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Jul 27, 2006


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David Boyd

Right. It's going to make it tougher to get Islamists to become more secular and more like us when they figure out that behind it all is the belief that the end is near and these Four Horsemen are on their way to settle this thing once and for all. If I'm them, I'm sticking with the 72 regenerating virgins over War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.


Indeed, we need to look in the mirror before we rant and rave about the beliefs of others. It seems at the same time we are learning the world is flat there are many counter trends spinning the globe faster and faster - away from our core beliefs.

Core beliefs rested on unwavering faith will lead to continuing violence and an unending clash of "civilizations."

Jeffrey Sykes

Ed is right in that there is a large body of Christian leaders who make a lot of cash off of predicting the end. I'm 35 and was raised in the 70s and 80s in a Pentecostal church in Winston-Salem that showed us Tim Lahay movies once a year about the rapture and tribulation and all that.

Now I go to a church that promotes the practice of the Gospel in this life over waiting for the end times.

Hagee and Lahay are hucksters pushing a product for cash. I still believe the vast majority of church going Americans are more loyal to the Constitution than to the Bible, and would make choices based on those beliefs if really pushed in a crisis to make a choice. I know I would stand for freedom of choice over theocracy to the end.

Now, how about the Holy War declared today by Mr. al-Zawari?

What is the political solution for having a stable global economy when this group wants to turn the clock back to 650 AD?

I read a great article by Niall Ferguson in Foreign Policy where he compared the collapse of the global economy prior to 1914 with the globalization of today. Complicated alliances and proxy strategies took the world into what was an unthinkable conflict even after the archduke's death.

I see the dialectic in action then and now, rather than prophecy unfolding. I hope al-Qaeda's call today falls on deaf ears and we get a peace keeping force in Lebanon so that country can finally become sovereign and not controlled by and Iranian proxy.

Then Syria is isolated, and would hopefully come in line with Libya, Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis.

Maybe then Bush will focus on finishing the job in Iraq, leaving the Iranians and al-Qaeda out in left field.

Just my thoughts.

Cara Michele

"...rapture and tribulation..." v. "...the practice of the Gospel in this life..."

Those are NOT mutually exclusive, by the way.

"I still believe the vast majority of church going Americans are more loyal to the Constitution than to the Bible..."

If that's true, and I'm not saying I doubt it, then you truly are describing "church-goers" and not "Christ-followers." As a Christ-follower, I am to respect and live under civil authority, but my ultimate authority is God and my "loyalty" belongs to Him first. Period.

And Ed, I'm one of those evangelicals who believes "bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you," but that doesn't stop us from praying for or working toward peace in the Middle East -- for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Believing God's Word to be true is not the same thing as trying to force Amgadeddon, which cannot be done anyway and smacks of arrogance. As if any of us could alter the timetable of the Living God!


Ed - have you found the link between Hagee and our local friends, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools?


Unless, and until Xtians/Jews can objectively demonstrate that
their so-called "sacred texts" are in fact the "word of God"

(GOD assumed to mean the one, the only existing supernatural
being, creator and controller of this universe and any and all
other possible planes of existence)

until they provide some verifiable evidence, their beliefs
(superstitions) can have no place in public policy.


"until they provide some verifiable evidence, their beliefs
(superstitions) can have no place in public policy."

Along with many other beliefs of a more secular nature.



"Belief" / Belief Systems .... will not serve us well in these times.

Just the facts, please.

(And so I don't get accused of being an apologist for Islam:
the other bastard child of Judaism is every bit the problem
that Xtianity has always been for human civilization.)

David Wharton

So Xavier, you're arguing for a kind of logical-positivist-based public policy?

That is, one based solely on emperically-verified facts?


that seems as good a way as any to describe it,
if we need a label

David Wharton

Xavier, the label is not important. I was trying to determine what criteria are critical for you in determining what facts are.

You've agreed that facts must be empirically verified, and said that only facts are admissible in determining public policy.

Would you also agree, that such concepts as "good," "evil," "right," "wrong," etc. cannot be used in factual statements?

I don't mean "good" etc. in a practical way (as in "my mother is a good cook") but in a moral or ethical way, as in "it is good to be compassionate." Such a statement could not be considered to be factual, since there is no way to verify empirically the goodness of compassion.


Andy Vance


I'd prefer pragmatic. But I'd settle for sane.


if good is accepted as meaning beneficial to ALL, then
the "goodness" of compassion is self-evident

David Wharton

Self-evident is not at all the same thing as empircially verifiable, and is hardly a reliable criterion of truth.

Jefferson wrote that it is self-evident that all men are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but none of those ideas seem to be self-evident to plenty of people (e.g. Marx, Osama, etc.)

Nor is your definition of "good" very compelling as it relates to compassion: compassion is a sentiment, which you defined yesterday as an "emotional opinion," and opinions in and of themselves don't normally benefit people. Nor is simply defining "good" as "beneficial" helpful, unless you've got some empirical criteria for what constitutes "beneficial."

But anyway, if you want me to buy into your fact-based public policy discussion, I need to know what constitutes a fact.

chip atkinson

Are you conflating Ed?


that's a lot to go over. I hesitate due to a suspicion that you have
already arrived at your conclusion: i.e. human beings cannot
figure out much of anything and certainly will never agree on
anything so let us turn to the Scriptures for instruction ...

I hope I am wrong.

however, if "compassion" is defined as doing what is helpful, beneficial to
ourselves and others, then the word does not denote a "sentiment"
but a set of actions.

and I doubt there is a human being who cannot readily determine
what is helpful and beneficial to himself and others.

For example: it is not helpful to blow the heads off of children ...
(inarguable, despite the O.T.'s advocacy of similar atrocities)

It is self-evident that thirst is bad, drink is "good".... hunger is"bad": food is "good"

as to "pursuit of happiness"... well , that's a silly, somewhat vacant phrase...
(Jefferson's first draft had "life, liberty, and property"... but he decided,
as Dylan would later sing: "it's too revealing."


in your list of public figues who would deny all the right to life,
liberty, etc., you must have (inadvertently) left out the Bush


one more thing : you don't need to "buy into" anything;
if we can set aside religious superstition, it's all going
be much less costly, if not free for the asking.

Ed Cone

X says, "'Belief' / Belief Systems .... will not serve us well in these times.

Just the facts, please."

But X endorses a politically-charged, inaccurate usage of the word "genocide."



No. You say that I endorse a "politically-charged and innacurate usage"
of that word.

I endorse a use of the word "genocide" as strictly defined by any
common dictionary.

In conversations like these, perhaps it would be better for each person
to speak for herself/himself. Maybe we should not mis-characterize
another's position.

Ed Cone

gen·o·cide (jĕn'ə-sīd')

The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.


yep. that's the one.

Ed Cone

Right. No need to restart the whole thread again here, I'm just mystified how your commitment to facts squares with your willingness to use a word with a specific and freighted meaning in a situation where it clearly does not apply.

As I said in the other thread, I guess you'd be comfortable if you were arrested on charges of robbery and assault, but the prosecutor started talking to the jury about murder.


yes, I recall your analogy. But when you say it "clearly does not apply,"
you are stating an opinion, not a fact. The question remains open.

Clearly, our opinions differ.

We might, though, consider where we began today: recalling that
Xtian fundamentalists contemplate (with a hearty amen) the
extermination of (potentially) 5 billion human beings. (Armageddon
and all that.)

It seems to me the best argument you have that genocide is not being
contemplated, and is not "in progress," would be that there are
Palestinians still alive today.

Of course, we still have some so-called "native Americans" with us today;\
not that the U.S. government didn't give it their best shot.

And, again to return to the nub of this, obviously we still have millions
of Jews (thankfully) alive and well today. But that does not change the
fact that they were targets of a genocidal campaign.


if I could fine-tune that discursive post above ....

I am reminded of a common argument from Holocause Deniers:

1) The Germans in general, and German Nazis in particular,
are/were very efficient.

2) If these efficient Germans had a genocidal policy toward Jews
they would have accomplished that goal.

3) Since there are millions of Jews living today
there was no German/Nazi "final solution".

Ridiculous reasoning, I know. But are we to debate "is it genocide? isn't it"
until the whole group is dead, and only then we can be certain?



(as a weak defense for poor typing: we're melting here in Los Angeles)


Article II of Resolution 260 (III) adopted at the 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the international crime of genocide as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

As noted previously, Ed had some problems yesterday distinguishing between points people were actually making, and the argument he wanted to have.

Today he may be having trouble seeing beyond his own opinion to worldwide discussions. He can label it decided, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world has their minds made up as well. In fact, the question of genocide is very much a hotly contested topic.

Let me also pre-empt you, Ed: I'm not saying it's genocide. I'm saying the question is alive and well. You can't end it by throwing adjectives at it. Ignore my links if you like, but you're not learning anything, you're just digging a trench.


well, it seems to me that the Israelis have done
and continue to do:


I don't have enough information to comment on d) and e).

[hate to quibble -- occupational thing -- but Mr Cone
seems to be throwing adverbs at the situation]


"inaccurate" and "politically charged", X - adjectives. I'm not sure what part of speech "clearly does not apply" is.

Samuel Spagnola

Hamas is a political group. Under Chewies definition, all wars would be a genocide and all murders would be a genocide.

Xavier, if you believe we shouldn't adopt any policy unless it is proven to be "true" before hand, then you are the ultimate conservative. That makes Jesse Helms look like Karl Marx.

Tax policy is based on unknowns because the economy is dynamic. Jury trials are based on the unknown because the best we can do is "beyond a reasonable doubt" but not to an exact, unassailable certainty. Should we eliminate trials? The speed limit is an unexact science. The cause of global warming is not known for certain. Cures for various ailments aren't known for certain until they are tested. If you want to deal only with what is known, you are going to run in to problems, not the least of which is getting everyone to agree what is unassailable truth. You tread close to moral relativism if you insist on it any other way. What is true for me is all that matters, therefore all rules should be based on that truth.

Even the concept of "good" that was previously debated becomes relative. Is it good to strap a bomb to yourself and blow up innocent people? Some think it is.

Samuel Spagnola

Hezbollah is also a political group. I got them confused. Perhaps because they are so alike.


Not my definition, Sam. The definition of genocide in international law. Look it up.

What law school gave you a degree?


I think we have a problem.

I was speaking of facts. I said nothing about "truth.

and this "unknown" you keep referring to seems odd to me ...

in a trial, there is evidence ....

we decide on a speed limit ...

where is the "unknown?"

as to "moral relativism".... I have never been one to run and hide
when I hear that phrase. Morals are, of course, relative,
And the greatest moral relativists of our time have been
the religionists.


as to strapping bombs to ourselves and blowing up ourselves and others....
no Reasonable person would think it Good ....

notice, please, those who do such things are the devoutly religious

not too many Secular Humanists join the Idiot Bomb Squad

Samuel Spagnola

I was on the International Law Moot Court Team in law school. I am quite familiar with the Geneva Convention. What you have done is ignore a key element of the law in trying to analogize that convention to the topic at hand- that element is intent. The intent must be to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Disarming them is not the same as intent to destroy them. Destroying them does not necessarily mean you have the intent to destroy them. For example, a Palestinian civilian who is killed by accident has not been the victim of an "intentional act to destroy them".

More than that, you confuse the groups to which the Convention applies:

Nationals - say I want to wipe out all Germans. I don't care what race they are, what religion they are, what ethnic background they come from. They are Germans- I want to wipe them out. That would be genocide of a national group.

Ethnics - say I want to wipe out all gypsies or all people of Irish descent. Don't care where they live now, don't care about their religion or color. Just wipe 'em out. That would be genocide of an ethnic group.

Race - Kill everyone that is Chinese. Don't care if they are from China, don't care if they are Buddhists or Taoists. Just wipe 'em out because they have yellow skin.

Religion - Kill all the Christians. Don't care where they live, don't care what color they are, don't care if they're of Mexican descent or Italian descent. Kill 'em all.

Hezbollah, on the other hand, is a POLITICAL group. Political groups are not covered by the genocide convention you cite. We went to war with Hitler to wipe out the Nazi's (because they tried to wipe out us), not to kill all Germans. We had a revolution not to kill all the British, but rid ourselves of the Crown. There is a big difference.

Samuel Spagnola
J.D. Southern Methodist University

Samuel Spagnola

...and nobody "gave" me a degree. If you think it is that simple and I am somehow unworthy, maybe you should get yourself a little court case going and we can see what happens when you're on one side and I'm on the other. You could make your point without the personal jabs...

Samuel Spagnola

That should read "I am quite familiar with U.N. Conventions", not just "Geneva".


I, for one, was not speaking of Hezbollah. I have been talking about
Israeli treatment of Palestinians for the past several decades.

and if I understand your argument, as long as I don't Intend to kill you,
it's what? an accident? negligent homicide?

and if I just keep screwing up and keep killing and displacing and terrorizing
more and more people, I just say "Oops" again and again.

Samuel Spagnola

Bad treatment is not genocide. Civilian casualties are not genocide. In order to have a genocide, you must intend to have the genocide. In order to commit first degree murder, you must intend to kill the person. If you kill them by accident, it is not first degree murder. It may be negligent homicide as you say, but that is not murder. You cannot intermingle the terms. We certainly draw distinctions in the criminal law and in sentencing. We believe a person who commits intentional murder should be treated differently than a person who kills someone due to negligence. Words mean something, and as much as it pains me, I agree with Ed.


"They see, and even sometimes seem to embrace, the notion of a global conflict between Islam and the Judeo-Christian West, just as do many zealous Muslims."

From the "I don't know the difference between Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael and I'm not willing to listen to anyone who tries to explain it" school of political commentary, eh?

The young people fighting in Israel are fighting for Medinat Yisrael (the political state of Israel; their homeland). The Bible? Quite important; critical to their sense of identity, their religion, their families and their history, but NOT what they are fighting for. The right to exist transcends any bible.

David Wharton

Xavier, you are a very eel. In fact, I'd call you downright jesuitical, given your name and methods of argument.

But to respond to your response to me beginning "that's a lot to go over":

Instead of answering my question, you dodged it.

You're the one who wanted to limit the discussion to "facts" and take off the table anything having to do with "belief" or "belief systems." But every ethical or moral system involves committment to notions of value, goodness, badness, etc. that are neither empirically verifiable nor self-evident. That is, ethics requires beliefs as well as facts. So by appealing only to facts, you exclude yourself from arguing, for example, that genocide is bad.

As to the definition of "compassion": you say, "if 'compassion' is defined as doing what is helpful, beneficial to ourselves and others ..." But the definition you propose is not even close to any of those found in the Oxford English Dictionary. Coming from someone who tells others to look things up in dictionaries, this is simply absurd.

Your examples of things that are "self-evidently" good and bad obviously contradict your earlier definition of good. Thirst is unpleasant, but if we did not experience it, we would have no impetus to drink, and would die of dehydration. Insofar as thirst preserves everyone's life, it is beneficial to ALL, and therefore must be good according to your definition. Drink, however, is beneficial only in the right amount, and can cause death if taken in excess. And, mutatis mutandis, the same goes for hunger and food.

Finally, as to your suspcions about my approach to human knowledge and scripture: you guessed wrong.


....hmmmm.... I pray to God that the violence will end in the middle east and elsewhere and people will learn to tolerate the differences.


dear David, I am much too hot and tired (and, now I understand, being so
ain't necessarily "bad") to do this right now.

however, ethics/morals ? no, beliefs are not required, and are usually
employed to circumvent the very ethics and morals we espouse.

You say I contradict myself? I don't doubt it. I am not detailing here
a carefully constructed system ... I am engaging in a conversation,
groping toward answers.

meblogin: "You cannot petition the Lord with prayer."

J.D.Morrison said that

and don't worry, -- from what I'm hearing, violence is only bad
if your intention is to cause harm. Otherwise .... Oops.


on second thought -- if you're still around, David, I'd like to hear
more from you on this. (We still have electric power, for the moment,
and I've added a second fan. We will survive.)


I'm sorry. I don't know you. I should be typing 'Mr Wharton'.
No offensive, unwarranted familiarity intended.


Sam Spagnola - Masterdebater of Moot!


"Al-Qaida and Hezbollah are united by their determination to exterminate Israel. The statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's second-in-command, rejects the idea of a cease-fire. As far as the terrorists are concerned, the war doesn't end until Israel is destroyed."

That crazy Doug Clark and his nutty genocidal theories! Ed, stop by his blog and be sure to let him know that it "clearly does not apply", and that you'll let him know when it does.

weldon berger

Christian philosemitism is preferable to the alternatives ...

Possibly, but it's a deeply perverse relationship, with Jew-worshipping Christians praying for the ultimate destruction of Israel and the Jews, along with everything else.


Sue- Can you believe it, I agree with you... or rather you with me.

Ed Cone

Chewie, I wrote a post slamming Randi Rhodes for proclaiming that Israel is perpetrating genocide.

Israel is not perpetrating genocide.

That was my point, and that remains my point.

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