Posted 05 November 2008 - 12:45 PM
I am not worried about Obama. He has faith but he takes a rational approach to religion, using both reason and "faith-based" principles to make ethical decisions Additionally, he received a top-notch legal education at Harvard, serving as editor of the law review, and taught constitutional law for many years. So he also has a very strong civic religion.
"Faith-based" as a term is in disrepute because of Bush's office of faith-based initiatives, which favored many organizations which practiced discriminatory hiring or used funds to enrich their causes rather than serving the public.
It is my belief that George Bush suckered the public with his claims of religiosity. He has a lifelong pattern of avoiding responsibility by various means, such as joining the National Guard, then not showing up for his flight training missions. That way he avoided going to war. He went to Alcoholics Anonymous, so he could claim he had reformed his personality and made amends for his addictive behaviors, but while he is no longer an alcoholic, he certainly has not behaved in a responsible manner. Also, there is evidence that he was, in fact, addicted to cocaine. He has never admitted responsibility for that. One of his former press secretaries overheard him on more than one occasion stating that he (Bush) did not remember how much cocaine he had taken.
Bush became a born-again Christian of the gnostic type. I at first believed him to be sincere (I am not a Christian, but did live in Houston, Texas for many years, where there are many born-again, or conservative evangelicals). His speeches in public made it clear that he thought G-d had blessed and approved of his actions. A sort of gnostic Christianity; since I have been born again, all my past behaviors have been forgiven by G-d, and anything I do from now on will be okay, regardless of ethical content or its effect on others. Paul, of course, would not have approved. It became clear from Bush's conduct in office that this born-again status was actually a pose to win over the conservative evangelicals, which had a formidable political machine in this country, and influence far beyond their due, since they were opposed to religious freedom for anyone who opposed their views, civil rights for many, and freedom of speech, among many other things. that is not to say that some among the religious right were not decent people deeply worried about the state of affairs in our nation.
I am a strict monotheist (my religious affiliation is not important here). I have studied other religions and had friends of many faiths and denominations. It is my personal belief that G-d would prefer a secular humanist society. Each person would inform his humanism from his religious and/or philosophical beliefs, while tolerating others and respecting their rights. I also believe in free will. That free will is conditioned by genetics and real world events and situations, but in most cases, we have choices we can make. It was said by medieval theologians that G-d knows the future, but up until the act is done, there is always a possibility to change it.
It has been said by some philosophers and social scientists (and I strongly agree) that, while G-d created man in his spiritual image, man has constantly recreated G-d in his own image. That is, we each imagine a different sort of G-d, based on our own predilections. As man has gained knowledge, his concepts of G-d have evolved over time, sometimes being subject to fads and whims. The more we long for moral advances in society, the more we demand from G-d. That is as it should be. In the U.S., there was a longing to return to the G-d of the pre-Talmudic 5 Books of Moses. That was written by 3 or 4 people, over many generations. There are many conflicts in the the 5 books. There are conflicts in the creation story. References to the Judaeo-Christian heritage were co-opted by the religious right, many of whom did not respect the Jewish tradition, and did not understand that, by the time of Jesus, the rabbis had re-interpreted the O.T. in favor of a G-d who was more compassionate and loving, and trying to juggle the 500+ laws and commandments to reflect changes in living situations and increases in knowledge. It is very dangerous to take any part of the Bible literally, and it is even more dangerous to let theocrats rule a society. It leads to oppression and worse. It looks like Prop 8 is winning in California, which would deny gays the rights to marry. Marriage is a civil institution, with individuals choosing which religious mores to adhere to in their personal lives. In the interest of promoting social stability and happy, fulfilled lives for its citizens, the right for gays to marry in a legal context should be upheld. Ignorance and fear are very poor bases for making policy decisions.
and no, I am not gay, I am just tired of seeing yahoos (see Gulliver's travels for reference) oppressing those they are afraid of and restricting the civil and medical rights of women.
This thread may not have much to do with computers and AI, but it does concern the parties who are either interested in R&D and education, and those who resent both.