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, November 24, 2010

On religious differences vs. political ones

When I started this blog, I expected to post on religious subjects more than I have; this blog, in fact, has turned out to be almost entirely on political subjects, and just about the only posts that could be considered "religion-related" have been about religious topics that affect our political differences (especially abortion). Somehow it seems less useful to post about religious topics, though, as you will read, this post is in that category.

There are people who consider it their purpose in life to proselytize for their view of Jesus, and these people are (in my mind) the worst of my enemies. In fact, anyone whose business is to convert me to their religion — whether that is Christianity, Islam, or Richard Dawkins-style atheism, is (in my mind) among the worst of my enemies. Because I think that religion is something that each person needs to figure out for himself/herself.

The only thing anyone can do in the "religious enlightenment" sweepstakes that makes any sense is to present the arguments that make sense to you and stand back, seeing how much they seem convincing. And unlike, say, science, in religion there is no such thing as an absolutely convincing argument. Experiments in the late 18th century made it clear that phlogiston did not exist. (Though, in fact, I recall seeing, in the 1960s or 1970s, a paper in the Journal of Chemical Education that showed how much chemistry could be explained by phlogiston theory, obviously an interesting intellectual exercise!) But I challenge anyone to devise an experiment that could prove, in the same way, that God exists (or, for that matter, that He does not)!

So I live my life with certain religious beliefs — but how I interact with other people does not really depend upon them. On the other hand, not only do my political beliefs impact on my votes every couple of years (more often, when I lived in New York!) but I have hope that I might be able to convince others of their correctness, and if I can, they could improve things. (Convincing people to vote for McCain two years ago might have made my life in recent years better. Convincing them to vote for whoever will be Barack Obama's opponent two years from now would certainly do so for the next four years. [At least, if I could convince enough of them!]) And this, I guess, is why I discuss politics more than religion on this blog.


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