RZ Ambigram

Everybody Loves Him

I am not a Christian, but there are a number of things I admire in the theology of most Christian religions. One of these goes back to the titular Christ himself: his affection for all peoples. Heretics, sinners, those judged impure and those despised, all these were the people he chose to spend his time with, the people he was loyal to. Fred 'slacktivist' Clark spoke of this quite memorably in the essay "Clean shoes" - and for that matter, so did Richard Thompson in the song "God Loves A Drunk" - but there's another aspect of this that struck me quite powerfully. An inversion, if you will.

What we usually say is that Jesus loves everyone. What we usually say is that Jesus hung out with fishermen, tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes. We say that Jesus accepted all these people, people who the Pharisees, the cleanliness-obsessed, the self-righteous rejected. But the same goes the other way around. These people who would have nothing to do with self-righteous, cleanliness-obsessed Pharisees accepted Jesus. Prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, fishermen would hang out with him. Everyone loved him.

To say he loves is to say a great deal - but to say he was loved, a great deal more. It is not difficult to be convinced that you love someone, that you care for them, that you want the best for them. To be convinced that others care about you and appreciate you - that they value you - is somewhat more challenging. If someone handed you a religious tract, would you believe they cared for you? If someone proselytized to you, unasked, on the street, are they offering you what you need? They believe so - but do you?

In contrast, if someone listened to your troubles, would you believe they cared for you? If someone offered their aid, unasked, on the street? Would it matter what they believed, if they offered you clothes when you were naked, drink when you thirsted, food when you hungered?

It seems like a thought worth considering.
RZ Ambigram

Pricing Health Care Mandate Fines

Okay - so you know how the new health care bill is supposed to charge people who voluntarily refuse health insurance (so as to encourage people to sign up)? And you know how emergency rooms have to provide care, even to the uninsured?

How about this: have insurers bid for their price to cover the costs of treating the uninsured in each state. The lowest bid gets their cost divided among the uninsured in that state. That way:
  • The cost to hospitals of emergency room care is paid, and
  • The cost to individuals of refusing health care is controlled by market forces.</ol>

    Any obvious flaws?
  • hat

    A Challenge to Theists and Theist-Friendly Persons

    Post edited ~5:20p EDT - thanks, zwol!

    Well, I'm coming back into blogging with a fury, aren't I? First politics, and now religion!

    Those of you who do not follow the atheist blogosphere may not be aware of the long, boring back-and-forths between the "New Atheists" and the "accommodationists". To summarize: the latter frequently accuse the former of being mean to theists (people who believe that one or more gods exist) and the former retort that the latter are being intellectually dishonest. What's annoying about it is that the argument never actually connects to the essential disagreement, edit: rarely gets back to actual questions of fact. The latest brouhaha, for example, relates to a question which "New Atheists" answer in the negative and many "accommodationists" answer in the positive: do any people have sufficient intellectual justification to believe that a god is real?

    And for that reason, I want to congratulate Larry Moran, who is addressing this question.

    This brings me to my challenge. I challenge all theists and all their accommodationist friends to post their very best 21st century, sophisticated (or not), arguments for the existence of God. They can put them in the comments section of this posting, or on any of the other atheist blogs, or on their own blogs and websites. Just send me the link.


    (Link via pharyngula.)

    If anyone in the audience believes that there are good reasons to believe that a god exists (or has a friend who so believes), please contact Prof. Moran (or have your friend do so) by Saturday, October 2.

    As a footnote, though: I realize that there are a subset of people who would answer in the affirmative to the question above without answering Moran's challenge: some people believe that they possess evidence good enough to convince themselves, but that their evidence cannot be communicated to anyone else. Whether this is true is a philosophical question, and one which I would be glad to discuss ... but unrelated to the announcement.

    Remember: if you believe that a God exists and you can prove it, or if you know someone who so believes, tell Larry Moran by Saturday, October 2.

    Thanks!
    RZ Ambigram

    Quick, belated thought on book-burning:

    What is wrong with book-burning is not that a book has been set on fire - it is that the book is no longer available to be read.

    Consider a few cases:

    1. A government deems a particular book to be subversive literature and orders every copy burnt. Agents of the government seize all copies found in libraries, bookstores, or private residences and commits them to the fire. This is wrong.

    2. An ideologue arranges to purchase every copy of a rare book and burns them. This is wrong.

    3. An ideologue arranges to purchase several copies of a commonly-available book and burns them. This is not wrong.

    Apologies to everyone who got sick of the whole debacle over two weeks ago.