Debate:Is Conservapedia a true reflection of American conservatism?

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Move from WIGO Talk.

Confusing Conservapedia with Conservatism[edit]

There seems to be a minor trend on WIGO of pointing out CP wackiness and mistaking it for Conservatism in general. As I'm sure you can all agree, this error is intolerable. (The same can be said for religion.) Thank you for listening. Ajkgordon 08:38, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

Very true, Ajk - we really shouldn't take them as representative, I'm sure there are reasonable American Conservatives and non-dipshitty Christians, but we're a bit blinkered by our monomania. SusanG  ContribsTalk 08:46, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm not too sure how accurate this is. In my experience, Conservapedia is very much in the mainstream of American Conservatism. Religiously, CP seems to reflect those that take Christianity very seriously. All-in-all, I have found conservatives to be Amero-centrics with little knowledge of world history or global current events. It can be best summed up as: they are intellectual regurgitators rather that independent thinkers. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 09:15, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
With the greatest of respect, that's bollocks. Especially "Religiously, CP seems to reflect those that take Christianity very seriously." Actually, that's total bollocks. The vast majority of Christians are not YECers, which puts them immediately in conflict with CP's view. (Unless you're only talking about American Christians, in which case you also suffer from being "Amero-centric". But even then...)
And I find it very hard to believe that US conservatives would agree much with CP. Again, unless you take the CP definition of conservative, which excludes anyone who disagrees with them.
Of course, you are also referring to only US conservatives, which makes your response "Amero-centric" once again, a habit you seem to criticise in CP.
But then, looking at your user page (I'm not doing the Ad Hom thing, honest), you equate conservatives with the willfully ignorant, so your post shouldn't be taken as representative of the the liberal atheist view. Ajkgordon 09:56, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Bollocks though it may be, here is my opinion. YECers and I agree on one thing, you have to be a YECer to really believe in Christianity. I think that YEC is beyond ridiculous, but I also believe that anything less makes one a cafeteria Christian. I must admit a nagging respect for YECers and their ability to hold onto insane ideas.
I was being Amero-centric in my analysis, but my point in using that term was to illustrate that American conservatives see everything through the prism of the United States with everything else being filed under other.
Maybe I just happen to live in a peculiar microcosm, but CP seems to be very much the mainstream of Amercian conservatives. I see it everyday. Being able to be (somewhat) anonymous on the internet makes CP sound crazier, but I see little substantial difference with opinions that might be voiced rather than written.
The scariest thing is that CP might not be as much a fringe thing as we'd like to think. It easy to ignore the problem if CP is just written off as fringe wackoes. My point with all of this is not to lend some credibility to CP, but to warn that they shouldn't be taken so lightly. I think it a great tragedy that CP might be more mainstream than anyone would like to admit. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 12:15, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
" have to be a YECer to really believe in Christianity..." What in the world made you come to that absurd conclusion? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 14:34, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
I could be wrong, but I think Edgerunner phrased what he meant a bit badly. I think what he means is that one of the underlying tenets of Christianity is that the Bible is true. This means that the various Christian beliefs that are not YEC in nature are actually Christianity tempered with some of what we now know about the universe through science, not 'pure' Christianity. Of course, the fact it's not 'pure' Christianity is in no way a negative thing. Zmidponk 20:00, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
I consider CP to be representative of a fundamentalist faction of the Conservative movement. There are a lot of these, but this is the more active wing of the group. There are a lot of these people that would never consider participating in CP, so CP has attracted only the most angry of this population. (Again, only referring to the US Conservatism movement, as CP considers itself solely an American project.) Lardashe
Pretty much what I presumed. If CP represented mainstream US conservatism, it would be a hell of a lot more mainstream itself! Ajkgordon 10:03, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

This is all rubbish, IMO. The only person in the whole world who confuses Conservapedia with conservatism is Andy Schlafly. The rest of us recognise that CP is best viewed as either a parody of conservatism's worst elements (and I'm not saying that conservatism in general is bad) or a fascinating insight into one man's growing paranoia that the liberals are taking over the world. Bondurant 11:16, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

I would agree with that. I have found the whole process of reading Conservapedia genuinly fascinating. It's a text book study of paranoia, self denial, delusions and who knows what else. Rarely do you come accross anyone soooo deluded. I have found it invaluable in studying my own values and trying to ensure I think with my mind, not with my heart. Much, much harder than I had ever thought. So cheers Andy here's to you, you freak. RedDog 11:28, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
From what I see, CP is actually scarily representative of how the modern American Republican coalition has been assembled. Whether is has anything to do with conservatism is another issue, but many serious conservatives in this country have got behind the worst of some of the GOP's stands. The coalition consists, generally speaking, of:
  • playing off religious fundamentalism (check),
  • xenophobia and racism (check),
  • sexism (check),
  • gun ownership paranoia (check),
  • socially/religiously conservative stands against abortion and gay rights (check),
  • jingoistic patriotism (check) and
  • a weird, paranoid, "us against them" David and Goliath thing where they identify with David in spite of being powerful (check).
If you look at the pronounced public voices in this country who "speak" for the right/conservative/GOP political caucus, they run hard in these directions. CP should stand as a warning to the world what has been brewing in the dominant political culture in the US for 30-odd years now. We see them as whacko nutjobs, but, they are only more poorly edited and rehearsed than their more mainstream media counterparts - it is like we are seeing "behind the scenes" at a meeting of Karl Rove, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, and Lou Dobbs. CP is the "Wedge Document", in a sense, that reveals the ugly truth underlying the so-called "conservative movement" in the US. humanUser talk:Human 13:19, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Ah, but there is an important difference between them and Schlafly: Karl Rove was able to parlay his college degree into a very successful career. All the people you named are more successful than Schlafly, thus showing they have some innate business sense. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 13:22, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Correct: they are the leaders. Schlafly is a (delusional in more ways than one) follower - the equivalent of some guy who turns up on blogs spouting the party line. Except he has a wiki that has its own WP entry. humanUser talk:Human 13:51, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
I definately agree with Human's bullet points. To put it succinctly, American conservatism is all about trying to stoke the worst in people. I think that Obama's line, "the politics of distraction", is definately a good descriptor. I often consider the thought experiment of the rabid pro-lifer without health insurance for themselves and their family. For simplicity's sake I just use those two criteria. This person could vote one way and make life better for themselves, their family, and many others. But, they won't. That one issue, that most likely doesn't even affect them indirectly (let alone directly), keeps them from making, what I believe to be, the right choice. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:15, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
CP seems more like a parody of American conservatism to me, but like all parodies, they reflect all the major currents in American conservatism. Rational Edevidence
My recent personal contact with citizens of the USA is the grand number of two. This naturally gives me the authority to pontificate about the entire population of the USA. My great experience leads me to conclude that the entire population (1) is extremely conservative, (2) knows nothing about the world outside the USA, (3) would fit in just fine with CP and (4)is male.--Bobbing up 16:25, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

I grew up in the US. Reagan was the first President I was really aware of, which means for my entire lifetime, the GOP has been the "Facts-Optional Party". CP is a lot uglier than the professionals' BS, but it all comes form the same cow. --Gulik 19:01, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Undent 1[edit]

(undent) A point to be noted: even if they are not representative of US Conservatism as a whole, the mainstream have to take them into account when stating their platform as they might be enough to swing a close ballot. This probably gives them disproportionate power. SusanG  ContribsTalk 16:43, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

Bob has explained Ken's articles perfectly. Though Ken knows something about Scotland. --Shagie 16:45, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

Interesting discussion. As a Brit I have little first-hand experience of 'Mercan conservatism. But the visibility and effects of it over here, while certainly showing certain traits of hard-core CP-stylee, don't resemble Schlafly World much.
But surely that's true of any fundamentalist wing of a political, ideological or religious flavour. Fundamentalist factions simply take mainstream policies to their extreme.
And I certainly don't agree that you must be a YECer to be a true Christian. While YECers and Dawkins may claim that, they are dismissing some highly advanced theological and philosophical arguments that, even though you might not accept, are not easily refuted by the simplistic logic used by those strange bedfellows.
I wonder if those here who claim that CP is representative of US conservatives and US Christians are not being too coloured in their objectivity by their own ideological positions. Ajkgordon 17:03, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
I think I've read almost all of Dawkins' books and I never remember his saying you have to be a YEC to be a "True Christian". Where did you get this from?--Bobbing up 17:06, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
As I recall, from God Delusion at least, Dawkins's argument is not that YECs/fundamentalists are the only true Christians, but rather that moderate Christians are just as bad as the fundamentalists because they provide a... (*unsure how to phrase this*) ...sort of intellectual sanctuary for the latter. In other words, without the moderates, the extremists would be much more vulnerable to criticism. This seems to me an equally absurd argument, although for different reasons. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:30, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Yes, he most certainly says that. That "regular" Christians give some sort of moral cover for the more extreme ones. He does not say that only YEC's are true Christians.--Bobbing up 17:35, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Read my thing above, CP is certainly not representative of American Christianity. It is, however, scarily representative of the politics the "conservative movement" has adopted to gain power and influence. humanUser talk:Human 17:10, 22 April 2008 (EDT)
Some relevant links for reinforcement:
Politically, they're every bit as unpleasant as CP, but far more influential. --Robledo 18:13, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

Undent 2[edit]

(undent) Maybe I am too close to things to be objective. I would like to note that every day I interact with many of the types of people who should be progressive/liberal but, for other (I'd say irrational) reasons, they identify with conservatives. As for the wacky Christianity thing, I see it every day. Anytime you see me post between 7am and 3:30pm EDT, you can be certain that only ten feet and one wall separate me from a fundy loon Christian conservative. I see the veiled racism, Islamophobia, and disdain for all things not fitting into an eeriely CP-esque worldview in most every comment he makes. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 21:46, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

Question - ought this be an independent debate?
I agree with Ajkeldsen, but I definitely see where Edgerunner is coming from. Edge, where do you live, if you don't mind me asking? I grew up in Atlanta (private school - that makes it worse), and went to college in Houston, and for long stretches I'd become deeply disillusioned with humanity. I do think that the fundamentalists are the minority, but boy, they have some lungs on them. They're the vocal minority, that is to say, so I tended to deal with them out of proportion with their influence.
Until Bush was elected - then their influence became scary - but I think we've stepped back from that apocalypse. This is to say, they have a big voice, with which to yell, and they had a lot of influence, but they don't have the majority of Christians or the majority of Americans.
Now, I agree with Ajk again, that Christianity absolutely is not fundamentalism, and I think the fundamentalists are the ones "doin it wrong." To be a Christian is to be heir to a long tradition of Biblical exegesis and study - first from the Jewish tradition, and then from the early Christian apologist tradition, with the likes of Augustine & Origen, etc. Augustine, for one (although at times he disagreed with himself on this), viewed fundamentalism (i.e., 6-day creationism) as a violation of the need for deep biblical study: since the Bible is the word of God, it's accurate, but accurate at a level so deep that man can't hope to understand it but through years of study. That's to say that a superficial reading, obviously isn't enough! I think the people who are/were "real Christians" are/were ascetic monks - they're doing what the Bible says, not reading the word of God as if it only requires one lobe to understand. If you ask me, following the "meek shall inherit" stuff is more important than turning off your brain to receive the Word of God. If you actually believed in God, I'd think you'd need at least one lobe to understand His cosmic truths. So, I view fundamentalists/creationists as the brain-dead great-great-grandchildren; the Gondor to the Numenorians, who go through the motions of the rites because they've forgotten what they actually mean. And, I don't know if you know your LotR, but that's not a good thing.-caius (tailor) 01:34, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Ugh. Back to Corporations. This was more fun.-caius (tailor) 01:35, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Ames, thanks for that long-winded, self-righteous, arrogant sermon. But who is "Ajkeldsen"? Any relation to AKjeldsen? Or Ajkgordon? Or is he the result of a twisted experiment? SHahB 01:55, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
You are a very odd individual, HenryS - somehow unable to realise that someone could transpose two letters. Either that, or you're trolling for the sake of it because you didn't like what was said. Join the fun, add to the discussion, crack a joke, do anything, except trolling. Bondurant 04:46, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I can confirm that "Ajkeldsen" is an evil counterpart and long-time arch-nemesis of mine, created by a mad scientist in the distant past in a most unwholesome manner out of the ashes of dead kittens, the wailings of children and the bitter tears of the innocent and the disillusioned. Not a bad guy, other than that. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 05:08, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Pfffft. That's nothing. I'm the product of a public school and live in the People's Democratic Republic of France. Ajkgordon 06:16, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I must admit those are convincing credentials. Under such circumstances, we can almost take it for granted that you oppose classroom prayer. Although it would be even more convincing had you attended public school in France which, as we all know, regularly instills an ungodly combination of atheism and defaitism in it pupils. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 07:30, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Indeed. (Hint: I went to a British "Public school" :).
My kids go to school in France, but it's a private Catholic one. However, state rules are very strict about what they can teach. The curriculum is strictly secular and cannot be amended by religion in science classes, for example. They must follow the state baccalaureate system. If they ever included anything about religion in a biology essay on evolution, they would get null points. (Unless it was a philosophy essay on the effects of evolution on religion, obviously.) But French education doesn't teach atheism. It teaches critical thinking. Ajkgordon 07:52, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Edge, sorry, just to explain, when a Brit uses the phrase "that's a load of bollocks", it's a friendly version of "I don't agree". It wasn't meant to be aggressive or condescending and I apologise if it came out that way.
Your point about true Christians and the Bible being true is an argument often used by YECers to insist that their view is correct and that non-YEC Christians are wrong. But that's only if you accept the Bible literally. Most Christians have a much deeper relationship with the Word of God than that. That's not to say that that's right either, just that they are in no way less Christian than YECers.
Dawkins and his friend Hitchens have often said that the non-YEC Christian view cannot be true because of various things like God allowing tens of thousands of years of short, violent and fearful human lives before the arrival of civilisation. If God is an all loving Creator, how could he possibly allow such suffering over the millennia? So, while they might not expressly state that only YEC is true Christianity (although I think Hitchens might have), that is the implication that their logic arrives at. Of course they dismiss the YEC view as well, as they do with all Christianity and religion generally.
Oh, and SHahB, No relation! TK once threatened to block me for that! Ajkgordon 04:53, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I could be wrong, and I'll happily stand corrected if I am, but while Dawkins and Hitchins may agree on most points about atheism, I would very much doubt if they are friends. They seem politically poles apart in most other respects. Bondurant 05:17, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Well, they have proclaimed their friendship at various Brights functions and so on. While Dawkins is fairly orthodox liberal, Hitchens is more difficult to label. He's socially very liberal. And his pro-Iraq stance is argued by some to be un-orthodox conservative - more neo-conservative.
Besides, one can be great friends without being politically aligned. Your comment above sounds like "liberal friendship"! :) Ajkgordon 06:12, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
You are quite right. I am now going to exhibit the liberal behaviour of "admitting I was wrong". Bondurant 07:42, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
You're just trying to put me off. That's liberal deceit! Ajkgordon 07:56, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Haha, "Liberal Deceit" doesn't even exist as a term. I think you mean Liberal Tricks. Bondurant 08:14, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
"Liberal Deceit" doesn't exist because all deceit is liberal. It would be a (liberal?) tautology. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 08:18, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
GPWM. Ajkgordon 08:24, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Agreed. Liberal Deceit redirects to Deceit on CP, while Conservative Deceit doesn't. So it must be true. I think the Conservapedia counterpoint to the liberal "admitting I was wrong" is "never being wrong." Bondurant 08:38, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Undent 3[edit]

(undent)Anybody who reads and interprets the Bible literally is a fool, but more importantly will never understand what it is really telling them. The Hebraic method is known as PaRDeS. It asserts that everything written in scripture has 4 aspects: Pashat (literal meaning), Remez (hints in the text of something deeper), Drash (the added understanding that can only be gleaned by a story, riddle, or parable) and Sod (mysterious underlying secrets revealed in the text). Even im medieval times the same principles were used by Christian biblical scholars, who also believed that there were 4 meanings to the written words: the literal, the moral (implying what we should do), the analogical (how the text may be pointing to a future fulfilment) and the allegorical or "spiritual" interpretation. It is usually a mistake to interpret any Bible passage simply at the literal level. The true importance is spiritual, and rather than an unchangeable list of divine commands and sayings are a moral rules for working out what it is to love our neighbour and love our G-d. Similarly, when the Bible talks of the Creation, the literal pictures are just a way of expressing a mysterious spiritual truth; G-d did not reveal or relate the laws of physics to the prophets: but He did reveal important spiritual truths about the nature of human relationship to the Creator, using the speech of symbols and metaphors. Furthermore, the use of exaggeration - plucking eyes, cutting off hands - to make a point was - and still is :D - a common device used by Jewish teachers to make a point memorably. Fox 06:15, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

And there we have it. Fox has shown an example and practice of a deeper Christian perspective than mere Biblical inerrency. And no-one can claim that Fox isn't a true Christian. Even though he's Jewish. Goddamn it Fox! Ajkgordon 06:20, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Well Fox's identity is muddied by the fact he's a Messianic Jew, so probably spans two stools as it were (I don't know enough about his particluar doctrine to comment further). However, is that Jewish interpretation of "mysterious underlying secrets revealed in the text" from where we get Sod's Law?  Lily Ta, wack! 07:35, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

The "muddied identity" raised a grin and a chuckle here - it made me think of Sacha Baron Cohen impersonating an Asian impersonating a Jamaican :D "Keepin it real for Jesus, innit" LOL. Anyway, a couple of links which may help you understand my doctrine a little:
I don't want this to sound the way it is going to but, as a person with near zero religious belief, I see all of this interpretation and scholarship as just desperate attempts to keep religion relevant. I do believe and hope that eventually religion will lose all relevance. That, however, is a long way away and requires many difficult challenges to be overcome first. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 10:20, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Unfortunately for you, the interpretation of morals and morality and the ethics of relationships even with those we despise are always going to be more relevant than, say, science. And the ability to discuss, debate, interpret and disagree about religion is "Freedom of speech... [which] must be upheld by every one of us", to quote your userbox :) Fox 11:05, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Edge, this religious interpretation and scholarship isn't a new thing - it's thousands of years old. So it isn't really desperate. What is newer is Biblical inerrency. Or rather the insistence of Biblical inerrency. Desperation is visible in the increasingly twisted logic required to fit scientific evidence into their ideology.
One claim that CP makes which has a certain amount of validity, is that science as we know it today is rooted in a religious past. Sure, there have been periods when organised religion held science back - sometimes for quite long periods of time! But the fact that much of it can trace its roots back to religious concepts and religious people surely demonstrates that religion isn't necessarily a brake on science. Look at the discoverer of the Big Bang - a practising Roman Catholic priest no less. The beauty of this example is that he felt that it reaffirmed his faith by unveiling the Creation event. He would have scoffed at simplistic YECism as being irrelevant, contrary to evidence, and extremely arrogant.
But arrogance isn't unique to the religious of whatever flavour. Scientists claiming that the only truth is science should be ashamed of themselves. Ajkgordon 12:06, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Concur with AJK and AKJ - JESUS! Edge, if it was a desperate attempt to keep religion relevant, it'd be a new thing; rather, it's millenia old. It's arguably closer to real religion than fundamentalism. And Bohdan, shut up.-caius (tailor)
Striding in to bat for Team Edge... His main point was that he believed humanity would eventually move beyond religion. It would make for a far more interesting debate if everyone above addressed that, rather than jumping all over his first sentence. That is all. --Robledo 13:50, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Robledo makes my point better than I. Thanks. My comments about interpretation and scholarship wasn't generally meant to only include the present and recent past. Rightly or wrongly, it has been my opinion that lots of people have never totally bought into religions. I would liken it to suspension of disbelief. I would also point out that my POV is that religion has never been relevant. Therefore, I see most religious interpretation and scholarship as part of trying to maintain religious relevance. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:02, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
At the very least, one must recognize that religion has been a fact of life for literally all of recorded history, and probably longer back than that. This shows no sign of changing anytime soon. So it would seem that religion offers something that is of relevance to most humans - probably a whole range of different things, in fact. I am curious to hear from those who expect religion to become irrelevant whether and how they imagine that humans will lose these particular needs, or what they think will replace religion in covering them. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 14:09, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

What might make religion irrelevant[edit]

I tend to think that technology would be the great catalyst for the irrelevance of religion. However, I fear that the levels of technology needed might border on or surpass realistic limits. If hunger, poverty, and disease could be eliminated by technology, then I think you would see many people no longer needing to cling to religion. I also believe (despite what people might say) theistic religion is entirely based on the God of the gaps arguement. As time moves on, I see "God" painting himself farther and farther into those corners. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:27, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

I agree on both points (reduce misery, explain more). I think some forms of "spirituality" (for want of a better term) will be with us for a long time, but the formulations will be more humanistic than "blind faith in an angry (or benevolent) sky god", and hopefully more useful to people in their daily lives. humanUser talk:Human 14:36, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm certainly not saying that everything must be banished. Even I consider myself to something of a non-theistic Taoist. Human puts it correctly. It the blind faith (and I would include superstition) that needs to go. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:43, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Perhaps you could explain your definitions of 'religion', 'blind faith' and 'superstition' in a little greater detail? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 14:47, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

For me:

  • My generic term of "religion" would be theistic religions in general and Abrahamic religions in specific.
  • Blind faith seems simple enough. I would consider it to be accepting something that might otherwise be considered absurd as being plausible without any critical thought.
  • I would consider superstition as accepting something simply because of tradition.

My definitions for blind faith and superstition are interchangable to a degree. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 15:01, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

"A silent tsunami which knows no borders sweeping the world" (Head of the UN World Food Programme summing up the current global food shortages, 22 April 2008.) Science proves time and again that it is unable to alleviate crises such as this. It can, however, tell us about atoms and molecules - which really are irrelevant: life went on before we knew about them, and would continue even if we did not. Meanwhile, Oxfam (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief), founded by a group of Quakers (aka the Religious Society of Friends), assists around 70 million of the poorest people on the planet with food aid. Oxfam also fights for trade justice, fair trade, education opportunities in the developing world, against debt, to improve health, to educate about and alleviate suffering from HIV/AIDS, to promote gender equality, to reduce conflict (campaigning for an international arms trade treaty), to provide immediate relief after natural disasters, to promote democracy and human rights, and to educate about climate change. That is religion in action. that is the result of "superstitious" people believing in their angry or benevolent sky-god. Your limited, globally speaking, experiences of the extremes of religious fundamentalism and the bigotry and/or ignorance of some people who profess religious beliefs are actually the true irrelevance in the bigger picture. Fox 15:08, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Hold on now Fox, although some Quakers and a vicar helped in the establishment of Oxfam, others were concerned academics. Gilbert Murray for example was a noted humanist and rationalist. Consequently Oxfam, unlike say Cafod, was a secular organisation purely motivated by helping those in need not driven by a religious imperative.  Lily Ta, wack! 15:28, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Accepted, Oxfam's earliest members also included academics from Oxford, but I think you do a disservice to it and its founders by ignoring that it was established at the behest of "a vicar" (as you put it), in fact the University Vicar, Canon Milford. Fox 15:41, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I used the term "vicar" as that's how Oxfam's own web site refers to him. Most people don't even know what a canon is (my headmaster at school was one) But trying to claim all the credit for it being inspired by religious zeal is too Schlaflyesque.  Lily Ta, wack! 15:49, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
To neglect the importance that Judaeo-Christian belief, hermeneutics and faith played in its birth, and the birth of so many other charities, is equally disproportionate. Aside: thanks for mentioning Murray, by the way, I have only just now discovered that he was the father of Rosalind Toynbee, author of The Good Pagan's Failure. I shall now have to read it again, from this new perspective. Live and learn, huh? Fox 15:52, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Edge: Ok, so if I understand correctly, we have religion as a sort of umbrella term and blind faith/superstition as a subset of that. It is blind faith that will become irrelevant, while religion as such is ok. So what is it that characterizes blind faith as opposed to religion, or in other words, how much of religion is covered by blind faith? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 15:58, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
The Religious Society of Friends is an interesting one. They reject most of the label and orthodoxy of Christanity (and today one can find many theologies other than Christian being included in the Friends[1] - see figure 8 - athiest? agnostic?) Rather than a religion, I would tend to suggest that the Friends are more followers of a philosophy that centers around simplicity, peace, integrity, and equality rather than a religion, though the line gets quite blurry there. That said, from my understanding of the Religious Society of Friends their ministry is through action - living in a way that promotes harmony with all people - rather than one of preaching and conversion. This goes on to if the Bible is leading a person into conflict or disharmony, then the Bible is wrong and some reject the Bible altogether. To this extent, Fox, I disagree - these are not superstitious group with belief in a benevolent sky-god, but rather people that want to live in a way that promotes harmony through action - whatever the beliefs of the individual. I just wish there were more than 350,000 Quakers out there. --Shagie 16:41, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Tangent while reading, Ames - you might find Chief Justice Sir John Vaughn's ruling associated with William Penn and the jury good reading. --Shagie 16:41, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
But that is exactly how I first came into this debate: on a stance that the Bible should not be read literally, but as a template for living that leads to "simplicity, peace, integrity, and equality". Messianic Judaism, for example, generally (I refuse to speak for all Messianics, that would be arrogant) accepts that we should treat all human beings with the same concern that we treat ourselves; that we must have in mind the ultimate good of others; that all written laws - even Biblical ones - are to be tested by whether they encourage relationships of loyalty, trust, honesty and friendship. Fox 17:03, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I agree Shagie, as someone who has actually attended Quaker meetings (they don't have services) they are remarkably unreligious. And of all the people I have met, Quakers are probably some of the most humble and nice people you would wish to meet; never preaching or condemning. They are the antipathy of organised religion. While I admire and respect the great Quaker families like Rowntree and Cadbury and acknowledge the part that their religion played, it must not be forgotten that their work was in stark contrast to the rest of society which at the time also professed to be Christian. Even during and after World War II when Oxfam was founded, the vast majority of people in Europe professed to be Christian. So claiming some Christian righteousness for actions by people at that time is like Andy claiming the merits of homeschooling a thousand years ago. As for Fox's message that we should treat all human beings with the same concern as we do for our selves, well many people agree with that without having to believe in a supernatural power. Now Fox, piss off from here and enjoy the rest of your birthday with your family. They're more important than 'arguing' with us. ;)  Lily Ta, wack! 17:21, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
"Quakers are probably some of the most humble and nice people you would wish to meet; never preaching or condemning. They are the antipathy of organised religion. [...] ...their work was in stark contrast to the rest of society which at the time also professed to be Christian." That's pretty harsh, ma'am. Pretty damn harsh. :-( --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 17:28, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
As Spiny Norman might say: "Cruel but fair".  Lily Ta, wack! 17:53, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Methodists weren't half bad either, and they were certainly organised. Come to think of it, isn't a reverse No True Scotsman being pulled here? I mean, the Quakers at the time were fairly organised - albeit in a fairly non-hierarchical way. --
Hardly fair at all ma'am: Caritas, Allianz-Mission, Christlicher Missionsdienst, Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, UMCOR, Malteser International. The list goes on. All of them old Christian charities and humanitarian organizations that have donw excellent work all over the world. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:18, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
It might be necessary to separate individual charities from philosophies and religions. One would claim to be a Quaker or Methodist - but not a Malteser Internationalist or Oxfarmist. --Shagie 19:21, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
@ Lily - I won't celebrate until my Jewish birthday: 3 Iyar 5726 (8 May 2008) but I'm logging anyway to watch a good movie while bit torrent sucks the life out of my connection ;) Fox 17:48, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
Reply To AKjeldsen: I was really referring to the work done by certain Victorian philanthropists. While they may have been Christian, their actions were more political (liberal) and must be balanced against the (shall we say) much larger conservative Christian majority (I'm really talking about the UK here as I don't know enough of the details in other European countries). Really, up until the early 1960s being Christian was the de facto position for most of Europe. So claiming only the good things for Christians when secular humanists were a small minority dismisses the bad things that Christians also did. Yes, religious people opposed slavery, but religious people also endorsed slavery. In the Christian world this justification still existed in South Africa. You can replace slavery with many other political issues. In another century maybe the Rowntrees and Cadburys may not have been religious at all but still had a political agenda. I believe it is more a personal political ideology that guides these philanthropists rather than a religious zeal. They may say it's because of their religion but as the same religion is also used by their opponents to justify their position you can't really have it both ways. Many of the charities you mention are indeed humanitarian but some also have an evangelising side and this must detract from their works by imposing some conditions on the recipients even if it's only having to listen to a sermon. Of course the real problem in discussing this probably comes down to set theory and people can be assigned to different sets. It's all down to how you work out which set is the dominant contributing factor.  Lily Ta, wack! 11:14, 24 April 2008 (EDT)

For AK (< 500 words ;)[edit]

I reckon religion was borne of a basic need to try and understand how the fuck the world works. That, coupled with our natural tendency towards anthropomorphism, leads inexorably to the simple animism of early societies. "I think, therefore [x,y,z] does," if you like.

We also have a tendency to put ourselves at the centre of the universe. If a child dies, for example, it's vital that any young siblings are reassured that it wasn't their fault, because there's a real danger of them ascribing causal power to any feelings of jealousy/resentment they may have had towards the child. This "guilt reflex" finds a more adult expression in ideas like "having tempted fate."

Interestingly, this misreading of causal power works both ways. Consider how many superstitions work: if x does y, then x will have bad luck, unless x does z. It doesn't take much imagination to substitute some "sin" for y, some form of atonement for z, and the wrath of some entity/deity for the bad luck.

Over time, these kinds of thought processes evolve into ever more elaborate practices and rituals, and crucially, give rise to a distinct "expert" priest class that mediates between the natural and supernatural realms. This class now has control over the evolution of the proto-religion, and a not-inconsiderable amount of control over the actions of their fellow believers.

The pantheon of deities is whittled down as it becomes clear that more and more things are, in fact, completely inanimate. Rituals and creation myths become conflated with actual historical events and practical ethics, and codified in the form of scripture. Eventually, each religion will offer something like:

  1. an explanation of how the world/universe began
  2. a sense of purpose, i.e. clear(ish) prescriptions and rituals for living a "good" life
  3. a sense of justice, i.e. some mechanism for the punishment of egregious wrongdoing that evades mortal authority
  4. an explanation of what happens after death, possibly including some kind of reward for those who manage to live according to 2.

So far, so good for relevance (and utility). The subsequent introduction of monotheistic ideas of a single deity that actually gives a shit loves all His children proved immensely popular for obvious reasons.

What about relevance now?

  1. Has been shown to be false, right up the point of our Big Bang best theory. Beyond that, it's still up for grabs.
  2. Can be formulated along secular, humanist lines to varying degrees of satisfaction. Many of the prescriptions have been shown to be arbitrary, wrong-headed or just plain wrong.
  3. (& 4) Best theory states that death=oblivion, with no reward/punishment depending on how you managed with 2. That's difficult for many people to swallow, but (IMHO) an inevitable step in our collective intellectual development.

Pithy closing line: we created religion accidentally, but we'll get over it. --Robledo 17:34, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Very nicely put, Robledo, I agree very closely with the way you put that. humanUser talk:Human 20:46, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

If the world's extremes of poverty and beauty were taken away, then religion would be irrelevant. MarcusCicero 08:24, 24 April 2008 (EDT)

I take issue with some of your conclusions.
(1) [that a creator G-d is responsible for the creation of the universe] has not been demonstrated as false by any means.
(2)(and partially 3) almost a nature/nurture thing; it can be very clearly argued that without religion's input and early moral and ethical teaching, contemporary humanist and secular ideas would not have developed. Game theory, for example, has demonstrated that the altruism which is a central tenet of most religions' teaching is actually a non-optimal strategy, and evolution would have weeded it out long, long ago. Without religion, your brave new humanist future-world would be home to only selfish, amoral homo economicus. The prescriptions being proven wrong -- for today, yes, many of them are. But this is as a result of man's failure to understand eg what the early Christian church was all about: a pattern of radical and creative change, of a readiness to question all written rules, and to move to new understandings of what their faith required, both responding to and transforming the new historical contexts in which the gospel of new life in Messiah is proclaimed. My life in faith is not about obedience to these rules you talk of, either set out by the Bible or the church; rather, it is a life that is to be formed on the pattern of Messiah Yeshua: a pattern of attitudes and dispositions, not rules and prescriptions.
(4)Best theory? Oh, come on, you're having a giraffe! That is one of countless theories, and none are any "better" than the others.

Pithy closing line: we are free to disbelieve, but we'll get over it. Fox 08:38, 24 April 2008 (EDT)

Fox, just a suggestion for you regarding what you said above.
You said: " can be very clearly argued that without religion's input and early moral and ethical teaching, contemporary humanist and secular ideas would not have developed. Game theory, for example, has demonstrated that the altruism which is a central tenet of most religions' teaching is actually a non-optimal strategy, and evolution would have weeded it out long, long ago."
I think you need to perhaps consider evolution at a slightly deeper level. Evolution, and in particular its "survival of the fittest" phrase, doesn't necessarily imply anything about best. Try looking at behaviours generally. Yes, look at altruism as a behaviour. Consider that it is supported by religion in defiance (possibly) of natural selection. But then you must look at religion as an evolutionary behaviour too, which follows the simple rules of natural selection. The fact that certain behaviours with religion are evolutionarily negative (e.g. altruism) doesn't damn religion as a whole as having a negative evolutionary advantage.
Behaviours, particularly social ones including religion, are probably some of the more difficult traits to see where their evolutionary advantages may lie because they are so complex. But reducing them down to individual traits (such as altruism) ignores the interplay between other behaviours within the same group (e.g. religion) and indeed other behaviours which are not obviously connected.
So, to conclude, altruism may or may not be an evolutionary advantage but is supported by its inclusion in a behaviour (religion) that is an evolutionary advantage.
Christ, that's long-winded. Hope you get my ham-fisted point. Ajkgordon 09:02, 24 April 2008 (EDT)
I beg to differ that altruism is not a working survival strategy. Remember, all that has to survive are the genes, and altruism is often directed towards close relatives. Even at the modern, global scale, it is still directed in favor of our species in general. Even complete self sacrifice can help the gene pool in the long run, as arguably, can abstinence/lack of reproduction by some individuals. humanUser talk:Human 13:32, 24 April 2008 (EDT)
It would seem to me that what is and what isn't a good survival strategy depends entirely on circumstances such as environment and species. Not that any of that has any bearings on moral questions, anyway. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 14:35, 24 April 2008 (EDT)

It all boils down to one thing[edit]

With all the attention it gets on web forums and word of mouth, as well as appearing in numerous news organisations and the daily show, is it not a little disconcerting that there are actually so few regular users of the site? If it represented mainstream conservatism, it would be much, much more actice. Its usually just the same old faces every day, such as Andy, Crocite, Joaquin, Phillip, LT, Helpjazz etc.

Thats not a lot of members if it really represents American Conservatism. MarcusCicero 09:11, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Exactly. Although I can see that it may represent trends in US conservatism, its popularity or lack of it demonstrates that it isn't mainstream. Ajkgordon 11:50, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I think one reason for the low number of editors is the high barrier to entry - after all, no matter how sincere, any genuine wannabe contributor first has to get past being suspected of being a sockpuppet, vandal, or troll. They have to go very slowly and carefully, and might not know that if they just went there to help. I wonder how many genuine editors are languishing for years or months, branded with "sock of AmesG" next to their username? humanUser talk:Human 13:33, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I know that a major ISP in the midwest is under a /16 ban for being part of an east coast university. And remember the /16 ban on Texas A&M as liberal? One option is for CP to go back and review all its /16 bans, but doing that might let back in liberals and trolls. It would also involve a fair bit of work - going back through and trying to identify which /16 bans are associated with which blocked users and if that was a bit overzealous or not. Still, you've got to wonder how many honest conservatives have gone there only to see an IP ban calling them a vandal or troll and walk away disgusted. --Shagie 14:25, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I'll go with Andy simply seeing a niche where there was none. If you want YEC info, AiG and CreationWiki have tons of the stuff already. And there's plenty of established sites specialising in the "socially conservative" red meat that WP supposedly censors. --Robledo 14:34, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

Is someone more likely to be blocked at CP for...[edit]

It seems to me that there is an interesting analysis in the two possibilities below. I'm not entirely certain what I think. I'll be curious to see responses. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 10:12, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

...questioning American political conservatism?[edit]

...questioning American Religious/Christian conservatism?[edit]

...questioning Andy or one of his surrogates?[edit]

The thing is, CP reflects not only far-right political/Christian conservatism, but general nutjobbery. Andy's laundry list of "revert the Bible/vaccines will give you autism/abortion will give you cancer/what Ben Franklin said his religious views were wasn't what he actually believed/Dawkins isn't a prof/relativity and complex numbers are evil/all liberals are inherently stupid and deceitful but no conservatives have ever done wrong", etc., etc. are, frankly, primarily just nonsense. IMO, that weird outlook doesn't fit nicely into any respectable mainstream American political movement, although individual positions dovetail with some aspects of the Republican platform (i.e. many Republicans say abortion is wrong, but most don't resort to quackery to try to justify their position). Andy's style and mindset will alienate pretty much any free thinking individual, conservative or not, that doesn't share his bizarre world view. Opposing anything in that list will probably get you blocked eventually.--Bayesyikes 15:56, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
/nods sagely. Agree with all of the above. From an extremist's/fundamentalist's POV there is "something for everyone" to be found at CP. Hate Commies? Its there. Hate homosexuals? Its there. Hate Muslims? Its there. Hate Jews? Its there. Hate blacks? Its there. What it lacks is LOVE. Unless you count self-love (calm down, Onan - I'm not looking at you when I say that) and love of their glorious leadership. see WeirdEd panting like a puppy dog on Andrew's talkpage about how many pieces of shit he has recently dropped onto the main space? See how they (and I know this to be true - but the private emails will always be private correspondence: there is neither a "t" nor a "k" in "Fox") take stances to defend issues they personally disagree with/find abhorrent in order to maintain their favoured positions? Fox 16:11, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
I'm just baffled as to why ANYONE would bother to expend any effort to stay on Andy's alleged "good side". Is being "Royal Assistant to the King of the Shitpile" that important to these people? --Gulik 12:05, 30 April 2008 (EDT)

In response to this title, I really hope not. I've read some pages there and they are incredibly stupid! They even made me want to cry!--Bobby 17:22, 12 July 2008 (EDT)