The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Apropos of nothing...

... but, since it is my blog, I can discuss it!

Back in the early 1990s, before the proliferation of the Internet, I was a member of several online services which provided various types of features, including chat rooms. On one of them, I made an online friend, a 13- or 14-year-old boy. He was truly a friend, staying on my side even when some others had become very nasty to me for reasons I will not go into here. And the friendship has continued. Six years ago, he was the one who sent me the invitation I needed then to get a gmail account, for example.

A lot has happened since then, of course. My friend is no longer a teenager, but in his late 20s. And after some time in college that took more than the usual four years because he was unsure what he wanted to major in, and no doubt a lot of changes of mind on the way (he's told me that his ideas had come close to atheism in those college years), he's recently taken a direction that very much surprised me — this June he got himself ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

Now I knew he was Catholic — I've known it for most of the nearly 20 years that I've known him — but of all the decisions that anyone I've known (whether my knowledge of them is in real life or online) has made, this has to qualify as the most surprising.

Mind you, I strongly believe anyone has a right to their own religious beliefs. And I'd never engage in proselytization; I think that trying to convince someone to change their religion is futile. I may put forth my own beliefs, and explain why I believe them, but it's always on a "read, and judge for yourself" basis. And there are certainly people I like and respect who are Roman Catholics. But I must say that I find it hard to fathom that an intelligent person would embrace that faith. I really cannot understand, for example, the concept of Papal infallibility. If some person makes a statement of faith — anyone, whether elected to his position or whatever — I think we need to be able to use our own powers of reasoning to see whether it makes sense to us. Resigning this power of reasoning, and simply believing that "the Pope said it, so it's true" is something I could never do, and something I cannot understand why anyone who is as intelligent as my friend would ever do. But in any case, he is still my friend.

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