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wellnamed

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Everything posted by wellnamed

  1. wellnamed

    Secular Grace

    If you're going to use the word grace to refer to something like a conscious decision not to enforce strongly held social norms then it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of Christian sects actively teach adherents not to practice this form of grace. For example, they do not practice this kind of grace towards LGBTQ people, nor traditionally towards people that violated other sexual norms, nor towards atheists or members of other religions. Although I do think in at least some traditional forms of Christianity (I have in mind some monastic traditions in particular) this idea of explicitly demurring from enforcing moral judgements exists, but it's usually described as mercy, or by an appeal to "judge not", rather than described as grace. That monastic ideal of non-judgement always appealed to me. In fact I would say it was the Sermon on the Mount's sort-of-radical-egalitarianism and non-judgement that led me to identify as Christian. And it was most Christians' failure to come close to this ideal that always kept me away from joining actual church groups. Ironically, as I've gotten older I've also come to appreciate a little bit more the importance of social norms in creating the kind of society I want to live in. I don't think it's trivial to find a good balance between "grace" (defined as you have) and "justice", so to speak. But I also definitely don't think that American Christians provide a good example to emulate, especially if you actually value this kind of grace.
  2. I'm skeptical that a correction to one of Tacitus' manuscripts (if that really represents one) is enough to make it likely that the use of the term Χριστός is a late addition or a mistake. We know that the Messianic tradition exists both before and after the time Jesus is supposed to have lived. We know of other claimants to the title messiah, and we know that the Septuagint used χριστος to translate the Hebrew for messiah.The didache refers to Christ and Christians. There is a whole lot pretty early manuscript evidence in Greek. I don't think it holds up to think that it's originally a typo. Obviously none of this matters as far as evaluating the truth of the claim that Jesus is the Jewish messiah or the son of God or whatever. I guess what I'd say is that even if Jesus of Nazareth is entirely mythical, the title Christ is almost certainly not a mistranslation or scrivener's error, simply because we have plenty of references for the messianic tradition in 1st century Judaism.
  3. Welcome @justaskingquestions I enjoyed reading your list.
  4. You're right, they've just re-used the MBTI initials. My bad. Edit: I'm not sure I'd extend a halo of validity over their type system just because they're using Big 5 under the hood though. Although I tend to be at least modestly skeptical of personality profiling like this in general. Which isn't to say that I don't think there's a biological basis to personality. I just think people are prone to try to infer too much from the categorizations.
  5. It's possible one or more of the big five personality traits would be associated with various political views. I'm not familiar with any research on the topic though. In any case, it's the psychological profiling tool that's the most likely to be used in studies on this sort of question, so that's where I'd look.
  6. Allow me to be a curmudgeon for a moment: the MBTI is at least partially pseudo-science and I would treat the text you quoted with just a bit less skepticism than one of those computer-generated astrological charts. I like the quote in this article: "When it comes to accuracy, if you put a horoscope on one end and a heart monitor on the other, the MBTI falls about halfway in between." I think the dichotomies identified by the test, especially introversion/extroversion, have some rough validity but these sorts of vague interpretive schemata in paragraph form are not likely to be valid, even as generalizations. That said, as an INFP-A (Mediator) who fairly consistently scores at 50% on the Thinking/Feeling axis, I am of course uniquely qualified to settle any and all debates that may arise from this thread.
  7. I always appreciate it when people make more concise, pithier, better versions of my posts.
  8. I expect that support for the concept of freedom of speech is nearly universal in this forum. Not just because it's a good idea, but because we have almost all been socialized in western democracies where it is valued. We didn't arrive at the conclusion that the 1st amendment is preeminent by pure logical deduction, we've heard about it our entire lives. Note that this fact doesn't invalidate free speech! I mention it because it speaks to the point I was attempting to make about the power of speech to shape how people think and act, as should also be apparent to most ex-Christians anyway, I'm sure. I'd also note that an appeal to free speech as a legal principle should acknowledge that in fact there are many limits on speech that are considered legitimate in American law. The most obvious is that free speech rights only prohibit the government from suppressing speech. Beyond limits on incitement, which you mentioned, the courts have also recognized exceptions related to false statements of fact, obsenity, as well as allowing reasonable limitations on the time, place, and manner in which speech is made. Those limitations reflect some analysis of the costs and benefits of speech. The point I would make is that while freedom to speak is valuable, it is not an absolute value, nor is it granted without any social costs in every situation. We value speech highly, and rightly so, but we recognize limits to speech where we find that the costs outweigh that value. Of course the legal prohibition on restrictions to speech only apply to the government, but you can see a similar calculus made in private life all the time, including in the rules of this forum, which prohibit spam, as well as posting that is "knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, [or] harassing, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy." When you argue for an "unmoderated" ToT, are you arguing that those site-wide rules should not apply? I expect you would recognize the value of at least some moderation beyond the prohibition of incitement. For example, should I have a free speech right to doxx you? I hope that you'd agree that the answer is no. Borrowing by analogy the concept of "time, place, and manner" restrictions, and considering that not all speech is either equally valuable or equally costly, I think we can pretty reasonably arrive at the conclusion that -- even valuing freedom to speak highly -- an approach that completely eschews moderation is inferior to one that implements some reasonable rules, not unlike the ones that already exist on this site, even if they go unenforced. I said before that it would be silly to only focus on the question of what views should be allowed while ignoring how people express themselves. Reducing the question to one of free speech absolutism has the drawback of conflating the value of your posts (for example) with the value of some obnoxious and content-free trolling. I can't see any good reason to think that the two are equally valuable, or equally worth protecting. My willingness to moderate the latter category does not reflect a disdain for the value of a free society. Basically I think that you're oversimplifying the problem to take an all or nothing attitude towards speech, and such an approach isn't really justified by an appeal to the 1st amendment to begin with. I anticipated this argument, and already pointed out how it is wrong. The problem with bigotry is not primarily that it hurts people's feelings. I also think there's some apparent tension between the free speech absolutism expressed here and your original post in which you asked whether people "should have the right to start calling them bigots", which appears to suggest the possibility of banning certain speech precisely because it hurts people's feelings. I realize you may not have meant to imply actually banning anything there, or you may now be answering your own question negatively. That said, I also think you give insufficient consideration to the possibility that lurkers or potential new members to this forum might decide not to register, or not to post, because they are turned off by what they see here. I think you've also probably made the debate too abstract. This site has a specific purpose, which is to "encourage those who have decided to leave religion behind", quoting from the guidelines again. If, in the name of free speech absolutism, we tolerate the creation of an environment that will drive many people away from the site then I think we will be (already have, imo) impeding the site's mission, and for what real gain? There are a lot of other places on the internet that are completely unmoderated. We are not debating the passage of new laws. Moderation of this forum does not impinge on anyone's right to speech, but it might matter a lot to fulfilling the stated mission. Note that I'm arguing against your conclusion that we should eschew all moderation. I think that conclusion is clearly sub-optimal, both philosophically but also practically. This post has focused way more on the philosophical, but I think it would be helpful to be more concrete, because actually reading some of the posts in the forum might poke a few holes in abstract and lofty notions about the value of speech But, rejecting an unmoderated forum doesn't settle the question of what the moderation should be. My opinion isn't that any discussion of controversial viewpoints should be prohibited. Nor even would I prohibit the expression of views which I personally consider to be bigoted. But I think if a forum chooses to facilitate discussions on those topics it should require that people participate in meaningful discussion in a respectful and thoughtful way, and that includes respect for the humanity of members of social groups being discussed in the abstract, not just individual posters. I think disillusioned was right to point out the importance of respect, which is about far more than protecting people's feelings. The bill of rights, including the first amendment, is fundamentally grounded in humanistic values and a respect for human dignity, and it is entirely consistent with free speech principles to prohibit the kind of "abusive, hateful, or harassing" speech already forbidden by site rules.
  9. I've seen this style of argument more than a few times. I think it has a couple of glaring weaknesses. I'm sure it would take more discussion to tease out exactly how you understand it, so I'm going to talk more generally, and if I argue against some position you don't hold I hope you won't think I'm trying too hard to misrepresent you, I'm just treating this quote as a jumping off point. I'm going to break things into two categories of problem from my perspective 1) Over-reliance on simple dictionary definitions, especially of the word "tolerance" or "intolerance" In a nutshell, it's just silly to think that "tolerance", as people really use the word in this context, means either tolerance of literally every point of view or else the person advocating for "tolerance" is being inconsistent. In practice we all, as individuals and societies, are "intolerant" of many ideas and behaviors, and we sanction people who express certain views or act in certain ways. I am intolerant of murder and would happily express a strongly negative view of someone's belief that murder was good, and it's ludicrous to label that intolerance as bigotry towards the opinion that murder is good, as I hope everyone would agree. Yet you are appealing to a definition of bigotry in which I would be bigoted by expressing intolerance for the opinion that murder is good. I think it's implicit in the usage of the term "bigotry" that it involves "intolerance" not just in some abstract sense but of something that ought to be tolerated. That's why definitions of bigotry often also reference the idea of prejudice. Not all judgements are prejudicial, and not every condemnation of some opinion or act is bigoted. 2) Equivocation between different kinds of behavior caused by oversimplifying everything to "tolerance" vs "intolerance" and focusing on speech We care about bigotry not just because we are offended by what people say, but because of concern for the consequences of what people and institutions do. This is true whether we're talking about racism, sexism, homophobia, religious bigotry, xenophobia towards immigrants or refugees, or whatever else. The problem of racism is not primarily a problem of what people say, it's a problem of systematically reproduced inequality and discrimination. The same is true of all the other categories I mentioned that people are about. I think some people have a tendency, and I think it's amplified by the way media tends to cover these issues, to reduce the question to competing speech acts and the idea of things being offensive. Someone "says something racist" and then someone calls them racist for it. And thus you end up with this intuition, like the one you expressed, that the question is all about whose speech is legitimate. But if I call something racist I am far more concerned with the real-world outcomes associated with it -- even if it's a belief I'm calling racist. I'm concerned about inequality. What is really offensive is the way we treat people. We should be careful we don't equivocate speech with discrimination. That said, the relationship between ideology/speech and real-world discrimination is obviously complicated. While people may hold prejudiced beliefs without acting in an overtly discriminatory manner, there's no doubt that prejudiced beliefs are important to the maintenance of the institutions and systems that perpetuate real discrimination. There's plenty of research on this. What people say and believe is also important because it can't be completely separated from what we, individually and collectively, do. So, if you value equal justice for all people regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or membership in some other social category, and you want to see the world become more just in this way, there is no doubt that changing people's attitudes is an important part of realizing that goal. Social sanctions are an important way in which people are socialized to understand and appreciate values like the idea that "all men are created equal". At the same time the repetition of prejudices is important to the reproduction of inequality. Neither expressing prejudicial beliefs nor calling people bigoted for doing so are superficial acts, although obviously there's more to activism than just yelling at people. But to try to put this together, I think considerations along these lines point to the problem of saying that someone pointing out bigotry is necessarily being bigoted. Obviously details matter. Someone can be prejudicial in their assessment of someone else's bigotry. I'm not saying that every time someone calls someone racist/sexist/whatever they are right. But neither are they always wrong, as is implied by saying that in every case it is bigoted to call something bigoted. Nor is it reasonable to make all negative expressions about people's views equivalent to discrimination. Note: the above is not even attempting to deal with more context-dependent questions about how people go about discussing things with each other on this forum, which is important also (as compared to what views they express). My opinion is that it would be silly, if discussing this forum, to only talk about what points of view are tolerable while ignoring the trolling, hostility and unwillingness to engage in good faith discussion that is as large of a problem. But mostly my point is just that I think it's a bad place to start to think that expressing a strongly negative opinion of someone's views is always equally abhorrent regardless of the content of the views expressed. We ought to tolerate some views less than others, and note that what it means to "tolerate" can vary dramatically. I said I was intolerant of murder but I didn't mean I would kill someone for saying it was good. What the moderation of this forum ought to tolerate is an open question I'm not trying to settle in this post.
  10. FWIW I also have a generally negative opinion of the usefulness of the political compass test, and I think it's clear just from the way the results imply that a lot of us are closer together politically when it seems very obvious that there are some very striking political differences between us and it would be fairly easy to write a set of questions to tease those out. Mostly though I think it's just a little out of date. I first took that test over a decade ago and I don't think it's changed. But the fault lines in American politics have moved around a bit.
  11. Sorry, I've been busy/lazy @Joshpantera @Orbit OK, so to clarify a few things, "in most contexts" means outside of the New Testament. It may be the case that the original authors of the N.T. texts really did mean "eternal" in the sense of "never-ending" when they wrong αἰωνιος, but the reason I think it's interesting is that it's a little ambiguous in its meaning, although I'm not sure the ambiguities are particularly important to this thread. I'm not sure what source the biblestudytools.com site is using for Greek word meanings, but I tend to prefer to look at the Tufts University site, although Strong's Concordance seems to have basically the same gloss, which differs from the bible study tools site. Actually, that site is not even spelling the word correctly. They have it as αἰονιος but it's αἰωνιος. They list the number in Strong's so they are clearly trying to reference the same word, but I wouldn't trust that site for a neutral definition. Anyway, as with a lot of Greek words, it can have various shades of meaning, which is why I've said it's ambiguous and not some slam dunk that it doesn't mean "eternal", but what I find interesting in the definitions is both that the primary and several secondary meanings refer to something clearly non-eternal. There is also a different Greek word that does actually unambiguously mean eternal: αἰδιος. That word is actually much older, but is used in the N.T. twice (Romans and Jude, cf. Strong's), once in reference to attributes of God and once in reference to the binding of fallen angels. So it's least reasonable to wonder why the gospel authors used αἰωνιος instead if they wanted to emphasize the idea of a chronological infinitude. Various early Christian theologians (most notably Origen) advanced theories of "universal salvation" which sometimes hinged on arguments about the real meaning of αἰωνιος, and various mystical/ascetic strands of Christianity at various times have interpreted the meaning of Ζωή Aἰωνιος differently, trying to emphasize it in a qualitative way, i.e. a certain quality of life which should be entered into immediately rather than postponed for an afterlife. On the other hand, the idea that it means "eternal life" in something like the modern sense is also pretty ancient in Christianity, and as far as I know has always been more mainstream, so if the argument were to be settled purely on popularity throughout history then "eternal" as a translation wins fairly easily, which is of course why the word is translated the way it is. I'm content to say that I think the ambiguity is intriguing but leave it at that as far as endorsing any particular conclusion. The reason I said I'm not sure it matters too much to the subject of this thread is that I'm not sure it matters to your point. Presumably you would argue that Jesus was lying (or the author of John) whether he meant that you would enjoy an eternal afterlife, some age-long afterlife, or merely a certain heavenly quality of life in the here and now. And I'd certainly agree that the text is stating something false in any of those cases. Usually if I bother trotting out this little line of thought it's in arguments about hell.
  12. Dropping by to say I love Gödel's incompleteness theorum in your sig.

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