Monday, August 28, 2006

Good ol' fashion nonsense!

I can hardly believe I just read this story.

I owe some people responses in the previous post, I know. Until then, read this story and mourn the death of common sense with me.

Rep. Harris: Church-state separation 'a lie'

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws."

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Harris made the comments -- which she clarified Saturday -- in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said.
Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans who called them offensive and not representative of the party.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "disgusted" by the comments.

Harris' campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been "speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."

The comments reflected "her deep grounding in Judeo-Christian values," the statement said, adding that Harris had previously supported pro-Israel legislation and legislation recognizing the Holocaust.

Harris' opponents in the GOP primary also gave interviews to the Florida Baptist Witness but made more general statements on their faith.

Harris, 49, faced widespread criticism for her role overseeing the 2000 presidential recount as Florida's secretary of state.

State GOP leaders -- including Gov. Jeb Bush -- don't think she can win against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Fundraising has lagged, frustrated campaign workers have defected in droves and the issues have been overshadowed by news of her dealings with a corrupt defense contractor who gave her $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Nature of Man

I believe I have a somewhat diverse blog readership, and I rather like it. There used to be a man who linked to me who was decidedly gay, I don’t know how he found my blog or why he decided he liked it but I really appreciated the support. That was a while ago though and I don’t think he checks back here even though I think the link is still up.

I am a Christian, which (I think often times unjustly) tends to get people labeled as intolerant. However, the Libertarian in me is accepting of all races, cultures, and life styles that don’t victimize others or prey on people weaker than themselves. I also don’t think there’s any need for evangelism in America. We’ve all heard the story and those who believe it, do. There’s no way to ever make a person believe in something. You can make them agree, or even want to believe, but you can never convince someone to believe.

Not only that, but I have friendships with several atheists. I count them among some of my closest friends and there are several that I respect and admire more than many self-professing Christians. I find that in general atheists are more prone to logic and reason than Christians. Christians are prone to say things like, “God said it and so I believe it!” This, in and of itself, is not terrible logic. However, it’s usually used in reference to something that they believe, yet God never said. Furthermore, it’s used as a shield against logic and critical thought, which is exactly what God calls us to.

To that effect I’ve kept this blog pretty nonreligious I think. I don’t have links up to religious affiliations. I don’t typically promote religious ideas or suggest others do. For the most part I don’t have much respect for organized religion because it depends on the power and wisdom of Man, of which I have very little faith.

However, I am going to post now on a decidedly religious issue. In doing so I will be referencing the Bible, but not only that but also our ability to reason that I think even an agnostic can agree with. The issue I’d like to examine is the idea that we, as humans, have what is commonly known as a sinful nature. It is my position that such a thing does not exist. That, in fact, our nature is one that seeks to please God, not one that is inherently opposed to him.

There are several arguments against my line of thinking, and I’d go so far as to say the vast majority of Christians hold to the doctrine of Sinful Nature, though not always in the full fashion that Calvin himself did. Though consistently in my life I’ve talked to people about this doctrine (once my neighbor went so far as to invite his pastor over to correct my thinking) I’ve never been able to find a logical and biblical argument for it.

Logically, the argument for Sinful Nature usually revolves around the fact that, indeed, we all sin. This sin is directly attributed to our nature due to the shear volume. Let’s be clear about this: I’m not claiming that there are those without sin, only that when they do sin they are going against their nature.

Biblically there are two different routes that people will take. The first is to point out scriptures that say we are sinful from birth. I don’t disagree with this, but I will disagree that it is due to our nature. The second is to point out scriptures that actually have the words “sinful nature” in them. This seems logical seeing as the Bible is the inspired word of God and all, but I’d like to examine what is the actually word of God and what is translation based on theology.

The translation in your bible that may say the words ‘sinful nature’ come from the Greek word ‘savrx.’ The word is used 151 times in the New Testament. It is my opinion that it’s correct translation is flesh. This is made obvious by several passages that use it in a very literal way to represent body parts. Many modern translations, The NIV for instance, takes 24 of those instances and changes them to “sinful nature.” However, the phrase sinful nature never appears in the Greek text.

In fact let’s look at the Greek word for ‘nature’. It’s ‘fuvsiƟ’ and it’s used just 11 times in the New Testament. Each and every time it’s used it in reference to man’s nature it says that our nature is to do what is good. Look them up yourselves. I’ll give you the verses. Ro 1:26, Ro 2:14, Ro 2:27, Ro 11:21, Ro 11:24, 1Co 11:14, Ga 2:15, Ga 4:8, Eph 2:3, Jas 3:7 , 2Pe 1:4. That’s a list of EVERY verse in the New Testament that has the Greek word for ‘nature’ in it. I’ve not omitted any to prove my point. I'll post a few verses that are relevant to this discussion:

Romans 1:26: For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature...

Here Paul is describing some vile passions and appeals to nature itself for the argument against it.

Romans 2:14: (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law...

Here Paul makes a case that Gentiles that do not have Jewish Law taught to them still make an attempt to adhere to those laws (murder, stealing, etc.) Again he claims that the reason they know this is nature.

Now if Paul wanted to tell us we had a sinful nature wouldn’t he say it at least one time? ONE TIME? Was he really that bad of a writer that we need to correct his message with our own translations? Maybe the Holy Spirit just didn’t convey God’s message to him properly. Good thing we have enlightened bible translations to fix that problem!

The correct translation for ‘savrx’ is flesh. As in your body. Your body is not naturally evil; it’s naturally self-serving. "Oh! But Scott, selfishness is evil!" Wrong, not in it's natural state. Your body's natural needs are not evil. It needs to be fed. It needs to sleep. It needs to be touched. It needs emotional exchanges with other people. It needs sexual contact. It needs knowledge. All very natural things. It has all these needs and NONE of them are inherently evil or sinful. However, we can choose to fulfill them all with either godly or ungodly means. And when we make the choice to fulfill them with evil means it’s not because it’s in our nature to do so. It’s against our nature. It’s a perversion. It’s wrong and unnatural, which is why each and every one of us need a savior. After all, if we we’re just following our nature to sin then what exactly would we need to be saved from?

By claiming we have a sinful nature you’re in effect blaming God for your sin, because if we did have a sin nature who would have put it there? God is the only one who could create such a thing. And if God created it, it’s God’s fault that we sin and he would have no right to judge us. In fact if he did give us a sin nature it would be his moral duty to save us and there would be no grace involved.

Furthermore, if the sinful nature came about after Adam, why did Adam sin? And if he got a sinful nature after the fall then some sort of physical change would have taken place in him. And it would require a physical change for any of us to be saved. Why does the Bible never talk about that? There’s not mention of a change in Adam’s nature or a change in your physical makeup after being saved.

What caused Adam to sin is the same thing that causes you and I to sin. The neutral desire to fulfill the needs of the body, and the choice to use evil means to do it. What’s the biblical proof of that? Genesis 3:6:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

Why, it looks as though Eve was tempted by the same thing we are tempted by. Pleasing the flesh. The fruit TASTED good. It LOOKED beautiful. It would enhance her WISDOM. All fleshly needs that are not inherently sinful. It’s the same for you and I. And it’s the same for Christ who was tempted by the desires of his flesh but withstood in holiness like no other human being was able to. How silly would Romans 8:3 be if “God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” was translated, “God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful nature?” You’d agree, I’m sure, that Christ didn’t have a sinful nature. He just had flesh, the same as you and I.

There’s more I could say about this. I’ve thought about it a lot, I’ve pondered it, and I’ve studied it, and I've debated it. To finish I’ll just leave you with this:

If man had a sinful nature than we would have no reason to, as a society, blame him for wrongdoing. Just as we don't blame the tiger killing the zebra, for it is his nature. However man's nature is not to sin, but to please God. This is why we, as a society, call obviously immoral sexual behavior such as pedophilia “perverse”, because it is not “natural.” It is, in fact, against man's very nature.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Book Meme?

I have no idea what meme means but apparently it's similar to tagging.

I hate tagging. :)

1. One book that changed your life? Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Read it the year after I graduated High School. Helped form many of my ideas about what Governments should and shouldn't do and the idea that principles ought to guide man. Plus I never went to college and I've never had a professor explain to me all of the evilness of Capitalism, so this book helped me fall in love with it.

2. One book you have read more than once? Um, I've never read a book more than once. Except for the books I've read my kids over and over again. I could probably read Devil in the White City again.

3. One book you would want on a desert island? Boatbuilding for Beginners (and Beyond): Everything You Need to Know to Build a Sailboat, a Rowboat, a Motorboat, a Canoe, and More by Jim Michalak. Seems like the obvious answer to me.

4. One book that made you laugh? I don't laugh. Ever.

5. One book that made you cry? No Compromise by Melody Green. It didn't make me cry, but it mad me sad.

6. One book you wish had been written? A Simple Explanation of Rights Afforded to the U.S. Government by the Constitution, Easy Enough For 21st Century Democrats and Republicans to Understand by Thomas Jefferson.

7. One book you wish had never been written? I'm pretty much opposed to this question as I believe truth should never be hidden and that lies are best put on display for critical thought to examine, but taking into account 158+ million dead by means of Democide in just three countries that practiced some or all of it's tenants, I'd have to say The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederic Engels.

8. One book you are currently reading? The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible by Ken Schoolland. Ah, free books.

9. One book you have been meaning to read? Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis by Ludwig von Mises. Mises is an incredible man who spoke out against collectivism during the height of anti-capitalism fervor in Austria just before Nazi take over. He wrote this in 1922, and at the same time predicted the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, which unlike Marx's prediction of the downfall of Capitalism, actually came true.

10. Now tag five people: Erich, Sarah, Sam, Kim, and Albert Franken

Friday, August 11, 2006

Saturday, August 05, 2006

all teh peoples love the music

It's been a long time since a new song has gone up so this post is dimply to point out that there is one now. It's a few years old and I've liked it for some time, but I thought I'd share it with you all now.

Not much for discussion here so I'll ponder this:

What do you think of luck? Can a person be inherently lucky or unlucky, and how would you define such a thing?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Elephants vs. Donkeys

I am not a supporter of the George W. Bush presidency. I did not vote for the man. I’m also not a supporter of the war in Iraq, which was not justly waged.

Democrats like to assure me that they are indeed quite different than Republicans. They do this by pointing out all of the terrible things that the current administration does and letting me know, “This would never happen if Gore/Kerry were in office!”

It is my belief, however, that Democrats and Republicans are quite similar in that they are both decidedly pro-government. And while both parties claim to believe in keeping Government’s power in check neither has much of a track record of doing so.

For the past year we’ve heard the Left heralding the horrible methods used by the Bush administration in detaining enemy combatants in Guantanamo. They’ve told us that the Bush administration has over stepped it’s power in the unlawful detainment of these prisoners without the right to due process. And while President Bush has defended these actions as being legal due to the fact that the detainees were not American citizens, Democrats have been quick to point out that human rights are inalienable to all men, American’s or not.

One would think that their valiant defense of human rights was based on their own beliefs and not on their political allegiance, and for many of the rank-and-file I’m sure this is the case. However, it’s also maybe assumed that the unspoken assertion is that a Democrat would not dare to commit such a grievous act of human rights abuse and that if Gore/Kerry were in office things would most certainly be different!

There is one man though, who seems to believe different. Brandt Goldstein is a lawyer and the author of Storming the Court, a non-fiction examination of a 1992 court ruling that is eerily similar to our present situation. Late last year Goldstein wrote an article showing the parallels between past and present. You can read it here. An excerpt:

A smidgen of history: Our first Guantanamo detention camp was established in the late stages of the George H.W. Bush presidency. The detainees there weren't terror suspects, but 300 innocent Haitian refugees seeking safe haven from the military regime that ousted Haiti's democratically elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in September 1991. These refugees—brought to Guantanamo after the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted their vessels on the high seas between Haiti and Cuba—faced a terrible predicament. In interviews with U.S. immigration officials, they'd all proved a legitimate fear of political persecution were they to be returned to Haiti. Under U.S. policy, they should have been promptly flown to the American mainland (as were a number of other Haitians). But then this small group of men, women, and children also tested positive for HIV. Fear of AIDS was still extreme at that time, and the Bush administration refused to let these hapless refugees into the country. So, instead they were detained in a remote corner of Guantanamo with no prospect of release.

As we all remember Clinton took office shortly after, but he also refused to release the detainees. The case was finally brought before a judge by a group of law students.

The Clinton White House justified this atrocious conduct in terms that sound strikingly familiar today. Justice Department attorneys maintained that foreigners held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay have absolutely no legal rights, whether under the Constitution, federal statutes, or international law. According to this logic, the Clinton White House was free to treat the detainees however it pleased. (There was some plagiarism here. The Clinton folks took this argument from the Bush administration lawyers who'd first defended the camp.)

Now I am a fan of perspective and I understand the methods currently being used by the President in Guantanamo are not on the same level as what Clinton used and defended. However, using the principles of perspective we can also say that Clinton was not facing the same choices as Bush. Therefore we can look at the decision Clinton was faced with, whether or not to allow unwanted refugees in the United States. In addition, we can look at the reason he detained the refugees: Fear. Which is the same rational Bush used to defend his own unlawful detainment of prisoners.

And we can ask ourselves this; if a democrat were in office (presumably Gore, Clinton’s own VP) would things have played out differently in Guantanamo?

History answers a resounding, “No.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Go again

These guys are unstoppable. Their music pretty much sucks, (lol eric) but these videos are too much awesome.