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that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Foreigners in Our Land

Hopefully the examination of the candidates on poverty was helpful if that is an issue of importance to you. I'd like to take a similar look at immigration. First off, let's think about the Biblical stance on immigration. I think the Bible is definitely not multicultural. You are allowed to charge only foreigners interest, don't sell the bride you're unhappy with to a foreigner, don't marry foreigners, etc. But, perhaps the following passages suggest being accepting of foreigners that want to accept your culture:
For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring.
Gen. 17:12.
As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
2 Chonicles 6:32-33.

I did not find anything on Edwards website about immigration, so I'm comparing Clinton, Obama, Romney and McCain.

John McCain is for strong borders. "Tight border security includes not just the entry and exit of people, but also the effective screening of cargo at our ports and other points of entry." McCain puts protecting American business needs in his discussion of immigration too, by "[r]ecogniz[ing] the importance of pro-growth policies -- keeping government spending in check, holding down taxes, and cutting unnecessary regulatory burdens -- so American businesses can hire and pay the best" and thinks that we must "[r]ecognize the importance of assimilation of our immigrant population, which includes learning English, American history and civics, and respecting the values of a democratic society."

Hillary Clinton wants reform that "strengthen[s] our borders, [allows] greater cross-cooperation with our neighbors, [includes] strict but fair enforcement of our laws, federal assistance to our state and local governments, strict penalties for those who exploit undocumented workers, and a path to earned legal status for those who are here, working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar." "She opposes a guest worker program that exploits workers and creates a supply of cheap labor that undermines the wages of U.S. workers."

Barak Obama supports "Creat[ing] secure borders," "keep[ing] families together and meet[ing] the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill,"remov[ing] incentives to enter illegally, [i.e.employer sanctions]," "a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens," and "promot[ing] economic development in Mexico to decrease illegal immigration."

Mitt Romney thinks this graph shows that illegal immigration has exploded. In case you can't see, the red bar is the total of the other bars, not the value for the most recent period. He also want to secure the borders, punish employers that employ illegals, punish illegals who come here, and punish "sanctuary cities" that don't follow federal immigration law. I think Romney is inconsistent because he doesn't want to punish the borders.

I will hold off declaring my choice. (Hint: It is not Romney)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Taking On the Slippery Slope

Here is the argument used by some to condemn the love between two men or two women: If we concede this is normal, don't we have to recognize polygamists, pedophiles and those who engage in bestiality?

Consider the Republican candidate I worked so hard to disagree with but respect, Mike Huckabee. He said, “I think the radical view is to say that we're going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal.”

A more thinly veiled argument comes from Justice Scalia who claimed in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas that because the Supreme Court found no legitimate governmental interest in preventing homosexual sodomy, there would be no legitimate governmental interest in preventing “bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity.”

Finally, here is something from reader David, (interestingly enough responding to the same post in which David from Chandler took me to task for not accepting polyamorous groups), "Homosexuality is just so unnatural. What is next - allowing people to have sex with their pets because they 'love' them and wish to express that love? How about adults who love children?"

The standard response from those who are not cultural conservatives is basically to not dignify this with a response. But that is not my style. I think it is a wide-spread feeling, and as such it should be addressed head on. So, here is the hypothetical.
Your 36-year-old son comes to you and says, although he rejects government involvement in such things, he would like you to give your blessing to his upcoming commitment ceremony with:
A. An 18-year-old woman
B. A 36-year-old woman who divorced her first husband because he beat her
C. A 36-year-old man
D. A 22-year-old woman and her 25-year-old sister
E. A 12-year-old girl
F. A 3-year-old sheep
My question is not which you would give your blessing to. My question is what is your rule to determine whether to give your blessing?

If your rule is what the Bible allows, then you must give your blessing to A., D. and probably E. If your rule is what sex would gross me out, then the answer depends on whether you’re gay or straight. Also, by the way, your rule has nothing to do with Christianity.

UPDATE 1/24 9:22 a.m.: Ug, last night I left out the gay marriage commitment which is the central discussion! It is fixed now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

God versus Brain Research

In response to my declaration of faith in something "more" than the physical world, Matt provided the following insights:
That there are areas of the brain that are in function when one is having a religious experience has been well understood. From pubmed in 2001:

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Düsseldorf, Germany. nazari@du.edu

The commonsense view of religious experience is that it is a preconceptual, immediate affective event. Work in philosophy and psychology, however, suggest that religious experience is an attributional cognitive phenomenon. Here the neural correlates of a religious experience are investigated using functional neuroimaging. During religious recitation, self-identified religious subjects activated a frontal-parietal circuit, composed of the dorsolateral prefrontal, dorsomedial frontal and medial parietal cortex. Prior studies indicate that these areas play a profound role in sustaining reflexive evaluation of thought. Thus, religious experience may be a cognitive process which, nonetheless, feels immediate.
-- Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Apr;13(8):1649-52

Further, Michael Persinger, Professor of Neuroscience at Laurentian University in Ontario has a lab wherein he can induce religious experience/feelings:

“Four in five people, [Persinger] said, report a "mystical experience, the
feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or
near" them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become
frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.”
-- Washington Post, 2001

This profoundly disrupts the view that there is an external force controlling the religious experience, does it not?
It seems to me the thrust of the neurological study is that certain religious experiences are cognitive rather than emotional. Neural correlates of religious experience.

Does the study undermine my perception of feeling God moving among us? No. For three reasons. (1) If A causes B, that doesn't mean C cannot also cause B. (2) It proves too much and (3) I don't believe God is external.

I'll post a comment about each of these right now.

Give Your Money Away

I promise responses to Matt's metaphysical challenge to God & religious experiences as well as David's socio-political challenge to really doing what is best for the poor. But for now, I wanted to just really quickly beg for money. I am collecting money for researching a cure for childhood cancers. I am joining long time Shavee Matt Dick in having my head publically shaved to show solidarity with kids with cancer. Click here to practice some of that impulse giving/charitable therapy that is so good for you.