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Why Religious Believers May Support an Irreligious Man

It has puzzled some that evangelicals and other religious people are supporting Donald Trump. He is twice divorced, boasts of many affairs, and seems to know nothing of scripture. In religious matters, he has reminded me of Rex Mottram, an industrialist turned politician and figure of fun in Brideshead Revisited, about whom it was said that “he has no religious curiosity or natural piety.”

But for those concerned about the religious rights, Trump’s indifference pales before Hillary Clinton’s hostility. Of course, Clinton does not say she is hostile, but her core beliefs and political coalition will collide again and again with religious liberty, as surely as have those of President Obama. It was his administration that filed an extraordinary amicus brief stating that churches should receive no more protection for their employment decisions than secular associations, despite the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses. It was his administration that has tried to force religious organizations to be complicit in advancing access to devices they deemed immoral, even though there were other ways of providing access.

There is every reason to believe that Clinton will continue to encourage government entrenchment on religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

First, Democrats on the West Coast, leading indicators of where Democrats go on cultural issues, are ramping up requirements that many religious believers in good conscience cannot fulfill, such as requiring all pharmacies to provide drugs regarded as abortifacients.

Second, at oral argument in the same-sex marriage cases, Solicitor General Verrilli made it pretty clear that once same-sex marriage was declared a constitutional right, that religious schools might well be forced to house same-sex couples in their dormitories. Thus, he signaled that it would be very difficult for religious denominations to keep practices consistent with their view of sexuality except in the sanctuary of religious services.

Ultimately the logical culmination of the Progressive view in these matters is to analogize opposition to permissive views on sexuality and indeed gender identity to racism. Thus, any practices outside of a church based on these views must expurgated, including in education, which is the crucial to transmission of religion from one generation to the next. It is not hard to imagine a second-term Clinton administration removing tax exemptions from colleges that have norms against same-sex conduct, as tax exemptions where removed from Bob Jones University based on its ban on interracial dating.

Given that views about the proper sexual relations have been important parts of religious teaching of many denominations for millennia, it is hardly surprising that many in these denominations see Clinton’s election as a grave threat to their religious practices and thus give their support to an irreligious man. They know Trump is not likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who will shrink the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or write regulations that put them to choice of giving up their practices or their tax exemptions. About Clinton, they know no such thing.

Reader Discussion

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on July 13, 2016 at 14:23:13 pm

Speaking for a civic people, who would like to establish a civic culture, the focus of civic morality is safety and security in the broadest terms for each person's life. Religious morality is for people who wish to accomplish a private goal, such as saving their soul in heaven or advancing in the next incarnation.

Spiritual concerns are precious, private pursuits, which no one would submit for civic collaboration. Those who do are slaves to their beliefs, which they would impose on others.

Therefore, spiritual concerns should be kept private--in the mind, in the closet, in the home, and in the church or equal. But not in civic forums. Civic forms are to save lives, leaving souls for precious private pursuits for believers only. This has been known since Machiavelli wrote about it 500 years ago.

Perhaps Trump is a civic man, who would help 65 % of We the People of the United States adopt the civic contract (stated in the preamble to the constitution for the USA) for the first time.

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Phil Beaver
on July 14, 2016 at 11:19:07 am

[T]he logical culmination of the Progressive view in these matters is to analogize opposition to permissive views on sexuality and indeed gender identity to racism.

Exactly right.

Thus, any practices outside of a church based on these views must expurgated….

Exactly wrong. Don’t like the idea of stigmatizing religious discrimination to the same extent that we now stigmatize racial discrimination? Fine. Then the remedy is to ease up on stigmatizing racial discrimination. And arguably this is part of Trump’s agenda.

After all, why should Bob Jones University have to endure a regulatory regime that other religious schools don’t? It shouldn’t. So let’s change the rules that apply to religious schools generally. Or let’s change the rules that apply to BJU. But let’s have equality under the law.

What I do NOT favor is the policy implied by McGinnis that would grant favored status to popular forms of discrimination while maintaining a punitive regulatory regime on the unpopular forms. That’s invidious discrimination, pure and simple.

I’m reminded of the current Republican bill in the House that would remove liability from businessmen who refuse to provide commercial services in conjunction with a gay wedding—but not for any other act of conscience. This is akin to saying, “Because we love religious liberty, we are subsidizing crosses for everyone—including Jews!” That’s not love of liberty; that’s love of hierarchy, provided that you’re at the top of it.

Remember the words of Antonin Scalia in Cruzan v. Missouri Dept. of Health (1990): “Our salvation is the Equal Protection Clause, which requires the democratic majority to accept for themselves and their loved ones what they impose on you and me.”

Let freedom ring, baby.

Perhaps Trump is a civic man….

Nah; apparently he’s more into Mercedes.

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nobody.really
on July 14, 2016 at 17:20:27 pm

Of course, your entire argument falls apart should it be determined that gender *issues* are not on par with racial issues. Nobody.really believes that they are!

I thought that under the current dogma sexuality and gender are objects of " PERSONAL CHOICE." Race (whatever it IS) is inherited. (Of course, there was that woman from Eastern Washington - so perhaps, we are also to believe that race is a matter of choice). Da ya think there might be some difference here?

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gabe
on July 14, 2016 at 17:53:56 pm

I thought that under the current dogma sexuality and gender are objects of ” PERSONAL CHOICE.”

You thought wrong. What else is new?

I don't regard these variables as a matter of personal choice any more than I regard faith as a matter of personal choice. True, perhaps we cannot devise a test whereby an outside party can discern the sincerity of a person's protestations. On that basis, you are free to express skepticism about anyone's and everyone's statements about themselves--and when those statement seem especially self-serving, I might share your skepticism. But when they don't seem especially self-serving, I generally take people at their word.

So when I meet someone who characterizes herself as a Jewish female, I probably won't publicly contest the matter unless and until I can discern badges of fraud. I suppose I could respond by saying, "But you're not really Jewish, are you? I mean, you're merely choosing to say that, right?" But if I make a habit of casually dismissing and belittling people's statements about themselves, I expect I'd run out of friends pretty soon. And I'm a sufficiently social animal that this would deter me.

But you? Perhaps not.

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nobody.really
on July 15, 2016 at 11:17:26 am

Race (whatever it IS) is inherited. (Of course, there was that woman from Eastern Washington – so perhaps, we are also to believe that race is a matter of choice).

Depends on what you mean by race.. And, again, what you mean by choice.

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nobody.really
on July 15, 2016 at 12:31:54 pm

Then perhaps I am not the only one who is subject to "wrong thinking"

Many of the spokespeople for the "new sexuality" movement have made this claim. Perhaps, you should address your comments to them. I am simply repeating what they have said.

And you probably are quite the "social animal" apparently going along with all that is socially fashionable these days.
Me, I prefer living in my shuttered basement and opening the casement windows only to shoo away the neighborhood kids and dogs - Oh and Leftists!

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gabe
on July 15, 2016 at 13:04:16 pm

BTW: I am well aware of the problems associated with, or attendant upon, racial classification. It is both elastic and somewhat amorphous. Then again, it is simply another indication of the hubris of the "scientific mind" that it asserts that which is not truly certain of, nor that fits into its own prescribed rules of certainty. Then again< i am not the one raising cries of racism. Heck, if we can not define it correctly, if it is not reducible to classification, then perhaps we should focus on some other factors.
You can pick 'em!

Still one must admit that one is born "something" and that something is not changeable. We are not here speaking of cultural characteristics but something genetically ordained.
It is not clear that this is the case for the "new sexual types" and it was not long ago that in an attempt to get the American Psychiatric Association to change the classification of homosexuality, etc from a disease to something else, it was rather forcefully argued that it was a choice. The same has been said by LGBT types.
Who the hell am I to argue with them? nobody really believes that they would listen to me anyway.

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gabe
on July 15, 2016 at 14:41:33 pm

to nobody.really says

Many of your thoughts seem consistent with a civic culture based on personal collaboration for real-no-harm (RNH) private liberty with civic morality--strange as those words and phrases may seem to some readers. Laws would be needed only for civic moralities that are frequently ignored. For example, there's no need for a law about queuing to present tickets to the symphony hall, yet there is, for now, a need to fine red-light runners. (Driver-less cars might eventually eliminate red lights.)

I am most interested in your statement,

I don’t regard these variables as a matter of personal choice any more than I regard faith as a matter of personal choice.

How is “faith” inherited rather than inculcated? But first: what’s faith?

If the reader takes "faith" to mean religion, your statement might seem to imply that most people inherit (rather than adopt) the religion of dad and mom or mom and dad, as the case may be. It comes from the genes. (This point contains the assertion that even the mom and dad who attend the same church each has a unique faith and the progeny inherit a preference for either the mom's faith-details or the dad's faith-details. The progeny’s sex brings in another variable in this line of thought.)

A few years ago, when I realized some readers could take my “faith” statements to indicate a religion, I stopped using "faith," in that context. Rather than "I have faith in . . . ", as before, I now write: I trust in and am committed to the objective truth of which most is undiscovered and some is understood. Representing my trust and commitment requires the entire sentence. For example, we don't know if there is extraterrestrial intelligence (not excluding a god), but we understand the Earth is like a globe.

Yet, I would not lessen a person's RNH faith. If a person effects harm, let civic law (not opinion-based law such as Christian law or Sharia law) deal with the harm regardless of the faith, but make certain a civic culture does not condone the faith that inspired the person to cause harm. The American Civil War is an example of an attempt to settle opinion-based Christian harm.

In this regard, people who were once my friends I now regard as RNH acquaintances and fellow citizens. This unfortunate connection exists because they consider me a person they'd rather not talk to, and some say so. However, my view is that my life was improved when this person, born Protestant, fell in love with a serenely confident woman. She has deep interest in safety and security (in the broadest terms) for every person and every civic circumstance. Also, she is a person with abiding faith in Louisiana-French-Catholicism as she sees it; that is not a popish faith. I would not change one physical or psychological element of this precious person and thereby have learned to appreciate every person’s RNH private pursuits

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Phil Beaver
on July 15, 2016 at 14:43:39 pm

Sorry: is misused an editorial device. Everything after "How is “faith” inherited rather . . ." is my text.

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Phil Beaver
on July 15, 2016 at 16:33:05 pm

I don’t regard these variables as a matter of personal choice any more than I regard faith as a matter of personal choice.

[Y]our statement might seem to imply that most people inherit (rather than adopt) the religion of dad and mom or mom and dad, as the case may be. It comes from the genes.

No, no, my meaning is simpler than that. By faith, I merely refer to whatever you happen to believe. And I mean to suggest that we sometimes draw conclusions that we don’t like, and we generally can’t alter that simply via force of will. It doesn’t mean that the beliefs were imposed upon me by genetics.

If I stumble upon my wife and neighbor having sex, that will cause me to draw some conclusions about the nature of my relationships with each of them. I won’t like that conclusion; I may wish I could draw a different conclusion. But my willpower will likely be insufficient to overcome my reasoning capacity.

There’s a joke about the Western journalist attending the grand opening of a new Soviet facility build in classic brutalist style. Two guards stand at ridged attention at the door. The journalist, wildly unimpressed, asks one of the guards, “So … this is the big, new facility that the leaders have been telling us about, huh?”

“YES. IT IS.”

“Wow. You must be so proud.”

“YES. WE MUST.”

The joke here is that the guard is playing into our stereotype of a Soviet flunkie: Someone who has surrendered to the state so thoroughly that he no longer acknowledges exercising independent judgment. I speculate that such people scarcely exist; that people can feign total agreement with their superiors, but they can’t actually eliminate conflicting perspective within themselves even if they’d want to.

So when I say the people don’t pick their faith, I mean that we can’t alter our beliefs through an act of will. We can suppress our beliefs—and suspect we all do, to some extent. And we can distract ourselves from things that give us cognitive dissonance so as to reduce the discomfort. But I suspect our candid conclusions live on within us, regardless of what we do. As Alfred Korzybski said, “God may forgive us our sins—but our nervous system won’t.” Cognitive dissonance will out.

Now, doubtless some psychologist could point to research about motivated reasoning to make the argument that we really do choose our beliefs; that we can so successfully suppress beliefs that lead to cognitive dissonance that we effectively erase them. And if I become persuaded of that perspective, then I’ll believe that. What choice would I have?

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nobody.really
on July 15, 2016 at 17:26:26 pm

nobody:

Sensible comments in reply to P. Beaver:

Yet:

"But I suspect our candid conclusions live on within us, regardless of what we do."

Plausible on the surface and possibly generally true - BUT
would you not agree that it is rather pessimistic view of humanity. I am not invoking Saul on the road to Damascus here, but surely you would allow for the possibility that a human being is in fact QUITE capable of changing, sometimes radically, his or her belief system AND acting accordingly.
It may be that those who behave with the zealotry of the newly converted may, indeed, be suffering from the cognitive dissonance to which you refer but surely you recognize that many people have had changes of mind / heart without suffering such a pyschic dysfunction. This would lead one to conclude that beliefs are susceptible to the effects of both reason and experience.

In your view, a man smitten with a tinge of racism, will always be a racist (deep-down inside) or will always be misogynistic.
Oh ye of little faith, I think someone once said - ha!!! (whether inherited or acquired).

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gabe
on July 15, 2016 at 18:07:45 pm

[T]he hubris of the “scientific mind” that it asserts that which is not truly certain of, nor that fits into its own prescribed rules of certainty.

As far as know, the “scientific mind” can only assert what it is not truly certain of, because the scientific mind knows of no other topics. To have a scientific mind means to stand willing to revise your conclusions on the basis of new evidence or analysis—in other words, to hold pretty much all ideas as uncertain.

I cannot think of a circumstance in which the scientific method proved anything. Rather, we use the scientific method to test (and potentially disprove) things. But the fact that we have not yet disproved a theory does not equal proof. Newton’s Laws of Motion passed centuries of tests—only to fail when we gained the capacity to test them under previously unachievable circumstances (the VERY small and fast, and the VERY large and remote).

Consider the words of Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman from The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964), Volume I, 1 1, Introduction:

Each piece, or part, of the whole nature is always an approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected…. The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth.”

[I]f we can not define [racism] correctly, if it is not reducible to classification, then perhaps we should focus on some other factors.

Perhaps. But beware the trap of confusing racism with race.

Imagine we had a stack of photographs of people sitting in front of us, along with a score sheet. We each write down the race of the person in Photo 1, then Photo 2, then Photo 3, etc. Then we compile all of our judgments. If it turns out that a statistically significant proportion of us all agree that Photo 1 depicts a black man, then we have evidence that the category “black man” has meaning that transcends merely one individual perspective. We might still lack a definition for that meaning, but that would not alter the conclusion that we share a common understanding. And if we discover that people treat those labeled “black” differently than those labeled “white, then we’d have evidence that people’s behavior correlates with labels such as black and white. Again, we would not need to define the words “black” or “white” in order to demonstrate this proposition.

[O]ne must admit that one is born "something" and that something is not changeable. We are not here speaking of cultural characteristics but something genetically ordained.

I disagree. I don’t have to admit anything. I have the right to remain silent. It is only if I waive that right that you can use anything I say against me in a court of law. :-)

But more to the point, I challenge the statement that one is born “something.” Counterintuitive, I know—but hear me out.

First, I don’t mean to deny that people lack attributes. Indeed, I would encourage a focus on attributes. And I would discourage a focus on categories.

So you might say, “One is born with skin.” Fair enough; that looks like an attribute to me. And I wouldn’t fault you saying, “One is born black,” if you mean to suggest that a person has the color of a black hole and lacks the capacity to reflect light. But if by black you mean to refer to a category, then things get tricky. ‘Cuz categories do not necessarily reflect the attributes of the elements within them; often, they reflect the human mind’s inability to cope with the world’s complexity, and thus its need to create a simplified model for cognitive reasons. In a meaningful sense, categories do not reflect the world; they reflect a coping mechanism.

In particular, I sense that evolution has favored minds that constantly scan the environment looking threats and opportunities—including, in particular, opportunities to procreate. Thus, evolution may have designed us to be hyper-aware of the presence of apparently fertile mates.

But the fact that evolution makes us prone to draw certain conclusions does not necessarily render those conclusions accurate or adaptive to EVERY circumstance. After all, I suspect that evolution causes us all to perceive certain optical illusions in the same way. We all acknowledge that shaded images on a 2-dimensional sheet of paper lack three dimensions, even if they LOOK as if they have three dimensions. We all share the same faulty thought pattern.

So, while evolution may equip us with minds that prove to be adaptive for MANY circumstances, they may prove to be maladaptive for some. And to minimize the chance of falling into error (“cognitive bias”), I find it useful to eschew categories were possible and instead focus on attributes.

Instead of asking, “Is this person male?” figure out what information you actually need. Do you need to know if this person poses a physical threat? Whether this person has the capacity to reproduce with fertile people with eggs? Could you extract a prostate from this person’s cadaver? Etc.

In short, no, one is not born something. You are born with attributes--and then people will build mental models of the world in which they slot you into a category for ease of their own analyses. The categories may say nothing about you, and merely say something about the hopes and fears of the categorizer.

It is not clear that this is the case for the "new sexual types" and it was not long ago that in an attempt to get the American Psychiatric Association to change the classification of homosexuality, etc from a disease to something else, it was rather forcefully argued that it was a choice. The same has been said by LGBT types.

Perhaps so; the world contains a lot of people, so it would not surprise me to learn that someone, somewhere, said that.

But having said that, *I* don’t know of any of these people. So to the extent you want to rely on what someone else has said, I encourage you to actually find a source and quote it. Heck, that’s what Google’s for!

I don’t mean to suggest that you’re intentionally deceiving anyone. But we’re all prone to misunderstanding and misremembering things. We may observe something and recall that we observed it, yet overlook some aspect of it because at the time, we placed no importance on that aspect. When we come to appreciate new distinctions, we must then reevaluate old conclusions.

Hey—thought du jour.

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nobody.really
on July 15, 2016 at 22:22:26 pm

to nobody.really says re July 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Again, I relate to your comments, especially,

So when I say the people don’t pick their faith, I mean that we can’t alter our beliefs through an act of will. We can suppress our beliefs—and suspect we all do, to some extent. And we can distract ourselves from things that give us cognitive dissonance so as to reduce the discomfort. But I suspect our candid conclusions live on within us, regardless of what we do. As Alfred Korzybski said, “God may forgive us our sins—but our nervous system won’t.”

Belief is a word I don't use on my own, because it seems to imply, "I am too rushed to wait for the objective truth, so I'm going to act on my beliefs." I don't think I know enough to act on my beliefs, so wait until I know how to act. However, below, I am going to employ "belief" your way. A friend once asked, "Phil, do you believe in love?" I responded, "Good question. I think appreciation comes before love." If there is anything I believe in, it might be humble appreciation.

In my life story, using your words, my belief in the objective truth surfaced when I was an adolescent, but I suppressed it to comport to Mom and Dad's beliefs. If I had fallen in love with one of the Protestants I courted without success, I probably be a happy Protestant today, still bemused by Bible interpretation I pursued for some three decades. As a chemical engineer, I was exposed to perhaps forty persons with real-no-harm ethnicity that differed from Mom and Dad's. I could not justify questioning their beliefs in order to propose that they consider Jesus. Rather than use that observation to help me discover myself, I ignored the implications. I also read literature about classical personal liberty within societies and it answered questions about dissonance between Mom and Dad. None of that empowered me to articulate belief in the objective truth. However, the struggle to fully appreciate my wife's beliefs, entrenched in Louisiana-French-Catholicism, helped me articulate (discover) this person who is named Phil Beaver. I no longer wish to impose my beliefs on anyone, and would share my wish with Mom and Dad. Let's provide each other civic morality and let each person discover his or her spiritual morality.

One other line of thought your post brought to mind has to do with the first, yet omitted, of the eight deadly errors: gullibility. More than anything else, a child is endowed with gullibility respecting what Mom and Dad teach. By age ten, the child should have essentially detached from Mom and begin to notice that other people also are developing personal autonomy. In another couple years, the fact that peers also have personal autonomy, can lead to collaborative authenticity. A sense of humility may emerge, and if it is strong enough, it can help the person overcome the gullibility of youth, without bitterness toward any of the impediments to comprehension and understanding.

Then, the person may discover that the key to life is fidelity, but that life is full of physical and psychological traps. And when a civic person--someone who is believed in--is unfaithful to reality, self, family, or the people, count it as an illness, much like cancer or heart disease until proven otherwise. Thus, ask the communists why private liberty is not important to them--perhaps they did not know it is possible. And find out how the wife and neighbor connected before filing for divorce. I did not pick my belief in my wife, and if it was threatened, I would not give it up easily.

I do not give up friendships and acquaintances but must accept it when someone decides not to converse. Yet, there's no need to stop expressing and appreciating. It's good for the nervous system.

I'm going to explore your next post and may comment, but not tonight. More collaboration on this thread would be appreciated.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 07:42:22 am

to nobody.really says, July 15, 2016 at 6:07 pm

“When we come to appreciate new distinctions, we must then reevaluate old conclusions.”

One view of a “scientific mind” is represented in Albert Einstein’s speech, “The Laws of Science and the Laws of Ethics,” 1941, copied at https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/my-friend-einstein . I have read and admired that essay for over ten years, and I cannot bring myself to quote it for you out of caution that I might limit the beauty your mind may find, so please reread it. He seems certain in his last sentence: “Truth is what stands the test of experience.”

In my work, I see evidence that in his continuing collaboration with the public debate titled "science v religion," it may not have occurred to Einstein that physics, the object, is more important than science, the study. He was well aware of superseded hypotheses like phlogiston to support combustion, but did not imagine a way to avoid public doubt instilled by the continual correction process that is a first principle of the scientific method.

Physics, rather than a study, is the object: energy, mass and space-time, from which everything on Earth emerges, including lies (Einstein’s only example of his premise in the quoted article). Biology derives from physics but study methods are specialized, so it is a separate “science.” Societies are distinguished by human opinion, so there is a study specialty, “social science.” Religion builds theory on a hypothesis, regardless of experience.

If we think about the object of study rather than the study method, we can simplify rational thought about physical and psychological issues for humankind. For example, there is a god hypothesis. As you point out, in the scientific process, a hypothesis is not negated by failure to disprove it. Therefore, the god hypothesis remains an entity. However, no god theory has proven beneficial to mankind, so the theories humans have constructed on the god hypothesis remain art forms a person may or may not take interest in. But it is objectionable for one person to attempt to impose his or her preference in an art form or a specimen in that field of art. One person’s comfort with his/her beliefs does not justify imposition on people who do not hold those beliefs.

There is a hypothesis that variations in physics’ progenies—biology and psychology—motivate a man to prefer being a woman. It is possible the man is not being willful. But it is objectionable for a man to impose his presence in a place reserved for women’s privacy. One person’s comfort with gender preference does not justify imposing that preference on people who deserve privacy.

Respecting scientific proofs, we know that oxygen supports combustion rather than phlogiston is released; the Earth revolves around the Sun; LIGO turned Einstein’s general theory of relativity into a law of physics. See https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/news/ligo20160211 . Newton’s laws were shown to be special cases rather than negated. To say that the scientific method is uncertain is to assume that discovery is unnecessary: humankind should know the indisputable facts of reality without a process. Perhaps the fallacy is that certainty is required. Perhaps humankind needs to behave to the best of its existing knowledge yet never stop discovering the reality. Or change the viewpoint: Physics is certain, and humankind is doing the noble work to discover, comprehend, and understand the indisputable facts of reality.

Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes inform us that everyone alive today is a descendant from a man and a woman (not necessarily a couple) that lived about 140,000 years ago. See http://www.livescience.com/38613-genetic-adam-and-eve-uncovered.html . Our differing characteristics (attributes) are a result of genes and environment--or ancestral migration relative to the equator, diet, culture, and trade. See http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics/human-skin-color-variation/modern-human-diversity-skin-color but more importantly http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1567/1080 .

Some members of humankind have evolved to a way of living that seeks real-no-harm (RNH) private liberty with civic morality (PLwCM). A society that is approaching PLwCM has safety and security in the broadest terms. (However, governments prevent even the best societies from achieving PLwCM. And within the best societies there are dissidents.)

Societies that are isolated (by circumstance or by choice) and have not adapted to modern living are still people and within them, there may be variations in goodwill that correspond to the variations within a modern society. Yet the overall culture is attractive or not depending on security that empowers PLwCM. A person who avoid cultures that do not offer safety and security, much less PLwCM, is not acting on race. It gets back to your questions, such as, “[does] this person [pose a] threat?” And avoidance is motivated by risk aversion rather than fear.

If the culture does not normally provide safety and security, a person is not obliged to connect, yet if he or she happens to connect with someone from that culture who seeks and would collaborate for PLwCM, collaboration may start.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 10:48:09 am

Nobody:

Quite good actually and a post with which I am in substantial agreement.

Funny, isn't it how one can form an opinion and later find that it may be somewhat offbase. I was going to argue that in some respects you, at times, are subject to *categorical* thinking; yet, here you are expounding, quite saliently against such a form of thinking.

Thus, I have changed an opinion formed from additional experience.
Would this not cause you to reconsider your earlier comment regarding human's inability to *truly* change, to make adjustments in their perception (perhaps, *construction* is a more appropriate term) of the world?
Categorical thinking, as you say, is an adaptive mechanism for the more basic tasks of human existence (defense, flight, procreation [perhaps]). Yet there is a higher order of human life, that aspect of man that seeks to understand and comprehend his / her existence. At first instance, it *may* seem as if the Ideal categories of the Ancients would be a useful tool in our understanding. Yet, we know, again from simple experience, that this is not so. It is at best a useful mechanism, a shortcut, a means of a not fully refined language that "hints" at reality. Given such a limited state, how could we ever have expected to advance?

Yet, advance we have. Unlike you, I would contend that the ability of humans to transcend their self created (or culturally shared) categories is not only real but far more widespread than it would initially appear. In this we differ. Perhaps, you (or I) can overcome our apparent "categorizing" about categories.

Your example of race / skin etc. is spot-on and one close to my own understanding. Then again, I do not particularly like *redheads* - who the heck knows why - yet I have not, as of yet, been deemed a "reddist" or as Seinfeld would say an "anti-dentite." So something more is afoot here with the concept of race / skin color. Again, it is the maladaptive aspect of categorization.

Yet, I believe, or at least hold out hope, that over time many will learn to recategorize at a minimum and perhaps eventually dispense with those maladaptive forms of perception. You do not appear to be so inclined - or at least not as hopeful.

"I don’t mean to suggest that you’re intentionally deceiving anyone."

NOPE - I am just too damn LAZY to look it up AND I often make the mistake that others have read / observed the same things as I have. Heck, now there I go slipping back into categorization again- ha!!!!!

take care and really good comments.
Do try to be a little more *optimistic* about all us knuckleheads out there -0 we are capable of reasoned and reasonable change. (Heck, I even opened the basement window and did not yell at the neighbor's kid on my lawn this morning - now that's change you can believe in).

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gabe
on July 16, 2016 at 11:31:18 am

All that being said, there IS a distinct difference between race and transgenderism in terms of categorization.

Categories, while being somewhat elastic, are nevertheless, not completely open to infinite variation from the norm. No two apples are the same - even those of the same family may taste and appear different. Yet, we would not go so far as to say that a red woodpecker is an apple simply by virtue of coloration.
This affronts human sensibilities / cognition.

So too when we confront those who would attempt to utterly dispense with certain categories (and one that you rightly point has to do with basic human instinctual drive for procreation). A biologically endowed male, no matter what accoutrements of femaleness he may apply or wear is NOT a female. To accept this would be to deny that categories, of any type, have any value. Again, how elastic may a category be before it ceases to have any value.

Oops gotta run - wife needs swing instruction before her Golf Club Championship.

seeya

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gabe
on July 16, 2016 at 12:35:45 pm

Speaking for a civic people, the human category is superior to all others, so what's true for birds may not hold for humans.

The human body with mind comprises a person.The person has awareness, sentience, reason and imagination, which empower discovery and thereby comprehension and understanding.

The perfected human is like a god. Some humans imagine a god and give the god attributes in their own image but without the expectation of death. The reality, ultimately discoverable or not, may be that human perfection is noticeable by the combination of experience/observation plus death.

The human who senses that psychology is more important than body respecting gender and he/she prefers a gender different from his/her body has a personal opinion that other humans cannot deny. However, civic morality requires private liberty respecting gender preference, because civic liberty jeopardizes private morality when the psychological preference changes, as opinions do.

This reasoning seems to fit well with civic morality based on the indisputable facts of reality, but I am not certain.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 13:44:04 pm

[W]e can’t alter our beliefs through an act of will. We can suppress our beliefs—and suspect we all do, to some extent. And we can distract ourselves from things that give us cognitive dissonance so as to reduce the discomfort. But I suspect our candid conclusions live on within us, regardless of what we do.

[W]ould you not agree that it is rather pessimistic view of humanity?

SERIOUSLY?

First, no: I would actually characterize this as an optimistic view of humanity, in what it says about justice. It says that we cannot escape our honest conclusions, even when it would be expedient for us to deny them. When Chris Christie publicly backs Donald Trump, his blood pressure cannot help but rise. He is literally shortening his own lifespan. If that isn’t a cause for optimism, what is?

Second, I mean to say that what we like or dislike ultimately does not determine what we believe. So I hope you see the irony when you respond by saying “Yeah, I agree—but I don’t like that conclusion!”

I am not invoking Saul on the road to Damascus here, but surely you would allow for the possibility that a human being is in fact QUITE capable of changing, sometimes radically, his or her belief system AND acting accordingly.

What a FACINATING example you’ve (not) chosen to illustrate your argument!

The conventional New Testament narrative says that Saul experienced divine revelation, and changed as a result. If you subscribe to this view, then no, this does not rebut my thesis. Sure, Saul changed—but not as an act of will, but in response to new data. I don’t mean to argue that people can never change. I mean to dispute the idea that people change because they choose to change, rather than change because they confront new facts or arguments that they find more compelling than the old facts and arguments.

But if you reject the idea of supernatural intervention, then what to make of Saul’s change?

The easy answer would be that Saul had received new information—in particular, he witnessed the trial and execution of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs—and Saul may have simply required time to process this new information before he came to a new worldview. Saul’s “revelation” was simply his conclusion that he was behaving like a dumbass on the road to Damascus.

A more complicated thesis could be found in Freudianism. We might postulate that I do not have honest opinions that I occasionally suppress when I find it convenient to do so. Instead, I have multiple aspects to my personality. Some aspects seek to live authentically and express candid views. Other aspects seek to pursue goals, and suppress behaviors that could conflict with that objective. And some aspect of my personality performs executive functions, determining which aspects to express at any given time.

So Saul might sincerely have wished to embrace a worldview that he learned Christ had advocated. And Saul might also have sincerely wished to please the Roman authorities that employ him. Neither of these aspects of his personality is insincere. But Saul’s executive function gradually shifted from giving one aspect greater control to giving the other aspect greater control.

In your view, a man smitten with a tinge of racism, will always be a [racist man].</blockquote

Not so! As I say, people can change. He could become a racist woman. :-)

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nobody.really
on July 16, 2016 at 14:55:56 pm

(OK, back - Let us hope that, while both my swing prescriptions and my political prescriptions are both free, the swing instructions are somewhat more effective.)

Let us look at first things (said Hannibal Lecter to Clarise Starling): What is the purpose of categories. Is it not to establish or define a *norm*? We agree that these categories are elastic within certain parameters. Yet within those parameters, we can assert that there is some normative condition that obtains which places the object within the category. One must ask, a) at what point does the absence of certain of those defining characteristics / attributes move the object outside of the category and b) what then becomes of the normative condition?

Open to debate, of course; and clearly, we would both agree that some norms, being the product of maladaptive categorizations OUGHT to be dispensed with. Yet: are there not some norms / categories that are not so subject to *preference* that they can, and again, ought to, withstand the tests of time of social fashion.
Some of us would contend that gender is one such category - as is the apple vs woodpecker conflation I mention above. In this case someone is both as "something" - DNA would clearly indicate that the biological gender assignment is something more than simple genitalia. Conclude from this what ever you may wish but ones DNA is the normative inducing element here.
Take your hypothetical from above concerning your wife and your neighbor: What if it turned out that another neighbor presented "her"self to you. Upon near consummation, you find that she was a he. Would you not feel betrayed? would you not think -" gee, this is clearly not normal." There is something false about this encounter and you know this without needing recourse to DNA testing. Why - because it is a corruption of the norm, is it not?

I suspect that we need to be a bit more *tolerant* of certain norms. This does not mean being (as Phil likes to suggest) anything but civil to such persons; but it also does not mean that I must accept such a broad exception to the general normative categories.

Anyway: as to science.

With respect to the definition of the scientists tasks - we are in complete agreement. My shorthand comments left something out. What I find contentious about the scientific mind is that although it knows, and by definition, it must deal with uncertainty, it is the *posture* that science far too often takes; and that is a posture of certitude.

It is as if modern scientists (and their acolytes) have appropriated another famous man's postulate (whom I am again to lazy to look up): " Act as if you have faith and it will be given to you"
For modern science the modus operandi would appear to be: Act as if you have total faith and it will be given to THE MASSES. (Heck, we may even end up believing it ourselves think they!)

So perhaps, science also perpetuates false categorizations and norms in the same manner that social customs have done so. Many in that community will brook no "elasticity" in observation or conclusions.

Ahh! we are indeed a sorry lot, we humans. We are lost and getting "lost-er" as all norms appear to be ripe for obfuscation / destruction.

anyway, take care, I have a normative condition on a Lionshead Maple tree that I seek to alter.

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gabe
on July 16, 2016 at 17:33:03 pm

Someone posted a comment that refers to a Phil. The comment, quoted below seems to say that Phil likes to suggest being civil.

This Phil would not suggest being civil, unless the norm referred to is culture of private liberty with civic morality or equal. He would suggest being civic. The difference is that being civil means tolerating the other person. Civic persons collaborate rather than either tolerate or cooperate.

I suspect that we need to be a bit more *tolerant* of certain norms. This does not mean being (as Phil likes to suggest) anything but civil to such persons; but it also does not mean that I must accept such a broad exception to the general normative categories.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 17:35:29 pm

Forgive me. I want to try the HTML again.

This is a test.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 17:36:59 pm

Another test.

Second test.

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Phil Beaver
on July 16, 2016 at 21:06:23 pm

"Not so! As I say, people can change. He could become a racist woman. :-)"

You, good sir, or is it soon to become Madame, are incorrigible.

Absotively bleepin" PRICELESS!

Now then, let us not go overboard on the Saul at Damascus thingie. You know, and indeed have conceded the possibility, that Saul may have simply reasoned it out. I make no claims as to anything divine - other than my young grandson!

Let's skip that old bearded German who had to concede that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" because the rest of his pyscho-babble could cause many to confuse a cigar for a phallic symbol. I guess today he would be forced to say that sometimes a "man IS just a Man" and nothing else given that the current received wisdom (pyscho-babble) may cause some to be confused.

BTW: Am rather enjoying this. Go buy yourself a beer - it's on me!

BTW2: It IS a rather pessimistic view all the same as it seems to not allow for a sufficient level of human growth - unless, of course, one is destined to suffer psychological trauma. It also leads to the deployment of a convenient fiction that, let us say, All whites are racist - well because deep down they harbor these horrid feelings and they may have at one time or another felt animosity toward another race.
No people can and do change; and they do so willingly and knowingly.
If you did not believe this, then perhaps, I would not be able to enjoy your ongoing commentary as you advance a position crafted to sway opinion.

seeya
gabe

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gabe
on July 17, 2016 at 19:54:13 pm

In your view, a man smitten with a tinge of racism, will always be a [racist man].

Not so! As I say, people can change. He could become a racist woman. :-)

You, good sir, or is it soon to become Madame, are incorrigible.

Absotively bleepin’ PRICELESS!

You’re too kind. In fairness, I’m borrowing from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida (1884), Act I:

MELISSA (student at all-girl school): How marvelously strange! and are you then
Indeed young men?

FLORIAN (caught breaking into the school): Well, yes, just now we are –
But hope by dint of study to become,
In course of time, young women.

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nobody.really
on July 18, 2016 at 13:19:50 pm

Why might religious people support the irreligious Trump? Maybe for reasons having little to do with religion. For your pre-convention reading pleasure, here's an excerpt from ABC News's ongoing series, DIVIDED AMERICA: To Some, Trump Is a Desperate Survival Bid:

The population of Logan County [West Virginia] is ... half what it was 50 years ago. [O]ne in five lives in poverty; few have college degrees. Drug abuse is rampant. [Men] die eight years younger than the average American man.

Even cremations are up at the funeral home down the street. People can't afford caskets anymore….

The unemployment rate is 11 percent, compared to less than 5 percent nationwide. Many have given up working altogether: West Virginia is the only state in America where less than half of working-aged people work. More than 12 percent of Logan County residents collect Social Security disability checks, three times the national average.

They gave up on their politicians — they elected both Republicans and Democrats and believe both failed them in favor of chasing campaign contributions from the class above them and votes from the one below, the neighbors they suspect would rather collect government welfare than get a job.

Anxiety turned to despair…. And desperate people, throughout history, have turned to tough-talking populists….

“[Trump] offers us hope … and hope’s the one thing we have left.”
* * *
"[N]ostalgia voters…” [see] an uneven recovery from the recession lined up with societal shifts — the election of the first non-white president, a rising minority population, the decreasing influence of Christian values. It left many in struggling, blue-collar communities across the country feeling deserted for the sake of progress someplace else.

"Today, we're not interested in the plan, we're interested in the slogan…. When confidence falls, it's all too complicated to understand an elaborate plan or an articulated policy. We don't want to wait for the details; we don't want to read the footnotes. Just give me a powerful headline."
* * *
“I don't know exactly what's in [Trump’s] head, what his vision is for us…. But I know he has one and that's what counts."
* * *
People like Trump's delivery, the rat-a-tat-tat of promises and insults so unscripted they figure he couldn't have given it enough forethought to be pandering.
* * *
[These voters aren’t blind; they acknowledge Trump’s shortcomings, but are] willing to forgive because they believe the political machine left them with no other option.

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nobody.really

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