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DWise1

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  1. DWise1

    Do you like the Boy Scouts of America?

    When I had become an atheist (around the age of 12, I started reading the Bible and very quickly realized that I couldn't believe what I was reading), I toyed for a few minutes with every Christian teenager's wet dream of total hedonism by being an atheist*, but I immediately realized that that was a false concept. So since neither Christianity nor the Bible would be my guide, what would? The answer came to me immediately: Scouting. Every moral precept that I could ever need was embodied in the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan. Decades later when I read that Baden-Powell quote, it certainly looked like he was referring to the Ten Commandments as governing by "don't" and hence was demonstrating that the Scout Law is actually superior; am I the only one or did anyone else also see that? BTW, I'm still a big Boy Scout. A 61-year-old Boy Scout. OTOH, I have no use for BSA, Inc. I view BSA as being more an enemy of Scouting than promoting it. BSA does not live nor operate by the Oath and Law and they constantly endanger Scouting by creating discrimination lawsuits and alienating sponsors and donors. I wish that BSA would just go away so that an actual Scouting organization could take its place. { * FOOTNOTE: Having been involved in creation/evolution since 1981 and in contact with fundamentalists since 1970, I have had a lot of dialogues with fundamentalists. One theme that keeps coming up is that if God doesn't exist, then there is no morality and we can do whatever we want. Absolutely ridiculous, but that is what they insist upon most emphatically. A local creationist activist claims to have been an atheist, but he never was. As he describes it in his own writings, as a teenager he accepted evolution and "became an atheist" (HINT: no such decision is necessary) just because of his bubbling hormones. In reality, it was his own religious training that had offered him that legal loophole, not evolution. And in reality, he never was an atheist, since he admitted to me that he prayed to God every night during his "atheism". Using atheism as an excuse to misbehave is a Christian practice, not an atheist one. } Who's "DLW"? Am I to assume that you are talking to me? If so, then where did you get that "L" from? Actually, I figure I must have given up before getting to the part where Lot's daughters raped him, since I would think that I would have remembered that part when I encountered it many years later. And my problem was that I was taking the Bible very seriously indeed. Even though I now don't think that my church required it, I approached the Bible in a biblical literalist manner. And taking that approach, I found that I simply could not believe what I was reading. And since I couldn't believe what I was supposed to (or rather what I thought I was supposed to) in order to be a Christian, then there wasn't any point sticking around, was there? It turned out to be the right decision as has been demonstrated to me countless times over the subsequent five decades, just for the wrong reason. I've read the New Testament since then, twice through. The teachings of Jesus were mostly good, but then it went weird when Paul invented the religion of the Christ. Interesting how the parables in Mark echoed Christianity's origins as a mystery religion. We obviously still have a form of its Outer Temple and I always wonder whether any part of the Inner Temple has been able to survive. I don't understand what you are trying to say there. Could you please be a bit more explicit?
  2. DWise1

    Do you like the Boy Scouts of America?

    When I had become an atheist (around the age of 12, I started reading the Bible and very quickly realized that I couldn't believe what I was reading), I toyed for a few minutes with every Christian teenager's wet dream of total hedonism by being an atheist*, but I immediately realized that that was a false concept. So since neither Christianity nor the Bible would be my guide, what would? The answer came to me immediately: Scouting. Every moral precept that I could ever need was embodied in the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan. Decades later when I read that Baden-Powell quote, it certainly looked like he was referring to the Ten Commandments as governing by "don't" and hence was demonstrating that the Scout Law is actually superior; am I the only one or did anyone else also see that? BTW, I'm still a big Boy Scout. A 61-year-old Boy Scout. OTOH, I have no use for BSA, Inc. I view BSA as being more an enemy of Scouting than promoting it. BSA does not live nor operate by the Oath and Law and they constantly endanger Scouting by creating discrimination lawsuits and alienating sponsors and donors. I wish that BSA would just go away so that an actual Scouting organization could take its place. { * FOOTNOTE: Having been involved in creation/evolution since 1981 and in contact with fundamentalists since 1970, I have had a lot of dialogues with fundamentalists. One theme that keeps coming up is that if God doesn't exist, then there is no morality and we can do whatever we want. Absolutely ridiculous, but that is what they insist upon most emphatically. A local creationist activist claims to have been an atheist, but he never was. As he describes it in his own writings, as a teenager he accepted evolution and "became an atheist" (HINT: no such decision is necessary) just because of his bubbling hormones. In reality, it was his own religious training that had offered him that legal loophole, not evolution. And in reality, he never was an atheist, since he admitted to me that he prayed to God every night during his "atheism". Using atheism as an excuse to misbehave is a Christian practice, not an atheist one. } The footnote was to expand on that gross misconception of Christians about atheists and how Christians are instead projecting their own desires.
  3. DWise1

    Do you like the Boy Scouts of America?

    I did not respond to the poll. I very rarely respond to polls, since the choices offered almost never reflect my thoughts, opinions, or beliefs. I love Scouting. I truly believe that it is a great program that can prepare a boy for the rest of his life. I especially agree with what Lord Baden-Powell said about the Scout Law, as quoted by Scouting ("Worth Retelling: Baden-Powell on the Scout Law", Scouting, March-April 1991, page 12, quoted from Scouting Digest published by the Boy Scouts of South Africa): When I had become an atheist (around the age of 12, I started reading the Bible and very quickly realized that I couldn't believe what I was reading), I toyed for a few minutes with every Christian teenager's wet dream of total hedonism by being an atheist*, but I immediately realized that that was a false concept. So since neither Christianity nor the Bible would be my guide, what would? The answer came to me immediately: Scouting. Every moral precept that I could ever need was embodied in the Oath, Law, Motto, and Slogan. Decades later when I read that Baden-Powell quote, it certainly looked like he was referring to the Ten Commandments as governing by "don't" and hence was demonstrating that the Scout Law is actually superior; am I the only one or did anyone else also see that? BTW, I'm still a big Boy Scout. A 61-year-old Boy Scout. OTOH, I have no use for BSA, Inc. I view BSA as being more an enemy of Scouting than promoting it. BSA does not live nor operate by the Oath and Law and they constantly endanger Scouting by creating discrimination lawsuits and alienating sponsors and donors. I wish that BSA would just go away so that an actual Scouting organization could take its place. { * FOOTNOTE: Having been involved in creation/evolution since 1981 and in contact with fundamentalists since 1970, I have had a lot of dialogues with fundamentalists. One theme that keeps coming up is that if God doesn't exist, then there is no morality and we can do whatever we want. Absolutely ridiculous, but that is what they insist upon most emphatically. A local creationist activist claims to have been an atheist, but he never was. As he describes it in his own writings, as a teenager he accepted evolution and "became an atheist" (HINT: no such decision is necessary) just because of his bubbling hormones. In reality, it was his own religious training that had offered him that legal loophole, not evolution. And in reality, he never was an atheist, since he admitted to me that he prayed to God every night during his "atheism". Using atheism as an excuse to misbehave is a Christian practice, not an atheist one. }
  4. DWise1

    Do you like the Boy Scouts of America?

    When I was active in the 1990's, the Scout Shop was selling a reprint of the first Handbook. See if you can't pick up a copy (maybe the Scout Shop could order it for you) and see for yourself what it said about a century ago.
  5. DWise1

    Atheists opposed to Holocaust memorial design

    From context, I'm having to assume that you are responding to ThomasJefferson. The government displaying the Ten Commandments is not being tolerant of all religions. It's even very sectarian, because there are three versions of the Ten Commandments: Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish -- there are 11 to 12 different points that are combined differently by the different religions. Since it's Protestants who keep pushing this, three guesses which version they want to have displayed. And by choosing which version to display, then the government would indeed be choosing one religion over the others.
  6. Yes, BSA is and, yes, BSA does. And BSA has. The problem is that BSA refuses to follow its own rules and its own membership criteria. The reason for the lawsuits is because of BSA's actions, as well as their draconian methods for mistreating their victims. Because BSA allows no recourse whatsoever. When James Randall's sons were summarily expelled, he met with the council's SE and tried to resolve the matter. The SE refused all attempts at a resolution, finally telling Randall to sue them. That was BSA ordering the parent of its victims to sue BSA. Which he did. And he won. It was overturned several years later by the state supreme court, but at least the boys were able to participate and advance to their Eagle Review (which is why the state Attorney General pushed the court to rule on the case). Their Scoutmaster praised them as model Scouts and wished more of his boys were like them. BTW, the state supreme court upheld that BSA discriminated, however the law didn't apply to them as a private organization. And the lawsuits and other actions continue because of BSA continued actions. Show me exactly where in officially published BSA policy that it says that. Show me. That is a total falsehood! Because of that gross lie about a rule requiring "belief in a Supreme Being" and because of the outright fraud BSA has practiced by lying to get money from donors and sponsors who have non-discrimination criteria for their recipients and because all the other lies they've been telling the public. I have also seen a film clip from WWII where a Boy Scout recited the Pledge of Allegiance without any reference to "God". Of course, that was because those two words weren't added until 1954. But what makes this statement meaningless is because the word "God" in it has been reduced to meaningless mumbling as pointed out by US Supreme Court Justice Brennan. It's nothing now except "ceremonial deism", lacking any actual religious meaning. More "ceremonial deism". And even BSA's own officially published policy does not identify it as a reference to your particular god, nor to any particular god (consider the Hindu scouts), nor even to any god at all (consider the Buddhist scouts). Sorry, Joe. Not even close. The extreme opposite, actually. So now the situation is still the same, only how the donors and the charities have learned through the lawsuits that BSA does indeed discriminate. So BSA has been losing money from those donors who do not allow discrimination. Why do you think that they voted gay youth in? Because they had suddenly seen the error of their ways? No, because they've been losing money. BSA wants to be able to claim that they don't discriminate anymore, but everyone can plainly see that they still do. Government agencies (including public schools) can no longer charter units, nor directly support BSA. BSA is losing use of public lands. And that is all right and proper for an organization that wants the benefits of being private and "religious". That is BSA's choice. And in all that BSA is losing and will lose, it is all because of what BSA has done and continues to do. They can still turn themselves around and start to actually follow their own rules, but I doubt that they will. You cannot say that anybody is excluding BSA, but rather that BSA is excluding itself*. So what has to be done is to inform all potential COs of what BSA has done and will do, so that they do not get suckered in by BSA's lies and become yet another of its victims. { * FOOTNOTE: Another of BSA's lies that it would tell the public was "We're not excluding atheists and gays; they're excluding themselves." }
  7. Why would anybody want to join the Boy Scouts? Think about it! Why would anybody want to join the Boy Scouts? In particular, why would any adult, especially a parent of a boy, want to join? How's about because they believe in the principles and ideals of Scouting. Because they remember what they had themselves learned as Scouts (or the women vicariously through their brothers) and they want their own sons to learn the same things and to have the same experiences, so they join as well as volunteer leaders. Or because they loved the experience and want to continue in it, giving back to the movement. That last category would include senior Scouts who age out at 18 and stay on in the troop as junior adult leaders. Or men and women whose own sons have aged out and remain active at the district and council level; our district had several such members of the "Goat Patrol". Or men who have no sons who want to continue on -- we have one such who was active in Venture Scouting and also volunteered to help with our troop. The reason for joining Boy Scouts is Scouting! Why else would anyone join? It is really not a good idea for you to always assume that when someone uses the word "God" then it must always mean the same as you would use that word and that it must always mean your own god. It rarely works out that way. You always need to be aware of context to be able to approach the true meaning of anything that's said or written. You should also become familiar with Deism, which didsn't believe in a personal interactive god, but rather in a remote Prime Mover that had gotten the Universe started and then stood back to let it run. One term for this "Creator" was "the God of Nature" or "Nature's God" which had created the Laws of Nature. And certainly, that is the exact wording we find in the Declaration of Independence. You will also find it in Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, in which Paine refuted Christianity, which he considered to be a form of atheism because it denied the true God of Nature in order to worship a man. There's even a conspiracy theory, like "who really wrote Shakespeare?", that Paine had ghost-written the Declaration, since it is so similar to his style. And I'm fairly certain that your sources consider Paine to be an atheist, but his beliefs weren't much different than other Deists', such as Jefferson and several other Founding Fathers. Since you mistakenly find religious significance in the alteration of the Pledge, you should also read A Memorial and Remonstrance by James Madison, in which he described the need to separate government and religion a few years before he drafted the First Amendment. In it, he enumerates and demonstrates the detrimental effects on both government and religion when the two are allowed to co-mingle. And this has come to pass; in Supreme Court Justice Brennan's dissenting opinion in Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984): Where exactly in BSA's officially published policies does it say that atheists cannot be members of BSA? Cite it and quote it! Of course, you may have difficulty doing that, besides for the obvious reason that it does not say it. That other difficulty would be just gaining access to the documents. Back around 1990, copies of BSA's Rules and Regulations and Bylaws were readily available for sale in the Scout Shop. But then BSA suddenly pulled them all off the shelves and restricted access to them on a need-to-know basis. Why? Because they started showing up in court in the hands of the victims of BSA discrimination. And because they clearly showed the courts that BSA was violating its own officially published rules, regulations, bylaws, and policies. Faced with the truth, BSA did what all liars do, which is to try to hide the truth. Let me ask you a question. Both "A Scout is Reverent" and the description of "Duty to God" in the first Handbook require the scout to respect the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion. Obviously, a religious bigot cannot do that. Why then would a religious bigot ever want to join the Boy Scouts? Especially since his beliefs are in direct opposition to the religious principles of BSA and of Scouting. And, yes, I do fully realize that I'm yet again casting pearls before swine. My minister kept warning me about that, but here I go again.
  8. DWise1

    Reconciliation Issue

    One can hardly hope to dilute an argument that is already rather weak. If you had bothered to review the objections via Google, I would hope that you had read the Princeton philosophy course page at http://www.princeton.edu/~grosen/puc/phi203/Pascal.html. A problem that Hajek's objection brings up is that we don't have much choice over what we believe and don't believe, but rather at best we can only try to believe. As a result, the "four choices" really turn out to be 16. I've been involved with "creation science" since 1981. One of the big problems for "creation science" is that its "scientific" claims are not only blatantly false, but also outrageously so. Since creationists also use "creation science" to proselytize, I could never understand what value there could possibly be in using such unconvincing claims and arguments. A couple decades ago in a Yahoo groups forum, a creationist answered my question. In typical creationist fashion, he presented with full confidence a false claim that had been refuted decades before, in this case the amount of sodium in the ocean. After repeating the same old refutation yet again, I asked him what he thought he could accomplish with such an unconvincing argument as that. His reply was that the only reason that I found it unconvincing was because I was not yet convinced. BTW, the other problem with his claim, that it gave an age for the earth of millions of years and not the 10,000 maximum that his religious beliefs required, he also answered by saying that all he cared about was that it contradicted what science says. So similarly, the only reason why you find unconvincing Pascal's Wager convincing is because you are already convinced of it yourself. You really don't have any clue about what agnostics and atheists think and believe, do you? That is correct! And that is also the basis for agnosticism! The agnostic believes that we cannot know. That is indeed the only honest position to hold. Theists holding the honest agnostic position then believe what they cannot know, which comes under the heading of faith. Atheists holding the honest agnostic position do not believe. So in reality, since a number of theists are agnostic, your statement about what agnostics think and believe is decidedly wrong. Similarly, the position of most atheists is that they do not believe. Most do not go so far as to declare the non-existence of the gods, while some do. So your statement about what atheists think and believe is also decidedly wrong. You should try to learn something before making such statements. Most people have learned that ignorance doesn't work.
  9. DWise1

    Reconciliation Issue

    Pascal's Wager. It has many problems which followers ignore. And it shows up often as a proselytizing too in their "after-life insurance" argument which is little more than a scam -- I wrote of my experience with it at http://cre-ev.dwise1.net/wager.html. You can read objections to it through Google: pascal's wager objections. To start with, there are far more than 4 options, literally thousands of them. It is not enough to believe that a god exists, but rather you have to believe in the right god. True, some gods don't care, but many gods do very definitely take exception to people not believing in them. That is most certainly true of YHWH and the Christian version of Him upped the stakes very greatly. So out of thousands of gods, you have to choose the right one. But that is not enough, because you also need to choose the right theology. Pascal was Catholic, so even if you choose the Christian god, if you are not Catholic then you have lost the wager. For that matter, Pascal was a member of a small Catholic sect, so just being Catholic may not be enough. And it's false that believing doesn't cost you anything. Religions make non-trivial demands on its followers, including banning certain occupations and loving certain people. Far worse, your religion could forbid you from seeking necessary medical care for yourself or, even worse, for a loved one like your child -- this does often happen. You're paying with your life in so many ways when you join a religion. That religious experience could be good, but it could also be bad. Currently, the majority of children raised in fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative Christian homes are fleeing religion altogether -- estimates range from 65% to 80%. If you were to visit forum sites like ex-christian.net, you would read personal testimonials of what these ex-Christians had experienced growing up. When the "after-life insurance" scam was tried on me in the guise of a car insurance analogy, I responded with the following assessment: So your Pascal's Wager is not a sure thing, but rather ... now how did you put it? Oh yes ... you're screwed.
  10. DWise1

    Reconciliation Issue

    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.
  11. DWise1

    LGBT: Critical Mass?

    I certainly cannot think of any negative effects. Positive effects would be far fewer families operating at an unnecessary disadvantage and in danger of being torn apart by anti-same-sex marriage laws. About a year ago I listened to a report on All Things Considered (NPR) in which same-sex families were visiting Washington, DC, to personally lobby their congressmen and senators for support. The most pressing concern for most of the families was that the parents lost all parental rights in a state that didn't recognize or banned same-sex marriages. That meant that if any of their children were to have to go to the emergency room or come to the attention of the authorities, then all their children would be taken away from them and placed in foster care. Societal acceptance of gay marriage means the preservation of families.
  12. From what I gather from the above, no secret regulations were used. I don't see the issue of "supreme being" relevant in the decision. P.S. Anyone else ever gotten this error message? Yes, I'm familiar with the Welsh case. I met Elliott on-line on CompuServe immediately upon joining their Scouting Forum. And the BSA spy there printed out just about every message posted there and turned them in to BSA, whose lawyers then presented a thick stack of those messages in federal court as evidence in the Welsh trial. In fact, the very first message I posted there was included and marked "ATHEIST LEADER" in big red letters. We followed reports of those CompuServe forum members about the proceedings and the actions and statements of BSA officials and of other participants. While that is an accurate account of what had happened, it is also true that BSA frequently invoked its non-existent "rule requiring belief in a Supreme Being" in the Welsh case as well as in all the other cases involving religious discrimination. That included BSA's persistent and well-publicized direct lies to the public about having a rule requiring "belief in a Supreme Being". I would also point out how the Welsh case started as being a prime example of the problems caused by the surface wording of the DRP in absense of any explanation of what officially published BSA policy actually says. In fact, on recruitment night for our pack there was one parent who balked at that wording, so I sat down and explained what it meant according to officially published policy and she found that she could agree with it. Rather, it is when that policy is kept secret from the parents so that all they have to go by is the surface wording that these kinds of problems even arise. How so? Please explain why you think that and what you think is circular about my arguments. I think that I've been very straight-forward in my reasoning and in my presentation. For that matter, I cannot see how officially published BSA policy could be construed to say something different.
  13. All your links to http://www.scouter.com/wiki are broken, which is too bad since I would have wanted to have seen what this forum's Wiki had to say about "higher power". But needless to say, while it may be your own narrow sectarian interpretation that a "higher power" must be a "Supreme Being", reality and the world's religions say otherwise. A "Supreme Being" would be what is referred to as a "personal god", which Wikipedia defines as: That definition alone indicates that a "higher power" need not be a personal god. We also have other examples, such as the Tao, Hinduism's Brahman-Atman (the ultimate reality -- "The personal God is impersonal reality reflected upon the mirror of ignorance and illusion." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman#Brahman_and_Atman), Confuscianism's natural social order, the physical laws of the universe, all of which are higher powers than each individual and none of which are personal gods (aside from a tiny bit of wriggle-room with Brahman, depending on which school). You are bound to your sectarian view of "higher power" because of your own religious tradition. The rest of us are not similiarly bound, except for those whose religious traditions share your sectarian views. As per officially published BSA policy. To paraphrase the idea and purpose behind officially published BSA religious policy: Religious beliefs only imply that to you because you are bound by the sectarian views of your own religious tradition. I am not bound by your sectarian views. As per officially published BSA policy. And while you would not call somebody else's religious tradition "religious" because of your own sectarian views, that does not prevent us from considering our own religious beliefs to be religious. As per officially published BSA policy, that judgement is not yours to make for anyone except yourself and for someone within the same religious tradition. For more information, maybe you should have a chat with a minister from my church, the Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA). I'd like to know his reaction and response when you tell him that UU beliefs are not religious. Quite honestly, once when I was asked what I believe in, I quite literally responded with, "Truth, justice, and the American way." Corny, but true. And of the American way I particularly value religious liberty and am dedicated to preserving it. No, it is not. I haven't put it up yet. Actually, I had a single page marking "more to come" on my old website, but then that provider suddenly went out of the hosting business and I've been putting my site up elsewhere in my "copious spare time" (engineer parlance -- we have too much work to do to have any spare time).
  14. Peregrinator: I thought I was quite clear on what I meant by being "strongly agnostic". Here it is again (with a key part in bold): Could you please point out what part of that you did not understand or had difficulty with? As I just shared with Merlyn, we atheists repeatedly get subjected to theists (mainly fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative Christians) pontificating to us what atheists think and believe. In the process they only succeed in demonstrating how completely clueless they are and yet they absolutely refuse to hear from us atheists ourselves what we actually do think and believe. Here is a link to a page on the website of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, religioustolerance.org, entitled, "Agnostic-Atheists. Agnostic-Theists. More definitions. Famous Agnostics.": http://www.religioustolerance.org/agnostic2.htm I just found it today, but you will notice that many of the definitions and quotations offered say the same thing that I had just repeated for you: You can plainly see them saying the same things as I have. I will remind you that I have held and developed my beliefs for many decades and that I have only just today found this webpage that I just quoted from. I would suggest that it is your own definitions and understanding of "atheist" and "agnostic" that need to be re-examined and corrected.
  15. Merlyn: A better explanation would be like the region in the UK our minister told us about called "The Black Spot" by a major church (CoE?). Populated by Unitarians, it has a reputation for being impervious to all their proselytizing efforts. They hate us so much because they cannot convert us. Kind of like with Martin Luther's vicious hatred for the Jews. But a better explanation would be that they are acting in ignorance upon their prejudices which they have learned from their churches. I'm sure that you've been pontificated at by Christians who "know" exactly what atheists think and believe, only the more they pontificate the more obvious it is that they are completely clueless. Even worse, they refuse to stop and listen and learn from actual atheists what actual atheists actually do think and believe. So where do they get their prejudices from? I found it interesting that over the decades some of the same false ideas about atheists would keep appearing. Then one night while browsing through http://ex-christian.net, an ex-Christian sharing his deconversion story remembered what he had been taught by his church about atheists and he even quoted from some Bible verses about those teachings. They were the same false ideas that I had observed appearing over and over again! Unfortunately, when I tried to return to that post the next night to write down the citations, I couldn't find it anymore. So that's it! They're getting some of those false ideas from the Bible! That could also explain why they work so hard to not learn the truth about atheists. I started studying "creation science" over 30 years ago and have been discussing it for almost as long. Now, mind you, we're talking about biblical literalists there, who are almost exclusively fundamentalists. One of the things that I find very disturbing about them is the brinksmanship that they insist on playing with their own faith. Creationists have repeatedly insisted to me emphatically that if there's even one, just one, error in the Bible, then you should throw the entire Bible in the trash and become an atheist. And that's what they teach their kids! And since their claims about the real world are contrary-to-fact and the truth of the Bible depends on them being true, that's a sure recipe of disaster. So how then do they deal with the evidence of the real world? They turn a blind eye to it and invent their own "evidences". I think that's part of what's happening in our "conversations" (ie, they pontificate and then refuse to listen to the truth) with that kind of Christians. They're getting their wrong ideas about atheists from the Bible, but if they learn that those ideas are wrong, then that means that the Bible is wrong about something and that's when it all starts to unravel for them. They have a vested interest in remaining ignorant. And because their prejudices are hateful, they act them out with hatred. Against boogeymen who don't even exist regardless of how many innocent people get trampled.
  16. DWise1

    The Future of the BSA?

    Kahuna, it looks like you're arguing that council SEs would be acting on their own based on their own personal prejudices. That doesn't agree with what I observed. Searching through an excerpt of the Rules and Regulations (I have sections in disk files that I had copied out, but my paper hard copies are packed away), I passed by some wording to the effect that councils cannot act on their own, or perhaps more specifically that they may not add nor subtract from membership or other requirements. And what was happening in the 1990's was that mountains of FAXes were flowing up- and down-hill between National and Council, such that Council couldn't even begin to consider to think about scratching itself without getting clearance to do so from National. Control was very highly centralized. Furthermore, my DE informed me that he was required to report every single contact he had and I'm sure that Council has the same requirement to report everything to Regional (albeit summarized) and that Regional had the same requirements to report everything to National. Of course, for day-to-day malfeasance the various levels would be operating as per standing orders, but the orders were still coming from the very top at National. I don't think that that SE's situation was that he could no longer act independently, but rather that he didn't agree with the new orders he anticipated coming from National.
  17. Khaliela, no apology necessary for not standing up. La familia. Watch out for your family and take care of them. Es lo màs importante. Pilot? Going for the Air Force? That is the most person-oriented of the services. My father was a Chief Carpenter's Mate in the US Navy Seabees. He never pushed it, but as a child I read through his 1944 Bluejacket's Manual many times over; I could read naval officer's rank early on and found it very interesting that Star Trek:TNG followed US Naval rank of insignia, albeit with pips instead of gold braid -- and I was severely disappointed that it took them several seasons to finally come up with enlisted insigniae of rank, including for Chief Petty Officers. When I enlisted in 1976, it as a toss-up between Navy and Air Force. Since I was about to get married, I went Air Force -- the USAF sends its officers off to get killed instead of the enlisted. Also, my active duty assignment allowed me to attend the local university to get my Computer Science degree, something that active-duty Navy and Army assignments allow much more rarely. So then after my active duty enlistment, I affiliated with the Naval Reserve (albeit renamed about a decade ago to "Navy Reserve"). In 1991, I made Chief Petty Officer. And I went on to serve until Nov 2011, when I turned 60, the maximum age allowed without waiver. 35 years of service. Is your son intending to apply for the US Air Force Academy? I have heard much about how fundamentalist Christians have taken over the Academy. I don't know what the situation is right now. Though I have heard within the past year that the US Army requires all members going through a divorce to go through the Baptists' DivorceCare program. A friend had talked me into going through that program (she was promoting dance classes for the Singles Ministry of her mega-church, Saddleback, which was lacking men (150 would sign up for a dance class, 100 of which were women) and the alternative I was considering was on the same night. DivorceCare is only of any possible use to a conservative Christian, or at the absolute least a Christian, since they repeatedly and emphatically emphasized that only Jesus H. Christ could ever possibly help you, that nobody could ever possibly recover from a divorce without the direct and personal intervention of Jesus H. Christ Himself. And the US Army is requiring this very nonsense of each and every member going through a divorce. I have personally been through a divorce. It is, according to some book that my sister has, the third worst stressor in one's life (I have also in very close proximity been through the first). To impose a blatantly religious and sectarian requirement and condemnation like that on somebody going through such an experience is totally inconscionable. Your son knows what he wants to do. Support him and guide him as much as you can. But at no point can you stop worrying about him. That is the fate of a parent. I know that.
  18. DWise1

    LGBT: Critical Mass?

    Quite serious. Scoutcraft is not affected by sexual orientation nor religious belief. Watch the episode for yourself.
  19. DWise1

    The Future of the BSA?

    My handbook is buried away in a box out in the garage, but here is the WOSM definition of "Duty to God" which sounds very much like what I remember the handbook saying (http://scoutdocs.ca/Documents/Duty_to_God.php): So "Duty to God" is in fact not making an oath to YHWH nor to any other god, unless the individual's religious duties require it. The problem is that the use of that word, "God", causes too many people to misunderstand and to misinterpret "Duty to God" and to even use it as a weapon against others, which is completely and utterly wrong. Could you please explain how this is a constitutional problem? I think a far greater problem was BSA's adoption of a lie that their lawyers told them to use in the lawsuits of the earl 1990's, claiming that BSA is and had always been a secret religious organization. Of course, when that was used against them in school access cases, BSA then tried to claim that they weren't a religious organization and had never been. Check which way the wind's blowing so we can figure out which lie they're going to use next.
  20. Please explain your strange idea that an atheist cannot have any religious beliefs. How did you arrive at it? What sense does it make? Does it even make sense to you? The gods are supposed supernatural beings that we have created to explain what you do not understand. The basic problem is that we are unable to perceive the supernatural or even determine whether it actually exists. As a result, I am strongly agnostic, because I believe that we cannot know anything about the supernatural. If a theist were honest about it, he would also have to hold the same agnostic position. All anyone can do with the supernatural is to make guesses and assumptions. A theist makes the assumption that supernatural beings do exist and then tries to figure out what he can about the gods. An atheist makes the opposite assumption that the gods don't exist, or at the very least realize that what we call "gods" are of human invention. Even if real gods do exist, it is the invented ones that we use, which may come close to the real thing or miss by tera-light-years. Even with the Christian God the image that believers hold is a pale substitute, but it's the best that the human mind can work with; thus a believer should engage in a life-long attempt to understand God, something that should be ever growing (I have a brochure from church about a book co-written by a rabbi whose thesis was that most adults have a childish view of God because they formed their ideas of God in childhood and never returned to form a more mature view as they grew up). "God" works best as a metaphor with which to frame ideas and ideals. The word can be handy for many, but I personally do not use it in reference to my own beliefs. The same holds true for many other people. As you should have read by now, BSA officially forbids itself from defining or interpreting "God" even though they do not hesitate to violate that rule in order to commit religious discrimination. Nor is believing in a "Supreme Being" even a requirement for membership, nor is it explicitly a part of "Duty to God" nor "Reverent", unless of course your own religious tradition and practices require it. As an atheist, I have no problem with "Duty to God" nor with "A Scout is Reverent" nor with the Declaration of Religious Principle, since I know how they are defined and how they are meant to be interpreted. I do find the particular wording and especially the use of the word "God" to be troubling, because in common usage it refers to one very specific god and thus it misleads far too many people into misinterpreting "Duty to God", "Reverent", and the DRP and leads directly to religious bigotry and discrimination. That word is almost exclusively Christian. A Muslim would prefer his own name even though it's supposed to be the same god. Because less liberal Jews take quite seriously the commandment to not say the name, they are even reluctant to write that word, writing "G-d" instead, and would avoid saying the word. Hindus have their own gods and Buddhists are themselves atheists (the Buddha taught against believing in the gods because that would only keep you from gaining Enlightenment). Religion, religious beliefs, and religious thought do not need the gods. They can be useful as metaphors for arriving at and dealing with and teaching deeper truths. But far too often, the gods are distractions which lead us astray and lead us to do harm to ourselves and to others. Does that at all help? And please do answer my questions about how you had arrived at your ideas about atheists. And I would also want to ask another question: Why is it that atheists are so hated? I have never been able to understand that. All I've seen is that churches teach their congregations to hate atheists and feed them lies about us. Why? It doesn't make any sense.
  21. To help you catch up, you should read what I posted last night, since it quotes from officially published BSA policies. Rather than have you go looking for it (I find navigating in this forum to be unnecessarily cumbersome), I will repost it here. Kahuna posted the DRP apparently to challenge me, so this was my reply: That is what BSA demands, not allegiance to a specific god in violation of its being "absolutely nonsectarian". Rules and Regulations, ARTICLE IX. PRINCIPLES, POLICIES, AND DEFINITIONS, SECTION I: But what is the officially published BSA policy on the definition and interpretation of "God"? More pertinent, the emphasis is on being faithful in one's religious duties and respecting the beliefs of others (meaning that BSA professionals fail in this point of the Scout Law). Advancement Guidelines, early 1990's, page 5, RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES: Even though "God" is not defined nor may it be. Please note that officially BSA does not and cannot determine whether a member performs his "Duty to God". My minister wrote to BSA twice explicitly informing them that I do indeed perform my "Duty to God" in accordance with our religion, Unitarian-Universalism. Not only did BSA deliberately ignore him both times, but they also deliberately ignored those same letters every time I included them in my repeated requests for information on my review, which dragged on for several years. BSA yet again in flagrant violation of its own rules and policies. POSITION STATEMENT REAFFIRMATION OF THE POSITION OF THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA ON "DUTY TO GOD", 10 October 1985: Reaffirmation of the Position of the Boy Scouts of America on Duty to God, 12 June 1991: Relationships Division deals with BSA's relationships with religious organizations. The director in charge of Relationships Division is in a unique position to think long and hard about officially published BSA religious policy and its ramifications. Letter from William McCleery III, BSA National Director, Relationships Division, 26 August 1985: Letter from Donald L. Townsend, BSA National Director, Relationships Division, 21 December 1994: Now, both letters explicitly state that "belief in a Supreme Being" is not required. Mark that well! But they were written at two different times under two different circumstances. In 1985, a newly adopted wording, "belief in a Supreme Being", which CSE Ben Love stated was meant to be more inclusive, instead caused a Unitarian Life Scout candidate, Paul Trout, to be expelled. After hundreds of letters of protest (mark that number very well!), BSA relented and reinstated Paul Trout as well as meeting personally with the head of his church, Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA) President Dr. Rev. William F. Schulz in which BSA CSE Ben Love made personal assurances which included the dropping of that "belief in a Supreme Being" wording as a "mistake". CSE Ben Love then circa 1991 unilaterally broke all those personal assurances (Scout Honor, anyone?) and reinstated that "mistake" as the sole reason for expelling members by the hundreds, all while deliberately ignoring literally thousands of letters of protest (do you remember that I asked you mark those 1985 numbers well?). In the case of Townsend's 1994 letter, that was at a time when BSA was flagrantly violating its own officially published religious policies as it was flagrantly exercising a frensy of religious discrimination. I see Townsend's position as one of being in a position where his duty was to read and to research into officially published BSA religious policy and to think about it. James Randall, the father of the Randall twins (Randall v. Orange County Council, which when it broke in the local newspapers circa 1991 was my first indication that BSA was violating its own rules and policies; it was also undoubtedly the appeals on this case and the Curran case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curran_v._Mount_Diablo_Council_of_the_Boy_Scouts_of_America) that delayed my own review for so many years), obtained a copy of the Townsend letter and passed a copy on to me. When I showed it to my DE, his immediate response was to exclaim, "But that's what you've been saying all along!" Then I included it in my packet requesting information on my review. A few months later, I heard that Townsend had been bumped down from National back to a local council. I see his situation as one where he could see that truth and he dared to speak it, so the powers that be who are so embroiled in their own lies and deception had to remove him. BTW, BSA unilaterally and arbitrarily kicked out the Unitarian-Universalist Association. It seems that they could no longer deal with being constantly reminded that they are flagrantly violating their own rules. I have to admit that I have not had the time to assemble a very rigourous set of direct quotations from officially published BSA religious policies, especially since most of my materials are packed away, but the tone should be inescapable even to the most ardant advocates of BSA religious discrimination (though I am notorious for underestimating the power of the blinders that religious bigots can don). In brief summary, as I wrote in 1996 (https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/rec.scouting/adi4Dl5TlZY): So, Kahuna, as you appear to wish to imply that belief in YHWH is required of Scouts and of Scouters, officially published BSA religious policies say the exact opposite! You are, I trust, aware of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM). As I understand, BSA is supposed to adhere to their standards. Here is what they have to say about "Duty to God" (What does Scouting mean by Duty to God? : Scouting embraces diverse spiritual expression, theistic or not, http://scoutdocs.ca/Documents/Duty_to_God.php, by Scouter Liam Morland, 1996): I added the emphasis in that last paragraph, but the actual wording remains unchanged, as you yourself can attest to by reading the article for yourself. Unlike the proponents of BSA religious bigotry, I have nothing to hide. So then, in light of what BSA's actual officially published religious policies say, what do you have to say?
  22. I agree that all I would ever get from BSA itself would be double-talk and lies; I've certain seen far too much of that. I am preparing to post my experiences on my webpage. Since I have been away from the subject since about 1998, I realize that some things may have changed in the meantime. I am trying to perform due dilligence here. I know what was officially published at the time, so I would need to know whether and how any of that had changed in the meantime. I also know that when I first started researching in order to properly understand the DRP and whether I could agree with it, the Scout Shop openly sold copies of the BSA Rules and Regulations and their Bylaws. Then when those materials started appearing in court to show what BSA's rules and policies really are and how BSA was violating them, BSA pull them from the shelves and very tightly controlled any and all access to them. I would also want and need to know what the status is on that. My intent, as always, is to seek and speak the truth. I am also very supportive of Scouting and incorporated its principles in my own life. I am appalled at how BSA is working to destroy Scouting.
  23. DWise1

    The Future of the BSA?

    So just what exactly is "duty to God" supposed to mean. In the prescribed "absolutely nonsectarian" manner? Does it require an actual pledge to an actual supernatural entity? Only if your own religious tradition requires it. If your own religious tradition does not require it, then no! Is the problem that one word, "God"? On the bald face of it, devoid of the rest of the body of officially published BSA religious policies, it would indeed appear as it does, like a direct reference to the Christian god. Because a faithful Muslim would most certainly not use that term and a faithful conservative Jew would also balk at it if not refuse altogether. I've been through this kind of discussion with my friend who is a confirmed audiophile. She doesn't even want to begin to try to listen to something that lacks proper audio. Having read Hermann Hesse's Der Steppenwolf (in the original, of course), I am constantly reminded of the scene in the Magic Theater when Mozart is tuning the wireless to listen to a concert and having to remind Harry Haller that it is the music itself and not how it is presented that is important, Sein vs Schein (existence vs appearance). She is still unconvinced, not having been able to think it through in the original German, so 'ne Schade. Read the actual officially published BSA religious policy. The actual requirement is not allegiance to any particular supernatural entity, but rather to one's own religious tradition regardless of any necessary supernatural entities, if at all. Yes, the bald wording devoid of meaning from officially published BSA religious policy may appear daunting, but once you realize what it is really supposed to mean there should be no problem. Though in the meantime that unfortunate wording also encourages the religious bigots to do their worst.
  24. DWise1

    The Future of the BSA?

    What the frakkin' frik are you talking about? What you "quote" me as saying cannot be found anyway in what I had posted. That makes you a gorm-darned liar! Would you please attempt to clarify just what the frak you might be talking about? Where the frak did that come from? What was "quoted" has absolutely nothing to do with what I was responding to! What is wrong with this frakking stupid forum software? And just where did you get that statement from to keep BSA professionals as far away from your unit and your people as possible? Even though that is eminently true.
  25. The question still stands! In the 1990's, BSA repeatedly claimed to have a "belief in a Supreme Being" rule that required them to expel atheists "against their will", But such a "rule" never actually existed, as verified by the Orange County Council's SE Kent Gibb's forced admission in court to the judge in Randall v. Orange County Council. So I still ask the very same question as before: has officially published BSA policy changed since the late 1990's? Does BSA still claim to have that "rule" of "belief in a Supreme Being"? Do they still claim that it is an actual rule? Has it in fact actually become an actual rule?
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