in coalition with other organizations as soon as the political climate shifts as favorably in the US as it already has in Europe and elsewhere and the major media. Even for those NOT doing all the high fives and muttering something about this not being what they had in mind about "peace", it must be urged this is the only result. They can't stave off these kinds of attacks forever, and since the world at large nor any of its pseudo-international bodies like the UN cannot stanch the issue with Hamas, or with Iran getting more high-powered weaponry, Israel will either have to be far more aggressive to so much as survive, or go out of existence if caught off guard. You'll claim of course this is impossible or that "they" (presumably the wise sages of the powers that be) will "not allow" this and in any case is not your particular sales pitch. But it matters not what you claim in this instance, or what the intentions of "peace" advocacy are. As back in the Stalinist days when the US Peace Council and other organizations were proven to be marionettes of men like Stalin, so too, many organizations here serve the same focus in their attempts to render (in this case) Israel helpless. If the Arab states wanted to truly help the so-called Palestinians, they would absorb them into their own societies rather than having this issue on the front burner 24/7. But the actual goal is the destruction of the state of Israel. Nothing more. Nothing less. I've asked Palestinians about this and after a while they affirm this is, and always has been, the real goal. The temporary bruha about negotiation and intermediary step in getting ground, territory, and international recognition and legitimacy for the cause. The poems of palestinian children both in Gaza, in various places in Europe, and even in North America are prone with all manner of gory imagery about what the final act will have in store for the Jews, including phrases like "dear trees, here is a Jew, show the prophet so that he may kill this Jew in our midst, and cleanse our homeland from all of (them). And so it goes. This is more than typical. One girl in Canada wrote, "ya Allah, make them (Jewish females) barren so they plague not our lands anymore." One presumes this older Palestinian teenager, living in Toronto at last sighting with her warrior fiancé who wants to be a martyr, is not someone the Midstream Media likes to interview on a regular basis.

Odd that this "moral equivalency" miasma would be taken seriously in the first place. But then one can only suppose that in international relations, this is just another dangerous variant of how liberals see domestic issues, where the victim is almost as blameworthy as the criminal element due to prevailing "social conditions." Seeing that Hamas has instituted Sharia Law which stipulates crucifixion of Christians--and has carried this out--for celebrating Christmas in Gaza. One presumes this would be the case once Israel is annihilated once and for all after international opinion gets softened up a little more.

Meanwhile, back in civilization, where moral distinctions are made by regular people if not by the media myrmidons, we know Richard Pipes statement rings more true than anything a chucklehead like Yoder would say. Pipes warned us many decades ago that peace is not the absence of violence per se. Peace is actually the rule of law, and its enforcement. Yoder suggests a situation that makes this metaphysically impossible.

@bdul muHib said...

Yes, Wakefield, your one narrow argument was completely based on biology, which is why I very clearly stated that my one narrow response was only addressing that one narrow aspect. For some reason you are deciding that you didn't say that, and are wanting to expand it all out, and get outraged that I would address the one narrow part concerning biology. You are having a long discussion with yourself about legal aspects right now; I only addressed the biology, and that's all I was addressing.

You didn't understand my "thicket" because your quote leaves out the relevant lines that explained it immediately prior. When you quote out of context, or read out of context, Wakefield, you need to be prepared to not understand.

If you'd studied biology, you would know that there are always some in any field who are outliers, but there is general understanding of the biological definition of rape- which is why it was so well suited for disproving your original point that rape and sex are different types of acts in the same way that murder and killing are. I get you don't like what I'm saying and don't agree, Wakefield, but to pretend that I said something else and then make up my arguments doesn't really help us discuss or argue, and frankly is rather boring.

You need to use the words you mean. If you mean "appearance", then use that word. "Biologically" means something completely different. When you use that word, you imply that you believe that rape and sex are biologically different because of intent, and that is very easy to disprove by looking at those animals who, unlike us, don't suffer from the affliction of moral intent.

I know you don't expect people to take you at your word and respond to you as if you were using common English. But then, my response to that was explicitly narrow, and very short- and you've chosen to create a number of very long posts in response to it. Obviously, it's very important to you that people perceive you as being aware of biology.

If you're going to insist that humans are not animals and biological classifications of them don't apply, then you're again denying basic science, and my short two paragraph response is rather irrelevant- though my point is made 100-fold.

Actually, we weren't talking about scripture, or the law. I was pointing out your grave misunderstanding of basic biology, and you've gone off on a number of rabbit trails from that. Do you sit at home and have long arguments with yourself as well, or just online?

Actually, I was using biology to point out that this narrow case was *not* a moral issue- namely, the distinguishing between rape and sex; and therefore, your attempt to use that as an analogy to murder and killing did not apply.

Actually, I addressed the issue Lewis was referring to, to the extent that I felt you'd be willing to listen (not far), and then in a separate post addressed your woeful misunderstandings of biology- but I made that clear at the time.

And I can see that you're desire to argue and argue with yourself has caused you to still miss the point, as you continue to state the same precepts as before, as if I hadn't already addressed the analogy. It is rather ridiculous. Even though in my short response to your misunderstanding of biology, I point out that the difference between murder and rape is ethical, you continue to argue with me that I am wrong, because the only difference between them is intentionality. It is if you say that the sky is red, and I point out that you misunderstand- it is blue- and then you argue with me that I am stupid for not understanding that the sky is blue.

I'm not responding to all of your legal statements, nor really reading them, primarily because I don't care. You're probably right. That really wasn't the point I made in those short two paragraphs. I was just pointing out that you were unaware of biology, and therefore your analogy broke down- sex and rape are not a good analogy for killing and murder. But that would have been clear if you'd bothered to read it.

I am quite ready to concede that your schooling was woefully insufficient. But you equally misunderstood my statements if you thought I was speaking of the majesty of public schools. I was just saying you'd make an awful homeschool teacher.

And appears that you're arguing that we're not apes...I guess maybe you think fish are sea kittens too?

But yes, finally, you get it. Animals have no real volition; people do. Therefore rape and sex are not a good SAT analogy for murder and killing, but my other analogy I gave is, and that would have been a great way to continue an intelligent conversation.

Actually, even his enemies think that Obama speaks English really well. You continue to misunderstand. I am not criticizing you're poor grammar. I am pointing out to you that I can't possibly respond to your points, no matter how philosophically erudite, if we're not using a common language. Since you think Obama doesn't use English well, the point seems to be proven to an even greater degree- what you're speaking is not the same thing that the rest of us are. (Though, again, it seems to be only when you're tired and not really caring about what you write. Your post before this one was just fine, and one was able to follow it- at least, grammatically.)

For instance, it would seem that you are smoking something rather good, as you address my accusations about you're being Clintonian- when only you have used that word, and only Ben has mentioned it.

You are right. I don't think Lewis is God, and I think there are some things he got wrong. I could address the issues on his philosophical stance on the difference between murder and killing, but I chose not to, because you don't have ears to hear, and even if someone were to rise from the dead, you would not believe. So instead, I addressed only the narrow biological analogy. But then, I was careful to be very explicit on this point when I did so. Pity you spent some 50 paragraphs because you missed that sentence.

@bdul muHib said...

You say my axiom is rather irrelevant. That was largely my point, which I stated. Sorry you skipped over that as well. But it helped you have another long argument, so I suppose that made you happy.

@bdul muHib said...

I'm glad that you don't think I agree with Dawkins. Because you were acting as if you did.

I wouldn't presume to tell Dawkins anything. I know he wouldn't listen to what I had to say, so there would be no point. The clear witness of Jesus was to be receptive to those who are receptive, and address yourself only to them. Dawkins is not receptive. Dawkins is important to God, but he is not willing to realize his sin- as you and I, at our best, are.

If you think that's all that the Arab world exports today, then you've never listened to Um Kalthoum.

Benjamin Gorman said...

@bdul, I think you've been remarkably patient with our friend Wakefield, who still hasn't responded to my question about whether he could be persuaded on any point by those he considers to be liberal. Which brings me to another questions, which, I think, deserves its own separate post. This conversation is so far afield from anything about homeschooling, at this point, that we should move on, though I must admit I feel a lot of sympathy for Shannon M., who was making some really good points about an alternate model for schooling (though not the kind of homeschooling I was warning against), only to be undermined by Wakefield who has, perhaps through a remarkably subtle cleverness I just couldn't catch, made an excellent argument for public/private schooling.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

You say my axiom is rather irrelevant

I was under the impression this was your main argument against violence of any kind whatsoever.
It seemed to be at the time.

sex and rape are not a good analogy for killing and murder.

They are very appropriate. The point being that the mere appearance of something is not always the full story. That's all. That was THE simplicity that you lost even while slamming ME for drawing things out. Just as one pundit once said, "it is not true that pictures say a thousand words, as they often say very little."

No analogy is perfect, because all comparisons have retorts and exceptions. But they don't have to be--they merely point out that we can be fooled into making moral or other kinds of faulty equivocations based on how something looks. The Skeptys do this all the time, as you know, with statements to the effect of "well, I know of a police chief who killed some guy last week----HA, hardly Christian love going on there!!!!!"

And so this is true in the mere appearance of things. You were in fact about one step shy of placing all killing in fairly much the same category. Oddly enough, your theological reason for this is what ultimatley led you to find a creative way to disdain any difference between authoritative need for violence vs. the violence of the common liquor store holdup criminal. This, I understand. Deny it or proclaim it loudly, but that was the trending of your axioms and statements. And you know it. This is why you don't like the Lewis analogy. It is less about ME than about HIM.

Obviously, it's very important to you that people perceive you as being aware of biology.

Not really, no. It is important that people understand the proper role of analogy. But yes, I should have used APPEARANCE.

But it does not matter. It never really did except to YOU. You took the word to mean something that had to be expanded on when such was not necessary. The point, once again, was the Lewis and others have made for time immemorial--that saying that one thing LOOKS like another is not the same as saying they ARE. It matters not what those vital differences actually are. Just that they exist.

In the case of murder there is the moral distinction, and this is true of rape and sex. I mentioned the word biology only to highlight this without going into graphic detail that the activity looks the same. I am not at all interested in the mating habits of the great apes or their other trials of life. And it is far from certain among the scientists whose sites I scanned just to be sure, that "rape" is even the same thing as "forced copulation"--this also coming from some rather determined materialist interpretations who nontheless understand the human angle must be VERY different.

If you're going to insist that humans are not animals and biological classifications of them don't apply, then you're again denying basic science, and my short two paragraph response is rather irrelevant- though my point is made 100-fold.

I did not say that, nor did I imply that. What I said was that humans have volition and morals. Animals do not. In fact, this also casts doubt on "force" as being the main demarcation of "rape." Not all biologists are in agreement that "rape" even applies to non-human entities. If you are insisting on common English in this instance also, then by all means includ the standard way people speak of people--as people or human beings, and how they generally do NOT address the topic--by declaring people as animals. You can place many creatures in the same genus and come up with a wide range of attributes among creatures that look the same in other respects.

By this word "animal", I meant obviously all non-human creatures. No matter how you revile me with short little crisp takes on things, surely you know by now that the very reason I was repeating myself (say--the Scriptures do this too, come to think of it) is that you have a rather hard head on such matters.
And speaking of Scripture, that's how it generally lays out the issue as well.

As to Obama, we all know he's rather good with the spoken word. That was not the point. The point, actually several here, is that in the first place his words don't mean much. Its all pap and slush.

He's not pulling this on everyone. Although to be sure from what I've seen its done quite well. But in the second place the vast majority of his amen chorus care little for exactidude in any case, ironically, and hear only what they care to: Someone is promising a wide range of unlikely or unworthy items and handouts and other assorted goody bag politicking. This is easy, as Robert Samuelson pointed out. Third, the other problem here is not bad speaking habits per se, but rather misappropriation of words. A tax cut is not supposed to be the same thing as a welfare check. Well spoken, or not.

I wouldn't presume to tell Dawkins anything. I know he wouldn't listen to what I had to say, so there would be no point. The clear witness of Jesus was to be receptive to those who are receptive, and address yourself only to them. Dawkins is not receptive. Dawkins is important to God, but he is not willing to realize his sin- as you and I, at our best, are.

Perhaps. But a casual glance at the Net--and I've had more than this--reveals his attitude is growing, and getting bolder with every passing month on the Skepty boards. Time to retool the workshop. And no, I'm not claiming I have answers for this either.

If you feel I'm not qualified to homeschool, feel free to contact the HSLDA, and take it up with them. You can complain to them about your take on various standards. Though the Constitution and other more localized laws make no provision for the NEA's demands nor what you nor PZ Meyers have to say about this (since, interestingly, his complaints come close to mirroring yours), it would still be fascinating to see their response.

Come to think of it, I might do this myself. I'm willing to bet I'll find out a few things. One being that parents with even less qualifications them myself are having the kiddies do quite well.
The second would be a query about why there is so much slander, particularly from other Christians on this topic. And what might be done about it. I already have the success statistics, your insulting behavior and materialist approaches to things not withstanding--but THAT would still be interesting.

As to Ben, and his query about me being influenced or persuaded about anything from anything about the liberal side of the house, well, seeing that the major media write trillions of words a year, yes I'd think at some point by sheer default they'd come up with something once in a while worth another glance. But that is far and few in between. And not likely to happen here. In the balance between society and private life, obviously the more traditional liberals have made many valid points. No doubt if one throws rocks at a chain-link fence for hours and sees most of the rocks go through, once in a while one will "tink" on the metal.

As to homeschooling, yes, things strayed a little. But that can be the tendency of postings.

As to the issue itself, well, the facts have been around for decades. It is a primarily a consitutional and rights issue for me, seeing that we're in an age when just about everything is politiziced and nothing is to be taken for granted. Second, even if it turns out I'm in the wrong on a variety of issues, remember that I was in the public school muck at the time of the beginnings of the changeover to the "changy change" crap they now peddle in full force, with everything from PCism and egalitarianism to the fairly routine mockery of religion (in case that last issue has not come to your attention). And the very cultural importance of which Abdul hinted on is the very reason many people homeschool and try and avoid to the practical extent possible the culural pressures and tendencies now rotting America.

Some of us feel we can't live bisected lives, where one or two days a week we spare an hour or so on those days to be in Church, or merely a few prayers elsewhere, and then education is left to teams of change agents and bureacrats who have more of an interest in social agenda-making than the children.

But, that is another issue at this point, and that camel is well-flogged by better men than myself.

Do I sit at home arguing with myself also? No. Apparenltly only with people online who use some rather creative ways to sneak in insults under the guise of biological imperitives and education.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Come to think of it, you could also contact Richland County SC.

I don't think these records would necessarily be sealed. I scored one of the highest on the Praxis test for teaching in the public schools when I signed up to do this. *social studies)

That was way back a few years when I still had an interest in doing so.

Or you could contact Leigh Bortins of Classical Conversations. She always responds so far as I know. Or ask one of the local affiliates name Catherine Gutshall about my abilities in their classrooms. Conceived by an engineer, CC was a Christian based learning method/curriculum based on Bortin's experience on a number of fronts, focusing on memory and math. I can't help them out anymore, but the students liked me and did well at the time and I have been requested a number of times to go back.

Let Bortins know you prefer instead that the young ones understand PZ Meyers take on things. While I'm quite sure you'd not like the comparison, the road you've chosen takes you invariably to his scheduled stop at Rome just the same.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

Oh--one last curiosity, while I'm here:

You said:

It's actually not true that Gould felt that God could be tested. It is true that there is much, much evidence that we have an Unintelligent Designer- if, in fact, we were designed.

My backache at the moment proves that if nothing else. (I already know your responses to that, and you know my responses to your responses, so let's skip ahead.) This is why I am convinced that there is an Intelligent Designer, for I am convinced of an intelligent God, and evolution is such a superb and beautiful system, I must give all glory to God for it- which then very convincingly explains my backache, despite the intelligence of God.

An Intelligent Designer--but not research program that bears the same name can be valid then?

And what is the source of knowledge (as you think ID has failed its mission and has no promising research on the horizon)?

And previously, in the above post, are you asking if Gould said "It is true that there is much, much evidence that we have an Unintelligent Designer- if, in fact, we were designed.

Or was that you also?

And if so, then how do the two statements become non-contradictory?

Just curious.

Wakefield Tolbert said...

If you think that's all that the Arab world exports today, then you've never listened to Um Kalthoum.

By denying the point, you help make it. Like much else you've said. I'l give you credit for being crisp. But then that't not good enough.

I'm sure Um Kalthoum is quite nice to behold.

But as 91% of exports from Saudi Arabia are oil, and the non oil segments seem to explode on contact with much of the West, I think we need a little industrious expansion here.

Perhaps Um Kalthoum has some insights on expanding, say, the industrial sector of Riyadh?

Wakefield Tolbert said...

BTW--I did want to address another issue while I'm in town.

This whole business of my setting up "false dichotomies."

They are not mine, nor did I set them up. The Skeptic net and your pals and PT and some other places use this. If they were not convinced of the mechanistic stance that biology has, they'd not use this tactic.

(either God created things in full form as seen today, OR evolution is what did the trick and God has no part in any of this)

The point I would agree with generally is that with evolutionary thinking, there is simply nothing for God to do in any specific sense except arguably being the Clockwinder.

@bdul muHib said...

Indeed, Ben- my supposition from the start. Wakefield is actually enormously clever, and is anti-homeschooling.

Anonymous said...

If you actually think you can judge "homeschoolers" at large you are flat wrong. Every homeschool family is different and there are a wide variety of teaching meathods and you can't make any broad statements. Some homeschoolers are not educated well, most are and on average the child has had a a much better experience than by going to public school.

Tara said...

Wow! This collection of generalizations and misrepresenations is incredibly presumptuous. This author himself makes a great argument against public school.

Dea said...

Thank you for the interesting discussion on homeschooling... my question is to the homeschoolers:how do you make sure your kid is interested in brainstorming hypothesis and researching those topics without their peers? That is what my 9 yo likes the most about school.