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About ThomasJefferson

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  1. BSA has changed policies, programs, uniforms, handbooks, requirements, badges, and many other things over the last 102 years. My question is simple: Do you approve or disapprove of BSA? My goal is to attempt an approval rating here on scouter.com of BSA. BSA is defined as the national corporation known as Boy Scouts of America which currently has a monopoly on use of the term Boy Scouts in the United States.
  2. That is debated amongst historians. If you are Jewish, you may use the word "holocaust" to refer specifically to a Jewish historical event, and you may view the people who were Jewish being put to death as uniquely tied to that event. Therefore, if you hold that viewpoint, and if you were not Jewish, you were not part of the holocaust. You were just killed by Nazis in an organized fashion tertiary to it. Broader definitions include approximately two to three million Soviet POWs, two million ethnic Poles, up to 1,500,000 Romani, 200,000 handicapped, political and religious dissenters, 15,000 homosexuals and 5,000 Jehovah's Witnesses, bringing the death toll to around 11 million. The broadest definition would include six million Soviet civilians, raising the death toll to 17 million. Under that definition, it was not an anti-semitic event unless you were Jewish and viewed it in that frame of reference. The Nazis were very organized in their extermination of many different groups of people. They started by putting the mentally disabled to death. They were still trying to deport Jews at that time while they organized the deaths of others en masse. I think someone who is Jewish saying that Jews were targeted is accurate. Gays were targeted. Communists were targeted. Jehovah's Witnesses were targeted. Someone saying it was a Jewish event to a member of one of these other groups may find themselves passionately challenged to stop ignoring the suffering of these other groups and their lost millions as well.
  3. Jblake, I think the interpretations are pretty much these:
  4. I stand corrected. Lecturing on history from memory often fails me.
  5. You know, I'm just not a big fan of memorials at all. Memorials are about feelings, so when feelings get hurt, it's no surprise everyone gets overly passionate and upset. I bet that around 50% of memorials are erected in anger as a way of tells us all to go fly a kite rather than out of respect and a sense of education of the public. In this case, my question is why do we need a holocaust memorial erected in 2013? Do we need a new civil war memorial too? What about a new War of 1812 memorial? Seems like a stale topic to be erecting statues for it. How much did it cost? And the land - what did that cost? Could this money have been used for something else useful to the community other than a 3D expression of outrange and sadness? At the same time, it probably didn't cost so much that it is worth protesting. I am not a fan of we atheists trying to expunge God from all public references. Walking through a cemetary the other day, I noticed the military headstones have symbols of each religion. The symbol I use as my avatar here is the symbol on the atheist headstones. I do not care to see all religious symbols removed from that public space. I'm more worried about the NSA thing, the US giving billions to dictators and bad governments overseas, us deploying the military too much, corporate control of our politicians, our cops becoming militarized, and BSA making a really uncomfortable and badly tailored uniform. So, I'd probably just shrug and walk by it. It wouldn't be the only one-sided view of the world my kids get. They are taught in school that we won WWII, but we all know the Russians had Hitler on the run before Pearl Harbor.
  6. You will find that the persecution of Christians involves: * Denying official school-led prayers in government schools * Pulling specifically Christian symbols from public institutions funded purely with taxpayer money where other beliefs's symbols are not allowed * Any mention that churches pay taxes on profits * Requests that we remove references to spiritual entities from money, slogans, pledges, etc. In short, Christians in the US feel persecuted any time their absolute domination of American public life is challenged in favor of a secular, non-religious approach. I am unaware of any instance in the US where a Christian's civil rights were violated ever because they were a Christian. Probably there have been instances in schools where kids were wearing t-shirts with a bloody crucifixion image, handing out pamphlets, harassing other students, or attempting to organize mass prayers in class that other non-believers were told "You don't have to participate." To me, that's justice. Our nation operates best when religion stays at home and at church.
  7. Conservative = resisting change. As the United States has historically not offered equal rights, and has historically resisted changing to offer them, I would say that not offering equal rights to people who do not fit the mainstream is a conservative idea. In short, to offer equal rights to all was not a founding principle of the US. Slaves were accepted, blacks counted as 3/5's a person, anyone not male and owning land could not vote. Access to public areas and business was limited to those in narrow group. It is very conservative to refuse service and rights to those who are considered odd-balls in America. Conservativism continues to preach that the country will fall apart if we continue accepting people who are not part of the mainstream of society. Just go to social services, tell them you want to foster a child, and that you are gay. Good luck!
  8. Do tell what are those basic religious principles and what laws have we that are based on them? "founded on religious principles" is said often but unsubstantiated. So is the idea that our country is great. Great how? Greater than what? I have lived in many different countries. I do not find the US particularly superior overall. It has some good points and some bad points. I'm also not sure, acco40, how you can have a great country without great citizens.
  9. The principles of Christianity made our country great? I would like to read the evidence for that claim. What in our history says that religion was responsible for American success? Will we even be able to agree on what American success looks like and what examples of it are? I doubt it. I believe a few particular people and events are what made our country great in terms of government process: Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson (the real one) were hyper-intelligent men. They were also not particularly religious people. Their input was instrumental in everything that went on in the late 1700's. The singular event in our history more important than any other was Washington stepping down after two terms and refusing power. That was truly a noble act. I doubt any of our leaders today would be so pure of heart in his position. We owe him a great deal. Unfortunately, I would also say that today American government is no longer the government of the founders. We tweaked things here and there, and with the addition of technology, we've made a mess. We were advised by Washington to avoid alliances and enemies both, but we seem to have cornered the market. Our president was to be chosen by the Senate, but now he is popularly elected, as are senators who were to be selected by their states using whatever process they preferred including appointment. The states now have no voice in government. No one could have foreseen the willingness to read emails while outlawing the reading of physical mail without permission. No one could have imagined we would have this military might and that we would repeatedly, over and over, stupidly use it in a way that created more problems than it solved. I imagine Ben Franklin, once he got over the shock of being here, would be quite disappointed at what happened to Camelot. We had a chance at true greatness, but we became a paranoid, superstitious, arrogant people who eschew our own geniuses of our day and rebuke those who call BS on our bad habits and hard choices. We believe we are the saviors of the world rather than its humble occupants and helpers. We can't balance a budget, but we can store every phone record. I think maybe the USA is headed to totalitarianism, and it is too late to stop it. We're in the equivalent of 1933 in Germany. We're all arguing about what it means, but the dominoes are already falling and we've already cast our lot. It's done. It cannot be undone. It makes me sad. I imagine the US as this awesome country dedicated to freedom and justice for all, but too many videos of cops beating people senseless, too many innocent people charged with crimes, too much spying by the government, too many laws, too many tax guys seizing property, too many bankers walking off scott free while we get laid off, and too many lobbyists able to corrupt too many weak men and women in office... I think I've lost hope in our system. What makes America great? I cannot agree we are great. We are mighty. But that might doesn't seem to be used for good.
  10. The road is already paved: Do scouting as they do it in the UK.
  11. You state your opinion, and it is looking for consensus. I state my opinion, and it is looking for a fight. See how that works? One day, in the future, I believe people will recognize what they were doing was wrong, and will stop attempting to silence atheist belief and expression as an attack when they realize that religious expression and belief are just as much an attack as it is. Either that, or they will silence all on either side for the sake of silence. That would be sad.
  12. Sure it does. Science reveals to us what happens in the world. We come to understand that when we do X, Y will happen. We test it repeatedly, and we know. What happens when you steal something? What happens when you help someone? Simple physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you help someone, that's what you get back. Call it karma or whatever. You don't need stories of ancient days and gods and demons and sins and crucifixions to be nice to people. You're just raised to believe that because you happened to be born into a society that believes that. If you were born in Japan or China, you would not think that. The last refuge of the religious. "You have offended me!" Yet the religious expect atheists to not be offended when you pray or otherwise tell us that you believe there is a God when we clearly see it is just a story like Santa Claus. People always get most offended when they are afraid what they are hearing is true and they don't like it. I however, feel no offense at the claims that I am wrong. I do not rely on faith for my beliefs. I can see my computer monitor working. I know the scientists that designed it are correct. They proved it. If my stating that religion is nonsense is offensive, it is no more offensive that someone saying that religion is true. I hope you can respect my side of the argument as well. If not, then what exactly are you asking for? Me to respect you while you disdain my position? I do not believe that ideas should be "respected." They should be treated as nonsense and tested, kicked, and debated until proven or disproven. That's what ideas are for. That's how science works. If someone has a strong argument that I am wrong, make it. I may change my mind. Because my beliefs are not a religion.
  13. Not really. Tell, me what is this shade you think you have it made in? It will not lengthen your life. It will not protect you from illness. It will not protect you from violence. It will not protect your family. It will not reveal to you anything you can use in today's world that a simple kindergarten lesson in ethics is not superior to. It will cost you money. It will cost you time. I have been told that if I believe and there is a God, I will go to Heaven. I do not want to go to that Heaven. It does not sound appealing. It is filled with all of the unintelligent, closed-minded people of the world who were self-righteous, judgmental, and attempted to oppress others out of fear of offending their supreme being. The supreme being, as far as I can tell, is a highly flawed, petulant, inconsistent super creature that stopped doing interesting things as soon as the motion picture was invented. It destroys worlds, cities, people, curses them, gives them diseases, and capriciously treats them like filth while resenting them for reflecting back to it its own flaws. I do not wish to be "close" to something like that. Going into nothingness is preferable, even if I believed the stories. Now, to turn this the other way around, if I were SATAN, I would at once construct a biblical story, get it published, get the people who followed it into power, and make them worship me and only me while telling them I was their God. It's nice that religious people want to focus on the Golden Rule, a great idea, btw, but unfortunately the baggage and stories that go along with it are absolute rubbish.
  14. And I trust that you also could see where the same stories were being told over and over again. Admittedly, I have not made it through the Old Testament, nor at the age of 61 do I feel inclined to (not when I have so much to write about BSA and about network programming). But I did read through the New Testament a couple times through. I have also read thePirke Avoth ("Sayings of the Fathers", part of the Talmudic tradition). I found the teachings of Jesus himself rather good, especially when he agreed with the Pharisees (spirit of the law vs the letter of the law, especially regarding the Golden Rule), but Paul's reinterpretation of Jesus into The Christ was very troubling and, most unfortunately, that is what Christianity is based on. "How, then, am I to live my life?" Kill Homosexuals "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB) Kill Witches You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB) Death for Hitting Dad Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB) Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him." (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT) Apparently that is how you are to live your life. Science is not an answer to how to live your life. It is the method through which we explore the universe and try to understand how it works and why. However, science does explain why people want to life a "good life." Because of evolution. We evolved into social animals. And social animals all have interdependencies, that when violated, lead to the death of the tribe. You don't need religion to tell you it is wrong to steal. You know it is wrong to steal. Because when you steal, the pack/tribe/troop/herd attacks you and punishes you for it. If you got rid of all of the religions of the world, and wiped everyone's memories, a new religion would be crafted up. I believe that. Would that religion look anything like religion today? No. That's all I need to know that religion is just a story. Religions are invented by people.
  15. That's factually incorrect - what you see as a flaw is in reality its strength!!! Science was always wrong before and will be wrong again? Not exactly. Scientific ideas are proposed, tested, observed, experimented with. As we learn more, we expand our knowledge, and the idea is clarified, additional detail is added, and the explanations improve over time. Example: We once thought the Universe was 7 billion years old. We now have better technology and analysis and know it is at least 13.7 billion years old. We weren't wrong before. We knew it was AT LEAST 7 billion years old. We now have a new, bigger number that we know is AT LEAST the age of the universe. We could learn next year through some new means that it is AT LEAST 70 billion years old. But, that is probably not going to happen, as in recent years we've uncovered the remains of background radiation of the universe reaching it's outer edges - we think. But we only think that. We don't say we know it. We say "It looks that way - we need more information." Religious "knowledge" never says that. It is never questioned, changed, refined, improved, tested. Rather, religion just keeps on keeping on being nothing. Look around you. What do you see? Electronic devices? Cars? Roads? Houses? Bridges? Lights? Cameras? Phones? All produced by science? What has religion produced that shows it works and that we know how it works? Nothing. What evidence is there that any religion has any facts in it? None. There are no facts in religion. While I congratulate anyone who seeks to morally better themselves, I would point out that morals are largely cultural constructs, and that they change with the times. The first commandment tells you to not make any image of anything ever. You are using a computer. You are breaking that commandment. If you are female, you are violating Timothy 2:11. "Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)" Are you going to put me to death? God commands it. Oh wait, no, your morals don't come from the Bible? Or do they? This statement is right alongside others you find comforting. I submit to you that scientists are comfortable with their ideas being reviewed, corrected, found wrong, and going back to the drawing board. But what religious leaders do is pick and choose what they like and ignore the rest.
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