It's all about the Moderates

Hambydammit
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It's all about the Moderates

Moderates seem to be all the buzz right now, so I'm going to try one more time to explain why moderates are not just facilitators, but are the cause of the fundamentalist takeover of American politics. First, so that the Brits are happy, I'm going to make sure we're all talking about the same thing.

Moderate: A Christian, or pseudo-Christian, who believes in God, and probably Jesus, and also believes in science, evolution, and logic.

Fundamentalist: A Christian who believes in the literal interpretation of the bible, and believes that America ought to be a Christian nation... literally.

 

Ok. This is very simple.

Moderates and Fundamentalists both believe in faith. They must. Without faith, belief in the Christian god is impossible. Let me say that again. Without the notion that "Faith is a Virtue," belief in God is impossible.

Moderates ostensibly use faith only for believing in God. If we are to believe the moderates, they apply logic to everything else. There are two very big problems with this assertion. First, it's not true. Second, even if true, it doesn't get them off the hook for validating fundamentalism.

In recent polls covering topics as far reaching as abortion, stem-cell research, prayer in schools, ID in schools, gay marriage, women's rights, and foreign policy, there is a marked tendency for all Christians to lean right on all of these issues. Are there some Moderates who lean left? Of course. But, if we compare the opinion polls to the number of moderates vs. fundies in the country, we find that a large number of moderates do lean right. The conclusion is simply unavoidable.

In thinking about each of the above issues, it's important to realize that with many of them, the only justification for a right wing stance is religious in nature. As always, there are exceptions. If you dig far enough, you can find someone who is against gay marriage for some bizarre constitutional reason, or who is against stem cell research because of some non-religious objection to the use of human tissue, but it's fair to say that virtually 100% of the arguments used by the public are religious in origin.

(For those who will nitpick over women's rights, foreign policy, and possibly abortion, don't make me bitch slap you. I realize that there are some issues within these topics that are not religious. I'm trying to write an essay, not a book. Don't go down that road. I really don't want to spend the hour and a half necessary to refute this silly objection.)

So, it's not true that moderates only apply faith to the existence of God. The fact is, moderates may not believe the bible is literally true, but they adhere to the spirit of the Bible. Most will tell you that there is something bigger than human morality. They will say that some things are "just wrong," and don't need an explanation. These views are harder to pull out of them, because they realize how untenable their postion is, but at the heart of a moderate is a person who believes in some aspects of religion simply because it feels right to them. Think about it another way. If moderates only applied faith to the existence of god, their voting patterns would be identical to non-theists in the same demographics. But they're not.

Now, why is this important, and why does it mean that moderates are responsible for the fundamentalists' success in politics? As I've written before, moderate Christianity is simply a kinder, gentler version of Fundamentalism. Moderates look at the world and see that some of the Bible is not applicable to their lives, so they discard those parts. They pick and choose what they will believe based on their own conceptions of the world and morality.

Think about Fundamentalists now. They are just like the moderates. They pick and choose the parts of the bible that reflect their view of the world. There's simply no such thing as a real fundamentalist. What we call fundies are actually people who take a harsher cherry-picking approach to the bible. They take a lot of the meanness, bigotry, and hatred, and incorporate it into their belief system. However, if you are ever brave enough to go to one of their churches, notice that the women speak, and that the men wear their hair however they want. Notice that children are not stoned for disobedience, and there are very few witch burnings these days. Fundamentalists are the same as moderates. They pick and choose what they will have faith in.

Moderates have faith that god exists. They ostensibly choose to limit faith only to the existence of god, but that is simply not an option. Faith asserts that some things are true despite all the available evidence. Moderates have good logical evidence that faith should not be applied to things like Abortion Clinic Bombings. They're right to decry the activity. But, they have no leg on which to rest their objection. The fundamentalists are correct when they say that they have faith that the moderates are wrong. Once we have admitted that some things can be true despite being logically false, we have no way of saying which things fall under that category. After all, if god is real despite being logically impossible, it makes sense that abortion clinic bombings are actually a good thing, despite being socially unacceptable and demonstrably wrong by our social standards.

If faith is necessary for anything, it can be used for everything. There is no logical way to draw a line and say "Here is where faith ends." At any point that we use logic, those of faith can simply retort that "This is not about logic. It's about faith."

So, moderates provide the groundwork for fundamentalism. Eighty five percent of Americans (or so) believe in god. That means that eighty five percent believe that faith is a virtue. Sixty percent (or so) of Americans claim to be Moderates. Now, suppose that those sixty percent rejected faith as a virtue. That would mean that seventy five percent of Americans would not give the fundamentalists the time of day because of the ridiculous nature of their beliefs -- not ridiculous because of their content, but because of their foundation! If seventy five percent of Americans simply demanded scientific evidence, there would be no fundamentalist movement. There would be no debate over ID in schools.

Might there still be a debate over abortion, gay marriage, and women's rights? Yeah. There might be. But, we'd be on a lot higher ground arguing over the facts as opposed to how many of the facts we can overlook because of faith. Each and every moderate is partially responsible for the fundamentalists precisely because he does not repudiate the very foundation of fundamentalism. Unfortunately, he cannot do that because he would be repudiating his own "Kinder Gentler" version of insanity. Kinder, gentler insanity is still insanity.

This whole discussion of moderates is not over whether their beliefs are reasonable. Most of their political views are reasonable. Most of them are good people. Most of them think that fundamentalists are crazy. They tell Ray Comfort jokes and drink a beer during the game after going to church. They are very reasonable people. Unfortunately, the very foundation of their belief is what gives permission to those who would turn America into a theocracy. Their complicity is mostly through ignorance, so it is hard to hate them for what they believe to be a perfectly innocuous existence.

Nevertheless, they are responsible.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Steven
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I was trying to explain

I was trying to explain this very topic to my girlfriend the other night after we had watched a 10 minute clip from the documentary - Jesus Camp.  She was appauled by it and had never seen anything like it. 

 She is a moderate Sad.  She also holds the view that, regardless of what evidence is presented to her to refute a god, even if it was undisputable evidence she would still continue to believe because it makes her feel better about life in general. 

 I also get ALOT of heat whenever I speak in a negative manner about religion or her specific ideas.  She believes that energy/destiny/karma guides everything, as well as believing in heaven and hell, but she does not consider herself tied to a god concept.  Whenever I critique her beliefs all hell breaks lose.  Her only arguement is "because I want to".  This is the most common arguement I hear from moderates I speak to regarding religion.

It's naive people like this that will continue to make our nation the shit hole that it is.


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Steven wrote: She is a

Steven wrote:
She is a moderate Sad. She also holds the view that, regardless of what evidence is presented to her to refute a god, even if it was undisputable evidence she would still continue to believe because it makes her feel better about life in general.

She has a really poor outlook on life then.


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Quote: If moderates only

Quote:

If moderates only applied faith to the existence of god, their voting patterns would be identical to non-theists in the same demographics. But they're not.

 

 

Please provide stats that support this statement. 


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Hambydammit wrote: First,

Hambydammit wrote:
First, so that the Brits are happy, I'm going to make sure we're all talking about the same thing.
Smiling

Quote:
Moderate: A Christian, or pseudo-Christian, who believes in God, and probably Jesus, and also believes in science, evolution, and logic.
Fundamentalist: A Christian who believes in the literal interpretation of the bible, and believes that America ought to be a Christian nation... literally.
Ok. This is very simple.

Yep. This is how I tend to use the words too.

Quote:
Moderates and Fundamentalists both believe in faith. They must. Without faith, belief in the Christian god is impossible. Let me say that again. Without the notion that "Faith is a Virtue," belief in God is impossible.

If I was being pedantic, I'd disagree.
I think that there are atleast some cases out there where the believer bases their belief on reasoning. Bad reasoning, but reasoning nonetheless, rather than faith.
However, for the most part faith and theism go hand in hand.
I think our real disagreement is over what faith is.
I think that most people on this forum define faith as simply "belief without reason" and I think that's an incredible over-simplification.

Obviously my argument is incomplete.
I've not justified my own definition of faith, or even given an alternative definition of faith to justify. That's a difficult topic that I'm working on. In the meantime I'm just going to lie out my alternative position to you, without proof or justification, illustrating where I stand rather than trying to prove the point.

Quote:
In recent polls covering topics as far reaching as abortion, stem-cell research, prayer in schools, ID in schools, gay marriage, women's rights, and foreign policy, there is a marked tendency for all Christians to lean right on all of these issues.

I think that this says more about American culture and the political climate other there rather than moderate religion. Moderates don't tend to swing the same way in England, for example. While religion is recognised as having some influence on the way a person might vote, it's fairly minimal compared to other factors, that will be their political beliefs in general.

Quote:
So, it's not true that moderates only apply faith to the existence of God. The fact is, moderates may not believe the bible is literally true, but they adhere to the spirit of the Bible. Most will tell you that there is something bigger than human morality. They will say that some things are "just wrong," and don't need an explanation. These views are harder to pull out of them, because they realize how untenable their postion is, but at the heart of a moderate is a person who believes in some aspects of religion simply because it feels right to them.

This will be controversial, but I think that this is the correct approach to religion. Here I will point out two characteristics that separate the moderate from the fundamentalist and that they make all the difference.
1) The moderate will flirt with all kinds of ideas, some of a fundamentalist flavour, some of a more secular flavour, and remain very open minded while they take all kinds of ideas on board. So you could nitpick and show fundamentalist ideas in odd moderates, but they hang onto such ideas more losely than hardcore fundamentalists/rationalists so it's not quite as essential that they 'get it absolutely right'.
2) They will be open minded towards differing beliefs.
They recognise that their 'feelings' and 'intuition' is their main guide in areas of faith, that it can lead people to different solutions so are open minded to ones different to theirs. They can still be heavily against other beliefs, but it won't be out of disagreement. The reason why some moderates are suspicious of atheists as they perceive atheism as an excuse to shake of responsibilities or to be sceptical about morality. My point being, they don't judge a belief by whether it disagrees with them, but judge a beliefs by the believer and use that as a guide to whether an opposing worldview is acceptable.

Quote:
As I've written before, moderate Christianity is simply a kinder, gentler version of Fundamentalism.

This is the common premise to those who slam moderatism.
It also relates to something you posted in another thread:

Hambydammit wrote:

shelleymtjoy wrote:
that, and i've always felt that if we respect the religious views of the moderates we have to except that of fundamentals as well. Just my $0.02 - personally i respect the person, but i will not respect irrational beliefs.

I'm so glad someone else understands this. It's hard for people to digest the implications of this because nobody is off the hook. It's such a threatening concept, but it's true.

 


Many atheists have the attitude, "I like many moderates, but if I slate fundamentalist beliefs but let similar moderate beliefs go then I'd be having double standards."
I think that this is based on a misunderstanding of moderatism and the point of religion in general.
Clearly the the burden of proof is on me to give a more 'accurate' picture of moderatism rather than 'gentle fundamentalism'. Again, it's something that I'm working on so I can only state my position rather than argue for it yet.

Quote:
Think about Fundamentalists now. They are just like the moderates. They pick and choose the parts of the bible that reflect their view of the world. There's simply no such thing as a real fundamentalist. What we call fundies are actually people who take a harsher cherry-picking approach to the bible. They take a lot of the meanness, bigotry, and hatred, and incorporate it into their belief system. However, if you are ever brave enough to go to one of their churches, notice that the women speak, and that the men wear their hair however they want. Notice that children are not stoned for disobedience, and there are very few witch burnings these days. Fundamentalists are the same as moderates. They pick and choose what they will have faith in.

I agree with this.
I don't think that this harms the moderates though.
It just shows that Fundamentalists are just as guilty of everything they accuse the moderates of, leaving them less excuse for sticking so stubbonly to the controversies.

Quote:
So, moderates provide the groundwork for fundamentalism.

To summarise my opposition, I think your argument depends on inaccurate notions of faith and religion.
The burden of proof is on me to give and argue for competing conceptions, and I promise I'm working on these, among other things.
I need to give an definition of faith and show how it can be a virtue in moderation and not in excess, and likewise with religion in general.

For now I just wanted to pinpoint the premises that your argument rested on, premises that the opposing view might not accept.


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So, Hamby, let me see. Your

So, Hamby, let me see. Your argument in a nutshell is that because Moderates swing right on some issues their voting power is misdirected by faith? And that makes moderates as bad a fundies, if not worse...

 

But, we agree that all these political issues exist in the absence of religion; so we're dealing with them anyway. And then the atheist viewpoint is that God and religion are simply human ideas (they didn't somehow appear divinely), and religiosity, you say, is cherry picked from theology to fit preconceptions; to reflect an already existing viewpoint. You see where I am going here?

 

As long as we say:

1. humans make up religion from their own ideas,

and

2. they cherry pick from those ideas, considerably, to support their pre-existing worldview (as opposed to form it),

 

then we cannot say that in the absence of religion where:

a. the same issues,

and

b. the same humans with the same pre-existing worldviews

are present,

would be a different political landscape.

In the absence of religion, humans make up something else authoritative, and from that authority cherry pick to support the same pre-existing worldview.

We can't escape our own attitudes, to better our world we must change them; the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews, and we ennumerate those with idealism (our intangible projections of authority). And on those grounds I submit to you, moderates have it over even the strongest atheist. Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals, not because of their percieved authority.

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Quote:

Quote:
then we cannot say that in the absence of religion where:

a. the same issues,

and

b. the same humans with the same pre-existing worldviews

are present,

would be a different political landscape.

 

b. does not follow as religious conviction has great consequence on a persons world view.

I can not deny that the issues would still exist but in the absence of religion many disputes would not be debated over profoundly. This is due to a preponderance of the present protagonists on a particular problem ceasing to pose in absence of their big brother conception.

Quote:
We can't escape our own attitudes, to better our world we must change them; the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews, and we ennumerate those with idealism (our intangible projections of authority). And on those grounds I submit to you, moderates have it over even the strongest atheist. Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals, not because of their percieved authority.

Given that the backbone to our attitudes is a world view should ideals based upon a world view that can be authoritatively discredited be given credence? i.e. assumptions that lead to ID being accepted.

I find it highly peculiar that you warrant greater respect to those who blindly applaud an ideal than those who would try to evaluate them. Many atheists have reached their position precisely because they have evaluated the world and base their opinions as much as possible on facts rather than a fuzzy perceived parity between the value of principles.

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


Eloise
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Cernunnos

Cernunnos wrote:

Quote:
then we cannot say that in the absence of religion where:

a. the same issues,

and

b. the same humans with the same pre-existing worldviews

are present,

would be a different political landscape.

 

b. does not follow as religious conviction has great consequence on a persons world view.

But aren't we saying, prior, that religious conviction is little more than the confirmation bias of an existing worldview? Perhaps we can't really know a world view in the absence of religion while we ourselves live in a world saturated with it, but if we establish that all theists are cherry pickers as in the original argument, it does follow that the worldview is independent, at least substantially, from the religion.

 

Quote:

I can not deny that the issues would still exist but in the absence of religion many disputes would not be debated over profoundly. This is due to a preponderance of the present protagonists on a particular problem ceasing to pose in absence of their big brother conception.

Frankly, I disagree, and we have contemporary structures which exist as testament to such profundity in dispute being human nature in matters of authoritative decision making. In secular politics there is easily as much polarisation to be found, and if that's too affected an example then take science, it's a rough discipline where you regularly can find most vicious protagonism of a big brother conception, I'm sure no one here would disagree. In all, I am inclined to say that, such protagonists would be willing to let the chips fall where they may, in the absence of religion, as long as it supports their held position with a perceptible image of authority.

 

Quote:
Quote:
We can't escape our own attitudes, to better our world we must change them; the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews, and we ennumerate those with idealism (our intangible projections of authority). And on those grounds I submit to you, moderates have it over even the strongest atheist. Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals, not because of their percieved authority.

Given that the backbone to our attitudes is a world view should ideals based upon a world view that can be authoritatively discredited be given credence? i.e. assumptions that lead to ID being accepted.

Well, you see, that misses the point. Idealism doesn't give credence, it aspires it. It's the function of authority to give credence.

So lets just take your ID example, the authority of science shows definitively, it's bunk, and in all seriousness it has no other authority behind it, philosophically, spiritually or even ethically (it's essentially plagarism too). The function of idealism is not to accept or reject something that flies wide of greatness like ID, but rather, to ignore it from the worldview, or moreover, idealism functions as the worldview wherein ID doesn't register an impact, it is 'not among'.

Quote:

I find it highly peculiar that you warrant greater respect to those who blindly appluad an ideal than those who would try to evaluate them.

Idealism is not so blind. Authority itself is an ideal and there are ideals to the way of establishing authority too. In that way there is more discernment in the moderate worldview than in any authoritative one. Which was my original point.

 

 

Quote:

Many atheists have reached their position precisely because they have evaluated the world and base their opinions as much as possible on facts rather than a fuzzy perceived parity between the value of principles.

Well I concede there is some fuzziness in contemporary moderate circles, but let me explain further why I maintain the idealistic moderate is the stronger discerner at best. Taking the shortest most direct angle here : God as an ideal. God is the gamut of parity between principles, no? we have god the merciful and veangeful and all the in between symbolising perfection. It's easy to convince yourself there is no parity to be found here, mercy and veangence are mutually exclusive, right? but if you say that on the one hand and then say you have evaluated the world in facts against this, the fact is you haven't done the latter. the world itself subsists through the courtesy of that same gamut of gentleness and violence, moreover it flourishes due to its cycle of both extremes, and has done for billions of lifetimes. left to it's own turbulent nature the world is a veritable paradise, an ideal. And ideal that blooms from the same strangely incompatible characteristics of our human ideal, God.

the credit to the moderate is not in discernment of parity between principles, but of holism among principles, and of openly questioning what truly constitutes an ideal rather than blindly lauding a labelled authority.

 

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Quote: But aren't we

Quote:
But aren't we saying, prior, that religious conviction is little more than the confirmation bias of an existing worldview? Perhaps we can't really know a world view in the absence of religion while we ourselves live in a world saturated with it, but if we establish that all theists are cherry pickers as in the original argument, it does follow that the worldview is independent, at least substantially, from the religion.

I would sooner say that a religious belief says something about a world view to wit it is intrinsic to it. A world view is not a series static existing things where people can grab what they think suits them best, it is dynamical and influenced by actuality and bias (a distortion of the former if you will).

Moderates sentiments are marred by their bias towards the religious, this brings about accepting 'what can be got away with' or cherry picking with reference to a fixed doctrine (along with letting others silly religiose notions go unchecked). Certainly their world view is far from independent and cherry picking is not an argument for such.

A world view that incorporates a religious belief will necessarily lose an element of pragmatic discernment and thus the world view of a religious person can not correlate precisely with that of a pure rationalist.

Quote:
Frankly, I disagree, and we have contemporary structures which exist as testament to such profundity in dispute being human nature in matters of authoritative decision making. In secular politics there is easily as much polarisation to be found, and if that's too affected an example then take science, it's a rough discipline where you regularly can find most vicious protagonism of a big brother conception, I'm sure no one here would disagree. In all, I am inclined to say that, such protagonists would be willing to let the chips fall where they may, in the absence of religion, as long as it supports their held position with a perceptible image of authority.

I refer only to issues that predominantly exist due to religious sentiments. Such as those mentioned in the original post: stem-cell research, prayer in schools, ID in schools and gay marriage. I do not care whether the same pattern can be seen elsewhere in fact it shows a similar bias working.

Note I said many disputes would essentially no longer be debated.

I accept it is human nature to debate and I feel it is folly. I would much rather stick to facts. Perhaps, if I was better at it I would be a well paid barrister.

 

Quote:

Well, you see, that misses the point. Idealism doesn't give credence, it aspires it. It's the function of authority to give credence.

So lets just take your ID example, the authority of science shows definitively, it's bunk, and in all seriousness it has no other authority behind it, philosophically, spiritually or even ethically (it's essentially plagarism too). The function of idealism is not to accept or reject something that flies wide of greatness like ID, but rather, to ignore it from the worldview, or moreover, idealism functions as the worldview wherein ID doesn't register an impact, it is 'not among'.

 I agree that it is a function of authority to give credence, hence I talked about blindly accepting ideals.

My example was that the assumptions that lead to something like ID emerging are suspect. They are the authority behind ID - ones with a strong religious bias. A weaker religious bias while not accepting ID is capable of not only putting up with it but defending it as well!

A world view such as your proposed idealism that would ignore the proponents of ID is neglectful of reliable information and thus dubious.


 

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.


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Eloise wrote: So, Hamby,

Eloise wrote:
So, Hamby, let me see. Your argument in a nutshell is that because Moderates swing right on some issues their voting power is misdirected by faith? And that makes moderates as bad a fundies, if not worse...

I'm not sure if there's a way to state my argument more incorrectly. No, this is not even remotely close.

Quote:
and religiosity, you say, is cherry picked from theology to fit preconceptions; to reflect an already existing viewpoint. You see where I am going here?

Clearly.

If you hadn't mangled my argument so badly, I'd assume you were on my side, based on this last statement.

Quote:
In the absence of religion, humans make up something else authoritative, and from that authority cherry pick to support the same pre-existing worldview.

I would fight that, I'm sure. You didn't happen to read the part of my essay where I addressed this very objection, did you?

Quote:
the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews,

I'm going to try again because this is really important. I know it's hard to understand when you've been told all your life that religion is personal and inviolate.

Pre-existing worldviews cannot always be changed in individuals. There are some who will always be authoritarian right wing nut jobs. Their arguments rest entirely on the existence of a religious viewpoint -- not that all religious people agree with them -- that has nothing to do with it. It has to do with the fact that the majority of people in this country believe that the foundation of their beliefs is sound. Faith is valid.

Why is this so hard to understand? If nobody bought the lie that faith is valid, when someone got onto a podium for a debate and said that ID ought to be taught in schools, the other side would ask, "Why?" and when the answer turned out to be, "Because of faith," we would collectively laugh him off the podium and tell him to go home. End of debate.

Quote:
In the absence of religion, humans make up something else authoritative, and from that authority cherry pick to support the same pre-existing worldview.

You are perhaps suggesting totalitarianism? I notice that there are countries in the world (very few, admittedly) that are almost entirely secular and yet have not descended into authoritarianism. On what psychological principle are you basing your statement?

Quote:
Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals, not because of their percieved authority.

Baloney.

They embrace ideals the same way that fundamentalists and atheists embrace ideals -- because they believe the ideals to be valid. Moderates, just like fundies, believe that you have to take some things on faith because they just are. That is the cornerstone of authoritarianism, and it is the foundation for radical right wing conservativism.

Have you even thought about what you said? Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals? There is no information in that sentence.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Cpt_Pineapple wrote: Please

Cpt_Pineapple wrote:
Please provide stats that support this statement.

Religiosity and Voting Behavior

Aimée K. Gibbs

Abstract

Throughout time there has been a strong emphasis in the understanding of voting behavior. Religion is a strong indicator of an individual’s voting behavior. Religion has an important impact in how the voter looks at specific issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, the environment, and economics. The voter then uses his or her response to these issues as a guideline to help determine which presidential candidate to vote for. It is therefore reasonable to understand that religion has a significant influence on an individual’s voting behavior in presidential elections. This study looks at the influence of religion on various issues regarding abortion, homosexuality, the environment, and economic issues, and the vote for president in the 2000 and 2004 U.S. presidential elections.

Introduction

Voting behavior has been studied for quite some time and many conclusions are made, but what factor influences voting behavior the most? Some say that race is a factor, others that gender is a factor. Many studies, however, look at the influence religion, or lack thereof, has on the voting behavior of citizens, thus making religion one of the most important factors in determining voting behavior. Different religious groups also have differing opinions on issues regarding abortion, homosexuality, the environment and economics, thus leading to a variety of conclusions when looking at influences on voting behavior. Secular groups also have varying opinions on issues adding more confusion to voting behavior studies. In studying this wide spectrum of opinions on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economics, it is difficult to understand what drives individual voting behaviors.

Looking at the varying opinions of religious and non-religious groups is important in the current society to understand voter preferences and to understand the cultural differences that appear to be dividing the country. As it seems as though the country is dividing upon these cultural differences our government will reach a point of standstill when it is unable to meet the wants and needs of its citizens. It is also beneficial for those who are campaigning or running a campaign to know who will vote on certain issues and how they will vote. It is also important for those in office who are attempting to please their constituency as they will now be better equipped to understand the voting habits of their constituency. As the society changes rapidly with an influx of new ideas and issues, a study which looks at how issues are ranked in importance to different groups allows politicians and others to understand the influence of religion or lack of religion in voter behavior in order to adapt to a “modern” society.

Hypothesis

It is my hypothesis that religiosity will be a leading factor regarding voting behavior on issues regarding abortion or homosexual rights more so than on issues dealing with the environment, or economic issues due to the moral values connected with the former issues. I also hypothesize that Protestants are more inclined to vote on these issues than the two other main religious groups: Roman Catholic and Jewish, due to stronger religious connections to the issues and to the morality associated with such issues in Protestant denominations. It is possible to divide the Protestant group into Mainline Protestants and Evangelical Protestants, but for some of the issues being discussed I believe the viewpoints are similar within the specific religious groups under the larger category or Protestant and it is therefore unnecessary to divide the group.

My hypothesis stems from two theoretical traditions. The first of which is a social-psychological theoretical tradition. This tradition centers on demographics to determine which factors have the greatest influence on individuals. My hypothesis looks at the religious group membership to see if religion has a stronger influence on individuals than the individual’s membership in other demographic groups such as race, gender, class, etc., especially regarding the individual’s voting behavior. The second theoretical tradition my hypothesis stems from is the prospective voting theory. This theory centers on policies rather than on demographics. My hypothesis claims that social/moral policy issues are becoming more important than economic or environmental policy issues. While these two theories are quite contrasting they are connected in that there is a probable correlation between the increase in the importance of religion as a demographic characteristic and an increased focus on social/moral policy issues.

Literature Review

When looking at the voting behavior of American citizens many factors can influence the voter’s decisions. Studies often look at the influence of race, gender, and ideology. Many studies also emphasize the influence of religion on voting behavior. Though studies have looked at many variables in order to determine influences on voting behavior, I argue that religion has an overriding influence, especially on the issues of abortion and homosexuality that tends to permeate many of these other factors.

Racial influence on voting behavior is studied more often in recent years than previously. Branton (2004) looked at the effect of racial and ethnic diversity in initiative elections. She argues that race and ethnicity have a strong influence on many issues because of the origin of the issues in a white-dominated society thereby excluding some of the racial minorities and their opinions. Branton (2004) also looks at how white voters in areas dominated by minorities vote on these issues. Minorities and whites vote differently on the issues because they interpret the effects of the issues in a different manner.

There are many issues that are directly affected by race and ethnicity, for example initiatives dealing with affirmative action. Areas that are more racially diverse, such a major cities, are going to have more racially tolerant voters than areas, such as rural areas, that are not vastly diverse (Branton, 2004). Branton states that the voters in homogeneous areas “tend to be less tolerant, which can affect their attitudes toward racially relevant policies.” In this study the hypothesis is that racially relevant initiatives will show how voters will either support or oppose policies affecting racial/ethnic minorities based upon their own race or ethnicity (Branton, 2004).

Branton (2004) also takes into consideration initiatives that are not racially relevant, much like abortion. In these situations economics and benefits are the common driving factors that voters consider when voting on these initiatives. Branton claims that these are part of voter self-interest and that voters will vote on what they think will be best for their group. She claims “voters are even less likely to make the link between the vote and benefits for their own racial group, further diluting any impact of race or racial diversity on their vote” (Branton, 2004). Branton’s hypothesis in these regards is that race has little impact on initiatives that are non-racially relevant. This can also be similar with religion’s impact on issues in that both race and religion will be more effective regarding some issues more than others.

Branton (2004) found that when dealing with racially relevant initiatives, the race and ethnicity of an individual does have some significance. Branton states “the relationship between individual-level voting and diversity is consistently negative, which is in line with the expectations regarding the relationship between diversity and white voting on racially tinged ballot initiatives.” More importantly are Branton’s findings regarding non-racially relevant initiatives. After looking at ten different initiatives (“gambling, medicinal marijuana, parental rights, partial-birth abortion, jurisdiction over juveniles, and sentencing for controlled substance possession) Branton found that “racial and ethnic diversity is statistically only relevant in one of the 10 models…” thus supporting her hypothesis that there is no correlation between race and the voting behavior of these initiatives.

Johnson, Stein, and Wrinkle (2003) focused on the voting of Latino Americans. The Johnson et al. study focused on Mexican Americans in Texas and their voting tendency. Johnson et al. (2003) found that “the establishment of ties to an ethnic group in a majority-minority context over time mitigates the negative relationship between the use of Spanish as a primary language and voting.” Johnson et al. state that “voters who choose not to consume information or communicate in English find themselves at a disadvantage and are less likely to be mobilized or informed about the means of political participation” thus making them less opinionated in matters both racially centered and non-racially centered issues. However, Johnson et al. (2003) also claim that “individuals with strong cultural ties and … strong community ties […] are particularly likely to participate in politics.” In conclusion, Johnson et al. (2003) found that there is a limited connection between the Latino race and voting behavior.

Gender has also been an important when studying the voting behavior of citizens regarding a variety of issues. Sanbonmatsu (2002) looks at the different stereotypes associated with men and women regarding “candidate beliefs, issue competency, and traits, and voter gender.” In regards to gender stereotypes Sanbonmatsu claims that the general population tends to view women as more capable to understand issues dealing with women’s rights, whereas men are more capable to deal with issues such as foreign policy and defense. Sanbonmatsu reports that their gender stereotypes influence a preference for certain genders in office. Sanbonmatsu (2002) found that in regards to issues that voters “who think women are more likely to take their position on abortion – a stereotypically female strength – are more likely to prefer the female candidate.” The voters, especially female voters, who are pro-choice and support women’s rights believe that a female representative will be more likely to vote pro-choice than a male representative. Ultimately, Sanbonmatsu (2002) found that “voter gender is only part of the explanation for voters’ baseline preference; not only voter gender, but stereotypes about traits, beliefs, and issue competency explain the baseline gender preference.” The stereotypes about a issues such as abortion, or foreign affairs show a correlation with gender, thus affecting how people vote.

Kaufmann (2002) also looks at the effects of gender on voting behavior and how the gender gap between the parties has widened. Kaufmann (2002) states that “For women, the issues themselves – reproductive rights, female equality, and legal protection for homosexuals – have become increasingly important determinants of party identification. For men, the influence of cultural conflict on partisanship is argued to be equally pervasive.” Kaufmannn (2002) looks at the cultural factors that have pushed women to the Democratic Party while men tend to be a part of the Republican Party. Kaufmann (2002)looks at the fact that newer social policies regarding women’s rights and homosexual rights are threatening to a society based upon tradition, thus leading to the split between men and women between the parties.

In looking at the division between the genders and the political parties, Kaufmann (2002) looks at the opinions and cultural values on different issues. Kaufmann (2002) states that “women are generally more liberal than men across most of the issue dimensions and in particular on cultural and social welfare issues.” Kaufmann (2002) sees how cultural attitudes toward different issues such as women’s rights, homosexual rights, and abortion rights are different for men and women. Kaufmann (2002) claims that

There is strong evidence that the culture wars – in particular partisan polarization over abortion and homosexual rights – may have recruited additional women to the ranks of the Democrats. Even though men and women share similar attitudes on abortion and women’s rights, the greater emphasis that women place on these views tend to exacerbate the partisan differences between them. This can also be true for the influence of religions in that particular religious groups, such as Protestant groups, in that their overwhelming voting influence is what further separates the voters in the different parties. Ultimately, Kaufmann’s (2002) findings show that women are more interested in the particular issues such as abortion rights or homosexual’s rights leading them to be more liberal with partisanship whereas men are more conservative regarding the issues because their focus is on policies regarding social welfare. Kaufmann (2002) strongly argues that there are many gender implications when looking at culture issues in the United States.

Another key factor when looking at voting behavior is the ideology of the individual who is voting on a particular issue. One’s ideology reflects what is important to that individual whether it is religious influence, race/ethnicity, gender or another factor. Chressanthis, Gilbert, and Grimes (1991) look at the ideology and voting record of United States Senators on the issues of abortion which is a way to show how ideology has an important influence on voting behavior. Chressanthis et al. (1991) found that senators were often swayed based upon their own beliefs upon the issue. Chressanthis et al. (1991) argue “that ideology plays a prominent role in matters of social policy issues like abortion and school prayer.” It is important to look at the Congressional voting because it is a representation of ideologies throughout the country.

Chressanthis et al. (1991) support two different sources of ideological voting: promoting an idea may allow the individual to feel a sense of satisfaction if they feel they have improved the life of others, and that even if there is no effect on others, individuals may still be content in knowing they have “done the right thing.” Chressanthis et al. (1991) also found that a “lack of election competitiveness and voter control increases the likelihood that senators will pursue pure ideologically motivated actions….” Also, by using ideology, the senator will not have to do as much research on the issue or the constituency being represented (Chressanthis et al., 1991). Using religion as one of the ideologies shows that some religions will support and others reject laws regarding abortion depending on the nature of the law (Chressanthis et al., 1991). Another ideology that was researched by Chressanthis et al. (1991) was the party affiliation each member of the Senate was associated with; Republicans are associated with more pro-life amendments whereas Democrats are associated with more pro-choice amendments (Chressanthis et al., 1991). Chressanthis et al. (1991) also look at geographic region as a factor of ideology.

Chressanthis et al. (1991) found that “The significance of the senator-specific religious affiliation does suggest that to some extent senators are motivated by individual-specific influences which are not derived from or affected by constituent interests.” Chressanthis et al. (1991) concluded that the ideology of a senator will have a larger impact than constituency opinion regarding their voting behavior on issues such as abortion. Ultimately it was determined that “the results clearly indicate that ideology is the most significant factor in explaining senator voting behavior” (Chressanthis et al., 1991).

Fastnow, Grant, and Rudolph (1999) looked at the effect of religion in the House of Representatives to see how religion affected vote choice. It was found that “members’ votes represent both their [the representatives’] own religious affiliation, and the religious groups within their districts” (Fastnow et al., 1999). The goal of Fastnow et al. (1999) was to show how both specific issues and broad voting patterns are related to religion.

Fastnow et al. (1999) used the represented denominations to group together those denominations with similar beliefs and traditions to make the study more sufficient. In this study the authors used the highly religious topic of abortion to understand the impact of religion on a specific issue (Fastnow et al., 1999). Fastnow et al. (1999) also “expect religious tradition to affect the general ideological orientation of members.” When looking at the correlation between abortion legislation and religious affiliation, Fastnow et al. (1999) found that different religions affect how a representative will vote. For instance, Mainline denominations and Jewish groups will generally take pro-choice stances whereas Catholics, Evangelical groups, and Mormons will generally take a pro-life stance (Fastnow et al., 1999). Fastnow et al. (1999) also notes the effects of religion on abortion over time: “religious tradition is an important determinant of abortion voting, but that this direct effect has lessened as party has become more important.” Religion’s influence on broad voting is also notable as we tend to find that generally Evangelical Protestants and Mormons will vote conservatively while Catholics, Jews, and some Black Protestant groups vote liberally (Fastnow et al., 1999).

Fastnow et al. (1999) came to the conclusion that religion not only plays a role in the voting behavior of representatives, but also in the decision-making process of the legislature. Fastnow et al. (1999) determined that “Religion stands up to the competition of a variety of other theoretically powerful predictors of voting behavior, including party, constituency preferences, and important demographic indicators.” Religion also reflects the party affiliations, voting behavior, and attitudes of groups throughout the country, thus affecting the legislation brought forth from Congress (Fastnow et al., 1999).

Overwhelming amounts of literature have been devoted to the importance of religion in regards to voting behavior. It is apparent that there is a connection between how voters vote on issues and their religiosity, especially regarding Evangelical Protestant religious groups. Smidt and Kellstedt (1992) look at the influence of the Evangelical religious movement. Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) noted how there had been in influx of evangelicals in the political arena. At this point, many evangelicals associated themselves with the Republican Party whereas non-evangelicals tended to associate themselves with the Democratic Party (Kellstedt and Smidt, 1992).

Another factor at this point is the regional differences across the country (Kellstedt and Smidt, 1992). No matter the religion, southerners were less Republican than the rest of the country, and evangelicals throughout the country were more Republican than others (Kellstedt and Smidt, 1992). Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) noted that the South and the North continue to become more Republican over time, thus affecting their influence in voting behavior regarding certain issues. During Presidential elections Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) found that white evangelicals and nonevangelicals consistently voted for Republicans, but the influence of the region also affected the percentages of each group voting for the Republican candidate.

Ultimately, Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) found four conclusions regarding their study. The first conclusion was that there has been a shift in partisanship of white evangelical voters to the Republican Party (Kellstedt and Smidt, 1992). Secondly, Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) concluded “that white evangelicals have become more politicized during the past decade.” The third conclusion made by Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) was that “there is a growing divergence between the voting patterns of white evangelicals and white nonevangelicals, with evangelicals being more likely to cast their ballots for the GOP presidential candidate.” Finally, Kellstedt and Smidt (1992) concluded that the South may be one region where there is a growing split between the voting behavior of evangelicals and nonevangelicals.

Fox and Richardson (2001) look, once again, at the influence of religion on voting regarding the topic of abortion. Fox and Richardson (2001) used four variables to look at the voting behavior associated with abortion: “religious affiliation, party, age, and rural-urban constituency.” They found that religious affiliation was a better predictor of voting behavior than any of the other three variables (Fox and Richardson, 2001). Fox and Richardson (2001) also establish some of the key beliefs regarding abortion. The Catholic Church opposes laws that support abortions, Protestants generally do not support laws supporting abortion, though it frequently depends on the law, and Mormons are not likely to support abortion laws due to their notions regarding life (Fox and Richardson, 2001).

Fox and Richardson (2001) found “that the only variable that consistently allowed prediction of voting behavior is religious affiliation.” When other variables were included in this study, there was little significance in voting behavior (Fox and Richardson, 2001). Fox and Richardson (2001) concluded that “religious affiliation is always the best predictor, even though in some cases its effect is small.” Though some religious groups have a stronger stance than others on abortion issues, those who have a religious affiliation are more apt to vote against abortion than those without a religious affiliation (Fox and Richardson, 2001).

Brooks and Manza (1997) study the relationship that religion has with political behavior. Brooks and Manza (1997) emphasize the fact that religion has a larger effect on voting than any other factor such as class. Looking at post- New Deal elections, Brooks and Manza (1997) note that the Democratic Party has been greatly associated with the Jewish and Catholic religions, whereas the Republican Party has been associated with mainline Protestant religions (Brooks and Manza, 1997). Of their many theses, Brooks and Manza (1997) look at “the political behavior of specific religious groups in the electorate.”

Brooks and Manza (1997) explore theses such as the Christian Right Thesis, the Catholic Dealignment Thesis, and the Liberal/Mainline Protestant Dealignment Thesis. In the Christian Right Thesis Brooks and Manza (1997) discuss the realignment of conservative voters of a Protestant denomination. The Catholic Dealignment Thesis looks at the prospect of Catholic voters to a neutral position from a formerly Democratic position (Brooks and Manza, 1997). Brooks and Manza (1997) explain that in the Liberal/Mainline Protestant Dealignment Thesis the extremely Republican religious voters are often overrepresented. Brooks and Manza (1997) ultimately found that the religious affiliation with politics is greater than any correlation between race, gender, or class and politics. It was also concluded that “it is […] a rare event for a specific religious group to move decisively toward or away from support for a major party’s presidential candidates.” Religion has a profound influence on the party affiliation and voting tendency of individuals, though change has been occurring slightly over time (Brooks and Manza, 1997).

Several other articles have focused on the influence of religion on voting behavior. One such article is “A Catholic Vote?” by Reverend Andrew M. Greeley (2004). Greeley (2004) looks at abortion issues and claims “Most Americans […] are neither consistently pro-life nor consistently pro-choice. Rather, they are ideologically inconsistent, approving legalized abortion when there is a serious threat to the mother’s health and rejecting it when it is merely abortion on demand.” Greeley (2004) also notes that within different religious groups, especially the Catholic religion, there is an inconsistency in voting for abortion laws. Greeley (2004) finally states “I consider data inviolate in the face of ideological prejudice” showing how data and ideology can coincide with politics.

It is understandable to see a relationship between religion and voting behavior; however it is limited in the most recent research. The most recent election, the 2004 election, has not been figured into these studies. These studies have also not looked at how religion affects voters regarding a variety of issues – which issues are more important to religious voters and to secular voters. This can also be further broken down into the various religious groups and their emphasis on particular issues. My hypothesis regarding the influence of religion on voters and their choice to vote on certain issues more than others will address the incomplete information mentioned above. It will support the idea that religion does affect voting behavior in the fact that some issues are more important to religious voters than secular voters, and that certain religious groups will be more inclined to vote on certain issues than other religious or non-religious groups.

Research Design

This study will look at the National Election Studies put forth by the University of Michigan. The 2000 National Election Study and the 2004 National Election Study will be used. These studies will be looked at in order to understand the voting behavior of all citizens on the issues of abortion, homosexual rights, environmental issues, and economic issues. I will be looking at specific questions regarding the implementation of laws or policies to understand the voting habits of the respondents. I expect to find that religiosity will be more influential in predicting voting behavior on issues regarding abortion and homosexuality than issues regarding the environment and economic issues. This also implies that people who do not find religion important will be less compelled to vote on those issues. I also expect to find that the people within Protestant religious groups will be more apt to participate in voting on the issues of abortion, and homosexual rights than the other religious denominations. This voting behavior prediction is due to the close religious ties and influence of religion on daily life in the Protestant religions with the issues of abortion and homosexuality. The data found in these studies will reflect the voting behaviors of a wide variety of citizens across the United States and will include a variety of issues on which the voters could vote. They will also include information regarding other factors that can/do influence voting behavior. Key variables that will be studied include the different religious affiliations, how important individuals view religion in their life, which presidential candidate the individual voted for, as well as views on abortion, homosexual, economic and environmental issues.

I first looked at the 2004 National Election Study in order to understand the voting habits of the respondents and then looked at the 2000 National Election Study to see if this was true in prior elections. To look at the different issues I looked at specific questions regarding the issues. For abortion in the 2004 National Election Study I looked at the following questions: the importance of the abortion issue to the respondent, does the respondent favor or oppose government funds be used to pay for abortions, and does the respondent favor or oppose a ban on late-term/partial-birth abortion; for issues regarding homosexuality: respondent’s position on gay marriage, should laws protect homosexuals against job discrimination, should homosexuals be allowed to serve in the U.S. armed forces, and should homosexual couples be allowed to adopt children; for issues regarding the environment: respondent’s self-placement on environment versus jobs tradeoff scale, and the importance of environment/jobs issues to the respondent; and for economic issues: the respondent’s self-placement on private or government insurance, federal spending on welfare programs, and federal spending on social security. To understand the religious factors the questions used were “is religion an important part in the respondent’s life” and “if the respondent attends religious services which major religion do they classify their services.” The dependent variable used in both studies was “if respondent voted in the election, who did respondent vote for” (in this instance President George W. Bush or Senator John Kerry). This variable allows us to show the correlation between how the respondent voted for the presidential candidate and their opinion on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economics. It also allows us to determine how strongly religiosity influences issue-based voting. Similar, if not exact, questions were used when studying the 2000 National Election Study.

To determine how strong of a correlation there is between the factors looked at in the 2004 election, a look at a previous election dealing with similar issues was needed, therefore I looked at how influential these variables are in the 2000 National Election Study. Again, I looked at specific questions regarding each of the issues in order to best gauge the influence of religion and other variables on the larger issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economy. Abortion questions include the following: the importance of the abortion issue to the respondent, does the respondent favor or oppose a law in his/her state requiring girls under the age of eighteen to have parental permission in order to have an abortion, and does the respondent favor or oppose a law banning late-term/partial-birth abortions; for homosexuality issues: should laws protect homosexuals against job discrimination, should homosexuals be allowed to serve in U.S. armed forces, and should homosexual couples be allowed to adopt children; for environmental issues: respondent’s self-placement on environment versus jobs scale and does the respondent favor or oppose tougher government regulations on businesses to protect the environment; and for economic issues: the respondent’s self-placement on private or government insurance, should federal spending on welfare programs increase or decrease, and respondent’s opinion of federal spending on Social Security. Again, to understand the religious factors, the questions used were “is religion an important part in the respondent’s life” and “if the respondent attends religious services which major religion do they classify their services.” Again I incorporated the question regarding who the respondent voted for in the election – Vice-President Al Gore or Governor George W. Bush – in order to show the correlation between the issues and how the respondents voted for their presidential candidate.

Results of Analysis

My first hypothesis is that people who feel that religion is important in their life will be more apt to vote on issues regarding abortion and homosexuality than on issues regarding the environment or the economy. Here I split the data set in order to look at the voting behavior of the respondents claiming that religion was an important aspect of his or her life (see Appendix A) with the voting behavior of the respondents claiming that religion was not an important aspect of his or her life (see Appendix A). When looking at the correlations between how respondents who claim that religion is important in their lives voted for President and their opinions on the twelve issues regarding abortion, homosexuality, environment and economics, five of the twelve issues held a strong significance. Of the five issues holding strong significance, three of the issues dealt with abortion, one dealt with homosexuality, and one dealt with the environment. Abortion appears to be the strongest factor regarding how people who find religion important vote. Abortion was also the strongest factor regarding how people who do not find religion important voted, but it was the only issue with a strong significance of the twelve issues. As my hypothesis suggested, those who find religion an important part of their lives are more apt to vote on these issues, especially abortion and homosexuality. For example, not only do people who are religious and pro-life vote for George W. Bush, but those individuals who are religious and pro-choice will vote for John Kerry. As only one of the twelve issues tested showed a significance with those who do not find religion important shows that there is not as strong correlation between the lack of religiosity and how one votes.

I took my first hypothesis one step further in saying that people who associate themselves with a Protestant religion are more apt to vote on issues regarding abortion and homosexuality than people associating themselves with other religious faiths. I also looked at the issues regarding the environment and economics issues to see if my hypothesis remained true for those issues as well. For this information I split the data to study those who claim that they are Protestant with those who associate themselves with other religious groups (see Appendix A and A). For those who claim themselves as Protestants had strong significance with four of the twelve issues; three of these were the three issues regarding abortion and the fourth regarded homosexuality. For those who associate themselves with religious groups other than Protestant had only one issue with strong significance and it regards abortion. As there are more issues strongly connected with how Protestants vote than how other religious groups vote my hypothesis is once again supported in that Protestants will be more inclined to vote on the issues of abortion and homosexuality than those individuals belonging to other religious groups.

In order to see if my hypotheses held true in a previous election I also tested them in the 2000 National Election study. My first hypothesis was to determine if there was a correlation between how important the respondent believes religion is in his/her life and the issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economics. Again, I first divided the data set in order to study those who claim that religion is an important aspect of their lives with the issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economics (see Appendix B) with those who do not consider religion to be an important aspect of their lives (see Appendix B). For those who claim that religion is important in their lives six of the eleven issues have a strong significance. The issue with the strongest significance and beta value is one regarding economics, but the others dealt either with abortions or homosexuality. For those who claim that religion is not important only two of the eleven issues have strong significance, however both of them are issues regarding homosexuality. Though my hypothesis is upheld, one does have to consider that homosexuality was important to voters who held religion as an important part of their lives and those who do not consider religion to be important in their lives.

Taking this hypothesis one step further, I looked at the issues in comparison with the major religions; keeping in mind my second hypothesis that Protestants will have a stronger relation with the issues and will be more likely to vote on them than other religious groups. Once again, I divided the data set into those who claim to be Protestant and those who associate themselves with other religious groups in order to best distinguish the differences in voting behavior between these two groups of voters (see Appendix B and B). For both groups of voters there are four issues of the eleven that hold a strong significance. Also for both groups the same three issues are significant with strong beta values – one regarding economics, one regarding abortion, and one regarding homosexuality. The fourth issue of significance for Protestant voters regards the environment while the fourth issue for other religious groups regards abortion. In this instance my hypothesis is not upheld because other religious groups have the same or more significance with issues of abortion and homosexuality.

Conclusions

Throughout the study it becomes apparent that religious influence is noted in many aspects of voting behavior. The results of my data analyses show that in fifty-seven of ninety-two total tests, my hypothesis is supported in that regarding issues of abortion and homosexuality religion is one of the strongest factors in determining voting behavior. The results of my analyses show that religion has a strong influence on which policies citizens use to determine their vote. My results also supported my second hypothesis in the 2004 election, but not the 2000 election, in that especially on issues of abortion and homosexuality, Protestant religious groups frequently have a stronger correlation with the issues than other religious groups. As the studies showed, religion has been an important factor when voting on the issues regarding abortion and homosexuality in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, thus showing that there has been a correlation for more than just a few years. Though my hypotheses are generally upheld, there seem to be some exceptions, for example in the 2000 National Election Study other religious groups held a stronger significance with abortion issues than Protestant groups. There is also the oddity that in the 2000 National Election Study, when religion of any denomination was a factor there held a strong correlation with federal spending on Social Security.

My study is still incomplete, however. I was limited in that I was not able to look at other demographics such as class, gender, or race in order to support the fact that religion is becoming an increasingly more important demographic category. My paper more easily supports my hypothesis in that I was able to compare policy issues to find that there was a stronger influence of religion on the moral issues than on the issues regarding economics and the environment (twenty-two significant findings compared to five significant findings). Since I was unable to incorporate other demographics, I am not able to compare the importance of religion as a demographic with other demographic categories to strengthen my hypothesis that religion is one of the strongest factors in determining voting behavior. In order to gain more understanding about these exceptions a more detailed study about the specific variables should be done, as well as studying these same variables in more election studies. A study that includes other demographic variables should also be explored. An analysis of religious influence on the voting behavior regarding issues of abortion, homosexuality, environment and economy over time in previous elections will also create enough data to create a more concrete theory about the connections between religion and the voting behavior of citizens on these issues and how it affects their presidential voting behavior. As religion seems to be a significant factor regarding abortion and homosexuality it seems as though religious beliefs should be considered in some way when creating legislation or rulings on issues regarding abortion or homosexuality. My hypotheses were generally upheld revealing that religion is still an important influence in the way that people vote on certain issues, namely abortion and homosexuality issues, and as such should be considered when analyzing the public opinion on such issues.

References

Branton, Regina P. (2004, Fall). Voting in initiative elections: Does the context of racial and ethnic diversity matter? State Politics and Policy Quarterly. 4(3), 294-317.

.

Brooks, Clem and Jeff Manza. (1997, July). The religious factor in U.S. Presidential election 1960-1992. American Journal of Sociology, 103(1), 38-81.

Chressanthis, George A., Kathie S. Gilbert, and Paul W. Grimes. (1991, September). Ideology, constituent interests, and senatorial voting: The case of abortion. Social Science Quarterly. 72(3), 588-600.

Fastnow, Chris, J. Tobin Grant, and Thomas J. Rudolph. (1999, December). Holy roll calls: Religious tradition and voting behavior in the U.S. House. Social Science Quarterly. 80(4), 687- 701.

Fox, Sandie Wightman and James T. Richardson. (2001). Religion and voting on abortion reform: A follow-up study. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 14(2), 159-164.

Greeley, Andrew M. (2004, December). A Catholic vote. America, 191(18), 6.

Johnson, Martin, Robert M. Stein, and Robert Winkle. (2003). Language choice, residential stability, and voting among Latino Americans. Social Science Quarterly. 84(2), 412-424.

Kaufmann, Karen M. (2002, September). Culture wars, secular realignment, and the gender gap in party identification. Political Behavior. 24(3), 283-307.

Kellstedt, Paul and Corwin Smidt. (1992). Evangelicals in the post-Reagan era: An analysis of Evangelical voters in the 1988 Presidential election. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. 31(3), 330-338.

Sanbonmatsu, Kira. (2002, January). Gender stereotypes and vote choice. American Journal of Political Science. 46(1), 20-34.

Appendix A

Appendix B

http://faculty.mckendree.edu/scholars/summer2005/gibbs.htm

 

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The Limits of Demographic

The Limits of Demographic Categories 159
Table 1. Correlations Between Attitudes About the Iraq War, Structural, Group, and Individual Variables


Variables/ Correlation/ Significance
    Effects of university characteristics
Public/private .06 p = .19
Religious/Secular .10 p = .04
Size .18 p = .000
Selectivity −.26 p = .000

Effects of individual and group characteristics
Sex .02 p = .71
Social class .06 p = .31
Political party .09 p = .09
Pol. involvement −.13 p = .000
Religion .37 p = .000
Religiosity .23 p = .000
Year at school −.18 p = .000
GPA −.20 p = .000

From  http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2005.00061.x?cookieSet=1

 Note that the largest correlation between demographic and voting pattern is Religion.  The second largest is religiosity.  Clearly, just belonging to a particular religion has a huge impact on voting characteristics.  More noteworthy is that religiosity had a smaller impact.  In other words, the level of fervency of religious belief is not as important as which religion you belong to.

 

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Churchgoing closely tied

Churchgoing closely tied to voting patterns By Susan Page, June 2, 2004
Original story at USA Today

Where will you spend Sunday morning? Will you go to church or Home Depot? Sing in the choir or play golf? Answer that question and you've given the most reliable demographic clue about your vote on Election Day.

Voters who say they go to church every week usually vote for Republicans. Those who go to church less often or not at all tend to vote Democratic.

Forget the gender gap. The "religion gap" is bigger, more powerful and growing. The divide isn't between Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Gentiles. Instead, on one side are those of many faiths who go to services, well, religiously: Catholics who attend Mass without fail, evangelical Christians and mainline Protestants who show up for church rain or shine, some Orthodox Jews. On the other side are those who attend religious services only occasionally or never.

The religion gap is the leading edge of the "culture war" that has polarized American politics, reshaped the coalitions that make up the Democratic and Republican parties and influenced the appeals their presidential candidates are making. The debate over same-sex marriage is expected to make it wider than ever this year. Gay rights, partial-birth abortion, definitions of patriotism and other "values" issues are likely to exacerbate the divide between the most observant and others.

Vote in 2000 by church attendance
  Bush Gore
More than once a week 68% 32%
Once a week 58% 42%
Once or twice a month 41% 59%
A few times a year 40% 60%
Seldom 39% 61%
Never 35% 65%
Source: National Survey of Religion and Politics, University of Akron

Republicans target the most faithful for political conversion so aggressively that critics say they skirt the law. At the White House, President Bush has courted people of faith with his policies and language. They are a huge group: In 2000, one in four voters said they attended church every week.

Democrats are divided over whether to respond, and how. Presidential candidate John Kerry is taking some first steps to reach out to observant voters.

 

"Once social issues came to the forefront - abortion, gay rights, women's rights - it generated differences based on religious attendance," says John Green, a University of Akron political scientist who studies religion and politics. "More observant people tend to have more traditional morality, and they moved in a more conservative direction because of those issues."

Since 1960, a transformation

Consider the contrast between this year's election and 1960, the last time a Catholic was nominated for president.

John Kennedy didn't have to take a position on abortion; it wasn't a prime political issue until the Supreme Court in 1973 recognized it as a constitutionally protected right. He received support from nearly 80% of Catholic voters.

But he did face hostility from conservative Protestants. In a campaign speech in Houston, JFK assured an audience of ministers that he believed in an "absolute" separation of church and state - that his policies as president would be independent from the Pope.

Now, the challenge to Kerry, who is Catholic, isn't anti-Catholic feeling by evangelicals. He faces objections from conservative Catholics that he has failed to follow the dictums of the church closely enough. Some bishops threaten to deny him and other Catholic politicians Communion because they support abortion rights.

Bush, a Methodist, has the support of most Catholics who attend Mass every week. Kerry is ahead among those who don't.

"When John F. Kennedy made his famous speech that the Vatican would not tell him what to do, evangelicals and Southern Baptists breathed a sigh of relief," says Gary Bauer, a Republican presidential contender in 2000 who now heads a conservative group called American Values. "But today, evangelicals and Southern Baptists are hoping that the Vatican will tell Catholic politicians what to do."

Social and "values" issues have dominated American politics before. But with the Depression and the New Deal, economic class became the fundamental political divide. Franklin Roosevelt was elected and re-elected by a coalition of white Southerners, Northern blue-collar workers, ethnic minorities and blacks.

"During the New Deal era, people voted more on the basis of their perceived economic interests than their perceived values," says Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager. "From the '60s forward, values became a more important dividing point between the two parties and between political candidates." White Southerners have joined the Republican coalition. Some affluent voters, particularly women, have become Democrats.

The religion gap didn't exist before 1972. Voters who said they went to church every week didn't vote any differently than those who did not. But after the tumultuous 1960s, President Nixon appealed to the traditionalist views of the nation's "silent majority." A significant gap, 10 percentage points, opened in the '72 election.

That gap narrowed to single digits for nearly two decades. Then it exploded in 1992. Bill Clinton, dogged by rumors that he had dodged the draft and cheated on his wife, won the election because of his promise to address voters' concerns about the economy and health care. But those who attended church each week were much less likely to support him than others. In 2000, Bush emphasized the role his born-again faith had played in turning around his life. The gap got even bigger.

There are exceptions to the pattern. African-Americans who often attend church are as reliably Democratic as those who don't. Frequency of church attendance seems to have limited impact on the voting patterns of Hispanics.

But among whites, the political differences that church attendance signal are striking. The religion gap now dwarfs the gender gap, Green calculates. In an election that was evenly divided in 2000, women chose Democrat Al Gore over Republican George Bush by about 10 percentage points. Frequent churchgoers chose Bush over Gore by 20 points.

That pattern held true even for voters who identified themselves as members of the "religious right," a group generally considered part of the Republican base. Bush was supported by 87% of those who said they attended church each week. But his margin plunged 31 points, to 56%, among members of the religious right who attended church less often.

Republicans say concern over the moral direction of the country and gay marriage in particular has created an opening for them to motivate supporters and reach out to new allies among the faithful.

A year ago, Bauer was one of several leaders of advocacy groups who began meeting informally to discuss strategies to oppose gay marriage and promote a constitutional amendment that would ban it. "In the beginning, the attendees were fairly predictable - white evangelical folks," he says. "Now it's branched

   
Politics and Religion
The more frequently Americans attend religious services, the more conservative they are likely to be, an examination of USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls found. Frequency of church attendance and how respondents viewed themselves politically:
Church Attendance Conservative Moderate Liberal
Once a week 54% 33% 13%
Almost every week 47% 39% 14%
Once a Month 38% 42% 19%
Seldom 31% 45% 24%
Never 26% 40% 34%
Source: USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls taken from February 2003 to May 2004. More than 7,000 respondents combined from seven surveys; margin of error: +/- less than 2 percentage points.
 

out to Catholics and Orthodox Jews as well as significant numbers of Hispanics and African Americans." The issue has "electrified" the most observant Americans, he says.

An 'organizational engine'

In the White House, Bush has taken care to address issues important to observant Catholics and Jewish voters as well as evangelical Christians. Bush, who has called Jesus his favorite political philosopher, laces his speeches with phrases that echo familiar hymns and Bible verses.

"I believe it is in the national interest that government stand side-by-side with people of faith who work to change lives for the better," he said Tuesday at a White House conference on faith-based initiatives. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 making it easier for religious groups to get federal funds to provide social services.

On Tuesday, the Bush campaign sent an e-mail to supporters in Pennsylvania seeking to "identify 1,600 'friendly congregations' where voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis." The campaign asks for a volunteer coordinator for each congregation.

Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, calls the e-mail "a breathtakingly bad merger of religion and politics" that asks churches to violate their tax-exempt status. Tax law forbids political activity by churches. Steve Schmidt of the Bush campaign said the outreach was to individuals, not to churches.

"White conservative evangelical churches have become across the South the organizational engine for the Republican party the way labor unions became the organizational engine for the Democratic Party in the industrial heartland in the 1930s," says Mark Silk, a political scientist at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and editor of the journal Religion in the News.

There are risks for Republicans. Heavy-handed moralizing repels some voters, including many upscale suburbanites who help decide elections. "Whenever you talk about any of these issues, you have to demonstrate compassion and tolerance, so it's not a judgmental thing but a reflection of values," says Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush campaign.

Meanwhile, Democrats haven't reached a consensus on a strategy to narrow the religion gap and regain voters the party has lost. Some say that Kerry and other candidates should emphasize pocketbook issues of jobs and health care instead. Others argue that voters who frequently attend church would be receptive to an appeal that recasts some traditional Democratic issues - protecting the environment as the stewardship of God's creation, for instance.

"The Democratic party is very much divided about whether these sorts of appeals are legitimate and whether religion should play a role in electoral politics," says James Guth, a political scientist at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., who has studied Bush's use of religion. While many Democrats attend religious services, others are secular.

A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee was unable to identify a staffer who works on religious outreach. But the Center for American Progress, a liberal group based in Washington, is starting a multiyear project next week to "amplify" religious voices in the party. Democrats "fell into talking about program and individual components of program, and less in a language that really was about values," says John Podesta, a White House chief of staff for President Clinton who heads the group.

A month ago, Kerry hired a "director of religious outreach": Mara Vanderslice. The 29-year-old evangelical Christian, who has worked for church-based programs on international hunger and health, is on her first campaign.

"The most important thing to start with are opportunities for John Kerry to share more openly with the American electorate about his faith experience, how it's inspired his commitment in public service and how it's influenced his life," she says. A first step: A "people of faith network" on the campaign Web site. She hopes it's launched by the end of the month.

 

http://evolvefish.com/freewrite/Church_Indicates_Vote.htm

 

 

 

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Let's assume for the time

Let's assume for the time being that "Never" on church attendance correlates approximately with "Non-theist."  I realize there will be a margin of error, but sometimes you go with what you have.  There simply aren't many polls that ask people directly if they're non-theists.

Let's say that "moderate Christians" are those who do not attend weekly, but attend more than just holidays.  I think I'm being fair in suggesting that.

If we take the bottom of that:  A few times a year, the voting patterns for Bush and Gore are still striking.  40/60 for Bush/Gore.  Among those who never go to church,  35/65 for Bush/Gore.  So, even among those who probably just give lip service to their religion, there's still a 5% boost in voting for Bush.  Bush won by how many percentage points?

Now, realize that I have been overly fair.  Moderate Christians account for 60% (ish) of the country.  We all know people who attend church virtually every week, but are not fundies.  Taking the best possible outlook for moderates, we still come up with enough of a difference that we would have elected Gore.  The best possible outlook, of course, is woefully generous.

Frankly, Pineapple, I think it's ridiculous that I've had to spend an hour of my life pointing out the obvious to you.  Maybe it's not obvious to you because you don't live in America, but churches here tell their congregations how to vote, and they do it.

If you spent half a day interviewing people anywhere in the country, you'd see the correlation.  It's beyond obvious.

 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Frankly, Pineapple, I think it's ridiculous that I've had to spend an hour of my life pointing out the obvious to you. Maybe it's not obvious to you because you don't live in America, but churches here tell their congregations how to vote, and they do it.

If you spent half a day interviewing people anywhere in the country, you'd see the correlation. It's beyond obvious.

 

 

That's my point exactly! I don't live in America, I live in Canada. Canada is predominatly Christian, yet I don't see these issues happening here.

 

[edit]

 Not that we don't have issues, it's that they are not prevalent like in the U.S

 

[/edit] 

 

 

Stats Canada survey (2002):

 


Importance of religion to you1 High Moderate Low No religion Total Percentage Total Men Women
44 20 19 17 100
362 21 232 202 100
51 20 14 15 100
1. Importance of religion to you is scored from 1 (not important at all) to 5 (very important). High importance is defined as a score of four or five, moderate importance — a score of three and low importance — a score of one or two. Those reporting no religious affiliation were not asked this question.
2. Statistically significant difference from reference group in italics, at the 95% confidence level.
Source: Statistics Canada, Ethnic Diversity Survey, 2002.

 

 

The importance of religion to one's life, by religious practices, Canada, 2002 Attendance at religious servicesPrivate religious practices Importance of religion to you1 High Moderate Low No religion Total Percentage
At least monthly At least monthly 87 11 2 ... 100
At least monthly Infrequently or never 602 272 122 ... 100
Infrequently or never At least monthly 452 362 182 ... 100
Infrequently or never Infrequently or never 152 312 542 ... 100
No religion ... ... ... 100 100
1. Importance of religion to you is scored from 1 (not important at all) to 5 (very important). High importance is defined as a score of four or five, moderate importance — a score of three and low importance — a score of one or two. Those reporting no religious affiliation were not asked this question.
2. Statistically significant difference from reference group in italics, at the 95% confidence level.
Source: Statistics Canada, Ethnic Diversity Survey, 2002.

 

You see, the stats you posted are from U.S studies. This, in stats, is called an isolated pocket. It just shows that religous people can vote based on their religion, it is no indication that they should.

 

In Canada we do have moderate Christians, and they are no trouble at all.

 

To be honest, if I lived in America I would see your point. However I don't, so I don't.

 

 

Quote:

 

If you spent half a day interviewing people anywhere in the country, you'd see the correlation. It's beyond obvious.

Come to Canada. Stay awhile. Then you will see where I'm coming from.

 

 


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Um... Pineapple, in perfect

Um... Pineapple, in perfect Pineapple style, you have statistically demonstrated that Canadians are predominately Christian. That's great.

You've not posted anything to do with voting patterns of Christians vs. Non-Christians.

So, congratulations on yet another completely irrelevant point.

By the way, I'm going to let you dig up statistics before I explain to you why the statistics are not relevant to my argument, which you still don't seem to grasp.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Um...

Hambydammit wrote:

Um... Pineapple, in perfect Pineapple style, you have statistically demonstrated that Canadians are predominately Christian. That's great.

 

That's part of my argument!

 

 

 

Quote:

 You've not posted anything to do with voting patterns of Christians vs. Non-Christians.

 

But it does! Canada is secular. That is they are voting like Non-Christians. You even said it yourself:

Quote:

If moderates only applied faith to the existence of god, their voting patterns would be identical to non-theists in the same demographics. But they're not.

 

You even underlined it and bolded it! That is why I posted the stats to show that Canadian Christians only apply their faith to the existance of God!

 

 

 

Quote:

So, congratulations on yet another completely irrelevant point.

 

Quite the contrary. 

 

Quote:
 

By the way, I'm going to let you dig up statistics before I explain to you why the statistics are not relevant to my argument, which you still don't seem to grasp.

 

 

Perhaps, but they are to mine.

 

You are saying that the moderate's faith validate's the fundies.

You made this point several times:

 

Quote:

 

If faith is necessary for anything, it can be used for everything. There is no logical way to draw a line and say "Here is where faith ends." At any point that we use logic, those of faith can simply retort that "This is not about logic. It's about faith."

 

 and

Quote:

If faith is necessary for anything, it can be used for everything. There is no logical way to draw a line and say "Here is where faith ends." At any point that we use logic, those of faith can simply retort that "This is not about logic. It's about faith."

 

 

Yes there is a line. And that line is politics.  Canada demostrates this! Religion should be about personal faith. You cannot then use that faith to make decisions that affect others.

 

That is why I posted the stats. 

You see, I do know your argument.

 

You see, I like to build up onto my argument piece by piece.  Perhaps I should state my argument outright in the future.

 

 


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Quote: Yes there is a line.

Quote:
Yes there is a line. And that line is politics.

Defend this logically.

Quote:
Canada demostrates this!

You've yet to demonstrate this. You've only demonstrated that it's Christian.

Quote:
Religion should be about personal faith.

Defend this logically.

Quote:
You cannot then use that faith to make decisions that affect others.

Defend this logically.

Quote:
That is why I posted the stats.

Wonderful. I concede that Canada is majority Christian.

Quote:
You see, I do know your argument.

It seems you might grasp the argument. Nevertheless, you have only made assertions with no backing. You haven't even remotely refuted it.

Quote:
You see, I like to build up onto my argument piece by piece.

Well, please demonstrate this for us. Demonstrate all of your assertions logically. I'm particularly interested in knowing how you're going to logically prove that politics is the dividing line between faith and reason.

Seriously, that's Nobel Prize territory, considering how vehemently history disagrees with you.

 

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I have to go to class soon,

I have to go to class soon, but I will address the rest when I get back.

 

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Yes there is a line. And that line is politics.

Defend this logically.

 

Because why should I let my personal beliefs affect your personal beliefs?

First ammendment (U.S)/Canadian chartier of rights and freedoms. Golden rule etc...

 

 

Quote:

Quote:
Canada demostrates this!

You've yet to demonstrate this. You've only demonstrated that it's Christian.

Gay marriage: Legal

Abortion: Legal

Embroynic stem cell: legal (?)

 

I'll have to double check the stem cell, but I know that gay marriage/abortion are legal.

 

Quote:

Quote:
Religion should be about personal faith.

Defend this logically.

First ammendment (U.S)/Canadian chartier of rights and freedoms. Golden rule etc...

 

i.e Keep it to yourself.

 

 

Quote:

Quote:
You cannot then use that faith to make decisions that affect others.

Defend this logically.

 

First ammendment, Canadian Chartier of rights and freedoms, Golden rule etc...

 

Is there a pattern here?

 

Quote:

Quote:
That is why I posted the stats.

Wonderful. I concede that Canada is majority Christian.

Excellent.

 

Quote:

Quote:
You see, I do know your argument.

It seems you might grasp the argument. Nevertheless, you have only made assertions with no backing. You haven't even remotely refuted it.

 

I'm working on it Smiling

 

[fixed quotes] 

 


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Frankly, Pineapple, I think it's ridiculous that I've had to spend an hour of my life pointing out the obvious to you.

You hour wasn't entirely lost!  I read it and found it interesting.  Other people probably did too.   


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Quote:

Quote:
Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
Yes there is a line. And that line is politics.

Defend this logically.

 

Because why should I let my personal beliefs affect your personal beliefs?

First ammendment (U.S)/Canadian chartier of rights and freedoms. Golden rule etc...

Let me try this again. Demonstrate this logically. This is an anecdotal defense, not a logical proof.

 

Anecdotal evidence

One of the simplest fallacies is to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example:

"There's abundant proof that God exists and is still performing miracles today. Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family went to church and prayed for her, and she was cured."

It's quite valid to use personal experience to illustrate a point; but such anecdotes don't actually prove anything to anyone. Your friend may say he met Elvis in the supermarket, but those who haven't had the same experience will require more than your friend's anecdotal evidence to convince them.

Anecdotal evidence can seem very compelling, especially if the audience wants to believe it. This is part of the explanation for urban legends; stories which are verifiably false have been known to circulate as anecdotes for years.

Quote:

Gay marriage: Legal

Abortion: Legal

Embroynic stem cell: legal (?)

 

I'll have to double check the stem cell, but I know that gay marriage/abortion are legal.

Anecdotal evidence

One of the simplest fallacies is to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example:

"There's abundant proof that God exists and is still performing miracles today. Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family went to church and prayed for her, and she was cured."

It's quite valid to use personal experience to illustrate a point; but such anecdotes don't actually prove anything to anyone. Your friend may say he met Elvis in the supermarket, but those who haven't had the same experience will require more than your friend's anecdotal evidence to convince them.

Anecdotal evidence can seem very compelling, especially if the audience wants to believe it. This is part of the explanation for urban legends; stories which are verifiably false have been known to circulate as anecdotes for years.

Furthermore, this proves only that the United States and Canada don't have the same political issues. Among the statements up for the "Duh of the Year" award, this would rank very high.

Why don't you demonstrate that in Canada, religion has NO EFFECT on ANY voting issues.

Quote:

First ammendment (U.S)/Canadian chartier of rights and freedoms. Golden rule etc...

 

i.e Keep it to yourself.

 

Anecdotal evidence

One of the simplest fallacies is to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example:

"There's abundant proof that God exists and is still performing miracles today. Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family went to church and prayed for her, and she was cured."

It's quite valid to use personal experience to illustrate a point; but such anecdotes don't actually prove anything to anyone. Your friend may say he met Elvis in the supermarket, but those who haven't had the same experience will require more than your friend's anecdotal evidence to convince them.

Anecdotal evidence can seem very compelling, especially if the audience wants to believe it. This is part of the explanation for urban legends; stories which are verifiably false have been known to circulate as anecdotes for years.

Quote:

First ammendment, Canadian Chartier of rights and freedoms, Golden rule etc...

 

Is there a pattern here?

I certainly hope one is developing. It might be that you are beginning to learn that you cannot use ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE to prove something logically


Anecdotal evidence

One of the simplest fallacies is to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example:

"There's abundant proof that God exists and is still performing miracles today. Just last week I read about a girl who was dying of cancer. Her whole family went to church and prayed for her, and she was cured."

It's quite valid to use personal experience to illustrate a point; but such anecdotes don't actually prove anything to anyone. Your friend may say he met Elvis in the supermarket, but those who haven't had the same experience will require more than your friend's anecdotal evidence to convince them.

Anecdotal evidence can seem very compelling, especially if the audience wants to believe it. This is part of the explanation for urban legends; stories which are verifiably false have been known to circulate as anecdotes for years.

Quote:
I'm working on it Smiling

You're doing extraordinarily poorly. I can't wait to waste another hour of my life pointing out that you aren't addressing my argument.

 

 

 

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Gay marriage: Legal

Abortion: Legal

Embroynic stem cell: legal (?)

 

I'll have to double check the stem cell, but I know that gay marriage/abortion are legal.

Just so you have more time to look up voting statistics after class, I'll go ahead and answer an issue for you.

Stem Cell research is only legal in Canada if you really tighten your defination of legal. In Canada stem cell research is limited to:

  1. The embryos used, whether fresh or frozen, were originally created for reproductive purposes and are no longer required for such purposes; and
  2. There was free and informed consent from the persons for whom the embryos were originally created for reproductive purposes. Where third party donor gametes were used to create the embryo, the third party gamete donor(s) must have given at the time of donation free and informed consent to the unrestricted research use of any embryos created, when these embryos are no longer required for reproductive purposes; and
  3. Neither the ova nor the sperm from which the embryos were created, nor the embryos themselves, were obtained through commercial transactions, i.e., were acquired by payment of money in excess of costs actually incurred or in exchange for healthcare services.
Which ends up being next to none. I wouldn't call that 'legal'.

 


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First, I agree with what

First, I agree with what you have been saying for some time, Hamby.  With the moderates go the company.

Now, on the side, I must say: Hahahahahahaha!  This is exactly what your diplomatic style gets.  I never interact with Pineapple, and he never feels the need to respond to me.  Now, he might here because I am referring to him, but I will ignore him.  You're too nice though!  Hhahahahahahaha

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I think he was aiming to

I think he was aiming to show that the religious vs non-religious politics was more a character of American culture rather than the behaviour of moderates in general.
His point was to show that Canada was mostly Christian and still liberal.

So while I think you're right about the relationship between religion and politics in America, as it only holds in America it shows that it doesn't hold for moderate religion in general - it is more a characteristic of American culture and politics.

Right Cpn?


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Strafio wrote: I think he

Strafio wrote:
I think he was aiming to show that the religious vs non-religious politics was more a character of American culture rather than the behaviour of moderates in general. His point was to show that Canada was mostly Christian and still liberal. So while I think you're right about the relationship between religion and politics in America, as it only holds in America it shows that it doesn't hold for moderate religion in general - it is more a characteristic of American culture and politics. Right Cpn?

 

Exactly!

 


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Nero wrote: Now, on the

Nero wrote:

Now, on the side, I must say: Hahahahahahaha! This is exactly what your diplomatic style gets. I never interact with Pineapple, and he never feels the need to respond to me. Now, he might here because I am referring to him, but I will ignore him. You're too nice though! Hhahahahahahaha


Dude... you're missing the point of debate.
You're focusing too much on the result of convincing rather than the process of reasoning itself.
Personally, I think that Hamby is being the ideal opponent in this debate - giving a strong opinion that forces you think hard to refute his position, but lays it all out rationally so such a refutation is possible. (i.e. he'd listen to a counter argument rather than shout past it)


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I would also like to expand

I would also like to expand on my previous point.

Canada keeps faith out of politics. That is how it should be. The Chartier of rights and freedoms gives freedom OF and FROM religion. You must argue political points logically.

So no, the moderate's faith in God does not validate the fundies faith in politics, since the line of when to stop using faith is drawn on politics since it affects other people, of different cultures and faiths. This is the essence of the chartier of rights and freedoms, the first amendment and the Golden rule (treat others as you would like to be treated).

 

 

I'm going away this weekend. I swear if Hamby of Shelly misrepresent my argument when I get back...I don't know what I'll do. 


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Dudette: I don't know if

Dudette:

I don't know if you have seen how this fellow follows Hamby around the board as his personal tsetse fly, but it is pretty obvious.  I understand and am a fan of the confrontational advocacy system of the Forum.  There comes a point where the opponent is there not from apparent opposition to the argument but merely for opposition itself.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote: I'm

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

I'm going away this weekend. I swear if Hamby of Shelly misrepresent my argument when I get back...I don't know what I'll do.

First of all, it's ShellEy.  Secondly, I never "misrepresented" your argument.  I just don't really see what your point is and the little bit I do see, seems intentionally derailed.  I didn't think that at first because 1. I wasn't aware that this was your MO and 2. when you changed your avatar recentally I thought for a post or two that you were another person.  I've gone way out of my way to try and understand you... just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I'm "misrepresenting' you.

I have felt, through this entire moderate discussion, some need to follow these threads because Ham's essay came back into discussion based on a discussion I started about a speaker at my school.  Maybe you didn't see it because it was in the Atheist Only Forum.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/the_rational_response_squad_radio_show/freethinking_anonymous/10838

 

 


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Strafio wrote: I think he

Strafio wrote:
I think he was aiming to show that the religious vs non-religious politics was more a character of American culture rather than the behaviour of moderates in general. His point was to show that Canada was mostly Christian and still liberal. So while I think you're right about the relationship between religion and politics in America, as it only holds in America it shows that it doesn't hold for moderate religion in general - it is more a characteristic of American culture and politics. Right Cpn?

But Pineapple hasn't shown that!  If Pineapple wanted to show that then post some numbers or sources or something.  Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

Instead Pineapple asked Ham to prove this was the way it was in America.  If Pineapple is already agreeing to this then why ask for the numbers other than to derail the topic and tie up Ham's Friday night.

On that note I'm hungry - all this Ham and Pineapple is making me crave pizza. 


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Quote: But Pineapple hasn't

Quote:
But Pineapple hasn't shown that! If Pineapple wanted to show that then post some numbers or sources or something. Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

It's as if a light shone through the clouds onto the murk below, and that light was shellEy.

Quote:
Instead Pineapple asked Ham to prove this was the way it was in America.

Which is akin to proving that the pope is Catholic. It's so obvious, you almost don't know where to start. Nevertheless, I spent an hour looking up stats -- even though I knew that my stats would have nothing to do with Pineapple's point -- which I knew wouldn't address my argument.

Quote:
If Pineapple is already agreeing to this then why ask for the numbers other than to derail the topic and tie up Ham's Friday night.

Pineapple's oh-so-clever retort to the blatant connection of religion to politics (in America) was to say:

Politics should not be mixed with religion.

I have asked him to demonstrate this logically, and he has given me stats proving that Canada has a lot of Christians. When it was pointed out that this has nothing to do with it, he said (without stats, oddly) that religion doesn't affect voting in Canada because abortion is legal, etc. (Abortion is legal in the U.S. too, but that's neither here nor there.)

Now, just so everyone has a cheat-sheet for spotting the next deflection, let me tell you how it's going to go. Pineapple cannot refute me on the following points:

1) Moderates do let their non-rational religious beliefs change the way they act, including, but not limited to their voting patterns. In other words, their faith doesn't exist in a vacuum. Just think about how ridiculous it is to claim that moderate Christians, other than believing in god, are exactly the same as non-theists!

(Note, this is not even a crucial point in my argument, but it's the one Pineapple is attacking most vehemently. In some sort of ideal world where moderates were 100% logical except for believing in god, their belief would still be the foundation for fundamentalism.)

2) Moderates cannot logically establish a line between faith and reason, so they only have emotional appeals and vague notions of "should" with which to oppose fundamentalists.

Instead, it's likely that he's going to want to talk about how there are some religious people who live according to his non-rational idea* of where the line between politics and faith should lie. His argument, though it will never be stated plainly, will appear to be something along the lines of:

"Some people are not bad in religion. Some people separate their religion from day to day life. Religion can work with politics and atheists and theists can get along because they ought to be able to because that's the way it could be."

Now, just so I'm not accused of being obscure, or of not stating my position plainly, keep in mind the following points:

1) Some moderates do live very reasonable lives. I said that in my essay, and I stand by it. I'm sure there are isolated pockets in the world where religion and day to day life seldom clash, and it's not really a problem.

2) This is completely, totally, and in all other ways irrelevant to my argument, precisely because it is simply the line those people have arbitrarily and non-rationally decided to place between faith and life. They have no rational basis for it, other than their feeling that it should be that way. Think about it this way: If I have faith in anything, I must have faith in where the line between faith and logic exists, since logic cannot be used to prove it. Faith, after all, is the trump card against any logic, provided that I have faith in the faith. (See how circular the argument gets, even when you're trying to be serious about it?!)

3) Once faith has been allowed into anything, it can be claimed for anything else. Any and all appeals to logic can be overturned simply by invoking faith. This is why we have this stupid notion that all religious beliefs should be respected. If we "disrespect" any of them by pointing out how stupid and irrational they are, we open the floodgates for everyone... particularly moderates.

 

*I say his idea is non-rational because it does not have a reasoned argument behind it. He cannot prove that this is the way it should be.

Quote:
On that note I'm hungry - all this Ham and Pineapple is making me crave pizza.

Oddly, I had pizza last night...

 

 

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Furthermore, just so

Furthermore, just so Pineapple won't have to resort to doing he knows not what, here's a quick refresher on what he has claimed with his very own typewriter, and for which claims, logical proof is as yet, not forthcoming.

 1. Yes there is a line. And that line is politics. (line between faith and reason.  HD.)

2.  Religion should be about personal faith.

3.  You cannot then use that faith to make decisions that affect others.  (Cannot!  This one is going to win a Nobel Prize for sure, since it flies in the face of history, and we're going to have to completely change what we know of human psychology.)

 And, most importantly, Pineapple has claimed this:

4. You see, I do know your argument.

I have seen glimmers.  He has quoted me accurately on important points, but he has yet to demonstrate a clear understanding of how each of my points ties together into an argument after his very own heart... "You see, I like to build up onto my argument piece by piece."

I will be waiting for these proofs.

I'm sure I will get a deflection instead.

 

 

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Hambydammit wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

Eloise wrote:
So, Hamby, let me see. Your argument in a nutshell is that because Moderates swing right on some issues their voting power is misdirected by faith? And that makes moderates as bad a fundies, if not worse...

I'm not sure if there's a way to state my argument more incorrectly. No, this is not even remotely close.

I find myself disbelieving that, Hamby, it's almost a naked assertion, apart from your OP, which I have already read, you've said nothing that could set me straight on what the real point of your argument is. So where have I gone wrong? please correct me.

 

 

Quote:
Quote:
and religiosity, you say, is cherry picked from theology to fit preconceptions; to reflect an already existing viewpoint. You see where I am going here?

Clearly.

If you hadn't mangled my argument so badly, I'd assume you were on my side, based on this last statement.

That would tend to indicate that I have understood you correctly on this point.

Quote:

Quote:
In the absence of religion, humans make up something else authoritative, and from that authority cherry pick to support the same pre-existing worldview.

I would fight that, I'm sure. You didn't happen to read the part of my essay where I addressed this very objection, did you?

As a matter of fact I did, and, no, what I am saying is not what you initially said you wouldn't bother to refute. I am ussing your own argument of cherry picking to assert that you're contradicting yourself. On the one hand saying religiously based issues are exclusive to religion. And then on the other saying that religious people who take up the cause of those issues select religious material to support their own personal beliefs.

I'm on your side with the latter, yes, cherry picking is the reality of all authoritative decision making, but the former is a contradiction of it and so I am refuting the validity of the statement that there are exclusive religious issues. How can there be when all religiosity is selective ergo the issues then must necessarily exist outside of religion to be picked.

 

 

Quote:

Quote:
the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews,

I'm going to try again because this is really important. I know it's hard to understand when you've been told all your life that religion is personal and inviolate.

HA! condescension, I am dissappointed, Hamby.

Quote:

Pre-existing worldviews cannot always be changed in individuals. There are some who will always be authoritarian right wing nut jobs. Their arguments rest entirely on the existence of a religious viewpoint -- not that all religious people agree with them -- that has nothing to do with it. It has to do with the fact that the majority of people in this country believe that the foundation of their beliefs is sound. Faith is valid.

First and foremost, please be aware, this country, for me = Australia, I am not in the US. now that you know that, I humbly request that you please make the distinction in addressing my point of view. I would like that, Thanks. Smiling

Now you say, about these right wing nutjobs, that their arguments rest entirely on a religious viewpoint. I agree with that, and I am not denying that. What I am saying is that an argument is something you use to back up a worldview. The arguments rest on religiosity, but the world views OTOH are substantially independent, this is necessarily the case if 'cherry picking' is true. If world views are not substantially independent then there can be no cherry picking, religious world views cannot be selected without an independent basis from which to aim a choice. The likely alternative is that religious viewpoints are encountered and compelling of themselves enough to gain the favour of the faithful.

 

Quote:

Why is this so hard to understand? If nobody bought the lie that faith is valid,

That faith is valid isn't a lie. That faith is relying on other people to tell you what to think, what to like and what to believe, is the lie.

Faith is, of itself, a most valid and compelling phenomenon.

 

Quote:

when someone got onto a podium for a debate and said that ID ought to be taught in schools, the other side would ask, "Why?" and when the answer turned out to be, "Because of faith," we would collectively laugh him off the podium and tell him to go home. End of debate.

I agree. But one could make the argument that faith, the ability of the conscious mind to mould how a person experiences life, is a reason to teach kids in school xxx theory which leads them to believe a certainty of future prosperity and well being. That would be harder to laugh at.

Quote:

Quote:
In the absence of religion, humans make up something else authoritative, and from that authority cherry pick to support the same pre-existing worldview.

You are perhaps suggesting totalitarianism? I notice that there are countries in the world (very few, admittedly) that are almost entirely secular and yet have not descended into authoritarianism.

No, I' not suggesting totalitarianism, I'm dissing your argument on the grounds of it's totalitarian bent. Australia is a very secular country, and religion is the least of things threatening authoritarianism here.

Quote:

On what psychological principle are you basing your statement?

Sorry, strike that last answer, lets just call it cognitive bias.

 

Quote:

Quote:
Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals, not because of their percieved authority.

Baloney.

They embrace ideals the same way that fundamentalists and atheists embrace ideals -- because they believe the ideals to be valid.

That is true. however, when they cease to be valid they cease to be an ideal. This is a strong difference between moderates and orthodoxys. Orthodoxys are inflexible in all cases, and this goes for politics and science too. Should not the pursuit of explosive nuclear science have ceased to be an ideal at the point where it became clear that nuclear devices could destroy humanity? It didn't, that's my point. Orthodoxy will justify itself against invalidation. The development of nuclear technology still markets itself as a purpose for the betterment of humanity despite that such a notion has been so long ago definitively invalidated, the search for more destructive power went on and goes on across the globe.

 

Quote:

Have you even thought about what you said? Moderates embrace ideals because they are ideals? There is no information in that sentence.

It's a case of stating the obvious, I guess.

 

EDITED: Correcting some spelling, typos and adding some clarification.

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Eloise wrote: Now you say,

Eloise wrote:
Now you say, about these right wing nutjobs, that their arguments rest entirely on a religious viewpoint. I agree with that, and I am not denying that. What I am saying is that an argument is something you use to back up a worldview. The arguments rest on religiosity, but the world views OTOH are substantially independent, this is necessarily the case if 'cherry picking' is true. If world views are not substantially independent then there can be no cherry picking, religious world views cannot be selected without an independent basis from which to aim a choice. The likely alternative view is that religious viewpoints are encountered and compelling of themselves to gain the favour of the faithful.

Cherry-picking doesn't have to be voluntary or performed at an individual level. Religious views generally reflect aspects of the culture which holds them; based on the translations of scripture, their interpretation, provincial views, what teachers/priests choose to emphasize or even include in their repertoire. There is a cross-pollination between existing prejudices and the interpretation and selection of scriptural edicts, but both can be contributors to a ultimately religious view. Personal views, past experiences, or even biological motives, might cause a person to be impressed with the answer to why murder is wrong, for instance, but the person may defer to an interpretation of scripture on the answer even if it contradicts the perceivable reality.


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shelleymtjoy wrote:

shelleymtjoy wrote:

Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

I'd say it has a lot to do with the fact that the US is a big powerful nation, and frankly, its problems are affecting the global community in a pretty big way right now. 

 

 

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  Good points all,

 

Good points all, Magilum. I find myself agreeing with you yet again.

 A few notes:

magilum wrote:

Cherry-picking doesn't have to be voluntary or performed at an individual level.

 

I agree with your saying that it does not have to be performed at an individual level, but I disagree on it not being voluntary, unless by involuntary you mean something along the lines of unconscious or even hypnotised behaviour, and I think you probably do, so all round I could hardly agree more. 

 

Quote:

Religious views generally reflect aspects of the culture which holds them; based on the translations of scripture, their interpretation, provincial views, what teachers/priests choose to emphasize or even include in their repertoire. There is a cross-pollination between existing prejudices and the interpretation and selection of scriptural edicts, but both can be contributors to a ultimately religious view. Personal views, past experiences, or even biological motives, might cause a person to be impressed with the answer to why murder is wrong, for instance, but the person may defer to an interpretation of scripture on the answer even if it contradicts the perceivable reality.

Yes and sometime the deference to scripture is not as hollow as that seems but is rather a reasonable match for some felt or empathic sense of ethics that the holder is ill-equipped to argue directly. However, it is also true the more you defer the less of a moderate you become, so the holding of an ineffable feeling of morality isn't greatly defensible.

After reading a few paragraphs of Hamby's blog essay on this subject I would say that for the most he is referring to a culture of moderates which rely to heavily on the 'ineffable moral' defense to the point where it is simply unreasonable. And in that case i don't see an argument against moderate theism here, but rather an argument against plain and simple mental laziness, with which I wholly agree.

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Eloise wrote: ...you've

Eloise wrote:

...you've said nothing that could set me straight on what the real point of your argument is. So where have I gone wrong? please correct me.

I am going to attempt to (very broadly) outline Hamby argument in 5 minutes or less using Ham's original words...

Argument: moderates are not just facilitators, but are the cause of the fundamentalist takeover of American politics

Point 1: Moderates and Fundamentalists both believe in faith.

Point 2: Moderates ostensibly use faith only for believing in God.

Point 3: moderates may not believe the bible is literally true, but they adhere to the spirit of the Bible

Point 4: moderates are responsible for the fundamentalists' success in politics

Sub-Point 4a: moderate Christianity is simply a kinder, gentler version of Fundamentalism. ...They pick and choose what they will believe based on their own conceptions of the world and morality.

Sub-Point 4b: What we call fundies are actually people who take a harsher cherry-picking approach to the bible

BIG HUGE SUMMARY POINT 5: If faith is necessary for anything, it can be used for everything.

Conclusion: So, moderates provide the groundwork for fundamentalism.


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Eloise wrote: shelleymtjoy

Eloise wrote:
shelleymtjoy wrote:

Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

I'd say it has a lot to do with the fact that the US is a big powerful nation, and frankly, its problems are affecting the global community in a pretty big way right now. 

I want to make sure I understand you - it sounds (similar to Pineapple's yet unverified assertions about Canada) like you are saying that religion does work rationally in other Countries and we only care about moderates because of their isolated effect on the global superpower known as the US.   Is this what you mean?  Do you have any evidence of this you can share?

Eloise wrote:

And in that case i don't see an argument against moderate theism here, but rather an argument against plain and simple mental laziness, with which I wholly agree.

I'm really glad we aren't in the kill them with kindness forum because I can't resist pointing out that an argument against mental laziness *is* an argument against theism. 


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I retract my statement that

I retract my statement that you mis-represented my argument.

 

Quote:

 

1) Moderates do let their non-rational religious beliefs change the way they act, including, but not limited to their voting patterns. In other words, their faith doesn't exist in a vacuum. Just think about how ridiculous it is to claim that moderate Christians, other than believing in god, are exactly the same as non-theists!


 

My point was that the moderates apply logic/reason to politics. I justify why this should be the case below 

 

Quote:

 

2) Moderates cannot logically establish a line between faith and reason, so they only have emotional appeals and vague notions of "should" with which to oppose fundamentalists.

 

 Because it's morally wrong to push your view onto others. For example, the legal system will not put someone in jail based on faith. They must use logic/reasoning. Why? Because it affects others . 

 

 

So you see, there is a logical way to draw the line. It is ethically unsound to force others to conform to your views based soley on faith. You must use logic/reasoning.

 

 


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Oh, as for the stats, my

Oh, as for the stats, my prediction was Hamby will justify them using U.S stats. My point was that it is more a reflection of the people than religion, which is why I brought up Canada.

You cannot use the U.S to generalize Christians. You may come back and say 'You can't use Canada to generalize Christians.' If it were a reflection of Christianity, we should be seeing the same trends across the board.

 I mentioned the U.S constiution and Canadian charter of rights and freedoms to say that Canada is following the law, the U.S isn't.

 

Canadians are keeping their faiths to themselves as they should, which I justified in the last post. This is why ID/creation isn't taught in Canadian schools, people aren't bombing abortion clinics, there are no Ted Haggards, Kent Hovends etc....

 

So the moderates do have a leg to stand on when debating the fundies on these issues: The law. 


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shelleymtjoy wrote: But

shelleymtjoy wrote:
But Pineapple hasn't shown that! If Pineapple wanted to show that then post some numbers or sources or something.

His argument was a counter to Hamby.
Hamby showed a correlation between religousity and right wing beliefs. Pineapple made the point that Canada had a large amount of religiousity without the right wing politics.

Quote:
Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

Because every country has their fundamentalists.
In Europe, Christianity isn't a really large concern.
Neither is Hinduism or Judaism.
We're still having a problem with Islam though.
And even if I don't consider moderates to be irrational in their belief, I still disagree with them.


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Eloise, I will not be able

Eloise, I will not be able to respond to everything right now, as I have a lamb shoulder roast in the oven and guests coming at seven, but I want to hit a couple of points. I will return to this thread tomorrow, or tuesday at the latest.

First, to be clear:

Quote:

Quote:
the common denominator of our attitudes, we have established here, is pre-existing worldviews,

I'm going to try again because this is really important. I know it's hard to understand when you've been told all your life that religion is personal and inviolate.

HA! condescension, I am dissappointed, Hamby.

Not condescension. I am speaking from experience. I could not understand the argument I am now making when I did not recognize my own misconceptions about religion. The preprogramming makes it extraordinarily difficult to grasp this argument. I know this because I started on your side of the fence. I am truly sorry that you felt I was being condescending. I always try to address only the arguments, not the person, so long as it seems you are trying to learn.

Quote:

Hambydammit wrote:
Eloise wrote:
So, Hamby, let me see. Your argument in a nutshell is that because Moderates swing right on some issues their voting power is misdirected by faith? And that makes moderates as bad a fundies, if not worse...

I'm not sure if there's a way to state my argument more incorrectly. No, this is not even remotely close.

I find myself disbelieving that, Hamby, it's almost a naked assertion, apart from your OP, which I have already read, you've said nothing that could set me straight on what the real point of your argument is. So where have I gone wrong? please correct me.

The direction moderates swing when they vote is not at issue. I am certain that somewhere in the world, there is a religious belief that tends to cause its adherents to swing left. This is utterly irrelevant to my argument. In fact, I'm somewhat puzzled that everyone has jumped on this point. Two things are possible: 1) Religion affects people's beliefs, or 2) Religion does not affect people's beliefs. People's beliefs are reflected in their voting. This is what voting is. It's another point that is so obvious as to be almost beyond the need for proof.

Forgive me, but I really do think my point has been made clearly. I will try again, but I'm not sure how many different ways I can think of to say it, while still saying exactly the same thing.

Religion has to be based on faith.

Faith necessarily trumps reason. (If this is unclear to you, I would suggest reading through Todangst's book pages, paying particular attention to his writings on faith. You can also read either my writing or his dealing with epistemological rights.)

Moderates, however moderate they may be, rely on faith for some aspect(s) of their lives. If they did not, they would not be religious at all.

Fundamentalists, however fundamental they may be, rely on faith for some aspects of their lives. If they did not, they would not be religious at all.

The only difference between moderates and fundamentalists is where they choose to draw the line between faith and reason.

Now, here's where you and Pineapple may be getting confused about my specific use of America. America, among post-industrial nations, has a singularly repugnant case of religiostupidification that infiltrates every pore of politics. In America, moderates account for some 60% of theists. As an example, I pointed out that without the 60% majority of citizens giving faith validity, the 20% or so of moderates would not have a religious leg to stand on in the political sphere.

This is an example of my argument. It is not my argument.

My argument, simply: But for the lie of "faith is a virtue," religious domination of politics would not have a leg to stand on.

I am not saying that without moderates, there would be no religious governments in the world. That would be incredibly naive. I am saying that where the majority is moderate, they silently give permission and validation to the fundamentalists by not repudiating their demands that we respect their faith.

Think of it this way. Imagine if America was 75% atheist. As you well know, the vast majority of atheists are repulsed by the idea of faith. Imagine then, that at least 75% of congress would be atheists. Now, imagine a stem cell ban being proposed by some dumb-fuck from Texas who would never have had a chance to get beyond owning a baseball team and playing small time politics. That bill, lacking any scientific basis, would be thrown out immediately, even if 25% of the country were religious.

Yes, I realize that I'm saying that all moderates should give up their religion. That's precisely what I'm saying. There are tons of reasons they should give it up, but the one that concerns me here is that they validate faith as a virtue, and their refusal to repudiate it is the only thing that gives any credibility to any religious based legislation.

Like I said, it will be a day or so before I can come back and address the rest of your post, and decide whether or not I will address Pineapple's newest deflection (which, oddly, went exactly as I predicted), but rest assured, I'm interested in being clearly understood.

 

 

 

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shelleymtjoy wrote: Eloise

shelleymtjoy wrote:

Eloise wrote:
shelleymtjoy wrote:

Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

I'd say it has a lot to do with the fact that the US is a big powerful nation, and frankly, its problems are affecting the global community in a pretty big way right now.

I want to make sure I understand you - it sounds (similar to Pineapple's yet unverified assertions about Canada) like you are saying that religion does work rationally in other Countries and we only care about moderates because of their isolated effect on the global superpower known as the US. Is this what you mean? Do you have any evidence of this you can share?

You just translated (read twisted) "has a lot to do with" into "we only care" and "affecting the global community" into "isolated effect"

 Care to rephrase before I go on? Or can I expect you to continue your dishonest approach?

 

Quote:
Eloise wrote:

And in that case i don't see an argument against moderate theism here, but rather an argument against plain and simple mental laziness, with which I wholly agree.

I'm really glad we aren't in the kill them with kindness forum because I can't resist pointing out that an argument against mental laziness *is* an argument against theism.

In your opinion. 

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Eloise wrote: shelleymtjoy

Eloise wrote:
shelleymtjoy wrote:

Eloise wrote:
shelleymtjoy wrote:

Hell, if religion is really 'working' rationally in other Countries what the hell are all of us doing on this board?

I'd say it has a lot to do with the fact that the US is a big powerful nation, and frankly, its problems are affecting the global community in a pretty big way right now.

I want to make sure I understand you - it sounds (similar to Pineapple's yet unverified assertions about Canada) like you are saying that religion does work rationally in other Countries and we only care about moderates because of their isolated effect on the global superpower known as the US. Is this what you mean? Do you have any evidence of this you can share?

You just translated (read twisted) "has a lot to do with" into "we only care" and "affecting the global community" into "isolated effect"

Care to rephrase before I go on? Or can I expect you to continue your dishonest approach?

Whoa! Sorry! I was only asking a question (note the ? after "Is this what you mean" because I wanted some clarification on exactly what you meant *before* I jumped to conclusions. This has to be the first time I have seen someone be accused of being dishonest just by asking a question on these forums...


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Strafio wrote:

edit: double post


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: My

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My point was that the moderates apply logic/reason to politics. I justify why this should be the case below

 You're right, it should be the case.  I totally agree.  The thing is, Pineapple, it's not the case.  Hamby's original essay shows why this could never be the case.

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
For example, the legal system will not put someone in jail based on faith.

Someone being encarcerated is a result of a judge ruling on a law that was drafted by a politician that a person voted for... and that last step there is where the moderate voters come in.

 


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Hambydammit wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

Eloise, I will not be able to respond to everything right now, as I have a lamb shoulder roast in the oven and guests coming at seven, but I want to hit a couple of points. I will return to this thread tomorrow, or tuesday at the latest.

No problem, enjoy your roast Smiling

 


Quote:
Quote:

Hambydammit wrote:
Eloise wrote:
So, Hamby, let me see. Your argument in a nutshell is that because Moderates swing right on some issues their voting power is misdirected by faith? And that makes moderates as bad a fundies, if not worse...

I'm not sure if there's a way to state my argument more incorrectly. No, this is not even remotely close.

I find myself disbelieving that, Hamby, it's almost a naked assertion, apart from your OP, which I have already read, you've said nothing that could set me straight on what the real point of your argument is. So where have I gone wrong? please correct me.

The direction moderates swing when they vote is not at issue. I am certain that somewhere in the world, there is a religious belief that tends to cause its adherents to swing left. This is utterly irrelevant to my argument. In fact, I'm somewhat puzzled that everyone has jumped on this point.

I did recognise that moderates being 'misdirected by faith' was the more central part there, Hamby, and not voting power, I guess I didn't emphasise it enough to show that was what I meant.

 

Quote:

Two things are possible: 1) Religion affects people's beliefs, or 2) Religion does not affect people's beliefs. People's beliefs are reflected in their voting. This is what voting is. It's another point that is so obvious as to be almost beyond the need for proof.

I think we agree that (1) is true, and somewhere we agreed that a major effect religion has on people's beliefs is selective confirmation (the cherry picking).

Quote:

Forgive me, but I really do think my point has been made clearly. I will try again, but I'm not sure how many different ways I can think of to say it, while still saying exactly the same thing.

Religion has to be based on faith.

I know ths argument, but I think that it lacks the antecedent that you're using to follow up with the next point.

Quote:

Faith necessarily trumps reason.

and my argument is that it is the authority which trumps reason, not the faith. The antecedent of your argument is the faith in ineffable authority, not faith itself, and as I said in my last post, the more one relies on this authority to trump reason, the less defensible the position is, and moreover, the less moderate it is.

Faith in ineffable authority is not repulsive to me quite as much as you, but I see it as an interim position rather than a defensible one. That is, it's okay to say "I feel strongly this is wrong/right" and so look into it further while holding a position based on that feeling. There is a just limit to how much of our conscious belief system should be couched in such ideas because we have a thinking and reasoning mind as well, that's what makes me a moderate.

 

Quote:

Moderates, however moderate they may be, rely on faith for some aspect(s) of their lives. If they did not, they would not be religious at all.

Fundamentalists, however fundamental they may be, rely on faith for some aspects of their lives. If they did not, they would not be religious at all.

The only difference between moderates and fundamentalists is where they choose to draw the line between faith and reason.

I think that is a major difference between fundies and moderates, yes. In general the line drawn by moderates that is not drawn by fundies is in regard to the authority of religious ideas. Fundies appeal to absolute faith ineffable authority in nearly all their reasoning, while moderates, alternately, defy authority that can not be reasoned with the exception of some intuitive, or felt, positions.

 

Quote:

Now, here's where you and Pineapple may be getting confused about my specific use of America. America, among post-industrial nations, has a singularly repugnant case of religiostupidification that infiltrates every pore of politics. In America, moderates account for some 60% of theists. As an example, I pointed out that without the 60% majority of citizens giving faith validity, the 20% or so of moderates would not have a religious leg to stand on in the political sphere.

This is a voting argument and it is the point I have been overturning on the grounds of contradiction in my previous posts.

This 60% have substantially independent world views, if we are to believe that they are cherry pickers, and so, to a notable extent, validation that they extend to fundies through their voting power is also subsantially independent from religion. Or in other words, they actually feel the same way about some things religion notwithstanding.

I agreed with Magilum that there is a cultural level where this selection and cross pollination is going on, and I know culturally america is steeped and drenched in creationist christianity, so I am not trying to say that it doesn't happen because of religion in the US,clearly it does. But this religion is an umbrella culture in the US, has been for some time, and moreover it has done some damage to the social infrastructure, to me those are the more pertinent reasons why American moderates tacitly support american fundies, not because the moderates have religion or faith or what have you.

 

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Even if we lived in a world

Even if we lived in a world where religion never enter politics...

moderates are still dangerous.  You can not respect the irrational beliefs of moderates and not respect the beliefs of fundamentalists. 


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Cernunnos

Cernunnos wrote:

Quote:
But aren't we saying, prior, that religious conviction is little more than the confirmation bias of an existing worldview? Perhaps we can't really know a world view in the absence of religion while we ourselves live in a world saturated with it, but if we establish that all theists are cherry pickers as in the original argument, it does follow that the worldview is independent, at least substantially, from the religion.

I would sooner say that a religious belief says something about a world view to wit it is intrinsic to it. A world view is not a series static existing things where people can grab what they think suits them best, it is dynamical and influenced by actuality and bias (a distortion of the former if you will).

Moderates sentiments are marred by their bias towards the religious, this brings about accepting 'what can be got away with' or cherry picking with reference to a fixed doctrine (along with letting others silly religiose notions go unchecked).

Certainly their world view is far from independent and cherry picking is not an argument for such.

Cherry picking is an argument for the existence of an independent platform which interacts with the religious platform. That platform is also intrinsic to the world view, just as religion can be, so I do concede your point that ultimately the world view is not independent from religion, while on the other hand I stand by what I said, there is necessarily a substantially independent platform, or else there is no cherry picking and the religious point must be compelling of itself. I don't think either of us believe such things as creationism are compelling of themselves, they are definitely cherry picked.

If anything the bias must be towards the non-religious platform for cherry-picking to occur. For example, lets say a religious person cherry picks a doctrine supporting some racial prejudice. Is the bias therein toward religion or racism? 

 

 

Quote:

A world view that incorporates a religious belief will necessarily lose an element of pragmatic discernment and thus the world view of a religious person can not correlate precisely with that of a pure rationalist.

It's fair to say that. However, at what point is pragmatism lost, before or after the religious belief is adopted? When we say cherry-picking we already intimate that pragmatism was abandoned prior to the choosing of the religious belief.

 

 

Quote:

Quote:

Well, you see, that misses the point. Idealism doesn't give credence, it aspires it. It's the function of authority to give credence.

So lets just take your ID example, the authority of science shows definitively, it's bunk, and in all seriousness it has no other authority behind it, philosophically, spiritually or even ethically (it's essentially plagarism too). The function of idealism is not to accept or reject something that flies wide of greatness like ID, but rather, to ignore it from the worldview, or moreover, idealism functions as the worldview wherein ID doesn't register an impact, it is 'not among'.

I agree that it is a function of authority to give credence, hence I talked about blindly accepting ideals.

My example was that the assumptions that lead to something like ID emerging are suspect. They are the authority behind ID - ones with a strong religious bias. A weaker religious bias while not accepting ID is capable of not only putting up with it but defending it as well!

If I am right this is the same thing I was just previously addressing in my reply to Hamby. Your point is that moderate christianity tacitly defends the 'divine authority' that fundamentalism relies heavily on (yes?) and that point relies heavily on the notion that 'faith' and 'faith in ineffable authority' are equal things that define both the moderate and the fundamentalists religious nature.

If so, see my objection to that equivocation. For the definition of moderates, given in the OP, to hold, moderate theism must necessarily involve a defiance of 'faith in ineffable authority'.

 

 

Quote:

A world view such as your proposed idealism that would ignore the proponents of ID is neglectful of reliable information and thus dubious.


I figured that this response would come up, but I'm not inclined to agree. Sometimes, fighting against something grants it a platform to exist upon that it wouldn't have if you alternately just turned your attention to something better.

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shelleymtjoy wrote: Even

shelleymtjoy wrote:

Even if we lived in a world where religion never enter politics...

moderates are still dangerous. You can not respect the irrational beliefs of moderates and not respect the beliefs of fundamentalists.

 

You're comparing apples with oranges. The only fundie faith the moderates justify is the personal belief in God, as I'm trying to show it does not justify their faith in politics. 

 

That's like asking how can we respect Republicians if we don't respect Bush. One can still be a Republician and still not respect Bush. Their status as a  Republician does not un-justify their dis-respect for Bush.


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
 

You're comparing apples with oranges.

 I wonder who originally made this shit up.  Who really cannot compare an apple to an orange?  Both are fruits, you can compare their flavors, their acidity, shapes, colors, freshness, how much juice you can get out of either one... and you can sure prefer one to the other.