Political views vs. theistic views.

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Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  Egro on Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:30 pm

I listen to, and really enjoy this podcast, so I think that my theistic views aren't in question, but my contention is that atheists also have to be liberal democrats.

I'm very conservative and also atheist. Is there something that I'm not understanding? The most recent episode that I started listening to is about the US healthcare debate and the gist of it so far appears to be that atheists can't be conservative.

My conservative mind says that this is very bad and shouldn't happen. But my point of view here is defined by the constitution of the United States which says that Congress has no powers aside those those explicitly defined. I don't see Socialized Medicine as something set forth in the constitution of the United States, and hence, I'm very against it.

My view of liberal democrats, on the other hand, is that they like to pass all sorts of unconstitutional laws. I just don't hold with that, and I'm not alone in my views.

Oh, and I'm a Canadian living in Texas, FWIW.

(Then again, I think that this whole 'man-made global climate change' is bunk too. Feels too much like religion to me. Too much 'do it because we say to do it', and almost no solid evidence. (at least solid evidence that isn't blatantly cherry-picked to the point it's worthless, IMHO.))

Oh, one last thing. I'm new here, thanks for the forums.

Egro, Canadian living in Dallas.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  MisterChristopher on Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:08 pm

I almost fit right into the stereotype of bleeding heart liberal, and I'm not talking on the american political spectrum, but rather at least European political spectrum.
At the same time that I completely disagree with your notion that we need to stay out of medicine, I too find very fascinating that there are far fewer conservative atheists than liberal, or even libertarian atheists.

I would like to hear what your alternative is to universal health though

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  Stegocephalian on Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:09 pm

Well, a couple of different subjects here - the climate change issue would probably have been better left to a separate thread.

As for conservatism, I consider myself liberal leaning, definitely - though I'm speaking as an outsider when it comes to American politics.

I have been following American politics though, and I do see why atheists in general would be reluctant to vote Republican - the Republican party has been all but taken over by religious fundamentalists, bent on turning the US into something more like a theocracy. Had I the vote in the States, irrespective of any other issue, this one problem would make it impossible for me to even consider voting Republican.

The US system of government is a perculiar beast, in that the Supreme Court is a rather small institution that wields tremendous power - and the Supreme Court is at the heart, the #1 most important issue, in every election in recent times, and probably for many more elections to follow; whether or not the voters realize this.

Freedom of religion, and the separation of church and state in the United States is the issue at stake here - the Supreme Court determines how the constitution is interpreted, and at the moment it is at a knife's edge, with just one justice less than half of the justices being essentially ready to throw that separation out the window.

A Republican presidential candidate does not get elected without the support of the religious right, and the price for their support is willingness, if elected, to nominate justices favorable to the fundamentalist agenda to the Supreme Court, if the occasion arrises.

That is why America, if it values it's freedom of religion, is playing with fire with every election of a Republican president.

I think this issue is probably why you don't see many conservative atheists, or at least atheists voting republican, and why I honestly wonder whether those who do are aware of the protracted life-and-death fight over the supreme court that is being waged?

As for man made climate change, there sure is hype on both sides of the debate, but it IS a very loopsided debate, with the vast majority of climate scientists agreeing that man's action is a major contributor to climate change.

I would like you to watch the excellent, very informative videos on the issue made by potholer54 on youtube - they do a very good job at explaining the issue.

It's a four part series, and you can find the first video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52KLGqDSAjo

I have looked into both sides of this issue, and have found the case against man made climate change to be... flimsy. This doesn't mean I agree with the worst of the climate hysteria - but I don't think there's a reasonable way to account for the evidence without taking into account the effect of human action.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  blacklens on Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:42 pm

I am myself a liberal at heart (also by the European standard), but I don't see any problem at all in being conservative/right wing when you're an atheist. Maybe it's just that the borders between religion and politics have been a bit (!) muddled the last decades or so in the US, that it feels like a conservative atheist seems like a contradiction in terms. I think that Stegocephalian has nailed it in his post, so I won't even try to make any kind of analysis myself :-)

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  jifrock on Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:30 pm

I can understand where you are coming from egro.

People tend to work under the assumption that holding a particular view on one aspect of life, love and politics necessarily demands that the rest of your views align with a stereotype. I take the doubtcasters' case for vegetarianism, that sparked significant discussion, as a prime example. I am an atheist but not a consequentialist - neither am I a Kantian, but that is another issue.

The only thing that should reasonably be assumed on this forum is that there is a good chance that, unless otherwise stated, you're an atheist.

The rest is up for grabs, and I hope, discussion.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  Sosa on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:04 pm

I can understand if an atheist is fiscally conservative...but isn't it hypocritical to be an atheist and also be socially conservative? Many (if not all) of the social conservative values are based on theology.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  blacklens on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:16 pm

Sosa wrote:I can understand if an atheist is fiscally conservative...but isn't it hypocritical to be an atheist and also be socially conservative? Many (if not all) of the social conservative values are based on theology.
Why would it be hypocritical to be an atheist as well as socially conservative? If you had said humanist as well as socially conservative I might agree with you, but being an atheist just means that you don't believe in any god.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  Sosa on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:45 pm

blacklens wrote:
Sosa wrote:I can understand if an atheist is fiscally conservative...but isn't it hypocritical to be an atheist and also be socially conservative? Many (if not all) of the social conservative values are based on theology.
Why would it be hypocritical to be an atheist as well as socially conservative? If you had said humanist as well as socially conservative I might agree with you, but being an atheist just means that you don't believe in any god.

Social conservatism (in the U.S.) promotes traditional christian values (for the most part) that are based on the christian bible. They are opposed to same sex marriage because that belief is based on their theology.

Let me ask this: On what does a socially conservative atheist base his/her opposition to same-sex marriage? or same-sex couples being able to adopt children? On what does he/her base their opposition to secularism? These are a couple of major principles that social conservatives adhere to that are founded on religious scripture, so it doesn't make sense to me that an atheist would hold these views based on theology.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  unabashed on Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:33 pm

Before I forget, let me address the humanist mention. As a member of my local AHA chapter, I've heard the president say many times that atheism only tells us what you aren't. Humanism tells us what you are, or at least what you believe. And what is it humanists believe? Well at least in the U.S., if you're a member of the AHA you're supposedly in line with the Humanist Manifesto III which in a nutshell says you are for the betterment of humankind without resorting to supernaturalism.

The part of the manifesto that lends itself most to being a de facto endorsement of liberal politics is:
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

You will note however that nowhere in this does it say that we must involve government in our quest to achieve these positive goals like reducing suffering or supporting a just distribution of nature's resources. Obviously, the government is involved when we talk about a secular society and civil liberties which are negative (passive) goals. In other words, the government need only restrain and protect against others actions to keep from violating our "right" to freedom of consciousness.

In regards to active involvement by the government to achieve goals such as reducing suffering and redistribution, I once delivered a speech to my local AHA chapter entitled, "In defense of libertarian humanism." In that presentation, I made the argument that if our goal is to achieve our goals in the most ethical manner possible, we must not use force via taxation to achieve every goal we desire. The force associated with any mandatory government program has to be weighed against the benefit to society and that benefit in turn needs to be compared to what benefit might be achieved through private efforts. We also have to consider when we address what government programs should be implemented or maintained, budgetary responsibility.

Now, I don't go to the logical end of libertarian philosophy which is anarchy. I don't think it is possible, let alone practical. In light of the goal of budgetary responsibility, something conservatives and liberals alike have had an appalling lack of in recent years, I propose the following budgetary model...

1. Start with a balanced budget.
2. Allocate the current spending levels, reduced prorata to each budgetary category. For instance, if $1 billion was spent last year on category x, and we're deficit spending $10 for every $90 of non-deficit spending, then category x gets $900 million next year.
3. And new category or increase in spending for an existing category must be accompanied for a proposal to reduce the same level of funding in some other area of the budget.
4. Increases in tax revenue should be split equally between an increased budgetary pie and paying down the national debt.
5. The non-funded off-budget obligations of the country should be brought on-budget over a period of years and funding should be maintained via a variety of financial instruments (diversity) to ensure the ability to pay out these obligations.

If you want healthcare, housing or any other social program to be funded out of this budget, you just need to follow the rules and indicate where funding should be decreased in order to free up funds for your program.

For the record, I think it would take a very interesting combination of personal views for one to be conservative and humanist. I've never seen one. And with the current "definition" of conservatism in the U.S. I think it is impossible since I think one of the core principles would be a struggle to "protect us" from the dangers of humanism. LOL I do remember a conservative couple showing up to a meeting to check us out once, but they didn't join. Also, being an active member of the Libertarian Party, I can tell you that it is chock full off atheists. Religious liberty is a pretty much unquestioned platform plank of the party. Locally, I would say about 5% or less of atheists are libertarians. I know of 3 in my local AHA chapter, HAGSA -- me and two others.

I also wanted to address the Constitution. It is not perfect and it has been morphed by the Supreme Court into an oxymoronic instrument. Let me explain what I mean in the one area that upsets me most -- the interstate commerce clause located in Article I, Section 8. In 1942 there was a case where the Supreme Court bought the argument that the government had the power to regulate a farmer's personal and in house farm use wheat production (Wickard.) He argued they couldn't because they were claiming interstate commerce power and that portion of his wheat production wasn't commerce at all. The argument by the government was that if others like him acted in the same way, that the aggregate effect of their actions (producing the wheat they needed for their own use) would be a reduction in the demand of wheat and therefore an indirect (potential) effect on interstate commerce. Ever since then, this decision and those following it as precedent have been used to justify the government being involved in areas where the Constitution never contemplated. It has been used to justify such laws as civil rights (maybe we should have used a constitutional amendment instead?) and the DEA raids on California-legal medicinal marijuana dispensaries. When John Roberts was up for confirmation to the Supreme Court, Reason Magazine pointed out that they would like to ask him what does NOT constitute interstate commerce. The point being, under the current interpretation there is virtually nothing Congress does not have power over because just about anything you can imagine in some way affects or potentially affects interstate commerce. In the DEA case, Gonzalez v. Raich, the pot in question was grown, sold, dispensed and consumed all in California. If under Federal Law it is illegal to sell marijuana across state lines, how did any of this create even the possibility of an effect on interstate commerce? So in effect, the 10th amendment, part of the Bill of Rights has been repealed.

Unless I'm forgetting something, I think that about wraps up the short version of where I stand on poltics and religion. oh wait.. one more point...

I'm also a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU.) In a fundraising letter a while back, I got a pitch from them that we needed to fight a bill being presented in Congress that would reverse the current restriction on campaigning from the pulpit, the violation of which can cause a religious 501(c)(3) non-profit to lose it's status and subject the organization to income tax. While I agreed it should be opposed, I was opposed for a different reason than they stated. They were terrified that lifting this restriction would unleash an even greater force promoting church-state entanglement AU fights so hard to resist. I on the other hand objected because the restriction would be lifted only for religious organizations. It would not free up say the AHA from the same restriction. I believe in freedom of speech above just about any other civil liberty because without it, it is much easier to chip away at the others. I think the founding fathers, when they drafted the 1st amendment free speech protection were mainly concerned about political speech which the IRS currently restricts... or abridges.

Okay, NOW I think I'm done for now. btw... I'm new here.

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  blacklens on Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:49 pm

Sosa wrote:Let me ask this: On what does a socially conservative atheist base his/her opposition to same-sex marriage? or same-sex couples being able to adopt children? On what does he/her base their opposition to secularism? These are a couple of major principles that social conservatives adhere to that are founded on religious scripture, so it doesn't make sense to me that an atheist would hold these views based on theology.
You're assuming that everyone has a completely thought-through worldview, without any contradictions, that everyone is basing their political opinions on logic and reason. Just because you're an atheist doesn't mean you're immune to logical screw-ups in other areas. Being from an extremely secularized country, I would have to say that a large majority of all the right-wing voters here are atheists (or maybe apatheists would be a more accurate label). Admittedly Swedish right-wing is probably still pretty much left-wing/"communism" by US standards. But I think you get my point. And correct me if I'm wrong (it's been known to happen), but isn't the evangelical love affair with the republican party pretty new? Does anyone know how the republican party program has changed since that shift?

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Re: Political views vs. theistic views.

Post  Neon Genesis on Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:33 pm

Sosa wrote:I can understand if an atheist is fiscally conservative...but isn't it hypocritical to be an atheist and also be socially conservative? Many (if not all) of the social conservative values are based on theology.
An atheist is simply someone who doesn't believe in God and it says nothing about their social or political views. I might say they were lacking in critical thinking skills if they were an atheist who was a homophobe, but lacking critical thinking in itself is not a contradiction of the definition of the word atheist. To presume that an atheist = open minded and Christian = closed minded is a No True Scotsman fallacy and it's turning the word atheist to something it's not.

And correct me if I'm wrong (it's been known to happen), but isn't the evangelical love affair with the republican party pretty new? Does anyone know how the republican party program has changed since that shift?
If I'm not mistaken, I believe that fundamentalist Christianity started to become more involved with Republicans in the 80s when James Dobson tried to run for president. I'm not sure about other issues, but according to the book The Bible-A Biography by the historian Karen Armstrong, conservative Christians were supportive of evolution before WWII and were quite willing to work together with the left on many issues. They didn't start to become more polarized until after WWII when science started being negatively associated with Nazis.

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