Atheists are Religious, But Not In a Traditional Way

Everyone is religious. Even atheists. But atheism is not the religion. It can't be because atheism is not a religion.

Regardless of what one's values are - liberal, conservative, secular humanist, libertarian, vegetarian - they all stem from statements about morality and purpose that cannot be empirically validated. They cannot be validated in a manner that is not circular, or that does not depend on another moral claim that itself has not been validated. They are faith claims about the nature of morality.

However, this does not make, say, libertarian socialism indistinguishable from, say, Christianity. Theistic religions do at least two things that secular philosophies do not do. Firstly, they make claims about the physical universe, which they then proceed to not validate; if they had validated them, we would hardly need faith to be a Christian. The second thing that secular philosophies do not do that theistic religions do is, after making a claim about the physical universe, use that physical claim as a foundational basis on which to justify the tenets of an accompanying moral philosophy (e.g., I know that X is right and Y is wrong because God said so).

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John Derbyshire: Literacy Supremacist?

Over at the Corner, Mark Steyn links the story of one (yes, one) protester yelling "slaughter the Jews" at Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister and smirks
But don't worry. I'm sure it's only "anti-Zionist."
Besides humor (failed), what is Steyn's point here? Maybe the "slaughter" guy can't distinguish between the country Israel and the Jewish people. I can. Most Jews can, including the ones who live in Israel. Can Mark Steyn? Meanwhile, Steyn's corner colleague John Derbyshire (the Marty Peretz of the National Review is defending Tom Tancredo's call for literacy tests at the polls. But don't worry. I'm sure it's only "literacy supremacism."

I dodged a teachable moment last week

I've been taking my children to political rallies, receptions, and house parties since they were babies. Many Iowa Democrats have claimed not to recognize me without a small child riding on my front, hip or back.

At the same time, I've avoided exposing my kids to political scenes likely to turn confrontational, such as anti-war demonstrations. An article I read years ago in Mothering magazine persuasively argued that because young children cannot understand abstract political concepts, they are likely to be disturbed by the anger they encounter at a protest rally. (Sorry, no link--they don't put most of their content online.)

I've also been influenced by my mother-in-law. In her 30 years as a preschool teacher, she learned that young children are easily confused by upsetting images. After 9/11, some of the kids in her class did not understand that television networks kept showing replays of the same scenes. They thought that another plane was crashing into another building every time they saw tragic footage from that day.

Living in the Des Moines suburbs, it's usually no challenge to keep my little ones from volatile political scenes. They get that not everyone votes the same way, but politics to them means coming with Mommy or Daddy to hear a candidate speak, help deliver yard signs or vote on election day.

When Fred Phelps and his clan from the Westboro Baptist Church planned a trip to central Iowa this month, it occurred to me that sheltering my children from their hatred might not be an option.

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Let's Just Hash Zionism Out, Shall We?

Hello all!  It seems we've got one hell of a lot of angst on this whole Israel/Palestine issue.  We've really just had five or six people rehash the same arguments of late.  Not all of those arguments are bad, but we aren't really gaining any ground here.  Maybe I can stir things up a tad.  I'm going to present my own take on this, and maybe I'll be lucky enough to offend all sides.  No, I ain't gonna troll.  I think there's enough blame to go around.

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Mr. rossl goes to Washington

Last Sunday (the 22nd), I left for Washington, DC.  I went on a trip with my synagogue to meet up with a bunch of other Jewish high school students, where we helped the homeless, lobbied Congress (I was wrong in my previous post - I only met with my Senator, not all of the ones I listed), met with AIPAC, learned about mortgages for low income families, and a lot more interesting stuff.

It was a great trip.  I feel like I actually do have a bit of power in this corrupt, mangled political system of ours, and I'd love to tell you why.

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