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February 4th, 2004
03:16 pm
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News links of the day
Signs of the times: Today, Massachusetts judges say "no, really, let gays marry." Woot! One more step toward sanity; the way this country pathologizes sex, and (more generally) makes fiat moral judgments based on tendentious interpretations of long-outdated religious documents, just isn't doing anyone any good. Hopefully this is another firm step toward a system of ethics that reacts with empathy (or at least apathy) to harmless, victimless actions.

Also, Ohio has sent a defense of marriage act to the governor. I entirely support this. After all, defending marriage as an institution is a noble goal. It ensures that they'll never have to deal with such slaps in the face to the sacred institution as Britney Spears' spur-of-the-moment union --

*aide rushes in and hands Baxil a sheet of paper*

-- umm ... to another woman. Hypothetically, I mean. Because, um, of course that would cheapen marriage a lot more than what she already did. Because ... uh ... just, y'know, because. It's icky and stuff! So I'm sure married Ohio couples feel a lot safer knowing that they're all defended now.

(37 other states have already rushed to plug that particular, insignificant crack in the marriage wall, including -- shamefully -- my own. So it's a virtual certainty that the debate is only heating up; I wouldn't be surprised if gay rights becomes one of the defining issues of this decade -- and it's certainly going to be a hot-button issue this election season.)

Finally, your gratuitous disturbing image of the day: A baby with two heads. (Worksafe, but not recommended for the easily squicked.)

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: SupergreenX - "Genso Suikoden Forgotten Daze" OC Remix

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From:thrames
Date:February 4th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC)
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long-outdated religious document

Just curious, are you calling the Bible outdated?
From:_starblade_
Date:February 4th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC)

Um... about that.

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Well, you see... long ago, people didn't use reason in their day to day lives. Not even the mightiest of rulers used anything beyond basic science, without truly utilizing the full capacity of rationality. They created books like the Bible as a way to control men without having to resort to reason. Now, people need a way of life. Without well developed brains, it's pretty much a choice between anarchy and some semblance of organized society. Of course, nevertheless, the Bible is based on faith, and an appeal to a higher authority, so even though it may have been considered necessary at the time, it can't really stand the test of time and human progress.

However, take today. Now, people use reason in their day to day lives. Even the pettiest of people use reason in some form or another, even if it's not very well developed or matured. Most people now know how to think for themselves, and they see things like books as TOOLS to help them grow, intellectually. As they eventually interact with the real world, including other people, they mature and learn the principles necessary to live life by themself. Naturally, any appeal to a supposed higher authority is going to run contrary to that idea, because people use reason, not faith, to determine how to live life, and eventually replace lesser ideas with greater ones.

So, yeah, the Bible is outdated. Thanks for noticing.
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From:thrames
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Um... about that.

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Well, you see... long ago, people didn't use reason in their day to day lives. Not even the mightiest of rulers used anything beyond basic science, without truly utilizing the full capacity of rationality.

We're not actually more intelligent or even necessarily more rational than modern humans from 5,000 or even 10,000 years ago. It's just that we have 10,000 years of combined experience to work with, including ~5,000 years of recorded history to work with. If every generation had to rebuild civilization from scratch, then I'd say that humanity would never advance beyond the "caveman" stage.

When pretty much everyone in a tribe had to do a job for everyone to survive, it was difficult to use the scientific method and scientific procedures to figure out that, hey, the world is round or that gravity on earth acts on all things equally. They were more concerned with "hey, eating's nice, let's continue doing that". Scientific progress only ensued when there was a way to have a single farmer sustain numerous people(even just 1 beyond himself). We can see the truth in that by looking at early civilizations like Mayans, Aztecs, Babylonians, Egyptians, and the Greeks.

The Mayans, through very astute astronomy, developed very specific star charts, eclipse predictions, and so on in 5,000 year calenders with 1 hour increments. I daresay that that is the work of a rational mind.

Or, for example, the Greeks, with their numerous philosophers. Surely one wouldn't contend that the hundreds of schools of thought produced by them that still affect the world are works of men without rationale? Hell, the very ideas of atoms and disease from contagions came from Greeks (though, at the time they were /completely/ untestable and unprovable).

However, these ancient civilizations lacked the acquired knowledge of written history and adequate tools. Democratus didn't have particle accelerators, gold foil and neutron emittors, or any of that to prove his kwuh-aazy theory of atoms to anyone.

So, why'd they have gods and all that? Because it made the most sense to them. We put our faith in invisible forces (electomagnetic force, strong nuclear force, gravity, etc.), so why is it any less rational for them to put their faith in invisible forces?

At anyrate, I was aiming more for underlying spiritual truths/maxims/whatever people might find in such ancient texts rather than the scientific authenticity.

They created books like the Bible as a way to control men without having to resort to reason.

The Bible didn't just pop out of nowhere, you know. The Torah didn't exist in a codified form (that is to say, standardized for the entire Jewish community) until many years after the death of Jesus Christ; the Bible as Christians know it wasn't standardized until the Council of Nicea in AD 400, and even then, there's the Apocraphya (which has ecclesiastical authority from "almost Scriptual truth, but not quite" to "wow, I didn't know they had crack in Roman Judaica!"), not to mention the thousands of different versions of the Bible now due to various religous schisms.

Also, literacy rates prior to the 20th century were atrocious, and most European peasantry couldn't read the Bible, and most of them probably didn't care about being controlled, they probably cared a lot more about eating, not getting ill, and stuff like falling in love and just living the day-to-day grind, which included a lot of religion because, hey, science wasn't doing much back then and faith in an almighty God might just help keep away fatal diseases.

[User Picture]
From:thrames
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Um... about that.

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Of course, nevertheless, the Bible is based on faith, and an appeal to a higher authority, so even though it may have been considered necessary at the time, it can't really stand the test of time and human progress.

Er, I don't think so. The Roman Catholic Church is still the largest single organized religion on eath with a membership of 1+ billion. Islam is a close second, also with approx. 1 billion members. Hinduism's in third with some 900 million members, if I'm not mistaken. And there's no telling how many of those nearly 3 billion people are extremely well-educated in the ways of science and such, yet retain deep-seated faith. And aren't even really controlled by, say, the Pope or an ayatollah or a guru.

I mean, really, what sets otherkin spirituality apart from the already well-established religions? Also, the apologetics of the well-established religions are far, far, far better than the apologetics of otherkin spirituality, wicca, new-age paganism, etc.

Now, people use reason in their day to day lives.

People have been using reason since there have been people. "I'm not going to cheat on my wife because God will damn me to Hell" is using reason just as much as "I'm not going to cheat on my wife because it will ruin our relationship." It's just a different kind of reasoning. As I mentioned before, prior to the advance of science to where it is today, people relied on religion because it, in fact, had more answers and, to the people of the time, far more logical and reasonable answers. Just because it doesn't make use of science doesn't necessarily exclude it from reason.

Most people now know how to think for themselves, and they see things like books as TOOLS to help them grow, intellectually.

Depends on whom you ask. Peasants and serfs probably did think a lot on their own, however, there was no internet, no airplanes, no telephones, no TV, etc. It'd take days to hear what happened 50 miles away, and, generally, 50 miles away was quite unimportant. Also, being illiterate (and books being so rare anyway due to the lack of printing presses) didn't help much with expanding one's mind, maaan.

As they eventually interact with the real world, including other people, they mature and learn the principles necessary to live life by themself.

Peasants interacted a lot with other people, namely, other peasants. And they had to get along a lot better with their fellow laborers then most people today have to. Can't be wanting to kill the guy your harvesting grain with unless you want to starve yourself. And living life by one's self was an impossibility, unless one was a hermit. One couldn't just quit the serfdom and head off to the big city. A nobleman couldn't just stop being a nobleman and live his dream to become an artist. One might say that they were more mature back then because they had to keep responsibilities until they died, for the most part.

Naturally, any appeal to a supposed higher authority is going to run contrary to that idea, because people use reason, not faith, to determine how to live life,

Last I checked, there's still a lot of higher authorities out there, like police, military, government officials, the status quo, etc. And those things determine to an extent how one lives one's life. While, yes, these times are far more liberated then 1000 years ago, we're still not completely free from outside influence, and I venture to say we never shall be.

So, yeah, the Bible is outdated. Thanks for noticing.

For certain things, sure, and certainly for some individuals, but not to others. It is definitely not outdated for any of the Christian churchs and the Jews. Etc.


Also, just curious, but are all other religious texts outdated too? Book of the Dead, the Gitas, the Book of the Law, all books of shadows, the Koran, etc.?
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From:baxil
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
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As a whole? On reflection, I'm not sure I would; I may have been imprecise in my language.

However, the overwhelming majority of the anti-gay Bible citations I see are from the Old Testament, and the single most quoted seems to be Leviticus; and those are quite outdated, even by the standards of the Bible itself (Jesus said he replaced the old law, which is why Christians don't have to eat kosher, etc.)

And let's not even get into the (by modern standards) appalling barbarity of the book. Slavery, the burning of women alive, the gratuitous application of the death penalty (such as if a person tries to convert someone away from Judaism! Or for working on a Saturday!) ... how anyone can even try to build up any sort of moral case for behavior on the Old Testament is beyond my comprehension.
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From:thrames
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:14 pm (UTC)

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Jesus said he replaced the old law

No he didn't. Jesus said he came to fufill the Law, not replace the Law.
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From:frameacloud
Date:February 4th, 2004 06:41 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure why they said the baby with two heads was the first of that kind documented that'd managed to live after birth- there was another case where the baby lived a few months, where they do still have the skeleton of it in a museum somewhere. And one who lived to adulthood, though he /might/ have been fake.

It didn't bother me much until they said that the other head's mouth moved. Aieack.
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From:elynne
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC)

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It didn't bother me much until they said that the other head's mouth moved. Aieack.

Yeah, that was where I started getting distressed, too... that second brain has neural activity going on. If it was just like an extra arm or something, whatever... but... eeegh. That's potentially another person</i>. *shudder*

I'll do my best not to think about it too much. O.o
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From:frameacloud
Date:February 4th, 2004 10:41 pm (UTC)

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It touches a bit on how some people feel about abortion, I guess- the potentially person thing. But the second head is non... non... there's a word for it, incapable of existing outside the womb, and it's regarded as okay to dispatch of those, since if it's incapable of surviving outside the womb, it's not considered technically alive/human. (Or some similar thread of logic like that. Not that the logic does any good, since when you get down to it, there's nothing else you /can/ do for the guys. Until we devise a way of raising a disembodied head in a vat, anyway...)

There was a deeply alarming site about conjoined twins that used that word frequently. I meant to link to it here, and I know I mentioned it in my journal a while back, but I can't find it.

It's one of those things I find fascinating and disturbing at the same time. I just know I'll be able to do something with it in sci-fi eventually...
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From:elynne
Date:February 4th, 2004 11:24 pm (UTC)

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Non-viable? I don't think that's a "real" word, but it's the only one I'm coming up with at the moment.
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:February 5th, 2004 12:54 am (UTC)

Tangential gripe

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But the second head is [nonviable], incapable of existing outside the womb, and it's regarded as okay to dispatch of those, since if it's incapable of surviving outside the womb, it's not considered technically alive/human.

I wish I had some way of beating this concept into the heads of all the talking heads who insist that abortion is murder the second the sperm touches the egg. I don't hear any of them making a tremendous outcry over the senseless homicide of this demonstrably human head, despite their willingness to go into hysterics over a thumb-sized cluster of cells.
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From:elynne
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:09 pm (UTC)
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Two-headed baby... ack. o.O
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From:thrames
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:20 pm (UTC)
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Also, that image is hardly disturbing. ;)
[User Picture]
From:baxil
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:23 pm (UTC)

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I didn't think so either, but it made two of my coworkers cringe and look at me funny, so I thought the warning was appropriate.
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From:elynne
Date:February 4th, 2004 07:39 pm (UTC)

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What is that picture from? It's adorable! :D
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