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Mark erickson
Saint Paul, Minnesota
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Individual vs. Marxist (not that there's anything wrong with that) historical explanations are are like Nature vs. Nuture, it's both, not one or the other. Aside: isn't it weird that scientists in the Nature/Nurture case say it's roughly 50%/50%? What are the chances of that? And if you wanted, you could just as easily stay economic structuralist and figure out the underlying reasons centrist Democrats are against health insurance reform. It's not that hard. And I would prefer that method than to start swinging with statements like an "active 'centrist' bloc really could shift the narrative." That's awfully close to pure babble. If you are the near the median vote in the Senate on any given issue, you always have the opportunity to decide an issue. It's just that it's not usually great and historic. Finally, I'm beginning to doubt your commitment to materialism when you say "KC and MR feel that it is their god-given duty..." What about insurance company donations? There really is much more than a few people's whims here. I hope this comes off as constructive, I do like your writing, you're just a bit off track here.
Toggle Commented Aug 25, 2009 on Baucus ♥ Public Option? at Obsidian Wings
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Skeptico: I’m saying that belief isn’t the end all and be all of religion. Religion if and only if belief = False. I like the Wiki definition because it listed beliefs in among (not even first!) other important aspects of religion: narratives, symbols and practices. The whole beginning of the article is worth quoting: A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, God or gods, or ultimate truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system," but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively. The practices I listed were meant as an example of how non-Christian religions view actions (even if based on beliefs) as fundamental to their religious practice. Christians can say “I believe that Jesus Christ is the only son of God” and be good Christians without doing anything else. In fact, if they do act contrary to any perceived requirement, they only say sorry to God, double down on the core belief above, and they are redeemed. (Do American Catholics even talk about penance anymore?) As this is getting dragged out, I’m just talking about stuff, rather than tying it back to whether atheism is a religion or not. But my original thought was that most atheists are so thoroughly enmeshed in the Christian mindset (belief is everything) that they over-play belief and under-play practice in talking about religion. As far as UU, it is a non-creedal religion, so nothing is required to be taken on faith. It is a covenantal religion, so members of a congregation pledge to each other, not to a deity or any church hierarchy. Thus, Unitarian Universalism is the local congregation. They can be quite varied. Some would frown upon even saying the word god. Others have believing Christians as members. The median might be comfortable saying small “g” god, but do not mean anything close to a personal god. The point is that religion is something done with other people, not just having an internal belief.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2009 on Atheism is Not a Religion at Skeptico
1 reply
Oops, botched the NYT story link. Also, Fareed Zakaria had David Kilcullen and Andrew Bachevich on his GPS Sunday show debating the "Is it worth it" topic. The best answer Kilcullen could muster was "we have a moral obligation to Afghans." As you can image Bachevich didn't agree. [New CNN video player, might have tech issues.]
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2009 on Our Midas Guns at Obsidian Wings
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Well argued, Eric. Leaving Afghanistan is certainly on the way back burner of media attention. At least Helen Thomas is still on the beat: Afghanistan Now Is Obama's war. BTW, the NYT story wasn't linked in the post.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2009 on Our Midas Guns at Obsidian Wings
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My post focused on how this discussion takes for granted Christianity as the frame and the opponent. Another problem with debating whether atheism is a religion or not is that it is assumed that the entire category of religion is bad. Can you justify this? Martin - yes, humans lack an innate religion, but belief in the invisible man is not the only way to create religion in your life. BTW, I checked out The Book of Atheism, but it only went to page 268. Which version are you reading? Valhar2000 - Religion is a huge category and encompasses a large part of human action and thought because it deals with things so basic to being human (e.g. Who am I? Why am I here? How should I live?). Is that a problem? Brain damage isn't a choice, so isn't a part of religion. LSD can be part of a religion, but it must have a not-currently-on-LSD component. UU is a religion to me but has no supernatural belief requirements. Atheism doesn't track with the religion category, no matter how you define it. That's not a good/bad issue with me, my thought is that atheists would do well to try to transcend the religion category completely.
Toggle Commented Jul 20, 2009 on Atheism is Not a Religion at Skeptico
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General point, from the NYT article, it helps to know their definition of "scientist": 2,500 scientists drawn from the rolls of the [American Association for the Advancement of Science], which includes teachers, administrators and others involved in science as well as researchers. Specific point, on vaccination: Turbulence, the "whatever reason" for being anti-vaccine is main driver, not a government mandate that goes against their reason. There are certainly those who are trying to destroy the vaccination regime, but they are funneling rage from their belief that vaccines do harm. You need to look at the reasons people are anti-vaccine to see how irrational and obviously wrong on its face their arguments are. Check out Orac at Respectful Insolence. We do require vaccination through public education mandates, but the ease of opting out varies by state. Thus public perceptions of vaccination are very influential of the overall vaccination rate. Many communities are currently losing their herd immunity due to low vaccination rates.
Toggle Commented Jul 10, 2009 on Read the News Today, Oh Boy at Obsidian Wings
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Agreed, not your best work, Publius. But you're entitled to bad posts. Sucks that they get more comments though - including this one. But I still heart you. You focus on tax policy when the root of the problem is the requirement for balanced budgets through the boom and bust business cycle. Now, balanced budgets for non-federal governments are absolutely necessary, so the boom/bust aspect of local revenues is the issue to address. A simple policy implication would be to require a percentage of surplus revenue to be set aside in boom years and drawn down in bust years. This is already done ad hoc, but not to the extent needed. In most cases, a constitutional amendment would need to be passed. (Maybe California's initiative would help in this case.) I also heartily agree with the federal government fully funding mandates. It is a huge deal in education.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2009 on The Failure of State Government at Obsidian Wings
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