Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


Obama, Abortion & Conspicuous Respectfulness

posted by swaldman

An important split is emerging within the Democratic Party over abortion. Barack Obama’s reaction to it will tell us a great deal about how he intends to unify people of different views and manage key voting blocs.
A group of progressive evangelicals, including Rev. Jim Wallis, has urged Sen. Obama to embrace an “abortion reduction agenda” that focuses on improving economic support for women so they won’t feel financially pressured into having abortions. Rev. Tony Campolo, a member of the Democratic Party platform committee, announced that he’s going to mobilize an effort get an abortion reduction plank into the party platform (in part through the group Red Letter Christians).
Pro-choice activists have reacted angrily. Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Frances Kissling, the former president of Catholics for a Free Choice, declared on Salon.com that Mr. Wallis and company were implying that “given the choice, having a baby is a more moral choice.” Their approach will therefore “be understood for what it is: condescending and sexist.”
The altercation revealed clearly that two of Sen. Obama’s political goals are in conflict.
On the one hand, he wants to court moderate evangelical Christians and centrist Catholics. Evangelicals and, to a lesser extent, Catholics tend to oppose abortion.
On the other, he wants to court independent suburban women, who tend to be pro-choice, and he’s laboring to attract Hillary Clinton voters – and donors.
Perhaps this is why Sen. Obama’s moves on abortion have seemed clumsy. He made news by saying he supported a ban on “partial birth” abortions except if the mother’s life or health was seriously threatened – only to back off and add “mental health” to the list of exemptions.
Sen. Obama’s approach has been to combine down-the-line pro-choice policies with conspicuous respectfulness of pro-life people. While he supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which would potentially roll back state restrictions on abortion, his Web site declares that he “respects those who disagree with him.” In his book “The Audacity of Hope,” he recounted how a pro-life protester had once offered to pray for him: “I said a prayer of my own – that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.” His most evangelical-friendly formulation came in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Abortion is a deeply moral issue and those who deny there’s a moral component to it are wrong,” he said, adding that he trusted women to make “a prayerful decision” and said sex education needed to impart the “sacredness of sexuality.”
You might think: how can this furrowed-brow strategy possibly work? Pro-life people surely won’t be lured by empathetic words if his policies go the other way. Some won’t but some will. For some centrist Catholics and moderate evangelicals, disgust with the Democratic Party was less about policy than perceived contemptuousness of pro-life people.
There are at least three specific flashpoints going forward.
Government funding of abortions: The federal government currently cannot fund abortions for the poor except in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is endangered, a provision known as the Hyde Amendment. “Senator Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment and believes it should be repealed,” Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro stated via email, adding, “Obama believes that the federal government should not use its dollars to intrude on a poor woman’s decision concerning her reproductive health care.”
This will cheer abortion-rights activists but will be tough for even liberal evangelicals to swallow. They might accept the idea that the government shouldn’t ban abortions, but if they feel their own tax dollars subsidize abortions then they’ll view themselves as morally complicit in murder. “Obama would be very foolish” to take that position if he wants to win evangelicals, Mr. Campolo says.
Partial birth abortions: While the majority of Americans want abortions to be legal, they oppose so-called partial-birth abortions. Sen. Obama says late-term abortions are “really problematic” but supports a ban that critics say is rife with loopholes. So I asked the campaign the question in a slightly different way: Did he believe the ban he supports “would eliminate most partial-birth abortions?” Mr. Shapiro skirted the question: “Senator Obama supports and believes it is appropriate to ban partial-birth abortions, provided there is an exception for the life and health of the mother. He believes that the most effective strategy to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.”
Abortions vs. Unwanted Pregnancies: Bill Clinton talked about making abortions “safe, legal and rare.” By contrast, Sen. Obama mostly talks about reducing the number of unintended or unwanted pregnancies. To the ears of a pro-life evangelical, those are two very different things. “I mean, come on!” Mr. Campolo says. “He’s got to go beyond that.” Of course, if he does, Kate Michelman will hit back.
There’s one other tactical consideration for Sen. Obama on abortion: his running mate. Many feminists who supported Sen. Clinton are still cool to Sen. Obama. If he put Sen. Clinton or possibly another woman on the ticket, he might be able to go farther toward the center on abortion.
Or, he could go the opposite direction, choosing a pro-lifer such as Democrat Bob Casey of Pennsylvania or Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. Ironically, that could enable him to stick to a strong pro-choice set of policies because he’ll have dramatically shown his respect for pro-life people.
My gut view, however, is that if he sticks with his current approach of conspicuous respectfulness without backing it up with something substantive, he’s unlikely to make much headway with evangelicals.
Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal Online’s Political Perceptions area.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 16, 2008 at 2:42 pm


Jefferson says that all of us are created.
He says that, beginning at that creation, we get the Right to life.
So, it’s critical to find when that creation happens so that all who have the Right to life get to enjoy the Right to life.
So, when are we created?



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luke

posted July 16, 2008 at 3:36 pm


yesterday!
jefferson actually said that all of us are created equal. We don’t actually have a right to life, however, if you are using jefferson as your dogmatic driver – we have a right to freedom, liberty, those kinds of things. At the writing of the declaration which you quote many would be americans were about to lose their lives in the revolution. just saying.
anyway, my question is this: why would barack court evangelicals through abortion? it is a terrible strategy, and one in which he would do well to obfuscate over until november.
he is going to evangelicals with environmental conservation and elimination of useless wars, the only strategy that is useful.
my other question is: why bother? by all means go for moderate christians, but the evangelical movement in america is a scourge of ignorance, bigotry and a complete lack of respect for constitutional law.



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Apsaras

posted July 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm


What Thomas Jefferson might have thought about the question aside, the answer to “When are we created” is an obvious one. What’s less obvious is the question of wether a freshly fertilized egg has any “rights” independent of the mother’s.



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luke

posted July 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm


i do not think it is obvious. I would not venture much of an answer, but it is most certainly not at conception. In talks with my sister-in-law she spoke of a time when the growing fetus was more her then not her, then late in the pregnancy this feeling reversed itself. So when is a fetus a child?
I would suggest that the fetus becomes part of the independent world when it starts moving by its own facility. This begins between 13-15 weeks in terms of sucking, and between 18-24 weeks for voluntary muscular movement.
In 2004 an overwhelming number, 95.4% of abortions were within 15 weeks, 88.8% of those fell in the first tri-mester, before any voluntary movement. Current abortion practice is well within my estimate of the attainment of independence by a fetus.
All this is to say that it is just not clear what the answer to these questions are, and any one religion does not define all moral code. It is clear that different religions have different ideas about contraception and abortion, so who is right?



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Steve H

posted July 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm


I think this issue has paralyzed and warped our political decision-making for too long, and I think most of the fault falls on us believers for thinking too quickly and too carelessly. Virtually all believers in the Christian God (and most believers in other understandings of God) regard God as the author of life and consider even incipient life as something sacred and wonderful. Obviously, the abortion of an incipient life is a terrible thing–and everybody I know thinks so. Even among the most unreligious people, I have never met anyone who considered abortion either a good thing or even a neutral thing. The women I have known who have had abortions grieve over the decision. They may think it was the right decision under the circumstances, but no serious person says, “Abortions are great! Everyone should have one.”
So, the question is not about whether abortions are good or not. The real debate should have been about legality–but it really hasn’t been. I haven’t heard very many religious people spell out what they think would be just laws on this issue. We religious people need to be clear that laws are very blunt instruments–and dangerous. The position of most conservative Christians over the years has been that abortion should be criminalized. Interestingly, though, I have almost never heard one of us specify the legal punishment that we believe Jesus thinks should be inflicted on the woman who solicits an abortion. If abortion is really murder, then the middle aged mother of three whose husband has just been diagnosed with cancer, who discovers that she is pregnant, decides she simply can’t hold her family together, and gets an abortion … well, she’s a murderer and should be sent to prison for a long time, I guess–shouldn’t she?
Religious people need to think very carefully about whether we really want to make that claim. And if we don’t … If we waffle and wonder somewhere between “Abortion is some kind of taking of innocent life” and “I just can’t quite think that Jesus would send that woman to prison” then it’s time for us to recognize the extraordinary difficulty of the discussion and quit ripping on political candidates who are honest enough to struggle with the nuance and confusion instead of simply repeating some partisan dogma.
It’s also time to quit voting as though we’ve got to change the laws–until and unless we are willing to clearly declare just what legal penalty we would place on the woman who chooses to have an abortion.



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Abhinav

posted July 16, 2008 at 5:58 pm


I agree Obama should court progressive evangelicals by appealing for the issues of Environment conservation (protecting mother Earth that God created), preventing dumb wars like Iraq (protecting human lives – 4000 Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead), poverty reduction and charity.



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luke

posted July 16, 2008 at 11:12 pm


well said.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 8:43 am


==…(and most believers in other understandings of God)…==
Jesus said that there ARE no other understandings of God. You think He’s a liar? Was He talking through His hat?



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 8:48 am


==…the fault falls on us believers for thinking too quickly and too carelessly.==
That would be those who think in their unrighteous self.
For those who think in Righteousness — that is, according to the Word of God — they cannot be careless, nor too quick. The Word of God is what It is, regardless of what we think in self-righteousness.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 8:52 am


==The women I have known who have had abortions grieve over the decision. ==
That’s cuz their consciences are bothering them over defying God. Yet, they don’t understand that, having been overwhelmed by selfishness. There are consequences to defying God.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 9:03 am


==The real debate should have been about legality–but it really hasn’t been. I haven’t heard very many religious people spell out what they think would be just laws on this issue.==
You haven’t, up’n’til now.
SCOTUS says, in Roe, itself, that, had a definition of “personhood” that includes the unborn been before it, the Court would have had to rule the other way:
“If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case,
of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed
specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.”
Thus, the Court could not have applied Due Process to what it couldn’t determine is a person because only persons get Due Process.
So, anti-abortion laws were deemed to be an “undue burden” on the woman.
BUT WAIT!
If the unborn child is a person, that burden on the woman would become due.
Therefore, it is up to the Legislative to define “person,” and it can define “person” to include the unborn beginning at conception. Nothing stops it.
Further, SCOTUS has already ruled that, when somebody creates a life form, it is their property.
If that’s the case, the unborn child, beginning at conception, is as much the property of the father as of the mother, and he has say-so over the disposition of his property which she holds in bailment. If she has an abortion, she is guilty of conversion.
Still further, inheritance law says that what are called “future interests” begin to accrue at conception. This makes the unborn child a “jural person” — that is, the law treats the unborn child as a person. If we can say that a corporation is a “jural person,” we can say that an unborn child is a person.
Even still further, Spain just said that, since apes have 98% of the genes humans have, they are persons. If they can be persons with 98%, unborn children, with 100%, ought easily to be persons.
That’s enough to keep you busy.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 9:08 am


==What Thomas Jefferson might have thought…==
“Might have thought”???? He said it in the Declaration of Independence. There can be no doubt.
==… about the question aside, the answer to “When are we created” is an obvious one. What’s less obvious is the question of wether a freshly fertilized egg has any “rights” independent of the mother’s.==
Yet, Jefferson said that creation and the Right to life come at the same time. He said that this is a self-evident truth.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 9:20 am


==jefferson actually said that all of us are created equal. We don’t actually have a right to life…==
Except that he said that the Right to life comes with creation, that this is one-a those self-evident truths.
==[He said that] we have a right to freedom, liberty, those kinds of things.
“[T]he Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness….” Lookit real nice and 20/20 close at that word, “Life.”



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luke

posted July 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm


mr. incredible, you have a lovely, if bellicose form of rhetoric.
I will happily concede the life point, though this is far from sacred (wars are aplenty).
However, I will not concede any god points. your logic is incredibly flawed. Who’s god makes the choice? For if it is the god of one person the answer may be one thing and another for a different person’s god. You are implying that your definition of god is correct and inalienable. You are the problem with evangelicals.
On cell movement and facility: all organisms have moving cells, I am sure you do not think twice when you eat vegetables, kill insects, write something down on a slice of paper. All these involve or involved at one point, moving living cells. The point is, obviously, that moving cells do not in and of themselves mark independent life.
Your logic for the rights of the man: poor again. I may concede that a man has a right to the potential product (inseminated fetus), but it is at best an equal right to that of the woman. I would argue that it is a significantly less profound right, as the man has no responsiblities in the area of building the fetus into a life.
Let me ask you this: should we be surgically removing our ectopic pregnancies and externally incubating them until they can become a life form that is recognizably, independently human? Or better yet, leave them in, kill the mother, all life is sacred!
lastly, you are using the government of spain to support your argument. need I say more? Ok, I will. Genes and Gene Expression are two entirely different things. We share a vast majority of genes with fruit flies, and I am sure you and the spanish government would agree that we are qualitatively different then fruit flies. The difference is in expression, our genes, particularly those in a zygote are undifferentiated, they are nothingness and being at the same time. They begin expressing and differentiating, and at about 13-16 weeks the object of their expression BECOMES (sorry for caps, no italics). It becomes a fetus, a person, only then do the genes mean HUMAN, only after they have expressed, changed, became.



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luke

posted July 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm


oh, and one more thing, while you are holding jefferson as sacrosanct – he stated we were all created equal, and yet when it came time to count us up, he allowed african americans to be counted at 3/5ths.
Not even as good as your fetus’ are they?



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pagansister

posted July 17, 2008 at 1:54 pm


luke:
Well thought out answers to “I” in your posts. And I agree with them.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 5:53 pm


==mr. incredible, you have a lovely, if bellicose form of rhetoric. ==
I’m not responsible for your interpretations. At least take responsibility for your conclusions.
==I will not concede any god points.==
It’s ok to stick to your guns.
== your logic is incredibly flawed.==
You’d have to believe that in order to justify what you say you believe.
== Who’s god makes the choice?==
I AM.
== For if it is the god of one person the answer may be one thing and another for a different person’s god.==
I am of God, not the other way around.
And, yes, there are many ways of thinking about it.
== You are the problem with evangelicals. ==
Evengelicals have no prob with me.
== …moving cells do not in and of themselves mark independent life.==
Except that there is respiration and metabolism and growth from the beginning. That defines life.
==Your logic for the rights of the man: poor again.==
That’s what you choose to believe.
== I may concede that a man has a right to the potential product (inseminated fetus), but it is at best an equal right to that of the woman. ==
Not if the woman plans to destroy that property. That would be conversion of his property. It would also deny him his choice of the disposition of that property. After all, he has choice, too.
==I would argue that it is a significantly less profound right, as the man has no responsiblities in the area of building the fetus into a life. ==
Except that, without him, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.
His responsibility doesn’t magically appear at birth, invoked by the woman. She has no jurisdiction in assigning responsibilities to him.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 5:59 pm


==should we be surgically removing our ectopic pregnancies and externally incubating them until they can become a life form that is recognizably, independently human?==
Frozen embryos, for example, have been born and live. They are persons, even according to you people.
== Or better yet, leave them in, kill the mother, all life is sacred!==
Nobody is talking about killing the mother. Except you.
==…you are using the government of spain to support your argument. need I say more?==
Only if you want me to understand your point.
== Ok, I will. Genes and Gene Expression are two entirely different things. We share a vast majority of genes with fruit flies, and I am sure you and the spanish government would agree that we are qualitatively different then fruit flies.==
Except that apes share 98% with humans. Unborn children share 100%.
== The difference is in expression, our genes, particularly those in a zygote are undifferentiated, they are nothingness and being at the same time.==
What a pantload.
== They begin expressing and differentiating, and at about 13-16 weeks the object of their expression BECOMES (sorry for caps, no italics). It becomes a fetus, a person, only then do the genes mean HUMAN, only after they have expressed, changed, became.==
Not true. 46 chromosomes in the offspring in a human = human. That is present at conception and is expressed from the very start.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm


== he [Jefferson] stated we were all created equal, and yet when it came time to count us up, he allowed african americans to be counted at 3/5ths. ==
Except that the Three-Fifths Compromise allowed us to have a Union.
It came at a time when Negroes were, by some, not considered to be persons, much like today when so many justify abortion simply by saying that the unborn are not persons. It’s a simple mind-trick that even Hitler used when he and his gang referred to “killing” as “cleansing.”



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 7:27 pm


“not considered to be persons”
Also “considered not to be persons”



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 17, 2008 at 7:48 pm


==I will happily concede the life point, though this is far from sacred (wars are aplenty). ==
This country wages war in and for self-defense and in and for the self-defense of her friends and interests. This is legitimate.
Therefore, to this country, life is still sacred. That people kill does not necessarily make life not sacred.



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luke

posted July 17, 2008 at 8:14 pm


Mr. Incredible, if you are content invoking the “because I said so” argument each time you have little more to support yourself you will eventually find that your footing is precarious.
“I AM” was your response? You are referencing the statement of God to moses in the hebrew scripture I assume?
Look, my friend, whatever you think I may be, (and I assure you those thoughts are innacurrate) I am not an “all religion is ok” type. We all may find wisdom in different religious affiliates and their philosophies, cosmologies, and faith implications. But we are tremendously foolish to invoke a faith based cosmology pissing contest; which happens to represent your behavior in this web-discussion – you are holding forth from the moral high ground, just because you are affiliated with the most popular american religion (christianity, in case anyone was wondering). But know this: you do not hold the moral high ground. Your religion, (and mine from childhood, in the interests of full disclosure) has not always spoken the truth, and I challenge you to prove that otherwise.
The bottom line is that you have no way to support your ideas if they are founded on scripture. All human writing is flawed. We cannot understand god or God or Allah or Ganesh, or Mithra, or Zoroaster, or the great Wheel of Life, or the tao; none of us can understand these things, we can feel, we can hope, we can love, we can change, we can believe, but we can never understand.
Your implications (taking the elevator down) of a hell are especially flawed, as the Tanakh (old testament) holds no mention of hell, the devil, or post-existence suffering. Talk to a few jews and you will discover this, the devil is as foreign to jews as eating fried pork on a friday night.
you must stop knowing and start learning. It is frustrating talking with you because you do not know enough. Catch up.
lastly: cell differentiation and gene expression are not at play until they are AT PLAY. just because the chromosomes are there does not mean that they will be expressed.



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pagansister

posted July 17, 2008 at 8:57 pm


luke, once again I must compliment you on your last post, 17 Julu at 8:14 PM.



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luke

posted July 17, 2008 at 10:47 pm


thank you kindly.



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Mr. Incredible

posted July 18, 2008 at 9:08 am


==…if you are content invoking the “because I said so” argument each time you have little more to support yourself you will eventually find that your footing is precarious.==
And, yet, you do the same thing.
==”I AM” was your response?==
Isn’t THAT what I wrote?
== You are referencing the statement of God to moses in the hebrew scripture I assume?==
You need to verify that with me????
== We all may find wisdom in different religious affiliates and their philosophies, cosmologies, and faith implications.==
== But we are tremendously foolish to invoke a faith based cosmology pissing contest…==
I’ not engaging in any contest. Jesus already won. he gave the prize to me.
==… which happens to represent your behavior in this web-discussion…==
My “behavior”????
My “behavior” is to post where I am invited to post, to reply to the posts of others with what I have before me, just like everybody else.
==…you are holding forth from the moral high ground…==
TGhe Word of God, yes. PRAISE THE LORD!
==…just because you are affiliated with the most popular american religion (christianity, in case anyone was wondering).==
I’m not into “popularity.” Neither was Jesus. The Message is more important than “popularity,” and Jesus din’t let the fact that others didn’t like Him interfere with propagating His Message. Neither do I.
== But know this: you do not hold the moral high ground.==
That’s YOUR opinion, and the opinion of the world doesn’t count, where the Word of God is concerned.
== Your religion…==
Islam is a religion. Christianity is a relationship to which God has called all.
==… has not always spoken the truth, and I challenge you to prove that otherwise.==
They have not spoken YOUR truth, that’s true.
Men who SAY — just as those who claim to be homosexual SAY they are homosexual — they are born again and are not have warped the Message. That’s not the fault of Christianity, rather of men.
It’s easy to check the Messge: Go to the Word, Itself.
Those who walk with God, through Jesus, deliver the Truth.
==The bottom line is that you have no way to support your ideas if they are founded on scripture.==
That’s cuz you have precluded yourself, against all notions of empiricism, from receiving, accepting the Truth. Oh, you’ll accept the truth that conforms to YOUR thinking, but not the Truth.
== All human writing is flawed.==
Except the Word of God Which is given by Inspiration of God.
== We cannot understand god or God or Allah or Ganesh, or Mithra, or Zoroaster, or the great Wheel of Life, or the tao; none of us can understand these things, we can feel, we can hope, we can love, we can change, we can believe, but we can never understand.==
The Word of God says that he has declared His thoughts to Man so that we may know. He is open to those who seek Him. To those who reject Him, He is not open. You don’t know cuz you choose not to know. That’s not very scientific, nor empirical, to reject information that will help you understand.
==Your implications (taking the elevator down) of a hell are especially flawed, as the Tanakh (old testament) holds no mention of hell, the devil, or post-existence suffering.==
I’m a New Testament creature, and Jesus — God on Earth — talks about “Hell.” So, God mentions “Hell.”
==Talk to a few jews and you will discover this, the devil is as foreign to jews as eating fried pork on a friday night.==
Jesus told the Jews that, unless they are born again through Him, they will not be saved. You do the math.
==you must stop knowing and start learning.==
God says that I am doing fine. You say that I am not. Now, Whom do you think I’m gonna believe?
== It is frustrating talking with you because you do not know enough.==
Translation: “Luke, come over to the Dark Side.”
==Catch up.==
Been there. Done that. Got the teeshirt.
==cell differentiation and gene expression are not at play until they are AT PLAY.==
Brilliant.
== just because the chromosomes are there does not mean that they will be expressed.==
Still, at conception, they contain ALL the information necessary for when the physicals are capable of using the info. They are time-rfeleased. No new chromosomes form after conception. Mere combination of 23 from the one and 23 from the other is the final 46. The unborn child is complete, from a chromosome point of view, at conception.



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luke

posted July 18, 2008 at 10:19 am


what is so curious to me is that you obviously have some facility. Yet when pressed you fall back on dogmatic christianisms. You said I did not back up my points, yet I backed up each and every one, your response was to say I didn’t. Is this a bugs bunny cartoon?
Look. wake up my friend, you are not the only one at the stall. We all need to piss a bit, and it doesn’t matter who can piss the farthest.
So I guess I will take the bait and begin:
Popularity: Jesus may not have been about popularity, but Paul definitely was. Paul was the zealot, as converts many times are. He encouraged such elementary things as the elimination of circumcision, and other releases from jewish custom, that the church may be more attractive to outsiders. The subject of Jesus’ divinity was also the handiwork of Paul, going against the will of Jesus’ disciples.
What followed was a series of textbook exercises in popularization. The conversion of Constantine, the council of nicea, the conversion of charlemagne, the crusades (during which the pope declared that it was OK to kill non-christians). Christian history is full of controlling parties bent on furthering their power, no matter the death toll.
I am willing to agree that this was not jesus’ intention, nor will, and the fault of man. But this bloody history blurs the lines on what jesus had intended at all. Should he have ever spawned a religion? Was he simply a zealous, idiosyncratic jewish reformer? Was he killed on a cross at all? We have no way of knowing these things unless we abide by the bible, as you have suggested.
Bible: You say you are a new testament lad. You have a bit of a problem then. The Bible is both scriptures, and the old one is significantly longer and more encompassing then the new one.
Is it more important? no. According to scripture, Christ was fulfilling the old and establishing a new covenant. Though the only commandment he issued was that we love one another. I appreciate the poetry of the christ as fulfiller story, but there are some loose ends to draw up.
First, the God of the hebrew scripture and the God of the christian scripture is not one and the same. Go back to genesis, exodus, leviticus, Kings, Chronicles, Job, and you will see a God that is prideful, vengeful, a god that is bargained with (by abraham and by the adversary of job). He is not a wholly loving God (he tries to kill moses, if you recall).
Then you have the god of jesus, who has somehow gained compassion, by doing what? Sacrificing his son? So wait a minute, god now has a son, and one who can overcome death! Where did that come from? Oh right, Mithra, son of Zoroaster, or Osiris, the immortal soul. The myth of transcendence was not uncommon in jesus’ time, occupying the hearts and minds of hundreds of cults and mini-religions from rome to egypt.
All of this is unimportant if we refer to the mere fact that God changes between the old and new scriptures. If God changes how can we determine the truth of his word? How can we suggest that the old or new is the more truthful representation of the word? they are different. From vengeful god to merciful god, as different as night and day. Perhaps we throw out the old, like you have, but then you stand on your own on the new, and it cannot fulfill the old, because you have rendered the old inaccurate, so whatever it says (that christ is then fulfilling with the new) is potentially bogus.
Now, Hell: Jesus is quoted in John as saying “I am the way…” you know the quote I assume. This is the only mention of it in the gospels. The rest, all the satan jargon and hellfire is from the other books. Now who exactly was john? We know roughly who Luke, Marc and Matthew were, but john? He’s a mystery.
In fact, there are other books aren’t there? Mary Magdelene and Judas to name a few from recent news. There are many other books, why are they not in the new testement? Well, let’s start at the beginning:
Now, what if Jesus is divine. Who else has to be divine for us to get a clean copy of his word?
If this is the case then his word is divine. Now, if his word inspired the Gospels, then their words are divine, and if his word inspired the rest of the new testement then the rest of the new testement is divine.
But now we are rendering infallible Matthew, Marc, Luke and the unknown by history John, we are including whomever wrote the Acts of the Apostles (a different John? somebody else?) all the letters and the revelation, another mystery document. But why are we rendering them infallible? Largely because Iranaeus said they were, but that was a political move in 160 CE, in which Iranaeus had to attack the Gnostics, whose biblical canon was very different than his.
The canon was not fully established until the Councils of Carthage. 200 years later.
So in order for your infallibility argument to be possible we need much more then just Jesus’ divinity:
We need the gospel writers, the writers of the other books, all the folks that copied and carried them around between 33 and 160 CE, then we need Iranaeus and his followers to knock off the Gnostics and their separate canon, then you need everyone at the councils of carthage to be divinely inspired.
That’s a fair amount of divinity, was God carefully guiding the process the whole time? Or is there a shadow of a possibility that somebody might have changed a word or two here and there?
HOLD THE PHONE! Why didn’t jesus just write it all down himself??? Save the trouble.
I have given you specific arguments and statements, if you come back with one of your one liner barrages then this conversation is over.



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luke

posted July 18, 2008 at 10:36 am


oh, right. and please be careful, as you are treading into homophobia and anti-semitism.



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pagansister

posted July 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm


WOW! luke, I learned a lot from your post. Thank you for the information.



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