Yeah, why can’t the government just not care about rights?

Yeah, why can’t the government just not care about rights?.

Rust Belt Philosophy is my new blog I read because I want to make sure I’m not in an echo chamber. He’s confident to the point of arrogance and disagrees with me, I think, on every point.

I wanted to comment on this post, but my work computer prevented me. The problem here is that we have some hidden gods in the room. I’m not sure if the Fed itself is the god, or if Demos is. If Demos is the god, then the state is his temple system. Either way, Eli’s god is in defiance of my God. I don’t see why I need a reason why my God’s system should comply with his.

But I can say with confidence that I will not bow down.

20 thoughts on “Yeah, why can’t the government just not care about rights?”

  1. Hi, Kyle –

    “The problem here is that we have some hidden gods in the room. I’m not sure if the Fed itself is the god, or if Demos is. If Demos is the god, then the state is his temple system. Either way, Eli’s god is in defiance of my God. I don’t see why I need a reason why my God’s system should comply with his.”

    I sort of want to call you out on the last of these sentences, but I think it’s more important to deal with the first. What makes you think that I have “hidden gods” or that my god is the federal government (or whatever “Demos” is)? Cause I certainly don’t think that.

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    1. Hey. I didn’t expect you to come by.

      I start with the assumption that you have a god that you worship. You will probably object to that, but you’ll have to forgive the religious language perspective. Whatever is the highest good, or the most central issue is the god that your ethical system revolves around. For me, as a Christian, it’s pretty easy to determine who that God is. I’m saying that your god is hidden, because it’s not clear what it is that is the highest thing in your system., other than the fact that traditional Christian concerns about the government taking on an all-consuming central role in people’s lives doesn’t seem to phase you. So maybe the Fed is that god. Demos would be “the people,” so maybe some kind of utiltarianism, or individual self-determination is that highest good that your ethical system bends around. In which case, the Fed takes on the role of a church as it accrues power in order to protect and defend those values.

      But regardless of what that central issue is, which I am calling a god (to which term you probably object), it’s directly opposed to mine. I say my God is more important than yours, better than yours, more powerful, etc. So I have no reason to submit myself to your god, in defiance of my own.

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  2. “Whatever is the highest good, or the most central issue is the god that your ethical system revolves around.”

    Yes, I do object to the language, but if you’re going to just use it as a shorthand – I mean, really consistently just use it as a shorthand – then it’s not that big of a deal.

    “I’m saying that your god is hidden, because it’s not clear what it is that is the highest thing in your system., other than the fact that traditional Christian concerns about the government taking on an all-consuming central role in people’s lives doesn’t seem to phase you.”

    Well, I’m a utilitarian, so my central ethical value is well-being. I wasn’t trying to hide this – I say it all over the place on the blog – but that post didn’t really address the issue directly. Also, the reason I’m not concerned about the government becoming all-consuming is that I think that’s tremendously unlikely to happen. I don’t want it to happen, but just like I don’t worry about a volcano erupting in my living room I don’t worry about that scenario. It just isn’t plausible.

    “the Fed takes on the role of a church as it accrues power in order to protect and defend those values”

    What do you think the role of a church is, exactly? And why do you attribute that specific role (whatever it is) to churches? (By “church” I assume you mean “religious organization of any denomination.”)

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  3. On the contrary.

    But 12-hour work days, 6 days a week are killing my ability to sustain long conversations.

    I think I’ll expand my original definition and say that a god is the foundation of a people’s ethical system, the ultimate court of appeal, and the ultimate source of hope. Those are the traditional domain of religion, and Christians have always cried foul when those values are placed on anything other than the God of scripture. (And in the Bible, God cries, “idolatry.” In many prophets, He goes on to make graphic comparisons with adultery and prostitution. He gets pretty steamed.)

    The theologian in me gets a little twisted around trying to clearly define “church” outside of Christianity, so that was probably not the best word. But not the worst one, either, since the Greek word (ecclesia) originally referred to an assembly of the community with some kind of governing authority. What I’m calling a church is any public institution that takes on the responsibility to chanel these kinds of ultimate concerns for people – defining right and wrong, enacting ultimate judgement, providing the means for hope.

    There, and now I’ve missed breakfast.

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  4. “But 12-hour work days, 6 days a week are killing my ability to sustain long conversations.”

    Ah – well, take your time, then. Didn’t mean to make you go hungry.

    “I think I’ll expand my original definition and say that a god is the foundation of a people’s ethical system, the ultimate court of appeal, and the ultimate source of hope.”

    I can see how the first two of those belong together, but the third doesn’t seem to fit. Certainly I don’t draw hope from well-being or utility or anything like that.

    “What I’m calling a church is any public institution that takes on the responsibility to chanel these kinds of ultimate concerns for people – defining right and wrong, enacting ultimate judgement, providing the means for hope.”

    And I also certainly don’t think that the government should do any of those things. But let me ask: do YOU actually think that the church should do that? Like, would you like to have the church jailing and/or executing people? To me that seems like a pretty fucking frightening scenario.

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  5. Are you saying you don’t have hope? Or is this a definition error? Where do you get the closest thing possible to a guarantee of a happy expectation for the future?

    No, I don’t think churches should jail or execute people. That power has been delegated to the state for the specific purpose of maintaining civil order. “for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” But there are worse things than jail and death. As Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    The church’s job stops at teaching right and wrong, drawing attention to (proclaiming) that ultimate hope, and admitting and excluding people from membership. But removing somebody from membership works as a warning that Judgement is coming.

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  6. “Are you saying you don’t have hope? Or is this a definition error? Where do you get the closest thing possible to a guarantee of a happy expectation for the future?”

    Not from the government, and not from the idea of the overall good. I guess I get “the closest thing possible to a guarantee of a happy expectation for the future” from my confidence in my ability to accept good circumstances and persevere through bad ones. But that’s definitely not at the heart of my ethics and has really nothing to do with my political philosophy, nor would I want it to be something to which anybody appeals to resolve some sort of dispute or to reach some kind of judgment.

    “The church’s job stops at teaching right and wrong, drawing attention to (proclaiming) that ultimate hope, and admitting and excluding people from membership.”

    Okay, great – I don’t want the government to teach people right and wrong except maybe in really obvious cases, and the other stuff isn’t even close. So what is my “hidden god” supposed to be, again? I’m just having a hard time seeing how that’s coming together.

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  7. I don’t know. I’ve lost track of how your ethics hold together at all.

    Why should Catholics universities be forced to fund birth control? What gives the state the right to intervene on a religious question, especially a religious question of some importance? And how does your sense of right and wrong reach the universal level, where it can dictate to me, to entire religious groups, and to the state, which is supposed to enforce these sentiments on folks who strongly disagree?

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  8. “Why should Catholics universities be forced to fund birth control?”

    This is a pretty complex question – you sure you want to get into it here?

    “What gives the state the right to intervene on a religious question, especially a religious question of some importance?”

    I actually don’t see how this is a religious question. Maybe you can elaborate more on this, but the government is certainly not deciding the position of the Catholic church in any way.

    “And how does your sense of right and wrong reach the universal level, where it can dictate to me, to entire religious groups, and to the state, which is supposed to enforce these sentiments on folks who strongly disagree?”

    I mean, I don’t think that the government should listen just to me. I like the idea of a democracy. And I’m just not sure why strong disagreement per se should matter. I just don’t care if someone strongly disagrees that e.g. women should have the right to vote. Is that something you would take into account if you were making the ideal government?

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  9. For some reason, I can’t comment on your site, not at work or at home. So, “here” is the only place I can get into things with you at present. 🙂

    I went back and read the article in question, and your post. It still appears that you are attempting to gain the moral high ground simply by asserting that there is a non-religious perspective that is external and superior to a religious position, as exampled by the Catholic university in question. Somehow, the issue of women’s health raises the stakes from the low ethical level of religious observance to the high level of women’s rights, which can be considered universally in the absence of any religious perspective at all.

    That strikes me as obvious nonsense. By definition, it would be impossible for a person of any religion to ascend to this imaginary moral plane where they can look down and evaluate the ethics derived from their religion, without first abandoning that religion. It’s not the sort of thing you can put on and take off like a change of clothes. At the same time, this other perspective cannot be understood to be universal in such a way that the religious perspective is subsumed under it. At best, it’s just another perspective.

    In the mean time, Christianity has a standard, historical response to this kind of contest: we will not bow. Nebuchadnezzar can force the issue by throwing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace. But he cannot get them to bow to his god, and acknowlege that his government and his god are more authoritative than theirs.

    Your last paragraph confuses me. First you say that you like democracy, and then you say that strong disagreement shouldn’t matter. Isn’t democracy about ensuring a balance among various factions where there is strong disagreement? Or are you saying that, given a democratic government, once that government decides a thing, the minority faction should shut their mouths and sit down? That seems like a position that would be fairly easy to skewer.

    From a Christian perspective, democracy is acceptable, probably even preferrable. But it is no guarantee against tyranny. Christianity first came into the world under a pretty clearly abusive empire, so we already have systems in place to deviate whenever the government tries to force anything contrary to the faith. Jesus takes a higher place in our allegiance.

    Technically, for a Christian, the ideal government would be a benign dictatorshop under the direct supervision of Jesus Christ. Every other option is a temporary fix until he returns.

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  10. “By definition, it would be impossible for a person of any religion to ascend to this imaginary moral plane where they can look down and evaluate the ethics derived from their religion, without first abandoning that religion. It’s not the sort of thing you can put on and take off like a change of clothes. At the same time, this other perspective cannot be understood to be universal in such a way that the religious perspective is subsumed under it. At best, it’s just another perspective.”

    I told you it was complicated :-/

    Do you think that this is also true of science? I mean, religions also make scientific claims. Would it also be impossible for a religious person to “ascend” to a plane of scientific objectivity? Is every kind of scientific framework “just another perspective”? If not, then there must be some difference between science and morality, which maybe you could be so kind as to explain.

    (Also, I’m not sure why you think that people couldn’t “put on and take off” different moral ideas without “abandoning” the one you actually believe. Like, I can pretend to think like a Christian or a deontologist or a virtue ethicist or whatever without being a failed utilitarian or giving up on utilitarianism.)

    “In the mean time, Christianity has a standard, historical response to this kind of contest”

    Okay, sure.

    “First you say that you like democracy, and then you say that strong disagreement shouldn’t matter. Isn’t democracy about ensuring a balance among various factions where there is strong disagreement? Or are you saying that, given a democratic government, once that government decides a thing, the minority faction should shut their mouths and sit down?”

    Careful: I said that strong disagreement per se shouldn’t matter. Democracies are representative, yes, but there are limits to what any democracy should allow itself to do. Again, women should always be able to vote no matter what people think. Don’t you agree? Strong disagreement is not always politically relevant because some kinds of strong sentiments are politically beyond the pale.

    (Also not saying that people have to forfeit their right to advocate for things.)

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  11. I think you’re going to have to give me some clear examples about religions making scientific claims. I’ve seen some on other posts of yours, but they haven’t been clear to me how the descriptive became prescriptive without taking information from a third source.

    I can learn the shape of a certain philosophy and anticipate what sort of arguments might come from it. I could even present those arguments to the best of my ability. What I can’t do is evaluate those arguments from a position of nowhere. I can determine that utility is consistent inconsistent with itself, or I can determine that it is consistent or inconsistent with some other worldview, say Christianity or Islam. But if I find it inconsistent with another worldview and find that I must give one preference over the other, the act of giving that preference reveals a commitment. The only way out of that dilemma is to commit to a third, perhaps even higher set of principles. But that just creates the same sort of arbitration over again.

    Similarly with government. But I already said that the ideal Christian government is a benign dictatorship under the direct administration of Jesus Christ. I wasn’t being facetious. In fact, the Christian understanding is that we are already living under that dictatorship in some sense, and that what governments are presently here will one day have to answer to Him. So is democracy a good form of government? Sure. Better than an anti-Christian plutocracy. Less good than a solid Christian monarchy – except who can guarantee the religious commitments of a monarchy from one generation to the next? But in any government situation, democratic or dictatorship, every Christian should submit to the local government as ruling with Christ’s permission, unless that government orders something against our faith. Then we don’t, and willingly suffer the consequences. In a democracy, should women vote? Sure. But Christian women should only vote in accordance with her Christian faith, just as a Christian queen should only rule in accordance with her Christian faith.

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  12. “I think you’re going to have to give me some clear examples about religions making scientific claims.”

    How about “Jesus rose from the dead”? Or “God created the universe in six days”? There are bunches, but that’s the sort of thing I’m thinking of.

    “What I can’t do is evaluate those arguments from a position of nowhere.”

    Okay, but I’m not asking you to do that.

    “I already said that the ideal Christian government is a benign dictatorship under the direct administration of Jesus Christ. I wasn’t being facetious.”

    Sure – and I can see why that would be a serious view for you.

    “In a democracy, should women [be allowed to] vote? Sure.”

    Okay, so you agree that strong disagreement as such is not always important or even relevant. So why should strong disagreement about contraception count if strong disagreement about women’s suffrage does not?

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  13. I’m not persuaded that those are particularly scientific statements. At least, you don’t need any modern version of science to find them obviously stupid to a non-Christian worldview. I’m pretty sure a virgin birth struck people as impossible long before Mendel. Are you making a distinction between scientific theory and facts as we know them? Or are you simply saying that “facts is facts” and therefore Christianity can be disproven?

    Still not following you on the other one either. What do you mean that strong disagreement is not always important or relevant. Who are they disagreeing with? The government? Or God?q

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  14. “I’m not persuaded that those are particularly scientific statements. At least, you don’t need any modern version of science to find them obviously stupid to a non-Christian worldview.”

    Wait, huh? How does the one follow from the other? Just because you don’t need science to find them silly doesn’t mean that science isn’t relevant or involved, or that the type of statement it is isn’t a scientific one.

    “Are you making a distinction between scientific theory and facts as we know them? Or are you simply saying that ‘facts is facts’ and therefore Christianity can be disproven?”

    I’m not trying to do either. I’m asking you whether you feel the same way about science that you do about ethics, i.e., whether you think every perspective is just another way of looking at things and none of them is better than any other (whether the scientific “perspective cannot be understood to be universal in such a way that the religious perspective is subsumed under it”).

    “What do you mean that strong disagreement is not always important or relevant. Who are they disagreeing with? The government? Or God?”

    With other citizens, I think was the premise. You disagree strongly about something something contraception, but your disagreement is with me and other people like me, not with either the government or God. I guess the same goes for disagreement with the government, too, but I was originally talking about disagreeing with other citizens.

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  15. All right. Sorry for the long delay.

    First, I’m not sure how I managed to communicate a relativist position about ethics. My intent was just the opposite: Christian ethics are absolute, because God’s claims are absolute. As Abraham Kuyper said, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign,does not declare,’That is mine!’” But given those absolute claims, it follows that there is no unbiased 3rd party to evaluate Christ’s claims. Either you submit to him, or you defy him.

    Second, the definition of science is not coterminous with “the sum of all human knowledge.” My understanding is that it is limited to deriving principles about the natural world, based on experiences that are repeatable. You run into trouble automatically when somebody tries to use science to evaluate a one-time event, even more so when it is a one-time event by definition. You can use science to determine that such a thing doesn’t (usually) happen, but it’s a different field of inquiry entirely to determine that something did not happen. Furthermore, to say that science has determined that something cannot happen pulls in some presuppositions that must be made clear, and which can be challenged.

    Also, modern science is generally a discipline of careful, technical description. Religious literature is generally characterized by colorful and forceful imagery. This is not to say that there is no overlap. But as technical description has become more common, there has been a tendency to interpret scripture as if it were a great deal more technical than it was clearly ever intended to be interpreted.

    So when you say it’s possibe to evaluate scientifically whether Jesus was raised from the dead, on the one hand, I can concede the point. In fact, he submitted himself to the best scientific review available at the time: Thomas insisted he would never believe, unless he put his hand in the actual wounds by which he died. So Jesus had him do so. The fact that modern scientists weren’t there should move the debate out of the realm of science and into history and methods of determining if someone was lying. Paul says there were ultimately more than 500 witnesses. I suppose you could argue that the witnesses weren’t unbiased, but it’s hardly something you could be unbiased about.

    On the other hand, when it comes to Genesis 1, it’s simply difficult to evaluate, because the primary point of the text is not to determine the amount of time necessary to create a livable planet out of nothing. The focus is on issues such as God’s ascendency over the physical world (and therefore the laws of science), the basic orderly nature of the world, and a basic teleological description (“called it good”, “go forth and multiply”, “gave dominion”, etc.). The primary focus is in making distinctions between God, Man, and the natural world, not chronology. Augustin was making this point 1400 years ago. So I’m perfectly happy to say the earth was created in an instant, in 4.6 billion years, or six days, since theologically it’s not that important. On the other hand, I reject the idea that there’s no purpose or design to nature, and the idea that there’s no distinction between man and the rest of nature.

    Third, in regards to strong disagreement. I still don’t think I’m following you. I’m not aware of anybody today who is arguing that women should not be allowed to vote. But mere disagreement with a person, strongly felt or otherwise, is not a sufficient reason to change positions, either on voting or on contraception. Individuals, as individuals, are autonomous, by definition. There has to be some other, authoritative association for them to comply. Off the top of my head, I can say that there are family associations, “free” associations, such as clubs or societies, government authority, and finally submission to God (and by extension, though with exceptions, to the local church). Generally, citicizens should comply with government regulation. But submission to God trumps submission to any people.

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  16. “First, I’m not sure how I managed to communicate a relativist position about ethics.”

    No, you didn’t. But you do sure seem like an epistemological relativist when it comes to ethics (if not everything), and that to me is puzzling.

    “Second, the definition of science is not coterminous with ‘the sum of all human knowledge.'”

    No, it’s not. So?

    “My understanding is that it is limited to deriving principles about the natural world, based on experiences that are repeatable. You run into trouble automatically when somebody tries to use science to evaluate a one-time event, even more so when it is a one-time event by definition.”

    So you’re saying that science isn’t the right method to use to evaluate the big bang? Or the origins of life on Earth? That seems wrong. Also, this is just not true: take the biblical flood for an example. If that had actually happened, it would have left unmistakable empirical evidence – evidence, that is, that we could test for using the methods and knowledge of science. Just because it’s a one-time event means nothing, nor is science incapable of disproving events. This whole line of thought is, unfortunately, just erroneous.

    “Also, modern science is generally a discipline of careful, technical description. Religious literature is generally characterized by colorful and forceful imagery. This is not to say that there is no overlap. But as technical description has become more common, there has been a tendency to interpret scripture as if it were a great deal more technical than it was clearly ever intended to be interpreted.”

    Okay, so? Surely at least some of the events described in the bible are meant to be taken literally and yet are incompatible with anything like the science we know – like, for instance, Jesus rising from the dead.

    “The fact that modern scientists weren’t there should move the debate out of the realm of science and into history and methods of determining if someone was lying.”

    Oh bullshit. Must we do the same thing for every single claim that scientists weren’t around to see? If I tell you, for instance, that I witnessed a sea turtle fly to me from out of the sky and speak to me in perfect English before disappearing in a ball of green fire but that I was the only one for miles around to see it, would your first thought be “Okay, time to evaluate this claim using the methods of history to see if he’s lying”? No way. No fucking way. Your first thought would be, “This guy is nuts – we know that turtles can’t do that.” And for good reason: the methods of science are vastly more reliable than the methods of history, so rejecting the one in favor of the other is a complete mistake, epistemologically speaking.

    “But mere disagreement with a person, strongly felt or otherwise, is not a sufficient reason to change positions, either on voting or on contraception.”

    No, but – again – nobody is asking you or any religious body to change its position. You can go right on disagreeing with the contraception thing if you want, but you have to pay your taxes.

    Your argument – it seemed to me – was that you strongly disagreed with the use of contraception so you should be exempt from the law (or, alternatively, the law should conform to your disagreement). But why your disagreement? Even if nobody thinks that women shouldn’t be able to vote – which, incidentally, I doubt – there are people who think that criminals and college students shouldn’t have the right to vote. There are people who think that Muslims shouldn’t have the right to hold public office. There are people who think (I spoke with some of them myself) that the president shouldn’t be black. Why does your strong disagreement with contraception merit government consideration when their strong disagreement doesn’t?

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  17. The problem with long comments is that all the threads of the conversation get hard to track. I hate the quote-and-reply method, but I think I’m stuck with it here.

    “But you do sure seem like an epistemological relativist when it comes to ethics (if not everything), and that to me is puzzling.”

    I don’t know why it seem that way to you. Presuppositionalism is not the same thing as relativism. It’s the exact opposite. One says “there is no neutral ground,” while the other says, “it’s all neutral ground.” I think you make similar assumptions, tacitly, yourself.

    “So you’re saying that science isn’t the right method to use to evaluate the big bang?”

    No. I’m saying that “Science!” is not a magical word to scare away the boogie man, and that it usually amounts to so much hand waving in an attempt to assert confidence where there is none.

    “So you’re saying that science isn’t the right method to use to evaluate the big bang?”

    Meh. Sure, why not? What do I know about background radiation? 50 years ago, the universe had no beginning. Now there was a big bang, because Science tells us so. Heck, I still believe in 4 dimensions.

    My point was that “science” is an awfully big word that can be used to hide an awful lot of assumptions.

    “take the biblical flood for an example.”

    Oh, please do. Do a search for “ocean impact crater”. I think there are a couple that would have caused some pretty significant tsunami. And keep in mind, again, that ancient texts aren’t so finicky about technicalities. “The whole earth” can just as easily be translated “the whole land.” All that’s required is a flood big enough to threaten the life of every human being at once.

    “Surely at least some of the events described in the bible are meant to be taken literally and yet are incompatible with anything like the science we know – like, for instance, Jesus rising from the dead.”

    Now here, I’m with you. There’s no natural means for this to happen. And that’s why I’m asking you to explain what the limits of science are in your thinking. Is science something that we invented in the last 300 years? Or did they have something like it in ancient times? Did we only just discover that people don’t rise from the dead? Were people just a lot more gullible back then? Because Thomas insisted he would never believe “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side.” You can call him a liar, but you can’t say he was persuaded about the resurrection because he didn’t know anything about science.

    “Must we do the same thing for every single claim that scientists weren’t around to see?”

    No. Of course not. I’m saying we don’t need scientists at all when it comes to these obvious cases. And since we don’t need “science” in any technical sense, I get suspicious when people pull it out. It implies that you think I’m a moron. That kind of attack doesn’t persuade me, and it doesn’t persuade any lookers on. In fact, it’s likely to back fire, like when people talk loudly to immigrants.

    Oh there are so many fun things to say about your little parable! A story like that would break one of two ways – this guy is pulling my leg, or this guy has been taking meth (although, usually the guys on meth see letters forming on random surfaces). But to compare with the gospel story, you need 500 reliable eye witnesses, including some who were brought over unwillingly. They need to be people of continuing unimpeachable character. Also, I need you to insist on your story on pain of death.

    “No, but – again – nobody is asking you or any religious body to change its position. You can go right on disagreeing with the contraception thing if you want, but you have to pay your taxes.”

    My understanding is that they were going to have to do a little more than pay their taxes. They were going to have to comply. Or not. When that time comes, all Christians have a built in hierarchy of compliance. “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

    “Your argument – it seemed to me – was that you strongly disagreed with the use of contraception so you should be exempt from the law (or, alternatively, the law should conform to your disagreement). But why your disagreement?”

    The issue for me was compliance or non-compliance, not excemption or adjustment. One could hope for the law to be adjusted appropriately, and we pray for Christian government. But it happens frequently enough that Christians are subject to laws that are opposed to Christian principles. The government serves, as it were, a different god. In those cases, we obey as far as we can, and then stop. The authorities can make their own decisions then about what to do, and they will face judgment the same as I.

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  18. What’s the difference between there being no neutral ground and it all being neutral ground? I’m not sure I see it.

    “My point was that ‘science’ is an awfully big word that can be used to hide an awful lot of assumptions.”

    Okay, like what? Which assumptions do you think I’m hiding?

    “And that’s why I’m asking you to explain what the limits of science are in your thinking. Is science something that we invented in the last 300 years? Or did they have something like it in ancient times? Did we only just discover that people don’t rise from the dead? Were people just a lot more gullible back then?”

    I’m not even sure that these are well-formed questions. Whatever is scientifically true today was likewise true eons ago until evidence shows otherwise – for instance, some stuff may have been different soon after the big bang, if that happened – but I have no way of knowing if people were more gullible then than now or why it would matter.

    “Because Thomas insisted he would never believe ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side.’ You can call him a liar, but you can’t say he was persuaded about the resurrection because he didn’t know anything about science.”

    But either way, why would I take his word over what we know now? I’m just not sure why any story that poorly documented is supposed to convince me that someone defied death.

    “I’m saying we don’t need scientists at all when it comes to these obvious cases.”

    And for you guy-rising-from-the-dead isn’t an obvious case? What counts as an obvious case, then?

    “to compare with the gospel story, you need 500 reliable eye witnesses, including some who were brought over unwillingly. They need to be people of continuing unimpeachable character. Also, I need you to insist on your story on pain of death.”

    Okay – so are you impressed with the Branch Dividian people? I mean, they actively killed themselves for their religion and there were bunches of them, and their lives and deaths are far better documented than anything in the bible. If I can find you a group that had more than 500 witnesses and/or martyrs, will you convert?

    Also, what happened to “we don’t even need science in the obvious cases”? How can you go from not needing science to not wanting it?

    “My understanding is that they were going to have to do a little more than pay their taxes. They were going to have to comply. Or not.”

    Okay, but you’re still not required to change your mind.

    “One could hope for the law to be adjusted appropriately

    But WHAT MAKES THAT PARTICULAR ADJUSTMENT APPROPRIATE, is the question I’m asking. Why is YOUR desire for non-compliance one that would be appropriate to honor in law whereas other desires for non-compliance are not? You keep not answering this question.

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