Christianity Has Come To This: Donald Trump Channels Paula White

The five or six Republican presidential candidates who bill themselves as more Christian than any of the others must be cussin’ today. Just when they most need to claim the crown of Best Christian for themselves, Donald Trump has all but stolen it.

Mega church preacher Paula White was on welfare when she was younger. Now her net worth is listed as five million dollars. She preaches in the genre of the “Prosperity Gospel”. This genre is also home to the hugely successful Joel Osteen among others.

The prosperity gospel’s message is usually characterized as “Jesus wants you to be successful” or “Jesus wants you to be rich.”  By contrast, the message of traditional Christian candidates is “Jesus hates gays” and “Jesus hates abortion.”

When President Obama first ran for President, he criticized other Democrats for not wearing the Christianity on their sleeves like he did. He then learned his brand of Christianity did not measure up to the standards of some others.  He left that church and has not joined another.

Times have changed. It appears a candidate can alien himself with the most hucksterish of Christian groups and get away with it. Maybe the public is not thinking of abortion and gay marriage as “sins” like it once did.

Perhaps Trump, after his meeting with White, will declare the reason he is so wealthy is because Jesus answered his prayers. This would be the ultimate victory for those in the prosperity camp and a bitter defeat of the conservative camp.

[An article about Donald Trump’s upcoming meeting with Paula White can be linked in comments.]

31 Responses

  1. Jonah

    Morning Jon. There is not a single traditional Christian candidate in the “Jesus hates gays” camp. I’d love to see you find one quote from any of those candidates saying that.

    Millennials are more pro-life than any other generation today. Advancements in ultra-sound technology will continue that trend, in my opinion. A lot of people think life is worth cherishing. Even many of those who are pro-choice believe it is the lesser of two evils.

    I don’t understand your apparent animus against Christianity. If it provides enjoyment to you to point out sinners sinning, you’ll find examples every day from Christians, so you’ll be able to continue to blog about it. However, those examples of screwing up just point to a standard to live up to, and falling short of that standard would welcome someone who could erase those screw-ups. Many have found that answer in the real Jesus, which history supports, to your frustration.

    I’m sorry if Christians have been rude to you. If you ever want me to leave your blog, I’ll stop bugging you, but I enjoy intellectual debate and just am fascinated by your thought process concluding there wasn’t a Jesus.

    1. Jonah 3:05 If you ever want me to leave your blog, I’ll stop bugging you, but I enjoy intellectual debate and just am fascinated by your thought process concluding there wasn’t a Jesus

      It a pleasure having you on the blog. Your courteous manner of writing and obvious devotion to the faith make a fine contribution for folks who like to read about this topic. I’d like to discuss this comment:
      Millennials are more pro-life than any other generation today. Advancements in ultra-sound technology will continue that trend, in my opinion. A lot of people think life is worth cherishing. Even many of those who are pro-choice believe it is the lesser of two evils.

      It may well be there is some movement in a direction against abortion, although there have been small ebbs and flows before. The fact is it doesn’t matter whether the majority believes the fetus is a “human being” or they don’t believe it is a “human being”. The issue is whether the mother can live her life during pregnancy at a free and equal human being or whether the government will take over her life supervising her every activity.

      I’ve discussed this in previous blogs but it cannot be discussed enough. There have already been several cases of local law enforcement taking over and supervising pregnant women. They do this on the theory the fetus is a human being and must be guarded from its mother. I do not see an end to the kind of monitoring full humans status granted to a fetus will bring. How long can the mother work? What does the mother eat or drink? Does the mother exercise enough? Is the mother living with an unsafe partner? If the mother has had a drug/drinking problem should she be incarcerated during the pregnancy like habitual drunk drivers?

      While there might be some additional approval of the fetus as a human being political idea, there is also growing support for equality of women. The two cannot exist–they are mutually exclusive. No matter how much religion is introduced into the argument, it will not prevail in my opinion.

      1. Jonah

        Thanks Jon, I’ve appreciated your reception here.

        I also completely understand the dangers of an intrusive state and don’t want government hand-holding of pregnant women. I thank you and others like you for your political service who recognize those intrusive dangers.

        We don’t follow around parents of born children, so why would we follow around parents of the unborn? If your Big-Brother examples are true, then I think they are wrong too.

        I disagree with you on equality for women and considering fetuses human as being mutually exclusive. If fetuses are human, preventing abortion is preventing murder of women. If equality with men (as in no differences whatsoever) is the goal for women, then it is an inequality any time a woman gives birth or breast feeds. Once we reach equality there we will cease to exist! If a fetus is human, why does a woman, who provided 50% of the DNA to the one growing inside her, have the “right to choose” what happens, yet the man who provided the other 50% of the DNA, have no right to choose? Did the DNA become 100% hers once they were combined and started multiplying inside of her? Don’t we want to have a culture that encourages active fathers, or should those men butt out at conception and then magically re-appear at birth?

        Life is a gift to be celebrated, and the women who nurture that life should be lifted up for their unique role in that process. I, as a man, am completely unequal to women in that regard, and am thankful for it.

        1. Jonah 10;00 I also completely understand the dangers of an intrusive state and don’t want government hand-holding of pregnant women

          We may not like the idea of law enforcement taking over the lives of pregnant women, but human-being-at-conception make that scenario all but inevitable. Once it is determined law enforcement is responsible for protection of the fetus against harm from its mother, there is no way to avoid the mother from becoming a ward of the state. The only way that women can function as equals is for them to have control of their bodies, including the part called fetus.

          I would guess no one likes to think of this being the result of anti abortion laws. Yet, this very thing is happening as we speak. A group called National Advocates for Pregnant Women has lawyers trying to keep local authorities from tossing mothers in jail for issues concerning their fetuses. You can see the bizarre cases taking place. It is simply not possible to declare the fertilized egg a human being without putting the mother in under the supervision of law enforcement.

          1. Wolfy32

            Similar articles on the same concept:

            http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/06/12/artificial-wombs-the-coming-era-of-motherless-births/

            http://motherboard.vice.com/read/artificial-wombs-are-coming-and-the-controversys-already-here

            We may reach an age in research, development, and technology merging with reproduction. We could get to a point where women no longer need to be biological incubators. We could get to a point where a man and woman choose to have a baby and they contract with a artificial womb company to rent a womb and provide the dna. The fetus could be screened for genetic malfunctions and a healthy bouncing boy or girl comes out later. The couple could continue to go about their lives without concern for hurting the baby.

            Natural births could become a thing of the past and women could finally do away with the pain of birth. Men and women could sign agreements at the time of renting the womb that if their relationship is disolved who would have what custody and what, if any, forms of payment would be due to the other. Could be mandatory to have an agreement in place prior to renting the womb.

            We could get rid of the welfare system at that point, as people that don’t have the money to rent the artificial wombs wouldn’t reproduce.

            Sex could become strictly a relationship building activity, no different than going to dinner or a movie.

            The social issue of abortion would disappear. The question then would become, what happens to fetuses in development if the parents decide to abandon the child or want to terminate the incubation due to unforseen circumstances….

        2. Cevon Anderson

          Jonah, you built a straw-man argument. No, I think women asked for equal “rights”, not equality, not sameness. What individual would argue to be the same as everyone else? You essentially claim that women want people to be unisex, uni-gender clones.

          Males participate in conception, and if some men therefore demand half ownership during pregnancy of the woman’s body, and zygote, then embryo, then fetus, because they “own” half the DNA, then I think it would be easier to protect the DNA if the men kept their own sperm cells for safe keeping.

          1. Jonah

            Hi Cevon,
            I’m responding to this:
            “Jonah, you built a straw-man argument. No, I think women asked for equal “rights”, not equality, not sameness. What individual would argue to be the same as everyone else? You essentially claim that women want people to be unisex, uni-gender clones.”

            We clearly have a different definition of what a right is, just about everybody does. We discuss and debate and vote and have a legal system to help us attempt to get by with all of our different definitions.

            My argument is built on the foundation that when conception happens, life happens. Every fetus either becomes a dead fetus (naturally or unnaturally), or a birthed human. That life has rights. The man and the woman who created that life have responsibilities to safeguard it.

            No, of course I don’t want uni-sex clones. Simple biology just says that the created life grows in a woman. The rights of the child should supersede the rights of a woman to terminate it.

            To be clear, those are my definitions of how rights should work. You have your definitions of who gets rights and when too. I understand why you don’t like my answers.

        3. Wolfy32

          I agree that men should have a legal right to some degree. Men are forced to pay child support if the woman decides to up and leave or if both parties part ways, men are the economical support and therefore are legally held liable to support the child. I agree to an extent, at the same time, men don’t have a say in what the woman decides to do to the child or her body during pregnancy? I don’t know, I’ve never gone through a pregnancy with anyone and probably won’t ever in my life, so, I can’t speak to what it would be like, yet, I have to question the legality of men being forced to support women yet, not having a choice in what happens to the child. I suspect there probably isn’t a good answer.

          1. Cevon Anderson

            You now claim that “of course [you] don’t want uni-sex clones.” Yet, that is what you claimed women have advocated. I’ve never heard that statement or concept from any woman advocating for equal “rights”. You claimed: “If equality with men (as in no differences whatsoever) is the goal for women, then it is an inequality any time a woman gives birth or breast feeds.”

            You end by saying that you have defined how rights should work. Well no, you simply make declarations with no supporting reasons. You claim, “That life [a fetus] has rights.” Actually it doesn’t. It hasn’t been born into the world, so its neither a baby nor a person nor “a child”, as you claim. Its a potential person, just as living ovum and sperm cells are. It is a part, a piece, of the woman’s body. That is the simple biology. There is no legitimate state (government) interest in regulating and controlling a part or piece of a woman’s own body. A fundamental human right is a person’s right to make independent medical decisions about their own body. Nor may another person or people intrude into that sovereign personal decision. Women who have chosen abortion, and women who have not, agree that the decision was ultimately their own.

          2. Jonah

            Cevon and Wolfy – You both come across as sharp people to me, and I enjoy conversing with you. As far as the standard interpretations and traditional values stuff, you offer fair critiques that there is no uniformity in Christianity. There is also no uniformity in any group larger than 1, be it Christians, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, etc. What there is in a group is a, or a set of, unifying principle(s). The Jesus birth / death / resurrection / bible recap of these events are the basic unifying principles of Christianity. I thought I could get that point across with those original terms, but I’ll gladly continue to define further if they are unclear.

            Your statements on humility and bias / assumption evaluation are admirable. I hope people of any faith persuasion can live up to that standard.

            You ask “who’s claim it was that someone’s faith in Jesus prevents them from striving to use their minds to the greatest degree of rational thought achievable, but it wasn’t mine.” You also said “most people without faith are those who, instead, strive to use their minds for the greatest degree of rational thought individually achievable.” The word “instead” indicated to me that you were making a contrast between people with faith (as you define it) and no faith.

            I strongly challenge your statements that faith is “merely accepting what we’re told,” that faith is “a last resort necessary for psychological survival,” and the mention of a “blind” faith. I find those statements false. I have attempted to follow the same pattern of challenging assumptions, researching facts, and relying on rational thought. That is part of the reason why I come to this site, to challenge my beliefs. I could just as easily flip that script on you and say your faith in your own rationality is a last resort for psychological survival. You have a faith. I have a faith. All we can do is come to the conclusions we come to, but the only way to get to the conclusion of atheists / agnostics being MORE rational than a Christian is to be able to prove my Christian beliefs are wrong. I don’t think you can. I also know I can’t prove Christianity is true to you. There enters the high-falutin big ol’ Christian term of the Holy Spirit that could take that head knowledge and turn it into something someone knows with their heart too.

            (I know I risked losing people on that last sentence, but, oh well, wanted to include my understanding of how it happens.)

            Wolfy, you sound like a Lutheran! 🙂 Martin Luther was all about giving the bible to the people and not relying on priests to interpret it for us commoners. Pastors get a full week to analyze and study and prepare a message (among other duties). The acceptance of that message is still up to each individual person. Committing to a schedule (like regular church attendance) and having a community encourage you is a format that has helped people grow in a lot of areas (weight loss, AA, etc.).

          3. Jonah

            Cevon – here are my replies to your comments:

            1) Cevon: “You now claim that “of course [you] don’t want uni-sex clones.” Yet, that is what you claimed women have advocated.”

            Don’t believe I claimed that’s what women advocated. Feel free to quote me if you can find it.

            2) Cevon: “I’ve never heard that statement or concept from any woman advocating for equal “rights”. You claimed: “If equality with men (as in no differences whatsoever) is the goal for women, then it is an inequality any time a woman gives birth or breast feeds.””

            Jon stated “While there might be some additional approval of the fetus as a human being political idea, there is also growing support for equality of women. The two cannot exist-they are mutually exclusive.” This is the statement I was replying to. I was arguing that the roles men and women play in reproduction to be so different that the “equality of women” argument doesn’t fit. Cevon, in conclusion, I think you and I agree that the equality of women argument doesn’t apply here.

            3) Cevon: “You end by saying that you have defined how rights should work. Well no, you simply make declarations with no supporting reasons. You claim, “That life [a fetus] has rights.” Actually it doesn’t. It hasn’t been born into the world, so its neither a baby nor a person nor “a child”, as you claim. Its a potential person, just as living ovum and sperm cells are. It is a part, a piece, of the woman’s body. That is the simple biology. There is no legitimate state (government) interest in regulating and controlling a part or piece of a woman’s own body. A fundamental human right is a person’s right to make independent medical decisions about their own body. Nor may another person or people intrude into that sovereign personal decision. Women who have chosen abortion, and women who have not, agree that the decision was ultimately their own.”

            You have described in this paragraph how you believe rights should work, that they aren’t established until birth, and that a woman has no legal obligation to what’s growing inside of her until the baby pops out. Our current laws resemble your view of these rights. I’m sure we both have disagreements with how our laws define rights sometimes. Yes, I’m making declarations about how I believe rights should work. Same as you. We just grant them at different times. As for “no supporting reasons,” you may not agree with them, but I gave them. I’ll reiterate. DNA A (dad) combines with DNA B (mom) to form DNA C (growing inside mom). Doesn’t matter if C is a product of conception, fetus, or baby. I believe rights should go to C at that point. That is a unique, incredibly complex, bit of DNA. C will become a birthed baby unless it naturally dies inside mom or mom initiates termination. If mom doesn’t want C to have occurred, there are thousands of words we both could write as to how to prevent it from happening.

        4. Cevon Anderson

          1) Essentially you did claim that what women advocate for a unisex. As I already quoted you — “If equality with men (as in no differences whatsoever) is the goal for women, then it is an inequality any time a woman gives birth or breast feeds.” With that, you made yourself a self-appointed spokesman for women about what they said on the subject of their right to make their own choices about their bodies. In doing so you put words in their mouths. They never asked for an equality with men that implied, “no differences whatsoever.” You made that up, though maybe you were not aware you did.

          Instead, as I already pointed out, they asked for equal “rights”. Here, the right of a woman to control her own body, make her own decisions; and a man to have the same right regarding his body. If we were to believe your version of what women have advocated, we would have to believe that women want the sexes to be “equal”, as in “no differences”. That would be a cessation of recognition of male and female sex or gender; instead a unisex. That’s incorrect, and furthermore not believable.

          2) You say you were, “arguing that the roles men and women play in reproduction to be so different that the ‘equality of women’ argument doesn’t fit.” Yet, you had substituted your own misdefinition of equality. Your inauthentic description of the equality that women have advocated , a so-called “no differences whatsoever”, is what would not fit. They asked for equal “rights”.
          So no, I don’t agree with you that the equality of women argument doesn’t apply here. Equal “rights” absolutely fits. He is in charge of the decisions about his body; she is in charge of hers.

          3) Yes, I agree you are making declarations about how you believe rights should work – “That life [a fetus] has rights.” That is like one of the so-called tenth commandments. “Do this”, no explanation given. So, you made a declaration, but did not define how rights should work, or why they should work that way. On the other hand, I explained why and how, not simply make a declaration. This is the difference between doing and believing what you are told, or learning how to think for yourself.

          Also, no, I don’t think that a separate individual is “growing inside of her.” Its not separate. It is a part of her body and at that point only a potential human being. The zygote-embryo-fetus is no less a part of her body than ovum and sperm cells are part of our bodies, All have the potential for being born into the world as a human being.

          You didn’t give supporting reasons. Quote where you did. Now you have given reasons. Complexity is not unusual. Genetic complexity is in the ovum and the sperm gamete cells. The two DNA sets joined initiates a complex set of genetic instructions for initiating and directing the assembly process.

          By solely targeting “mom” (actually, women) for responsibilities around sex, you betray a biased and unfair notion for these responsibilities. This is why they ask for equal “rights”. Because they are singled out for responsibilities that are actually shared responsibilities, and have basic rights denied that men freely enjoy. If its not rape or incest then both sexes have responsibilities. You also forget pregnancies that threaten a woman’s survival, serious deformities of the embryo, lack of resources to support a child, and others. People take steps every day to prevent pregnancies. There is no assurance these will work. Humans are sex/romance/love beings, born to be that way . They have sexual and romantic needs, and will express those. Unplanned pregnancies will nevertheless happen. Why should women be singled out for loss of personal rights to make choices about what to do regarding their own bodies when accidents occur?

          1. Cevon 1:58 Well said. The notion that because women can have children and men can’t should be the basis for justifying the woman’s lower ability to support herself and her family is nonsense.

          2. Jonah

            Cevon – Thanks for the reply. I get the feeling you aren’t really reading my answers, though.

            As to #1, you quote me my exact quote I explained the context of in point two. I don’t know how else to explain that I was responding to Jon’s point and not making claims of what women want. If I knew what women wanted I’d have made a financial killing by producing that movie starring Mel Gibson! “Equality of women” is such a broad statement in relation to reproduction because the roles of the sexes are so different. These differences make “equality” meaningless in this context.

            We get somewhere with #2. ‘Control over one’s body’ is an equality issue we can compare to men. My argument is consistent, if not convincing to you, that once “C” starts growing inside mom, mom’s right to control her body is joined by the right of “C” to continue growing. Those competing rights are the reason why there is passionate disagreement about which right is greater.

            #3, I can continue to communicate with you the rights of the unborn as I see them with the whys, hows, and even an example this time.

            My DNA first existed at conception from my parents. I started to become uniquely me from that moment on. If in some parallel universe my parents had a million children, all million children would be genetically different.* In this universe, my parents had 2 other children. My brother and sister started to become uniquely them at conception, too. Clearly, that unique me, brother, and sister “C”s at that conception point were vastly different than all the other eggs and sperm from my parents.

            Furthermore, I have a three month old daughter, our first kid. I witnessed first hand an ultrasound at 18 weeks or so. Hands, feet, spine, etc. are present and clear. The doctors could push my wife’s belly a certain way to get the kid to move. Our doctors called it “our baby” from that first 8 week appointment. Pro-choice folks have to engage in so much terminology gymnastics to avoid calling it a baby, in my view, largely because acknowledging that elephant in the room hurts their case.

            Our little one had her own personality in the womb with her kicks at different things and could apparently start to recognize voices (so they said). To think that my wife had the “right” to snip that spinal cord for her bodily convenience is disturbing.

            To cavalierly say that 10, 20, 30 week “C” is just a “potential human being” like a sperm or an egg is not a very convincing argument. My daughter was quite a bit more complex at those points than a bit of sperm in some high school boy’s towel or the material in some woman’s monthly disposal. I don’t ask you to care about my family’s story, but each person here has a similar one.

            I’d rather have a society that celebrates the amazing joys of the motherhood process than one so “equal” that we skew the weighting of these rights away from the little ones.

            * Identical twins share DNA but still have differences, like fingerprints.

          3. Cevon Anderson

            Jonah–I somewhat get an understanding that you first believed that abortion was morally wrong via religious belief (was that a belief following detailed analysis, or an act of faith?), and then you began a search for evidence to confirm your belief; passing over any information you found that did not confirm the belief. That would be a process known as “confirmation bias” – a universal cognitive error. Its fairly easy to find information that seems to confirm a false preconception, by assembling an elaborate package of “facts” that has an appearance of truth. This cognitive error can be dangerous. When officers of the court do this (it begins as easily as a racial bias), innocent people can be sent to prison for decades or life, and even put on death row and eventually executed. I continually struggle to avoid this error of thought

            #1. – Your definition of the word equality as meaning no differences of the sexes is found nowhere else. That’s why I doubted you believed that, and that you were making a straw-man argument. Even in the Founding Documents of the United States it is clear that liberty is bound by capacity. Also, I disagree that sexual or reproductive differences make “equality” meaningless in this context. You misunderstood the meaning of Jon’s use of “equality of women”, which by its context was revealed as meaning the “equal rights” many women have asked for; though it would not be revealed in context to those who have never learned the history of women asking for equal rights. Equal rights to all – as established in The Founding Documents; including rights to privacy, autonomy, and liberty; liberty including: 1) a person’s innate capacity to act in society; 2) making decisions about the reproductive elements of one’s own body.

            So now that you know that Jon’s statement, was referring to growing support for women having equal rights: “While there might be some additional approval of the fetus as a human being [as a] political idea, there is also growing support for equality of women”, what would be your revised statement in place of: “If equality with men (as in no differences whatsoever) is the goal for women, then it is an inequality any time a woman gives birth or breast feeds”?

            You say the “roles” of the sexes are so different in reproduction. So let’s ignore any requests for equal rights? (Which definition of “role” are you using?) Yet, the women’s rights movement never requested a reexamination of reproduction, nor of “roles” within reproduction. They asked for equal rights, not necessarily equal reproductive “roles.” Example: the right to vote, a right men enjoyed having. The seed in the U.S. for the first Woman’s Rights Convention (including suffrage rights) was planted in 1840; and as of 1869 women in the Wyoming Territory could vote. The national women’s suffrage movement toiled on, and not until 1920 did Congress ratify the The Nineteenth Amendment granting women this equal right (a long time to suffer a withheld basic human right). The woman’s movement has advocated for equal pay for equal work – a type of an equal right. Similarly, the equal right to sole decision-making without interference, regarding control of one’s own body. The equal right of people of both sexes not to be forced to have sex. By the way, there is presently the equal right of men and women to take maternity leave. (see Europe)

            Regarding so-called “roles” in reproduction, women have, for example, never asked for the ability to lactate, as a right. That’s a biological fact. They have asked for the right to breast feed when necessary, even in public; or breast feed during a lengthy exam. This is just like other women and men in public having the right to do all the other various necessities of child-rearing. Breast feeding involves an uncovering process, since we wear clothes; not a covering process. Yet authorities tell women they must cover up in public while breastfeeding. That woman does not have an equal right, on par with the right to practice other necessities of child rearing – nor on par with other parents’ rights – to remain undisturbed from intrusions by authorities while caring for an infant, a child, in public.

            #2. – I don’t know if we got somewhere. I think control over one’s own body is an equal rights issue; both sexes having the same right to autonomous control.

            “C”, as a, genetic package-in-process, part of the woman’s body, has no more right to continue growing than a tumor has. There is no separate or second human. This part of her body only has potential to become a human, but is not yet a human – so, no rights are possible. As long as anyone believes that a non-human part of a woman’s body has “competing rights” with the human, then there is a threat posed to women having the same equal right to control their own bodies that men enjoy. That was why Jon said that the two are mutually exclusive. A sizable proportion of women will never accept such state control, and would work around it as best they could. This is similar to men, who would never accept the state forcing a vasectomy on them, or prohibiting them from having one. Its his body; his decision.

            #3. – I think each half of your two sets of your DNA joined at conception, but your two DNA halfs first existed with the birth of your mother, born with all the ovum she would ever have; each ovum genetically unique and each a potential human. The other half of your DNA first existed with the production of a genetically unique set of DNA in a sperm cell in your father’s body. The joining of the two half’s at conception only determined which genes of both sets would express and which would not. An ovum, a sperm cell, and a zygote are each completely unique and complex.

            You read too much into a doctor referring to an embryo as a baby. This is part of a method doctors use to communicate with patients. When they use correct technical terms they assume that you won’t understand these words and become confused, or misinterpret the message, and maybe be offended as a result of your misinterpretation. Physicians, therefore, substitute thousands of incorrect words that you are familiar with in place of technically correct words, hoping this will get you within the ballpark to understand. You are familiar with what a baby is, but most likely not what a fetus is. This isn’t a conspiracy within the group of people who support pro-choice. Secondly, because they keep hearing this incorrect term they will use it by habit, just as we use slang terms we dislike due to hearing these words so much. When people make a valid effort to stop habitually using an incorrect term, you then accuse them of mental gymnastics – a false accusation. If I sprinkle my sentences with “like” the way teenagers and adult adolescents do, does that mean I “acknowledge” it is a correct use of the word? I don’t think so. Every one of us has, in this way, incorrectly used words that damage our ability to express what we believe.

            If a fetus makes a different sound to different voices (or does one sound seem different at different times?), it is hard to know what that indicates? One thing is known, people substitute familiar models in attempts to understand the unknown, and some then declare it as true according to their model. Its similar to anthropomorphizing other animal species, inanimate objects, or come up with beliefs such as: God is three “persons”

            The point of my term, “potential human being”, was to indicate that this is not a human yet. It becomes human if it survives birth. Birth is not an arbitrary boundary. On a sidenote: we count our age from birth. This isn’t proof of anything, though it shows that anti-choice advocates would have to make alterations to traditional practices and concepts in order to support their arguments. Also, connections between neural tissue and other tissues, necessary for feeling pain or hearing sounds, do not begin to start until the fetus is at least 17 weeks. In the US, after 20 weeks there is only a tiny trickle of abortions until week 38. ‘Roe’ (1973) only guaranteed access to abortion during the first (12 weeks) – at the that time total viability of the fetus was at 28 weeks. Later (1992), ‘Casey’ changed Roe’s trimester framework to one based on fetus viability outside the womb. Advances in technology by 1992 had made complete viability possible at 22 or 23 weeks.

            Saying, “To think that [your] wife had the ‘right’ to snip that spinal cord”….is related to your opinions, and your experiences. Why should you be able to impose your opinion/belief on others? I think that with the new (as of 2011) universal availability of emergency postcoital contraception, your description will increasingly become anachronistic. Also, do you use this attitude of it “is disturbing” in connection with women who had to abort due to imminent threat to their lives? Its easy to morally judge; its harder to know about other people’s lives.

            Its not cavalier to refer to gestational week; even ‘Casey” put restrictions on ‘Roe’ based on gestational week. A women is not able to practice a mother role until the fetus leaves the womb and survives. Until then it is not a “one” or a “little one.” Its part of some other “one.” Use of vocabulary can not change the fact.

            I agree that identical twins share DNA but still have differences, but neither twin was assured as viable outside the uterus until they separated from the woman and survived as new human beings.

          4. Jonah

            Cevon – I concur with Jon on the thanks for the detailed, informative reply. It inspired me to do some more research.

            First, I’m very familiar with confirmation bias. That’s why I’m here! I’m engaging with people who have a different worldview. I’m exposing my views to the light of dissent, and I truly appreciate those who engage with me. If there are irrational positions I am taking, I can only hope they penetrate my thick noggin.

            I admit to some weaknesses Christians have. I admit that some Christians don’t take investigating their faith stance seriously, but that applies to all belief systems. There are brilliant inquisitive Christians and blindly accepting ones, just like atheists. The degree to which people challenge their foundations is not indicative of the strength of that foundation. Sure, more knowledge is better than less, but a simple acceptance of 2+2 = 4 doesn’t make that belief wrong. I admit that non-Christians not only are capable of leading moral lives, but they can also exhibit a higher degree of it. There are more examples I could list. I believe this self-critique demonstrates self-awareness.

            I challenge you, and all other believers in atheistic principles, to let go of your biases against Christians and rational thought. I believe the Jesus questions are better answered rationally through my worldview than any other explanation. I am continually willing to expose that worldview to counter arguments and facts that would more accurately describe the world. I wish y’all would drop your confirmation biases that a Christian worldview has to rely on “faith” instead of facts. Let’s debate the facts and may the worldview best representing truth prevail.

            Second, I have thoroughly explained my concept of rights in regards to abortion and the corresponding equality elements. I stand by all of my previous statements. We seem to be reaching the repeating ourselves point on much of it.

            Third, I was intrigued by your introduction of the Roe v Wade discussion, as the viability and gestational age elements sure seem to lead to a competing rights conclusion rather than an absolute pregnant woman’s rights conclusion. I read the Roe opinion (and Rehnquist dissent) in full. Thank you for your nudge in that direction, as it was almost a Eureka! moment. I’ve never realized before that there is a silver lining in one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in history. My views on the subject could have written about 80% of the opinion. (Who knew the Hippocratic Oath specifically condemned abortion? Yeah, ancient doctors!) The court just screwed up on their arbitrary conclusions made, which remain controversial today. The court essentially states that the “potential” life rights of the baby-to-be supersede the “privacy” rights of the pregnant woman at a certain gestational age, and the state can regulate at that point. Although I strongly disagree on the Court’s conclusion of when the unborn’s rights pass that of the pregnant woman, I support its implied conclusion of competing rights.

            If there were to be a scale of when “rights” are extended to “C,” they would range from your sperm(/egg) in some random (wo)man, of which I didn’t know anyone held that view, to at conception, to at the first trimester, to at the second trimester, to birth, to the extreme at the other end of a Gosnell-like post-birth abortion. That Roe decision might even be closer to my conception stance than your birth stance.

            Now, I also understand why you reject this competing rights issue so strongly. The right of the unborn is compelling, if allowed to be argued. Shutting down that debate is needed to support the pregnant woman’s autonomy. A recent political example of this was when Rand Paul called out Debbie Wasserman-Schultz on whether she is ok with aborting a full term 7-8 pound baby. She can’t say yes, because virtually the entire country rejects that morally, but she can’t say no, because that introduces the competing rights argument. More talk about the specifics of what happens in abortion is good for the pro-life side.

            Finally, I understand what you are saying on your side note on measuring age as of birth. It’s convenient. If that in any way is a pro-choice argument, I accept the natural comparison that every time you enter in a date, you are shortening off the A.D. at the end, a.k.a. Anno Domini, a.k.a. the year of our lord. Thanks for your Christian support!

          5. Jonah 1:28 Although I strongly disagree on the Court’s conclusion of when the unborn’s rights pass that of the pregnant woman, I support its implied conclusion of competing rights.

            That is a wonderful sentence and reflects an understanding of the dilemma I have never heard from another person who is strongly against abortion. The traditional position of the anti abortion lobby is that the fetus has rights but the mother does not. The mother gave up her rights when she allowed sex to happen. She should have recognized her rights would be taken from her when she consented to sex. It is this latter view that is now crowding into local governments and causing women to be arrested when some male law officers or officials perceives behavior thought to be harmful to the fetus.

            For abortions other than medical emergencies to by eliminated some solution must come along that deals with competing rights. Anti abortion politics makes absolutely no effort to look for such a solution. It’s not that there are absolutely no solutions. Even though there are often complex reasons for women seeking abortions, anti abortion political operatives could move their case off the zero peg by a.) recognizing the mother has competing rights and b.) offering up taxpayer funded compensation for giving up those rights.

            There is an explanation for why these two relatively simple solutions to the competing rights problem are not addressed by anti abortion operatives. It is because they crawled in bed with economic and social conservatives long ago when they should have been married to liberal political factions. Anti abortion politics is all about more government. The groups anti abortion political operatives have honeyed up to want less government. The two groups fit together like oil and water.

        5. Cevon Anderson

          “Cevon and Wolfy – You both come across as sharp people to me…”

          I don’t believe I ever wrote that there is “no uniformity in Christianity.” Please quote me. Though, I see lack of uniformity in various Bibles, contradictions, mostly in the Old Testament, and the Gospel changing/evolving over the millennia. I believe there is also uniformity, and it also stretches across the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The vast majority of the combined adherents of these religions take as faith (without question/examination, therefore, blind) that each has a holy book representing the word of God/Allah. That is not questioned. Even some of the Christianity adherents that practice making individual interpretations of the Bible, have done so only after accepting what they have been told, without questions (on faith), that these books are the word of God/Allah. They also believe without a question (on faith) the so-called “basic unifying principles” of their religions, the holy book writers’ interpretation of claimed events (e.g., divine conception, the resurrection, the holy trinity, prophet Mohammad’s words as direct word of Allah, Muslim martyr’s automatic entry into heaven or paradise). Freethinkers find this practice invalid, as those people are not thinking for themselves when they accept on faith what other people tell them; essentially there are no details to inspect in faith-based principles, nor is the knowledge accepted on faith thought to be a possible temporary understanding.

          Yes, I was using the word “instead”, indicating a contrast between people with faith as opposed to those who don’t practice faith. I didn’t say that once they have a faith that they are no longer able to use rational thought. But accepting on faith what they are told indicates that on that matter at least, they did not employ rational thought.

          Accepting what we’re told, related to religious dogma/principles, is deciding to believe without examining the claim. You therefore have chosen to believe what you have not inspected for yourself – “blind” (as a moniker for the unexamined). You accept on word that the basic unifying principles are true. You disregard any possible questions. Jesus said to be crucified and then arose three days later, but that’s funny; isn’t it ironic that the Sumerian goddess Inanna (pre-dating Judaism) was crucified and then arose from death? Then another irony; she arose after three days, just like Jesus. But you already decided that the resurrection you were told about is truth, so these clues will not turn any wheels in your mind.

          I didn’t say that your faith or the faith of anyone else is a last resort for psychological survival. I said I could see, in one case, how faith might be useful for psychological survival in times of desperation (or hopelessness). So you would not be able to flip that on me.

          I don’t have faith, because I question everything. I don’t even have faith in having rational thought, so I use metacognition (“cognition about cognition”, or “knowing about knowing”) exercises/practices to examine my own thoughts. One way of using this involves searching for various types of cognitive errors. Rational thinking is preceded by intentional exercises within metacognition. Practicing rational thought moves us closer to truth. I don’t have faith that I will be able to catch all errors. I don’t have faith that I will always have the energy to continue the rational thought tasks. I have temporary faith after I examine the fine details of new knowledge gained from the scientific process. This is because as scientific method practices continue, we gain further knowledge which may more clearly explain our current knowledge or reveal some of it as false. On the other hand religious adherents’ faith is more permanent; as faith based on the word of others alone and/or the written word of ancient story tellers (the so-called unifying principles from holy books; principles which are not questioned). This form of faith has no recognition that it may only be temporary.

          1. Jonah

            Cevon – I will question and examine this evidence with you every day and twice on Sunday, pardon my pun. No worldview in history has withstood a greater onslaught of attempts to disprove it than Christianity. If you are the one to finally find the breakthrough, please reveal! I’m not trying to be dismissive, but I’m just not getting any evidence that you have anything worth questioning or examining for me to show that I’m being irrational. (To be fair, “the Bible is true” is probably not new counter-evidence for you either. It has been an entertaining exchange, though.)

            We can go through biblical contradiction conspiracy theories one by one (lots say they have one, few provide any details) and the differences between Christianity and other Abrahamic belief systems (mainly, Christ), too. The totality of facts and experiences point me somewhere and point you elsewhere. My conclusion is irrational because someone told me how to think, and I blindly follow them. You are rational because your exercises make it so?

            Inanna’s your smoking gun? There was a recent rape story hoax out of the University of Virginia. Evidence came out that showed they were false claims. Does that somehow make someone actually raped also a hoax of a claim? Of course not. One story that has similarities with another story says nothing about the truth of either. If Inanna changed the world with a message, had a worldview that connected with people’s personal experiences in a way that no other has, had witnesses to the death and resurrection document the story, and have the story stand up to vigilant and determined opposition intent on disproving it, then we can start talking about how that accusation compares to Jesus. If Inanna is the breakthrough freethinkers have been waiting for to rock the Christian boat, then I guess we have smooth sailing ahead.

            You seem like a good man, Cevon. You have definitely made me think the last couple days. Even if the first intelligent thought that comes to my mind would be a lonely one, I appreciate you stirring the neurons around.

            Happy Labor Day to all.

          2. Jonah 3:27 but I’m just not getting any evidence that you have anything worth questioning or examining for me to show that I’m being irrational. (To be fair, “the Bible is true” is probably not new counter-evidence for you either. It has been an entertaining exchange

            I want to review the case of skeptics about Jesus. Speaking at for myself, and I think most skeptics, we are not saying we know for certain “Jesus of Nazareth” did not exist. I think it is correct to summarize that many aspects of the Jesus story, that he was a hugely popular figure, that he was removed from the cross and the body given to fans, that he came back to life, that he performed miracles are contrary to what has been what most secular scholars agree to be the general practices of the culture and government of that time and of laws of physics and biology as we know them today or that he died so sins are written off all lack corroborating sources is not “proof” all this did not happen. it is, however, a rational source of skepticism.

            You said you are not irrational to reach the same conclusion the Bible reaches. That is correct if you first assume there is an objective and systematic way to conclude the information in the Bible is historically correct. There are not independent sources to corroborate the Bible’s stories. Yet, it is rational to believe them to be true if one first assumes it is not necessary for independent corroborating sources.

            As I mentioned before, we are talking of the difference between probable events and possible events. All kinds of events are possible but not probable. It might be possible under some not yet know set of circumstances that a dead person came back to life after two or three days. It is not probable.

            All that said, we are in 99.999% agreement I would guess. We both might agree nearly all aspects of gods in general. Of the several thousands which have been worshipped we would agree all but one probably did not exist. Only on this one do we disagree.

          3. Jonah

            I agree with you on all but the last two sentences there, but overall, I’m very much with you.

            I admit that the thought of some person rising from the dead, on its own, is irrational. Other miracles Jesus performed are also not rational on their own. A miracle is not rational. Beating death is not rational.

            However, I conclude the Jesus story as a whole is not only rational, but as believable as anything I know, How? In brief, the Old Testament points to him in amazing detail, the entire story of sin and death and forgiveness and life matches my life experience better than another explanation. The reactions of those who interacted with him move me at a deep level that I don’t think a made up story can. The odds of this story being an elaborate hoax is more miraculous to me than the odds of it being true. The odds of the non-Christian sources who corroborate biblical people, places, and times, supports it for me.

            I love my wife. I believe she loves me. That isn’t rational, but I don’t think that makes those statements untrue. It’s very hard for me to believe we are all here by some combination of time plus matter plus chance. The very organized and intricate nature of our world reinforces that. Even the thought that science can be learned leads me to a creator.

            I want you to know I don’t think skepticism is stupid. All any of us can do is come to the best conclusions we can and be honest about it.

        6. Cevon Anderson

          There are ways to prove that Christian beliefs are false, similar to examining the records that reveal that Santa Claus and Christmas are not representative of the alleged birth of Jesus.

          December is the time of the Germanic tribes’ most important polytheistic (“pagan”) holiday, centering on the winter solstice. Yet, the Gospel tells us that shepherds were guarding their flocks in the open air when Jesus was born (at that time this was in late summer or the early fall). Santa’s flight through the sky is associated with the Germanic god Odin who, during the midwinter event of Yule, led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. Christmas gift giving is a remnant of the Roman pagan holiday of Saturnalia (Saturn, the god of time), and represents giving of wax figure gifts as a symbol of the human sacrifices during Saturnalia. Christmas caroling, the mummers during Saturnalia. The twelve days of Christmas derive from the Germanic pagan feast of the Twelve Nights (forces of nature warring together, personified as living beings in the form of giants and gods). Decorations and illuminations recall the temples of Saturn, radiant with burning tapers and resplendent with garlands.

          The process of meticulous examination of the origin of religious stories similarly demonstrate that these are a conglomeration of earlier human-created stories and myths. They betray their claim as new events. Deliberate alteration is discovered. Signs of evolution down through the centuries and millennial, which contradicts the claim that the originating story or claim was truth, before it was changed and altered.

          1. Jonah

            I find these pieces of info very interesting, Cevon. However, I’m not sure how to connect the secular / commercialization / customs of a holiday impact one’s worldview-forming understanding of the world.

            What I think about Christmas is contained in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Santa Claus has as much to do with Jesus as Presidents’ Day furniture store sales have to do about what I think about Abraham Lincoln.

  2. p

    “The real Jesus.”

    This language reminds me of a statement my evangelical neighbors made to me about living in Madison, WI … “we were the only true Christians in the city.”.

    Well, alrighty then! Some folks are just special and know the “real” Jesus and just generally know the truth. The rest of us don’t. End of story.

    Such arrogance!

    1. Jonah

      p, “true Christian” talk irritates Christians like me too. This “real” Jesus talk was in reference to a post from a few days ago about a long debate about whether Jesus existed historically or not.

      I don’t come here to feel better about myself by putting other people down. I’d hope there are better avenues in life than through anonymous blog replies for that.

      I’m searching for truth too, am willing to share what I’ve found works for me, and am willing to listen to others who believe they have found it.

      “Many who debunk traditional values have in the background values of their own which they believe are immune from debunking.” – CS Lewis

      Let’s have fun “debunking” each other, seeing what sticks and what doesn’t.

      If that’s arrogant, I apologize.

      1. Cevon Anderson

        It seems to me that if you have faith then you wouldn’t be bothered by anyone debunking traditional religious values. And if the Christian assortment of certain values and dogmas shared with other religions, as well as some which are unique, represent “traditional values”, then I think animism would be considered even more traditional.

        Of course we can’t forget that traditional values have included slavery, stoning, burning at the stake, genital mutilation, animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, and others.

        Also, I think that many/most people without faith are those who, instead, strive to use their minds for the greatest degree of rational thought individually achievable – a highly challenging task for anyone; involving great vigilance for cognitive errors. Does a goal to achieve high quality rational thought need debunking?

        1. Jonah

          Greetings Cevon, this is a fun one to respond to.

          “It seems to me that if you have faith then you wouldn’t be bothered by anyone debunking traditional religious values.” Yes, I have faith in Jesus. I am not bothered by anyone trying to debunk religious values. I would have a huge life-altering problem if someone debunked Christianity successfully.

          The traditional values I was referring to were the standard Christian interpretations. I didn’t mean the oldest or the worst.

          “Also, I think that many/most people without faith are those who, instead, strive to use their minds for the greatest degree of rational thought individually achievable – a highly challenging task for anyone; involving great vigilance for cognitive errors. Does a goal to achieve high quality rational thought need debunking?”

          First, you clearly have “faith.” You have faith in yourself and in your ability to think. How, in any way, does someone’s faith in Jesus prevent them from striving to use their minds to the greatest degree of rational thought achievable? How does that faith in Jesus prevent them from having great vigilance for cognitive errors?

          I enjoy an intellectual challenge. I seek truth and wisdom and knowledge like I’m assuming many others do here. Jon does a great job providing a forum for this kind of discussion. If you feel like you can successfully debunk Christianity, I wish you godspeed!, or feel free to use Cevon-speed or Darwin-speed or whatever other speed you wish.

          1. Cevon Anderson

            If there could be “standard Christian interpretations” (interpretations of what, I don’t know), then these can no more be protected as “traditional values” any more than any past or present traditional value. Warfare has been used to impose one culture’s values on another; physical force and violence has been used to impose some men’s values on women. Values which are claimed protected due to tradition or being “standard” are no more legitimate than other values.

            No, I have no faith in my ability to think. Quite the opposite. I employ rational thought exercises and strategies to check for my own mind’s cognitive errors, misconceptions, misinterpretations, altered memories, and so on. I study other people’s hypothesis to challenge my understandings and thoughts. I create hypothesis to debunk or prove wrong my own hypothesis. That is a humbling process.

            I don’t know who’s claim it was that someone’s faith in Jesus prevents them from striving to use their minds to the greatest degree of rational thought achievable, but it wasn’t mine. I asked what legitimacy there would be in debunking people’s use of high quality rational thought — to understand the world. That is what most freethinkers and atheists do.

            You say I claim faith in Jesus would prevent someone from having great vigilance for cognitive errors. Once again, I don’t recognize your interpretation/assumption of what I said. It would again be more the opposite. I think a failure to employ rigorous rational thought processes, including vigilance for our minds’ regular cognitive errors, would instead lead to merely accepting what we’re told — faith. That may or may not have any negative affect on anyone else. I for one, therefore, would not automatically blame someone just for choosing faith instead, nor do I think most freethinkers, atheists or agnostics do. But I think its laziness, ignorance, and/or go-with-the-herd mentality that prevents thinking by oneself. I suspect it may be a rational decision for some people to chose faith as a last resort necessary for psychological survival. Rigorous thinking involves questioning what we previously understood about reality. That strength may sometimes result in less stability, feeling of safety, than blind faith offers up.

          2. Wolfy32

            I agree Cevon. It’s not that faith doesn’t require thinking. Quite contrary it should require a lot more thinking. What I find issue with though is that since when do people need the church to tell them what to think, how to interpret the bible, and what to believe about the bible? Why can’t people think for themselves? Why do people need to pay pastors tell them what they can learn for themselves. And in all honesty, should learn for themselves as religion is a very private concept.

            But there’s less money and control of a population if people were to privately decide their beliefs and choose how they wish to worship for themselves.

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