Quote Of The Day

“We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for American values and traditions before they are washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. I have never been one who is particularly comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena, and I find the pandering that typically occurs in the election season to be distasteful. Our nation was founded to be a place where religion is freely practiced and differences are tolerated and respected. I come to my faith through Jesus Christ and have accepted him as my personal savior. At the same time, I have worked tirelessly to defend and restore individual rights and religious freedom for all Americans. The recent attacks and insinuations, both direct and subtle, that Gov. Romney may be less fit to serve as president of our United States because of his faith fly in the face of everything America stands for. Gov. Romney should be judged fairly, on his record and his character, not on the church he attends.” — Ron Paul, quote via Julian Sanchez Notes From The Lounge Blog

18 Responses to “Quote Of The Day”


  • HP, you know I love your stuff, so don’t take the fact that I only post when I’m in disagreement the wrong way. You know I’d rather argue than agree.

    Of course in America everybody is free to practice whatever religion they want. But this doesn’t mean that I am not permitted to attack a presidential candidate for believing stupid things about religion. And my conclusions about his religious beliefs may incline me to withold my vote from him.

    Imagine a Satanist running. Sure, you can be a Satanist. That’s what America is about. But this doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for him. I might withold my vote on the basis of a candidates Satanism. I’ll attack him as an irrational loon. That’s not an un-American thing to do. That’s very American.

    Mormonism is really kind of silly, and I think you know that. God came from the planet Kobal or something and he’s having sex with his many wives to create us so we can go be gods of our own planets and have sex with our wives and make more spirit children, blah, blah, blah. It’s just silly. If you affirm silly things and you run for president, expect to be criticized.

    That being said, I love Ron Paul and I will vote for him. But he’s a little off here.

  • I prefer the disagreements. It’s where I learn the most. I know your reasonable…so the disagreements are a plus. 🙂

    I think you misunderstood Ron Paul’s point. His point is not necessarily (though partly) with voters, it has more to do with Presidential candidates. He is referring to Huckabee and specifically this.

  • Krauthammer is right about the subtle attacks. Huckabee wants to have it both ways. But as far as direct attacks, I still have no problem with it. I think it’s wrong to assume that religious beliefs are sacrosanct and off limits to criticism.

    Sam Harris makes this point a lot. He says, if in public you claimed that the earth was flat, or that thunder was the result of Zeus being angry, you would immediately be marginilized and criticized as irrational. But for some reason if you think that a cracker literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus if a priest says some magic words over it, for some reason that is tolerated as if it is normal. Why should we pretend that it is reasonable for Romney to think he needs to continue to wear magic underwear in order to get to a certain level of heaven? I think we should focus on these silly beliefs and heavily criticize everyone that holds to them. Maybe then people will be less prone to adopting absurd religious views, and that’s a good thing.

  • It rubs me the wrong way to have religious views attacked in the public sphere – regardless of the religion. Here are some of the reasons why,

    1. In a multi-religious society, it is the pragmatic and polite thing to ignore such differences. As Yglesias said regarding a similar issue, “For America to work as an enterprise you need people with deeply held but mutually inconsistent religious beliefs to all work and live together peacefully. Rubbing everyone’s noses in the precise implications of other people’s beliefs (Christians think Jews shouldn’t exist, Jews think Christians are worshipping a false messiah, Protestants think Catholics worship idols, etc.) isn’t really helpful”.

    2. Religious views, almost by definition, are not ‘rational’. By that I mean that they cannot be proven or disproven by science. So what one person considers wacky is relativistic – your ‘common sense’ may be another persons wacky. Your atheist, or atleast agnostic views, for example, are ‘wacky’ to many theists. This further proves #1 above.

    3. A persons religious views are practically irrelevant in policy decisions. Whether you have an evangelical, a Mormon, a Catholic, or Deist, President the religious views will play an insignificant role in policy decisions. So why care? Their job is president of the United States, not leader of a Church. This is also why, for example, companies careless what religion you hold, they primarily care about your competence for the job at hand.

  • You’re dead wrong on all counts, HP. Reminds me of the good old days.

    On point 1, are you saying that we basically shouldn’t ask Romney whether or not he wears magic Mormon underwear? Is this question off limits?

    On point 2, you’re right that religious beliefs usually aren’t rational. That’s a bad thing, not something that should be just ignored. Religious claims are often stated in terms that make them impervious to rational inquiry, and hence they can’t be refuted. People act on these irrational claims to our detriment. It was by faith that 19 Muslim terrorsts flew planes into buildings. It is by faith that JW’s deny their children blood transfusions. It is by faith that Fred Phelps spreads his venom. Faith is a bad thing. People should hold to beliefs only if they have a rational justification. Call me wacky as an agnostic if you want, but you can’t call me irrational.

    You’re wrong on point 3 as well. Tom Tancredo thinks that bombing Mecca is a good response to enemy attacks on our soil. How can any sane person think this is a good thing? I think he thinks God is on his side, not on the side of Muslims, so to deface their loactions of idolatry would be a pleasing aroma sacrifice to his God. The fact is all this would do is unite 1 billion Muslims against us in a bloody contest that could quite realistically result in our destruction. Bush walked and talked with Jesus in the days leading up to the attack on Iraq and acted based upon the inner impulses he thought he was getting. His inner impulses, which he trusted partly because of his religious convictions, lead him to conclude that Putin was a decent man. Don’t assume these things don’t factor in to the way people govern. Beliefs have consequences. Those that think a persons most deeply held religious convictions have nothing to do with their decision making are kidding themselves.

  • On point 1, yes.

    On point 2, I don’t think one can conclude ‘faith is a bad thing’. One can make similar historical arguments in faiths favor (for example, in reference to our earlier discussion, faith was an important factor in the Quakers and MLK 😉 ). I don’t know enough about religious history as a whole to declare which side is more pronounced. You also write, “People should hold to beliefs only if they have a rational justification.” But this proposition itself cannot be proven by rational justification…it is a proposition based on faith.

    On point 3, I don’t see how Tom Tancredo’s religion can be blamed for any of his wacky ideas. I can point you to many other religious candidates who disagree with him…though share many of his religious views. Furthermore, you don’t need to look at Tom Tancredo’s religious views to call him wacky – his policy proposals alone should lead you to that conclusion.

  • On point 1, I think my comments on point 3 show that beliefs have consequences. The magic underwear question is symptomatic of a general trend that is a little frightening amongst our leaders. Do you believe absurd things without evidence? I don’t like that characteristic in a President, so I think the question is relevant.

    You write:

    “But this proposition itself cannot be proven by rational justification…it is a proposition based on faith.”

    Are you sure about that? You can’t imagine an argument that would show that it is better to hold to views that are based on a rational justification as opposed to faith?

    It’s an inductive argument. I find that when I try to walk up the stairs I bang my shins a lot less frequently when I open my eyes, internalize the sense data, and form rational conclusions about where the stairs start. When I rely on faith that usually results in more pain. You perform these experiments every day, and the evidence/rational approach works so much better than the faith approach on such a consistent basis that I think this conclusion is warranted.

    One of the reasons some tribal countries in Africa haven’t grown as quickly as Western nations is because of their reliance on faith as opposed to evidence. In the West we recognize that if you perform a test one day and get a certain result, you should expect the same result the next day assuming the conditions are identical. Not so in parts of Africa. The reason is because they have faith that spirits are at work, and these can affect the outcome of a test. So what is the point of science? The result is they stay in the dark ages and we progress. Evidence and rationality are better than faith.

    And yes faith was important to the Quakers and MLK, but let’s not forget it was also important to the Southern Baptists and scores of other Christian denominations at the time. That’s because slavery is clearly biblical, and of course would be accepted by anyone that accepted the Bible on faith. I’ll take evidence and rationality over faith.

    On point 3 you say you don’t see how Tancredo’s faith can be blamed, but I showed how it is very plausible that it could be. I’m not arguing for certain that it is, but I’m arguing that is certainly conceivable that it is, which is why these questions are relevant. I also gave several examples where faith has driven policy decisions and you ignored those. Beliefs have consequences man. Don’t try and deny it.

  • My primary point is that religion is a very weak (at best) predictor of how a president would act as president. So weak that one can ignore it when evaluating political candidates and still come to the same conclusions.

    You say Tancredo is crazy and that might have something to do with his religious views, I say you can come to that conclusion (him being wacky, crazy, whatever) without looking at his religious views. You point to bad policies based on faith…I point to good policies based on faith. Round and round we go.

    Your argument, “People should hold to beliefs only if they have a rational justification”, is stronger than the one you defend above. You are saying that people should only hold to beliefs only if they have a rational justification”…that, my friend, is a proposition based on faith. It cannot be proven rationally.

    Add all of this up, and you get to reason #1 above.

  • You’re just ignoring me, man. I showed that religious convictions do predict behavior with actual examples, and you just reply that it’s such a weak factor it is worth ignoring. What about my examples?

    You say that Tancredo’s craziness can be recognized without regard to religion. That’s fine. But I’m not the one saying you should avoid an entire line of questioning to expose craziness. You can expose craziness any way you want to. I’m fine with that. There is no reason to limit the methods of exposing craziness as you suggest though. Let’s expose it in every way possible so that the electorate can be informed rather than suggesting that one subject line shouldn’t be broached.

    No doubt some people do good things based on faith. I don’t deny that. Others do bad things on faith. You don’t deny that. But you want to avoid a line of questioning (faith) that can expose both good and bad things that a person might do. I say screw that. The more exposure the better.

    I’m not backing away from my statement that people should hold to beliefs only if they have a rational justification. I provided a rational justification for that claim. Beliefs based upon a rational justification consistently lead to more reliable conclusions than beliefs based on faith. I talked about banging shins on the stairs. I’ve talked about Bush’s erroneous conclusions based on faith, or African’s erroneous conclusions based on faith. My argument is that conclusions with a rational basis are more reliable.

    Of course that statement does presuppose laws of logic, and those can’t be rationally justified without begging the question, so don’t get all presuppositional on me and change the subject to that. What I mean of course is that once we’ve accepted the laws of logic (which are undeniable) then conclusions you draw should be based on a rational extrapolation of the evidence. It is better to come to conclusions in this way than to circumvent the rational process and rely on faith. Don’t you agree that conclusions about the world we live in are better established if they have a basis in evidence and rationality rather than faith?

  • Here’s how your hero Jimmy Akin puts it:

    It has absolutely nothing to do with what decisions voters choose to make based on a candidate’s religion. To cite an extreme example for purposes of illustrating a principle, if I don’t want a Satanist in office, I don’t have to vote for one. And if I as a voter have questions about a candidate’s religion, I am perfectly entitled–without violating the intent of the founders–to withhold my vote from a candidate until I have those questions answered to my satisfaction.

    Suppose, for example, that a particular candidate for the presidency is a Quaker who takes his religion seriously. One of the distinctive doctrines of Quakerism–often times–is pacifism. I’m going to want to know whether this Quaker is one who feels that war under all circumstances is immoral and therefore he will never be willing to go to war to defend the nation’s interests.

    So–contra Romney–questions about a candidate’s distinctive beliefs can be quite relevant to his fitness for office, and asking these questions does not enable the religious test proscribed in the Consitution.

    http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2007/12/not-impressed.html

  • I have not ignored your points. Your points and my points together show what I have been arguing – religion is a very weak indicator of how someone will act.

    If you argue that Tancredo’s religious views lead him to his view of bombing Mecca, then why don’t the same religious views lead other candidates of the same religion to the same view? Yes, it is a possible view based on religious views, but certainly not a necessary one. One could also argue the same view based on atheistic grounds (ie..what are holy sites anyway, but places of superstition that encourage religion, wouldn’t getting rid of them make the world better?). But an atheist arguing such wouldn’t make all atheist candidates suspect. The same with Christianity. In other words, in Tancredos case, wouldn’t it be easier and fairer to put the cause at Tancredo himself, instead of his religious views? He seems to be especially hawkish on all things, not just foreign policy. Making his wacky views something specific to his personality, not his religion.

    I mean of course is that once we’ve accepted the laws of logic (which are undeniable) then conclusions you draw should be based on a rational extrapolation of the evidence.

    But thats the rub. Even sidestepping the presuppositionalist jump in your argument, religious issues themselves are outside (not contrary, outside) the realm of ‘rational extrapolation’ that you would consider valid. Science, in the end, says nothing…positive or negative about religion. Those issues have more to do with a persons worldview, personal experiences, and overall conscious than about science.

    Here is my argument once again: My default position is that in a multi-religious society, it is both pragmatic and polite to ignore such religious differences – it helps us maintain our multi-religiosity, which is a good thing. This is my default position, not absolute. If you can find me a religious view that is highly correlated with an important presidential action, then yes, I would say in that case ones religious views should be suspect…but I don’t think you have done that. As long as a Mormon, a Catholic, and/or an evangelical plans to run as a citizen of the United States first, then I see nothing wrong with ignoring their religious convictions. That has been the test historically and history has shown that it has worked fairly well.

  • Suppose, for example, that a particular candidate for the presidency is a Quaker who takes his religion seriously. One of the distinctive doctrines of Quakerism–often times–is pacifism. I’m going to want to know whether this Quaker is one who feels that war under all circumstances is immoral and therefore he will never be willing to go to war to defend the nation’s interests.

    I am fine with this. In this case one can make an argument that a persons religious beliefs will have an impact on him/her as president. What I am arguing is that not all religious beliefs reach this level. The ones that don’t should be ignored.

  • If you argue that Tancredo’s religious views lead him to his view of bombing Mecca, then why don’t the same religious views lead other candidates of the same religion to the same view?

    Because faith by it’s very nature equally justifies contradictory conclusions. One Muslim accepts the Qu’ran based upon faith, and from it decides to act in a peaceful way. Another Muslim also accepts the Qu’ran based upon faith and spins off in a violent direction.

    The first person has a faith that is perfectly benevolent. The problem though is that in thinking faith is OK we enable the equally irrational Muslim to conclude that violence is justified. When we act like it is normal for a person to think a cracker has become body and blood because of the magic words of the priest, we lead a Fred Phelps to think it is normal to conclude that God wants gays dead (the Bible does say this after all). The Catholic belief harms nobody, except that it enables equally irrational beliefs that are more dangerous, and those harm people.

    You say if religious views affect the actions of a president, then religious convictions are relevant. But to find out if a person’s faith is going to affect the way he governs we need to ask that person questions about their faith, which is the very thing you are suggesting we don’t do.

  • No, I am not saying that all religious views should be excluded – only those that have little to nothing to do with a persons capacity as president…which is most religious beliefs (not all, most).

    I don’t think we are getting anywhere based on the direction we are going. Allow me to switch directions.

    Your argument is basically, correct me if I am wrong here, that a person that eschews religious beliefs is more ‘rational’ than one who espouses religious beliefs – and this would lead you to conclude that the former would likely be more rational in other policy issues as well, right? And since we all want more rational policies, we should be suspect on anybody that drifts from the rational paradigm, religious people included…yes?

    If so…then how do you explain abortion issues? You and I share many of the same views regarding abortion. You and I both agree that an anti-abortion view does not depend on ones religious views…yet religious candidates are more likely, with everything being equal, to be more anti-abortion than non-religious people are…how does this fit with your criticism?

    It fits nicely with mine. As I said above, ones religious views are not strongly correlated with ones policy decisions as president. Religious and non-religious people can be found on both sides of policy issues – the rational and the non-rational ones. So the default position, unless a strong exception is given, is to ignore religious views when deciding presidents.

  • No, I’m not saying religious views are irrational necessarily. Not everybody views their faith that way. I didn’t when I was a Christian.

    The reason I’m taking this track is because of your points that basically we shouldn’t talk about our religious differences because religious issues are already non-rational, so let’s just be polite and ignore these matters rather than rub one another’s noses in the differences.

    This is probably the way most people view their faith. Not the way everybody does, but the way a lot of people do. This is the attitude I’m criticizing. For a lot of people matters of faith are simply outside of the purview of rational inquiry. And for them that is true. I have a problem with that attitude and I certainly have a problem with your position that we should sort of paper over these differences. This attitude that says religious beliefs are immune from criticism because they are outside of the realm of the rational is the attitude that leads to Sep 11, jihad, racist bigotry, etc. Some people just have faith that the Bible is true, and hence faith that homosexuals deserve death.

    But to your question on abortion, I guess I’m a little baffled about that too. Supposedly humanists kind of say man is the measure of all things, and we celebrate all things human. In that I in a sense embrace religion, in that I recognize it as an important component of being human. But what is it with these humanists that they want population control and abortion? It’s almost like they want nothing more than to get rid of that damn human race.

    I’m just speculating, but maybe they view it more as a religious attempt to dictate sexual relationships, which I do agree is absurd. It’s odd to see some of these post menopausal atheists just getting all fired about with the “get your hands off my body” thing as if they were at any risk of becoming pregnant.

  • [quote comment=”167060″]

    Imagine a Satanist running. Sure, you can be a Satanist. That’s what America is about. But this doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for him. I might withold my vote on the basis of a candidates Satanism. I’ll attack him as an irrational loon. That’s not an un-American thing to do. That’s very American.

    Mormonism is really kind of silly, and I think you know that. God came from the planet Kobal or something and he’s having sex with his many wives to create us so we can go be gods of our own planets and have sex with our wives and make more spirit children, blah, blah, blah. It’s just silly. If you affirm silly things and you run for president, expect to be criticized.

    That being said, I love Ron Paul and I will vote for him. But he’s a little off here.[/quote]

    I concur totally!

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