Category Archives: Religion

Taking in Syrian Immigrants Immoral?

Recently, I was trying to find non-xenophobic arguments against the US taking in Syrian immigrants. I found a potential case in National Review (assuming the numbers truly are reliable). Two writers from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that it costs an estimated $12,874 per year (for the first 5 years) to resettle Middle-Eastern Refugees in the US while it may cost around $1,057 per year to move them to relative — if temporary — safety in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Again, if this is true, we could assist roughly twelve times the humans by helping resettle Syrians into neighboring countries with the same resource investment.

But, should we be concerned about this study’s impartiality? Maybe. The same authors published a study last year for CIS warning that immigration in general is a problem, partly because Muslims (who, incidentally, make up less than 1% of the US population) pose a significant security threat. These immigrants will, undoubtedly, “board an airliner and blow it up” according to one co-author*.

The person who said that, Steven Camarota, has remarked on another even more serious immigrant threat very concisely in the past: “[E]ach 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the county’s population reduced the Republican vote by about six percentage points [over the last 30 years]”*.

Of course, we can’t discount this study/argument simply because the writers may be generally biased against immigration. Hopefully, PolitiFact will have a look at their figures.

Agree or not, there are still solid ways to try to help out the thousands of Syrian civilians in need. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch highly rate American Refugee Committee International as an effective charity. GiveWell recommends Doctors Without Borders.

Excerpt of Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr

Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, & the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.

You will naturally examine first the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c.

But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities?

You will next read the new testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions 1. of those who say he was begotten by god, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven: and 2. of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition by being gibbeted according to the Roman law which punished the first commission of that offence by whipping, & the second by exile or death in furcâ. […]

These questions are examined in the books I have mentioned under the head of religion, & several others. They will assist you in your inquiries, but keep your reason firmly on the watch in reading them all. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort & pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love.

In fine, I repeat you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, & neither believe nor reject anything because any other persons, or description of persons have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but uprightness of the decision.

I forgot to observe when speaking of the new testament that you should read all the histories of Christ, as well of those whom a council of ecclesiastics have decided for us to be Pseudo-evangelists, as those they named Evangelists. Because these Pseudo-evangelists pretended to inspiration as much as the others, and you are to judge their pretensions by your own reason, & not by the reason of those ecclesiastics. Most of these are lost. There are some however still extant, collected by Fabricius which I will endeavor to get & send you.

[]

Jefferson, T. (1787, August 10). Letter to Peter Carr. Retrieved from teachingamericanhistory.org September 9, 2015.

Discussion Concerning False Opinions Regarding Margaret Sanger

Christian 
Margaret gets cozy with her allies, the KKK.
Clifton 
Here’s the original:

[http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/09/27/article-2434992-185184C900000578-612_634x471.jpg]

Christian 
Point taken — I should be more critical of photos. But do you have anything to say about the address – which did happen? Or anything about her views?
Clifton 
I’ve meant to explore her views in more depth, but, not having done so, I can’t comment on those views generally. However, I can let her speak for herself of this encounter:

 

All the world over, in Penang and Skagway, in El Paso and Helsingfors, I have found women’s psychology in the matter of child-bearing essentially the same, no matter what the class, religion, or economic status. Always to me any aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan at Silver Lake, New Jersey, one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing.

[…]

Never before had I looked into a sea of faces like these. I was sure that if I uttered one word, such as abortion, outside the usual vocabulary of these women they would go off into hysteria. And so my address that night had to be in the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand.

In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered. The conversation went on and on, and when we were finally through it was too late to return to New York. Under a curfew law everything in Silver Lake shut at nine o’clock. I could not even send a telegram to let my family know whether I had been thrown in the river or was being held incommunicado. It was nearly one before I reached Trenton, and I spent the night in a hotel.

Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography

Continue reading Discussion Concerning False Opinions Regarding Margaret Sanger

Best Scriptures for Academic Study

Judeo-Christian Bible

Quran

  • Recommended by Given of Missouri State University.*
  • Called the “best translation available” by Ehrman.*

  • Recommended by Ward in his History of Islam course syllabus.*
  • Assigned by Ostebo in his Introduction to Islam course at the University of Florida.*

  • The most popular, highly-rated version on Amazon on March 7, 2015.

Muslim Population Proportion vs. FGM Prevalence: Pearson Correlation

The following is the result of a Pearson correlation performed using SPSS.
The data on Muslim population proportion are from here; the data on FGM prevalence are from here.
Download the data set here.

Caveats: I am almost certainly not qualified to analyze these data appropriately. (I have a semester of behavioral health stats under my belt, but I do not use the information regularly.) In some cases, Wikipedia lists a range of FGM prevalence. I tried to use the figure that appeared to be most reliable.


Pearson Correlation Comparing Muslim Population Proportion to FGM Prevalence
Pearson Correlation Comparing Muslim Population Proportion to FGM Prevalence

Is this a significant correlation? According to this reference, a value between .40 and .69 is considered a “strong relationship.” So, .504 would be considered a significant correlation.


SPSS-Generated Scatter Plot Graph with Regression Line
SPSS-Generated Scatter Plot Graph with Regression Line (Click to enlarge)

Discussion Concerning Circumcision

Clifton 

The Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal Monday by a Netanya woman fined NIS 500 ($140) per day for refusing to circumcise her son, as is required by Jewish law (halacha).

[source]

Trevor  Rabbinical court? Yikes.
Mike  “Removal of the foreskin prepares the soul [of the baby] to accept the yoke of Heaven and study God’s Torah and commandments.”

Oh, OK, then that seems like some sound medical practicing to me.

JT  To be absolutely clear, anyone who does *not* do this to his/her baby has displeased יהוה enormously: “In the most controversial part of this version of the Jewish ritual, known as metzitzah b’peh, the practitioner, or mohel, places his mouth around the baby’s penis to suck the blood to ‘cleanse’ the wound.”*
Continue reading Discussion Concerning Circumcision

Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

Clifton 
The cosmos is about 13.8 billion years old.
The human is about 200,000 years old.
The first recorded marriage involving a human occurred about 2,674 years ago.

Marriage contracts were first recorded in the Late Period (661-332 BC), and continued until the first century AD. They were often drawn up by the husband to establish the rights of both parties to maintenance and possessions. The law did not require a marriage to be recorded.

[source]

Appeal to Tradition

Description:
The argument supports a position by appealing to long-standing or traditional opinion, as if the past itself were a kind of authority.

[source]

Marie  I suppose you don’t consider Adam and Eve to’ve been married?
Mark  Did you snope this already? j/k
Joseph  Whoa whoa whoa … I thought everything was only 6,000 years old. Check your facts, heathen.
Clifton  Marie, this hadn’t actually occurred to me. From what I can gather, the thinking behind such a position is that Eve was "wed" to Adam because she was taken from a part of his body and then added back to him to complete him. If that is what it takes, then I would imagine that no marriage since has been valid. No?

Mark, I didn’t. As always, I am open to contradiction. I claim no expertise. Incidentally, Snopes generally does an excellent job of avoiding the argument from authority, which seems to me to be one of the human’s most abused fallacies.

Joseph, I’m glad you responded. I always wonder why my irreligious friends get married. Perhaps you can explain it to me. From my perspective, if you want to be with somebody, you will do that. Fidelity shouldn’t be a problem because you both agree to certain terms prior to formally entering into your relationship. Continue reading Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

Whore’s Glory

I had nine customers today. All nine were really fine. They were perfect gentleman with me. It always depends on the man’s family. If he comes from a good family, he has good manners; if he comes from a bad family, he has bad manners. … But it depends on my behavior too. If I treat him badly, he treats me badly. If a girl behaves badly, she gets a bad reputation quickly. … If I lose a customer, then his friends stop coming too. I treat my customers right so they keep coming back. Otherwise, I would be left with nothing. A customer would come once and then never again.

The Shema

Deuteronomy 6: 4–9
דברים פרק ו פסוקים ד-ט

Masoretic Hebrew to
word-by-word English translation,
with audio, romanization,
and English translation

יְהוָה
יִשְׂרָאֵל
שְׁמַע
ד
Hashem Israel listen
4
אֶחָד
יְהוָה
אֱלֹהֵינוּ
is one
Hashem
our God

audio

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Hebrew
consonants
שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃
romanization Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
English Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Continue reading The Shema
"Hashem" means "the name." Many Hebrew speakers use "Hashem" or "Adonai" instead of "יהוה" to show their respect to God by not taking his name lightly and only using the proper name in prayers.

Albert Fish

About the age of fifty-five, Fish started to experience hallucinations and delusions. “He had visions of Christ and His angels….he began to be engrossed in religious speculations about purging himself of iniquities and sins, atonement by physical suffering and self-torture, human sacrifices….He would go on endlessly with quotations from the Bible all mixed up with his own sentences, such as ‘Happy is he that taketh Thy little ones and dasheth their heads against the stones.”

Fish believed that God had ordered him to torment and castrate little boys. He had actually done so a number of times.

[source]