Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

30 April 2013

Atheists Attending Religious Ceremonies: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on atheists attending religious ceremonies. The question was:

Is it wrong for an atheist to refuse to attend a sibling's religious ceremony? I've decided not to attend the religious ceremony of my younger sister's upcoming Bat Mitzvah. I'm an atheist, and while I don't think attending would be immoral, I don't want to support any kind of religiosity or connection to religion. Other family members have criticized me for that decision, saying that I should support my sister and not pressure her into agreeing with my own views. Should I attend? If not, how should I handle the family dynamics?

My Answer, In Brief: Other things being equal, the morality of attending a religious ceremony depends on the morality and religiosity of the ceremony. Here, attendance is optional, and you should explain your reasons to your sister kindly, and tell your family to mind their own business.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Atheism, Communication, Ethics, Family, Integrity, Judaism, Religion, Sanction, Siblings
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on self-interest in marriage, atheists attending religious ceremonies, multigenerational space travel, drugs as treatment for mental illness, and more – is available here: Episode of 28 April 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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22 April 2013

Atheist as a Negative Term: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on atheist as a negative term. The question was:

Should people define themselves using the negative term "atheist"? To me, a rational person sells himself short when he calls himself an "atheist": he's only saying what he doesn't stand for, not what he does stand for. Plus, to use the term "atheist" seems to be accepting the religious frame of reference. A rational person values individual healthy human life, and everything else he believes follows from that, such as respect for reality, reason, and rights. When a person defines himself in those positive terms, what he's against follows. So, can a person be more clear and persuasive when he focuses on what he's for rather than what he's against? If so, what terms might he use to describe himself?

My Answer, In Brief: The term "atheist" is a precise and economical way of designating lack of belief in god and the supernatural, yet it doesn't indicate what a person is for. That requires further explanation – and that's what really important.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Atheism, Communication, Epistemology, Relationships
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on moral judgments of obese people, parental consent for abortion, atheist as a negative term, living longer, and more – is available here: Episode of 14 April 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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18 April 2013

God, Tips, and Privacy

By Diana Hsieh

Back in January, the internet was agog over the report that a pastor objected to the 18% gratuity added to her bill for being part of a large party by writing on the receipt, "I give God 10% why do you get 18?"



The proper answer, of course, is provided by Grumpy Cat:



Your waitress offers you a genuine service, in exchange for your tip... God, not so much.

However, what I find particularly interesting about the story from an ethical perspective lie in the details of what happened at the restaurant and afterwards.

[Chelsea Welch's co-worker [at an Applebee's in the St. Louis area] had waited on a large party hosted by Pastor Alois Bell of the World Deliverance Ministries Church in Granite City, Ill. As is common at many restaurants, an 18 percent tip was automatically added to the bill.

Pastor Bell crossed out the automatic tip and wrote "0" on the receipt, along with this message: "I give God 10% why do you get 18?"

Welch, who did not wait on Pastor Bell's table took a photo of the bill and uploaded it to Reddit where it soon went viral. "I thought the note was insulting, but it was also comical," Welch told TheConsumerist. "I posted it to Reddit because I thought other users would find it entertaining."

Bell, who did not see the humor in this, complained to the restaurant's manager. Bell told The Smoking Gun she did not expect her signature to be all over the Internet.

Applebee's confirms that Welch was fired. In a statement, the company says:

"Our Guests' personal information - including their meal check - is private, and neither Applebee's nor its franchisees have a right to share this information publicly. We value our Guests' trust above all else. Our franchisee has apologized to the Guest and has taken disciplinary action with the Team Member for violating their Guest's right to privacy. This individual is no longer employed by the franchisee."

Pastor Bell told The Smoking Gun she is sorry for what happened and points out that she left a $6.29 cash tip on the table.

"My heart is really broken," she told them. "I've brought embarrassment to my church and my ministry."

As this story makes clear, the waitress didn't intend for anyone to be able to identify the pastor in question, and she took measures to prevent that identification. Alas, the power of the internet was too great. Also, the waitress reports that the pastor "contacted her Applebee's location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers." (That's a quote from the article, not from the waitress.)

On the one hand, I understand why Applebee's fired the server who posted the receipt. The restaurant wants its customers to feel secure in their privacy while on premises, particularly in their dealings with their employees, particularly in their financial transactions.

Nonetheless, in this age of social media, people's expectations of privacy must change... or they will get burned. If you're in public, your antics might be broadcast far and wide across the internet for other people's amusement. Then, if you act petulant and bossy about that, as this pastor seemed to do, you'll be lambasted even more.

Ultimately, a person needs to be responsible for his own privacy. That requires thinking in advance about what he wishes to keep private or not. That requires attention to what he says and does in view or earshot of other people. That requires being selective about what emails or posts online. That requires providing appropriate context for public actions if he wants to avoid being misjudged.

A rational person does not broadcast his private activities to the world, then blame others for taking notice.

Read more...

17 April 2013

Parental Consent for Abortion: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on parental consent for abortion. The question was:

Should minor girls be required by law to obtain parental consent for an abortion? Normally, parents are legally empowered to make medical decisions for their minor children, and minors cannot obtain medical procedures without parental consent. How should that apply in the case of pregnancy? Should pregnancy and abortion be treated differently from other medical conditions? Should parents be allowed by law to force a daughter under 18 to carry a pregnancy to term or to abort against her will?

My Answer, In Brief: Parents should never be able to force a minor child to bear the burden and risk of carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth. Hence, parental consent should not be required for abortion. However, a minor child cannot impose the burden of caring for another child on her parents, and so she might need to emancipate herself if she does not wish to terminate the pregnancy but her parents do.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Abortion, Ethics, Health, Law, Parenting, Pregnancy, Religion, Rights, Sex, Young Adults

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on moral judgments of obese people, parental consent for abortion, atheist as a negative term, living longer, and more – is available here: Episode of 14 April 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedPhilosophy in Action's YouTube Channel

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15 April 2013

Link-O-Rama

By Diana Hsieh

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12 April 2013

North Dakota Bans Abortion for Genetic Defects

By Diana Hsieh

Babies with genetic diseases or developmental disorders deserve love, kindness, and respect... but embryos and fetuses are not babies. They exist inside the pregnant woman, wholly dependent on her alone for biological life-support. They do not have a right to life. Rather, the pregnant woman has a right to do whatever she pleases with her own body.

Fetal abnormalities are a darn good reason to terminate a pregnancy, as most people are not financially or emotionally prepared to care for a severely handicapped child, potentially in perpetuity. (Hence, the 90% abortion rate in such cases.)

North Dakota has banned such abortions. For people unable to travel out-of-state, the results will be disastrous.

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10 April 2013

Bart Ehrman in Colorado Springs on Thursday

By Diana Hsieh

Bart Ehrman, the fabulous scholar of early Christian history, will be speaking in Colorado Springs on Thursday. I'll be there!

  • Who: Bart D. Ehrman
  • What: Lecture on "Misquoting Jesus"
  • When: Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:00 PM
  • Where: Armstrong Theater, Colorado College

The address is 14 E Cache la Poudre St, Colorado Springs, Colorado. It's free and open to the public.

Dr. Ehrman is the author of a slew of books, as well as some of the finest courses available from The Teaching Company. The lecture looks like it will be based on his book by the same title, Misquoting Jesus.

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09 April 2013

The Validity of Gay Marriage: Philosophy in Action Podcast

By Diana Hsieh

On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on the validity of gay marriage. The question was:

Is "gay marriage" a valid form of marriage? Many people oppose gay marriage on the grounds that marriage is essentially religious, that procreation is central to marriage, or "traditional marriage" should be respected. Should gay unions be considered a valid form of marriage, legally or socially? Might civil unions be an acceptable alternative?

My Answer, In Brief: The various quasi-secular arguments against gay marriage fail, badly. Gay marriage is a matter of rights, and people ought to support it.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Christianity, Culture, GLBT, Law, Marriage, Politics, Religion, Romance

Links:
To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on the validity of gay marriage, the is-ought gap, the aftermath of a friendship, mixing politics and romance, and more – is available here: Episode of 7 April 2013.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio applies rational principles to the challenges of real life in live internet radio shows on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedPhilosophy in Action's YouTube Channel

Read more...

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