This week, I skipped out on publishing a Discourses post.  I haven’t retired the idea, mind you, I just don’t think the most recent ones have served a purpose.

You see, back when we first started doing Discourses posts on another blog and a long time ago, we were less understanding, full of piss and vinegar.  Many of us first met on Right-Thinking from the Left Coast and we used to have a thing called “Thunderdome” in which commenters would battle with righteous fury, sometimes leaving 100 comments in a single thread.

Debate was passionate, it was engaging, and it was fun for those of us who liked to fight.  However, there was a downside.  People did sometimes take things too far.  On some occasions, people got banned.  Commenters often got annoyed that in that Wild West environment, finding there wasn’t room for productive debate.  There were weeks in which every single thread became Thunderdome, much to the annoyance of the sane.  I may have had something to do with that.  Who remembers?

The Discourses threads were intended to give everyone a place in which they could discuss normally-contentious topics with respect, fairness, and open-mindedness.  You see, it worked back when there was a likelihood of getting pounced on for voicing an unpopular opinion on most threads.  I don’t see that happen much here.  Over time, it seems that the spirit of those old Discourses discussions carried over into all of our conversations and continues to this day.  Generally, I think that’s been a good thing but I have recently felt like something was missing.

Yesterday, I had a discussion with a friend about the state of RVS.  Overall, he was complimentary of what we’re doing and where we’re going but he pointed out a deficiency.

You know what it was?  We are way too chummy around here.  It’s too civil and too nice all of the time.  I think he’s right.  Many of you might feel constrained, like you can’t cut loose and really speak your mind.  I know a couple of you quite well and I can sense it.

I’m 100% to blame for our current state of timid pussyhood.  I think I may have done too good a job of moderating this blog and instilling it with a culture of enforced and sometimes stifling civility.  Only now do I see that the pendulum has gone too far in one direction and must swing back the other way.

What’s sad is that I’m a victim of my own design.  I too have held back from posting on certain topics and saying certain things because I don’t want to ruin the tone of this blog.  Honestly, I think RVS suffers for the sense that we’re all walking on eggshells.  What’s the point of being on the Internet if you can’t spit some vitriol at fools from behind the protection of anonymity, right?  More importantly, how can we say that we allow for open debate here if people are afraid that they’ll get scolded for not knowing where the Acceptable Behavior Line is?

But how do we allow for passionate, uninhibited, and sometimes brutal sex debate without turning this blog into a hate filled nightmare?  Well, I say we should acknowledge that there is a time and a place for everything.  That time is now and this place is here.

I bring you a new feature of RVS and the first of an original category: Deadly Ground.

Think of it as the opposite of a Discourses post.  It’s not a safe space.  Joining in discussion on any post in this category requires no fear of hurt feelings.  We want you to speak your mind and defend your positions to the last measure.  If you think I’m being a dickwitted hooker-puncher on a Deadly Ground post, then say so, knowing that you are in no danger of banning (for the record, I’ve been an author on four blogs and never banned anyone).  But know that I reserve the right to come back at you and explain why you’re wrong and a Trump-sucking rent-boy.

Let’s face it.  You have to keep your thoughts to yourself every minute of every day.  It’s not good to internalize.  Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and then just rant and rave with other consenting adults?  Let us be your sparring partner as you work out your frustrations about our truly awful political and cultural situation.

Can’t we let our Id run wild on a Wednesday and then get back to normal in time for Friday’s DJ thread?  I think so.  Either way, I’m determined to find out.  Really, what is this blog if not experimental?  If we’re containing the combat to just one thread every now and then, I say we can handle it without destroying the civility and sense of community that RVS stands for.

Don’t think of these simply as flamewar threads.  Just know that your passion will be celebrated, not condemned.  The only rules are: 1) No threats and 2) No calling out people who aren’t participating in a thread and 3) No jokes about how wealthy I am.

So….let’s get to today’s topic.  Here’s what I’ve been holding back for a few months.

Here at RVS, our community represents a diversity of religious viewpoints and that is a wonderful thing.  You know, I like religion.  I enjoy the company of religious people.  In fact, I am a Christian.  I don’t attend church much anymore as I don’t live near one I like, unfortunately.  I believe in God and I follow the moral precepts of the Bible (mainly the New Testament) as much as I’m able as an imperfect person.  But that doesn’t mean I approve of everything religion has to offer or that I like or even respect everything that religious people do.

Religion, at its best, has been a net benefit to humanity.  The world would be a worse place without faith and the good people who use it in service to others, I think.  But it’s time to face facts.  Too often and to this very day; religion has come into conflict with modernity, freedom, human rights, science, and other social forces and it’s gotten ugly.  I think it’s getting harder and harder to defend religious freedom when religious people insist on using their faith to hold society back.

Here’s a gripe I have.  Can we please stop pretending that the Bible is a science textbook?  It isn’t and you know it.  The Bible is about overcoming our worst nature as human animals and submitting ourselves to God’s will.  It’s about finding peace, harmony, and other ideals that the Beatles sang about.

But everything falls apart the moment that science is seen as refuting the Word of the Lord.  Ask Galileo and scores of others.  Darwin started to find evidence that we were developed by other forces, our Earth is older, and other creatures existed and died out long before us.  Instead of embracing this and the possibilities for broadening our understanding of our origins and life itself, some churches bitterly fought against it.  Denied it was real.  They still do.  Why?

The Creation story in Genesis is not the linchpin of the entire Judeo-Christian tradition, you guys.  There’s no reason to think that the rational study of the origins of humanity in any way invalidates the teachings of Christ or any other faith.

Genesis is no more credible to me than the origin stories of other ancient people.  What makes you think it deserves any more credence than that of the Sioux, who thought that we’re the second world the Creator built while smoking his sacred pipe, after he destroyed the first world for being filled with dooshbags?

I have to ask.  Is your faith so tenuous that learning that any part of the Bible isn’t literally true would completely destroy it?  Surely we can hold that triceratops was a real thing, Earth is billions of years old, AND everything Jesus said is completely true.  I certainly think so.

Keep in mind that I don’t care what you believe.  What bothers me is that some of you want myth taught to my kids as fact.  I don’t want them to learn faith in school.  I want to teach them about faith and I even want them to be able to question it.  I want school to teach them what science is and how it works.  I want them to experiment, to reason (up to you whether you think schools are any good at that).  Your religious dogma collides with that.  Stop it.  It’s unnecessary.  None of this is a threat to you or to God.

Scripture works when it provides us with guidance for living, saving our souls, finding redemption, building our communities, practicing mercy, and practicing charity.  It completely fails when trying to blindly prop it up as the inerrant word of God works to erase the knowledge we’ve gained from study, experimentation, research, and independent review.

Whenever we see that religion is holding humanity’s achievements and knowledge back, we should challenge it to change.  Follow God’s law, whatever you call God.  Trust in His judgement and learn from the examples of Moses, Jesus, Buddha, L Ron, Mohammed, and Joe Smith.  But remember that God gave you Reason too.

If God wanted us to stay ignorant and butt-naked out in the woods, He wouldn’t have put the fucking tree with the fruit that would make us question things right there where we could get to it.  Come on, He had the entire planet to hide it.  Could have put it on an island in the Pacific.  Didn’t.  He knew what He was doing.  I have faith.

It is time that religious people stopped denying scientific knowledge for the sake of maintaining the illusions created by dead people millenia ago.  You can have admit that there might be something to this whole evolution thing and believe in the Resurrection of Christ.  Both are valid.  Hey, they’re both miracles. All you have to do is admit that your holy book isn’t literally true.

Oh, and I see you agnostics and atheists back there with your smug faces.  Too many of you simply view Science as a competing faith.  It isn’t.  When you use scientific findings simply to bash and undermine Christianity, you’re part of the problem.  You’re as much a dogmatic ass as the worst fundamentalist.

Now then.  Would anyone like to step up and have a dose of the old stuff?  I will take you on.  No comment will go unanswered.  No disagreement unchallenged.

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I’ll pop the cherry on this one. It is time that religious people stopped denying scientific knowledge for the sake of maintaining the illusions created by dead people millenia ago. You can have admit that there might be something to this whole evolution thing and believe in the Resurrection of Christ. Both are valid. Hey, they’re both miracles. All you have to do is admit that your holy book isn’t literally true. There are certainly a lot of unreasonable Christians who (IMO ironically due to lack of faith) wall themselves off from modern understandings of creation rooted in scientific discovery.… Read more »

Judge dredd, pro se

Revelations is a great example to me of where a work taken literally falls apart under the weight of its own logic. If revelations is a glimpse into the future, a future that is the end of humanity, how in the fuck would whoever was transported to this future to witness it make literally accurate descriptions of what they saw? How would any prophet accurately describe a gun, a tank, a car, a nuclear missile or even the detonation of a nuclear bomb? Slightly off topic but related is how, to me, conservative christians become contortionists to fit defense of… Read more »

Zurvan

It’s on like Donkey Kong. I think it’s getting harder and harder to defend religious freedom when religious people insist on using their faith to hold society back. So are you saying that you think Hobby Lobby should be forced to provide health plans that cover contraceptives? You think the Little Sisters of the Poor should be forced by .gov to provide contraceptives directly against their religious beliefs? Where does “holding society back” begin at the expense of someone’s religious beliefs? Should the baker be forced to participate in a ceremony they fundamentally disagree with by using their skills and… Read more »

Zurvan

I could have this all wrong (doubtful) but Jesus remarked that the obligation of those given wealth was the responsibility of the well being of the poor. Meaning, if you became wealthy, giving back was one of the obligations of this privilege. How this has translated to American conservatives worshipping and defending america’s wealth class (including the noteworthy flaws the Bible warns rich people will fall victim to) is a heist greater than any bank robbery in history. You fail to grasp a simple concept. I donate a large portion of my income to charities because I choose to do… Read more »

What really grinds my gears is progressives’ conflation of the moral obligation to care for the poor with a duty of Government. They love to beat Christians over it every time any new or existing welfare program is discussed. Individual acts of charity are important in shaping the heart to be Christ-like. “Charity” through taxation and Government programs is not charity at all, because it completely removes the individual, moral component of charity. In other words, one’s charity gets outsourced and there is no moral gain. It is a poisonous path, and frankly one I think the evil one exploits… Read more »

Zurvan

The death and resurrection of Christ is central to the entire Christian faith. If that event didn’t happen, then there’s no point to the rest of it.

I don’t see how you reconcile that the Bible is the literal word of God with not taking every chapter and verse literally. How are believers to know which parts are real and which ones are just allegory? Through reading and interpreting in context. There are these people called “biblical scholars” who devote their life’s work to understanding scripture, for one. It even has a word “exegesis”. There is a common idea among people who study the Bible that you should interpret scripture with scripture–i.e. in seeking understanding of a particular passage, consider it in light of what other scripture… Read more »

I am 100% in agreement with the latter.
Generally, we need more room for societal-cultural pressure here, rather than the brute coercion of Government.

Yes let’s rehash Hobby Lobby and Bayer aspirin as a viable form of birth control. I have a niece that had ovarian cancer at 13 and it pisses me off that people want to deny coverage to a teenager because someone gets some scot-free fucking. The butcher, baker, candlestick maker people I am less concerned about. Most of them are just attention seeking. If you are in the business of baking cakes or making flower arrangements then you should do so, but … If a business person declines to serve you perhaps you should let your wallet do the talking… Read more »

That whole book is retarded

Daaaaaaaaaamn, son! Don’t let your pastor see that!
Revelation is probably the most difficult book to interpret in all of scripture. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be included, just that people should probably approach it with some more humility.

I believe that Revelations was political commentary by John against the government.

The Bible in its current form was a creation of a series of voting for various books and versions to be included into one bound volume. It amazes me that Christian do not weigh that when they go all holier than he’ll about what rules one must folow as a Christian…

Zurvan

I have a niece that had ovarian cancer at 13 and it pisses me off that people want to deny coverage to a teenager because someone gets some scot-free fucking.

It pisses me off that .0001% of legal gun owners use a gun to commit a crime, and idiots try to use it for justification for gun registrations, or banning gun ownership. Your example is still no excuse for forcing someone who is fundamentally against birth control to be forced to give it to someone. Your niece should get different coverage.

Oh I agree, some of the most charitable organizations are Christian based… And they get hammered all the time.. With government irsnot about charity it’s about control…. Pretty much what much of the church did generations ago… The gov doesn’t want the competition…

Oh? So the church isn’t about control? Down a ways there is a discussion about how allowing ovarian cancer patients access to hormone therapy is against church rules to the extent that they don’t want to allow coverage for it in their insurance plans.

I never understood the desire for fundis to force people to live to their moral code. When it’s clearly stated in the bible and in religious teachings that we all are sinners…and that people must be free to presue their life sinful or not… This kind of shit. Is what gets the biggest back lash and I for one agree. Get yourr head out of your ass. Not every one wants to live that way….

She’s on Obama Care until it’s repealed and replaced with basically nothing for a cancer survivor. Maybe she could stockpile them?

mashav

The Little Sisters of the Poor were not being forced to provide contraception. They sued because they didn’t want to fill out a form which would exempt them from providing contraception. But yes, I would argue that Hobby Lobby should provide the same insurance coverage that every other employer does. Your religious beliefs should not affect other people’s health care. Hebrew National (let’s assume it’s owned by Jews) does not mandate that it’s employees circumcise their male children, why does a Christian owner get to impose his beliefs? I agree that the baker thing seems like bs, but how would… Read more »

I personally don’t think it is OK to deny services for most any reason other than someone creating a disturbance at the shop or walking in with no shirt/shoes, drunk etc. type thing. It is ethically wrong and fiscally irresponsible to deny anyone your product or service. I just have a bit of a problem with baked goods or flowers as a civil rights issue.

Zurvan

Your religious beliefs should not affect other people’s health care. Your sexual promiscuity should not impact a private businesses right to exercise their religion. You can go work elsewhere. Hebrew National (let’s assume it’s owned by Jews) does not mandate that it’s employees circumcise their male children, why does a Christian owner get to impose his beliefs? Does it prevent the owner of Hebrew National from exercising his religion as he sees fit if his employees are not circumcised? If it was written in the Torah that Jews should not employ the unclean, I’d probably support it. But it doesn’t.… Read more »

Zurvan

It is ethically wrong and fiscally irresponsible to deny anyone your product or service.

That would depend on your ethics. Some believe it is morally wrong for Adam to have sex with Steve. As far as the fiscal responsibility of it – they’re the business owner. It’s their right to be fiscally irresponsible if they so choose, or should we make that illegal too?

Time to get new readers. I just said that I have a problem with cake and flowers as a civil rights issue. That would probably extend to many other industries but start denying them necessities and get back to me. Seriously, I love libertarian philosophy until it starts impeding people’s lives in real ways. Then yes, time for the government to step in.

So, some tit has a “religious freedom” issue and mans the counter at Taco Bell. Should management be allowed to fire said tit for exercising said freedom? Hint: tit doesn’t think so.

mashav

My sexual promiscuity? Married women use birth control. As do abstinent women with health issues. The insurance plan covers boner pills. Why are we paying for your sexual promiscuity but not mine?

The Torah does actually say that (Exodus 12:44, etc.), but do tell me more about it. I love watching you pull ‘facts’ out of your ass.

Lets say the baker has a religious belief that the races should not mix. Is it ok for him to discriminate?

Zurvan

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mashav

I honestly don’t see how paying some percentage of the cost of a plan that might or might not cover birth control really violates someone’s religious freedom. Unless you look at the employee records, it’s like Schrodinger’s cat – neither covered nor not covered.

Zurvan

The insurance plan covers boner pills. Why are we paying for your sexual promiscuity but not mine? That’s amazingly flawed logic not really worthy of an answer. The Torah does actually say that (Exodus 12:44, etc.), but do tell me more about it. I love watching you pull ‘facts’ out of your ass. Really? Working for someone is slavery now? [This] tells [us] that the [failure to perform the] circumcision of one’s slaves prevents one from partaking of the Passover sacrifice. How’s that for a fact? Context is not your stupid ass analogy’s friend. Lets say the baker has a… Read more »

Zurvan

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The Left has been going off the deep end over Trump. Ann Coulter has been forced to cancel her speech at Berkeley, and now we have Bill Nye trying to conflate “science” with gender choices.

Whatever. The social right has had its own issues, particularly with gay rights. Trans rights are different as most aren’t gay. But if the social conservatives can’t move past their version of what they think the sky god thinks of cats and dogs living together, the mass hysteria will doom them, as well.

Oh, and Thrill killed the bunny on the United Airlines flight 🙂

mashav

In all seriousness, if this case was really about protecting religious beliefs, rather than restricting access to contraception, Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters (and Gorsuch) should have been happy with the solution where the fun time pills are only covered from third party funds or from the employee portion of the premium, so no employer money goes to sin. All they had to do is fill our a form, like conscientious objectors to the draft, for example. But, somehow, that solution was not acceptable.

Birth control coverage, at least the kind we’re talking about, is most definitely not a necessity.

And to head off at the pass your entirely-predictable trash argument that some women need birth control to manage other conditions, that is an entirely different situation that is indeed already covered by health plans of the type run by catholic nuns.

The liberty to have sex without consequences should come with the responsibility to pay for it oneself.

The insurance plan covers boner pills. Why are we paying for your sexual promiscuity but not mine?

Another trash argument. Keep it up, these flies are easy to swat.

“Boner pills” correct a dysfunction, a medical condition that stops things that should be working from working.

Birth control creates a dysfunction, stopping something from working when it is functional. Unless you consider pregnancy a medical dysfunction in need of correction?

Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t health care supposed to fix medical problems, not create them?

Judge dredd, pro se

This has always cracked me up. No, you “give sizable amounts to charity” for a tax break, oh zurvan the pious. Let’s not confuse that with fulfilling your debt to society with your meager income. Simply stated, you’re not being charitable you’re rewarding yourself further with charitable donations which means you don’t really give a fuck. Fine, but don’t blow smoke up my ass about it. 2 more things that crossed my mind: 1.) why is the government imposing god’s will via taxing you for the care of the poor something you’re against if that’s god’s will? Gods will is… Read more »

mashav

Didn’t read as far as 12;45, huh? Talk about context. The Passover ‘sacrifice’ is a meal. Basically, this is saying that you may no break bread with the unclean. You don’t want to go down this rabbit hole. The Talmud interprets the Bible in some pretty messed up ways, for example, “A heathen who keeps a day of rest, deserves death.” Most Jews just don’t think that their fairy tales should affect other people’s lives.

Which religion believe that the races should not mix? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/07/28/the-bju-interracial-datingban-in-print/

I am just going to continue to assume that you don’t know how that comes out. Probably not as you intended. I heard (and had myself) numerous discussions where ostensibly serious people opined that if they covered the many other conditions that indicated BCPs that women would just “abuse” this and doctors would just fake a condition to get them “free pills”. Meanwhile, according to pancake bunny above, it stretches logic to the breaking point to bring in boner pills. I don’t give a fuck if you can get it up or not and I don’t want to pay for… Read more »

Judge dredd, pro se

A dysfunction? I didn’t know “wine cock,” “too much cocaine and ecstasy tonight” or “I’m too fucking old to get a hard on by my own means” were conditions you could be covered for under insurance.

It stands to reason that god willed it that a wrinkly old limp dick man can’t get it up for good reason so god probably doesn’t agree with you getting a boner freebie from medical science.

You should be paying Street price for that. Why is the tax payer or private insurance paying because you’re a limp dick?

Zurvan

This has always cracked me up. No, you “give sizable amounts to charity” for a tax break, oh zurvan the pious. Let’s not confuse that with fulfilling your debt to society with your meager income. Simply stated, you’re not being charitable you’re rewarding yourself further with charitable donations which means you don’t really give a fuck. Fine, but don’t blow smoke up my ass about it. Man, you’re an idiot. 1.) why is the government imposing god’s will via taxing you for the care of the poor something you’re against if that’s god’s will? First and foremost, the Government is… Read more »

mashav

The Left is going off the deep end of over Trump because he wants to slash science funding and is muzzling researchers, among other issues.
The hypocrisy of the religious right embracing a man with 5 kids from 3 wives and then daring to bring up the phrase ‘sexual promiscuity’ is just the cherry on top.

If Jesus wanted you to WANT to support the less fortunate he most certainly wanted women to WANT to make their reproductive decisions with free will.

What the fuck does this even mean? Jesus wants women to kill their unborn baby? What Bible have you read?

Simply stated, you’re not being charitable you’re rewarding yourself further with charitable donations which means you don’t really give a fuck.

And this is why there should be no deductions for anything. Flat, fair tax, period. Because assholes like you are forcing people into a no-win situation. Either someone is an uncharitable dick for not giving, or they are a self-centered prick for doing so because they get a tax write-off.

Do you expect me to give and not take the deduction that is my right? Is that the moral high ground here? Cockamamie bullshit.

Zurvan

Didn’t read as far as 12;45, huh? Talk about context. The Passover ‘sacrifice’ is a meal. Basically, this is saying that you may no break bread with the unclean. Which has nothing to do with the invalid point you tried to make with verse 44. Unless you were in fact saying employment is akin to slavery. Care to try again? Which religion believe that the races should not mix? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/07/28/the-bju-interracial-datingban-in-print/ A private university is a religion? That’s fascinating. Beyond that, in order to try to validate your premise, I asked what religion believes races should not mix currently – present… Read more »

Yes, that is ok by me.

Go down the street to the other baker who isn’t a racist asshole. Why would you want to give someone like that your money anyway?

Zurvan

I don’t give a fuck if you can get it up or not and I don’t want to pay for your boner. You can fake a condition to get them for partying with an erection lasting hopefully not longer than four hours.

Do you have a religious objection to my government provided boner?

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