Politics and Religion: the Game

After viewing the subjects here, I get the feeling that I’m watching a grown-up version of Counterstrike. There are two distinct teams who are playing the same topics over and over again. Like any two L33T teams, both sides know the map like the back of their hands and usually fight each other to a draw. It seems to be a quick skirmish to find the best link to support their view and then watch other people argue over it or trump it with a better link.
I’ve given up on actually taking on board what the other side to what my gut reaction is, because I’ve finally realised that the point of this game isn’t about actually learning from each other- it’s about fighting to the bitter end come what may.
Go for it gladiators!
We who are about to seem stupid salute you!

Peter, I mostly agree with you, but not 100%. For example, I’ve got pretty well defined views on Israel, but I find Gav’s posts very interesting. I may not agree with him, but he’s actually lived there, so for me, his perspective counts for a lot. His views do have an effect on me. That’s in sharp contrast with the weighting I give Daniel Morris, who constantly calls anyone who doesn’t agree with him (even if they are listing facts found in the Encyclopedia Brittanica) a Hamas supporter.

I actually find the postings of those not so clearly on either team (or those who post on these issues less frequently) most interesting. I definitely pay attention when Desslock posts, for example.

Also, speaking personally, my views do change. I started off pro-choice and anti-death penalty. I had a friend convince me that these views were largely incompatible (agreeing to the termination of an innocent life while refusing to terminate someone who had committed capital crimes). Now I kind of muddle along in the middle on abortion – I don’t buy the “it’s part of the woman’s body period, end of discussion camp” but I also think in some cases it’s justified. (For those who follow my posts, that change occurred long before I become a Christian in college). For a while I was leaning towards the pro-death penalty camp, but at this point, I’ve seen enough cases where someone was convicted of murder and then it turned out they were completely innocent that I’m heading more back into the anti-death penalty camp.

Anyway, I don’t want to derail your discussion into a discussion of abortion or the death penalty. I do think you’ve come up with an interesting (and not altogether inaccurate) perspective. But at the same time, again speaking only for me, these discussions can potentially change my views.

Good points, and I agree that sometimes someone with real-world experience can offer a good perspective.
I must admit that I use stuff from both teams in my staff-room arguments when I want to play devils advocate. As I said, we’re dealing with L33T teams here, so it’s not to say that the content of the views is wrong. It’s just that it’s like watching WW1 happen on a forum. Gains are measured by slight retractions rather than any concessions that the other team has a point.
Immovable objects versus unstoppable forces etc.

The teams also get mixed up occasionally. For example in the discussion on God I ended up on the same team with Brad Grenz. It was fun being on his team. I was reading his posts thinking “way to go Brad, excellent work”, which isn’t my usual response. :)

Also some of the issues we discuss can’t actually be argued from a logic standpoint. I don’t think the abortion issue is generally accessible to debate since most of it turns on the issue of when life starts, which I don’t think is entirely answerable. My friend’s approach was to say “here are two opinions you have, they don’t appear to be compatible.” That worked for the most part. But in a lot of cases, it comes down to values, which usually can’t be argued with. Conservatives have a different value system than liberals. No amount of intellectual fencing is going to prove one or the other wrong (although it might prove one side as a bunch of heartless bastards :wink: )

Can we have an abortion debate? Please? I’ve picked up some mad l33t skills there after a month of ethics classes. :)

And philosophically speaking, being pro-choice and anti-death penalty is not necessarily incompatible viewpoints. I don’t want to derail this thread completely so I won’t go into detail here.

My leet sniping skillz can take out the fat militia types anyday!

I do get serious on occasion… such as the SUV thread.

I think that is a fair characterization, but an incomplete one. It comes down to secularism vs religiousity, and the latter is a much broader category than people think. It is possible, as many demonstrate daily, to create articles of faith without a need for a classical conception of a god to guide it, and it is just as destructive for reasoned debate in the long run.
I still find it profitable to argue with some here because they are fundamentally secular in their logic, and thus we are at least able to fathom the distant possibility of a point of compromise, if only to ourselves. :) Also, I still find it profitable to argue with some for whom it is a religious issue, whether as a Christian or a Socialist, as it is always good to be familiar with what they think.

I found myself comparing P&R to EverQuest. When I first started, I was pretty much an addict. After several months, it slowly dawned on me that it was all kind of a pointless waste of time when you get right to the bottom of things. But even then, I still find myself coming back every now and again just to take it out for a spin, see if anything’s changed.

Which, you know, it hasn’t.

Flippancy aside, I will say that I’ve learned a few things in the forum. As ydeljin said, it’s interesting to read the views of people who are more intimately connected with the stuff that gets discussed. I heard about “The Threatening Storm” in this forum, which pushed me over the fence on the Iraq war. I learned some interesting stuff about gun control.

And it’s always interesting to hear what the other side of a debate has to say, even if I don’t agree. It’s good to have your views challenged and it’s helpful to see what the best argument on the other side is.

Or the worst argument. Those are my favourites.

Did you take the course in ethics at Uppsala University that had an exam six days ago (6/10)? If so, it truly is a small world, because I did the same thing.

Yes, I did. :D Small world indeed. Were you just taking ethics or are you taking the entire philosophy course?

I’m currently studying theoretical philosophy. I guess this is a bit off topic so I’ll send you a message instead.

I’m more interested in how well someone debates something than what he debates. Maybe that’s because I’m a radical that often stands outside the terms of the debate (thus aren’t on either side), or maybe its because I’ve heard standard versions of all common debates, so what I’m interested in are true things that I haven’t heard yet. Or the same thing I’ve heard before but better illustrated.

I like the fact that there are two sides here… them being untractable is necessary… its unlikely we are going to “solve” the conservatism/liberalism divide, for example. The one-upsmanship forces both sides to greater heights, no matter their location.

Unification is always the final step. Before that, the point is to maximize the value of the Division.

NO ONE expects the conservatism/liberalism divide! Our weapons are hyperbole, straw men and SUV’S!

Folks, you’re forgetting the 3rd team here: the libertarians. I’m a “moderate” libertarian myself, and find myself on both sides of many of these debates. Drugs? Legalize 'em all! Gay marriage? Go for it! Social programs? Wipe most of 'em out! Etc.

Who knows? We may have a few players from 4th, 5th, 6th teams here too. Green party members, speak up and be counted.

I am pretty consistently libertarian, I think, but from the leftist side the position is not sufficiently distinct to warrant making a fuss about. It matters to you and me, but is sufficiently abstract a distinction in most matters for me not to mind being lumped in with conservatives. When I used to post on Free Republic before it banned anything that isn’t cheerleading, we LIBERALtarians ROFL were always seen as the (dis)loyal opposition. It’s not worth the effort, imho.

Interesting perspective, Lizard. Personally, I can’t imagine anything more appalling than being “lumped in” with the religious right, so the distinction is very important to me.

I don’t understand the right wing of the republican party at all. They claim to be advocates of self-reliance and minimal government while simultaneously trying to legislatively cram their moral agenda down our collective throats. They lack even the pretense of a consistent, philosphically defensible ethos, but it doesn’t seem to bother them.


Oddly, they bother me much less than the left and moderate wings of the Democratic party. I guess it is because I see Religious Right kooks as part of a fundamentally defensive, reactionary movement that constantly short circuits itself, and far less strategic in their thought than the left. They’re incompetence, ya know.

The US democratic party has appeared anything but competant to me, in recent years. They’ve fallen all over themselves trying to be the “me-too” party, and suffered a crippling loss in 2002 by ignoring their core issues and core constituency in favor of trying to get traditionally conservative “swing voters” in the suburbs to go their way. It was a ridiculous plan, but the DNC is still pushing it, to the detriment of the party. This country functions best when two opposed idealogies balance each other. It functions very poorly when we have one extreme-wing idealogy and “competition” from a party trying to appear, at worst, centrist, and at best, enthusiastic cheerleaders. Most empirical studies done on the tone of political debate and discussion in the past few years have shown it swinging farther and farther to the right, in recent years.

I’m with Quatoria on this one, and it’s why I’m so determined to stand apart from the religious right. If you compare their relative effectiveness lately, the far right has done a much better job getting its message out than any wing of the Democratic party. Its adherents are also the most politcally motivated of all voting blocs, with turnout percentages that put everyone else to shame and further magnify their power.