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January 06, 2011


Finding more and more, or maybe I should say realizing more and more the importance of laying the ground rules first before getting into these sorts of discussions. Seems not too uncommon to have a discussion with someone who has too many unreasonable presuppositions to have a discussion with regarding spiritual things.

I thought these two quotes were especially interesting:

"As for rational evidence for the existence of God, that has been furnished, debated, refined and presented centuries ago. Arguments based on logic and conceptual analysis go as far back as Aristotle and Plato, through the Muslim scholastic theologians such as al-Ghazali and al-Razi, and to Western Christian thinkers of medieval Europe such as Aquinas and Bonaventure as well as Enlightenment thinkers such as Leibniz and Clarke.

The Kalam Cosmological argument for example - the strongest proof in our estimation - was developed by Muslim scholars as early as the 11th century CE."

"Thus, by use of reason alone - no reference to scripture, ‘leaps of faith’ or assumptions - we deduce the existence of an eternal, necessary and transcendent being attributed with knowledge, power and sentience, otherwise known in the English language as ‘God’."

I believe this is why Islam is gaining so much ground in academic environments. This apoloegtic for God, the traditional approach, that has triumphed throughout history. Christians should study and utilize the classical approach more often.

Yet secularism is built on a specific worldview and is no more neutral than any other ideology. It disallows those parts of other worldviews which contradict with it, just as they would

It looks like secularism is being used as an synonym for atheism. There seems to be a useful distinction.

Asserting no position on P (what a secular government does) is not the same as saying P is unproven (what an atheist does).



That is incorrect. I believe Communist China under Mao was a "secular government," however it is quite clear that it was far from neutral. In this light, a secular government not only puts forth propositions, but additionally, tries to silence those who do.

Put another way, an atheist claims there is no god. A secularist claims that god is either irellevant or dangerous to believe in. This is not neutral.

but isnt that what the quote is already saying? that Secularism no more neutral that any other ideology? did i miss something?

The problem though is that as much as atheists claim they want a secular government in the way Ron suggests is far from what they want. Allowing religious symbols and prayer not encouraging or discouraging prayer in school would reflect secular in Ron's definition. But what they want is the appearance of an atheist government, which takes an active stance against religious expression.

So while you claim there is a difference, they are functionally identical.

wait nevermind, i was reading the quote wrong. sorry

I think the point about how there are different types of rational evidence that don't necessarily fit under the heading of scientific empirical evidence is especially crucial.

This topic was actually brought up in one of my literature classes last week. I didn't pursue the line of reasoning very far as it would have strayed well off topic, but I did mention the fact that there are many different types of valid evidence/reason.

Austin and John B,

The rules of soccer take no position on religion. They treat all players the same regardless of religion. Is there a word for soccer's stance?


>>"The rules of soccer take no position on religion. They treat all players the same regardless of religion. Is there a word for soccer's stance?"

Soccer rules only apply to soccer players. And for them to apply, one must be a recognized team member. All others are exempt from those rules...So are the rules really equal and neutral since they only apply to soccer players?

Highway speed limits do not take religion into regard either, but that particular law's parameters and level of enforcement tend to fluctuate based on the mood and demeanor of the given officer at the time. As to avoid propping up a straw man, here is my parallel:

Rules are only as impartial, unbiased, and sterile as the referee making the call.

Also, check this out:

...Depends on what country you’re playing for:

"In the African Cup of Nations, Egypt has God on its side.
To even make the team, Egyptians soccer players must pass religious litmus test. FIFA doesn't seem to mind."

"...But Egyptian coach Hassan Sheheta has now boosted the requisite religious devotion for his all-Muslim squad. During the African Cup, Cairo newspapers have quoted his explanations that all players must pass a religious litmus test and that “pious behavior” rather than soccer skills is the primary criterion for making the team.

“Without it, we will never select any player regardless of his potential,” the coach said. “I always strive to make sure that those who wear the Egypt jersey are on good terms with God.” He was not posturing, as he had already dumped a talented striker who, while playing in England, gained a reputation for greater attendance at nightclubs than mosques."

Full story here:

Some would contend soccer is a religion unto itself with its own commandments, tenets, doctrine, and followers. ;)

This is a fun read -

(Ron, your utopia is not only deficient in terms of being deemed theoretical; I submit it is impossible.)


What word describes soccer's stance on religion?

This has nothing to do with:

* biased referees
* religious groups that field soccer teams, or
* how FIFA is run.

The word is secular.

I didn't mention any utopia.


The issue is not whether this or that particular law makes a reference to religion or God. So the soccer issue is moot. The principle issue is whether it is possible to have an entire social structure that is neutral on these questions.

A number of thinkers have tried to argue that it is possible to have such a social structure. None, to my mind, has argued for this successfully.


What word describes soccer's stance on religion?

Doesn't secular describe the rules of soccer?

What do you by 'social structure'? Do you mean government or government plus something else?

Do you mean it is not possible to have a secular government - one that takes no position on religion?



I'm not much interested in Soccer per se. It is not possible to build a society on Soccer alone.

FWIW, Soccer isn't neutral on religious matters. Just consider these three points:

1) It can be played on Saturday and Sunday.

2) The ball can be made of pig skin or cow skin.

3) It can be played at night in electrically lit stadiums.

As such, Soccer is only for those who view these issues as not having much religious significance. So it rules out some Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus. I guess, then, that the phrase I should use to describe Soccer is "Welcoming to all Buddhists (and some other folks...but not the Amish)" ;-)

Of course it's impossible to have a government that takes no position on religion. Take our government in the U.S. for example. It has determined that you can't show a Creche or the Ten Commandments on public ground, but it will pay you to display a Crucifix and a Madonna (as long as they are immersed in urine or covered in dung).

Hi Ron,

>>"What word describes soccer's stance on religion?
This has nothing to do with:
* biased referees
* religious groups that field soccer teams, or
* how FIFA is run.
The word is secular."

If you are telling us the word is "secular", why are you asking us what the word is?

Ok, I will concede: Soccer rules are secular...nothing supernatural to be what?

Where do you want to go from here?

Do we just conclude that soccer is man-designed?


I am advocating here just one small thing: that we reserve use of secular to mean something like 'takes no position on religion' and not blur the line between that idea and, say, “the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural.”

I think believers have an interest in blurring the line. I think believers blur this line by using the words secularist and atheist interchangeably. I think the meaning of secular that I am defending is scary to some believers.

In fact, a religious person could be a secularist and some are.


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