15 September 2005

Another purge of reason and faith begins

The Vatican wants to get gays out of the priesthood.

In some sense, there’s a bit of the antiscientific attitude here.  For example,

The issue of gay seminarians and priests has been in the spotlight
because a study commissioned by the church found last year that about
80 percent of the young people victimized by priests were boys.

Experts
in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to
children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys
may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to
male targets – like altar boys or junior seminarians – than to girls.

But
some church officials in the United States and in Rome, including some
bishops and many conservatives, attributed the abuse to gay priests and
called for an overhaul of the seminaries. Expectation for such a move
rose this year with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, who has spoken
of the need to “purify” the church.

It is unknown how many Catholic priests are gay. Estimates range widely, from 10 percent to 60 percent.

Many of the religious people who oppose homosexuality attempt to do the same with this issue as with other issues of science (like, for example, “intelligent design”). They intentionally oppose Religion to Science. In this case, they make unsupported statements that contravene what our best efforts show to be true. With as much certainty as we can muster, we know that being gay or lesbian is nothing that any of us have any conrol over. Science is not sure exactly what causes a person’s sexual orientation to turn out as it does, but it does know pretty certainly that it’s as intrinsic and unchangeable as any other intrinsic and unchangeable characteristic.

But religious conservatives, such as those that Rick blogged about recently, have a message that does not stand up well in the face of knowledge. They have no scientific evidence to support their assertions that God did not make people anything other than heterosexual, that God directed the whole of creation like a deist puppetmaster, that people’s intrinsic characteristics can be changed. So they simply assert their case over and over again, manufacturing controversey where there is none. I’m just struck that the methodological basis for both of these battles is the same one.

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment of all is to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. He didn’t give an option to choose two or three of those characteristics. But many of today’s conservative Christians (many of who are just Christianists in disguise) and vertainly many of the loudest ones are afraid of the life of the mind, afraid of what it means to use the mind, afraid that the use of the mind might lead them away from what they know as faith.

That’s a pretty poor faith, as far as I know and believe.

Posted in Politicks on 15 September 2005 at 10:29 am by Nate

One might fail to fathom this

We learn from the latest Times poll:

For the first time, just half of Americans approve of Mr. Bush’s
handling of terrorism, which has been his most consistent strength
since he scored 90 percent approval ratings in the aftermath of the
Sept. 11 attacks. More than 6 in 10 now say that he does not share
their priorities for the country, 10 percentage points worse than on
the eve of his re-election last fall, while barely half say he has
strong qualities of leadership, about the same as said so at the early
low-ebb of his presidency in the summer of 2001.

At first I asked myself, “How can this be? He just admitted yesterday
that he’s not sure that the country is prepared, even now, to face a
terrorist attack and its aftermath, after seeing the problems of the
Katrina response.”

Then I remembered that the poll probably predates those remarks.

But I will be curious to see if the numbers go lower after that admission.

Posted in Politicks on 15 September 2005 at 10:21 am by Nate
8 September 2005

Can they get their stories straight?

Eventful couple of days on the gay marriage front.

First, the Mass. attorney general certified a ballot petition yesterday. What this means is that opponents of gay marriage can now go out and collect just under 70,000 signatures and qualify a constitutional amendment for the 2008 state ballot.

Second, the California legislature sent a bill legalizing marriage between “two persons” to the governator, who has indicated that he will veto the bill.

Arnold noted in his announcement that he would veto the bill that he thinks that this issue should be left to the courts or to a ballot of the people. The first part of that statement is the exact opposite of what gay marriage opponents often advocate; they DON’T want the courts to decide, preferring to let legislatures or popular elections decide the question. And what are legislatures for, if not for representing the people (obviating the need for an election on every issue of public policy)?

This is obvious. No one wants to come out and say, “Gay people are less desrving of the right to make civil contracts like the rest of us, and we therefore prohibit them from the right of civil marriage.” So instead they engage in buck-passing, saying that the decision should be anywhere other than where it is, under the guise of being more “fair”, “proper”, or “legitimate.”

So what’s more fair, proper, or legitimate: courts, legislatures, mass ballots? Why?

And so some of my cards are on the table, I think initiative petitions are bad public policy, and the evidence suggests that they are more captive to “special interests” than the regular legislative and judicial processes.

Posted in Politicks on 8 September 2005 at 11:50 am by Nate

Computing problems

I’ve had problems with my Windows XP machine for the last little while. and it seems like (although they are small) they keep popping up just when I’ve fixed the last one. Today’s is that the startup routine now takes two to three times longer than it used to, just two days ago. And there’s a lot of disk use going on there. I’ve run the spyware and virus stuff with all applicable updates, but nothing. In fact, the only change I made to the computer was to update the spyware and virus software.

I’ve only had this thing for two and a half years, but I wonder if it’s time to take the plunge and buy the powerbook. It’s annoying, because I got four years out of my last computer, and I was hoping to eke out a few more months at least. And it makes me afraid to work on my work, because who’s to know if the machine is on the verge of konking out and losing what I’ve done. (And, yes, I do backup my Docs folder, along with e-mail boxes and browser bookmarks.)

Any ideas? Is it prematurely dying? Time to switch?

Posted in Day2Day on 8 September 2005 at 11:37 am by Nate