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Questions on Religiousness
Posted: 11 June 2008 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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taboo - a prohibition or interdiction of anything; exclusion from use or practice. 

blind faith - belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination

the scientific method excludes untestable ideas, blind faith is an unstestable idea.  untestable ideas about the nature of existence would be excluded from the use or practice of the scientific method and therefor taboo to the scientific method. now, don’t go changing definitions on me, while there can be more than one defintion or meaning, these are certain defintions that have these meanings and by their meanings, produce a scientific taboo. example: “evolution occurs because god made it that way”.  the scientific method excludes this type of statement from its use or practice, the very definition of taboo i have given. 

cgallaga, you need to ask me to further explain my ideas or point out exactly where you see problems with my thinking rather than just label them as meaningless and not worthy of your attention to be fair.  dissmissiveness is not tenable argumentation.

traveler, the definition of god as i have given it does exist.  that is the totality of infinity and the ultimate source to everything, of which we are inherently a part of.

i see i shouldn’t have stated my original question with such loaded terms.  apologies.  i will further refine my question with no claims that it is complete, only more refined: are there best practices to live a good life by without having to subscribe to dogmatic ideology?  this to me is in the broadest sense religion, but maybe i should be in a philosophy forum?

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Posted: 11 June 2008 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Doug, 

Can you expand on what you mean by a “deistic or Spinozistic sort of God?” 

I looked spinozistic up (A monistic approach to philosophy in which all reality is held to consist of one substance, usually termed God or Nature, of which minds and bodies are both attributes.)  Does this mean we are all part of one person’s consciousness perhaps (All the world is a stage and we are merely players—I hope I’m quoting Shakespeare, but I may be quoting Rush’s bastardization of Shakespeare)?

Does this mean reality may be a traditional entity such as our traditional notion of God or just a single non-living substance from which we all arise.  If the substance is non-living, how can we be alive?

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Posted: 11 June 2008 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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PLaClair,

good points. i see how it is important to distinguish between the idea of infinity and the finite realm in which we can operate.  by my understanding of what you are saying, you would say that my actions don’t need to be, or shouldn’t be, dependent on how i view existence, god, inifity, whatever one would choose to represent it, but rather be focused on the realm in which i have the ability to act, leaving the ideas of granduer to be a sort of ___? (please fill in the blank i am not understanding you here actually)?

and the serving living beings, i think i hear you saying that by serving living beings you are serving the environment, and all the other things that have to do with living beings.  so by living a life that serves living beings you are in a sense taking care of the rest of everything.  that makes sense. can you recommend any good reading on your comment of ‘religious life as a secularist’.  that is really my aim here, to find that kind of stuff

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Posted: 11 June 2008 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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JRM5001 - 11 June 2008 10:51 AM

Doug, 

Can you expand on what you mean by a “deistic or Spinozistic sort of God?” 

I looked spinozistic up (A monistic approach to philosophy in which all reality is held to consist of one substance, usually termed God or Nature, of which minds and bodies are both attributes.)  Does this mean we are all part of one person’s consciousness perhaps (All the world is a stage and we are merely players—I hope I’m quoting Shakespeare, but I may be quoting Rush’s bastardization of Shakespeare)?

Does this mean reality may be a traditional entity such as our traditional notion of God or just a single non-living substance from which we all arise.  If the substance is non-living, how can we be alive?

Well, no doubt there is room for different interpretations of these words. But roughly speaking, a deistic God is one who does not take an active role in the universe. Either it set everything up and then left to do other things, or (more reasonably, IMO) the word “God” is just another way of talking about the abstract laws of the universe. The latter way is more in tune with Spinoza’s understanding of God, as well. By “God” Spinoza basically meant the laws and regularities of the universe, the way reality worked. Spinoza did not believe that this “God” required any sort of special attitude from humans. For these reasons, Spinoza was basically an atheist who used the word “God” to refer to the workings of an impersonal universe.

I’m not precisely sure what Spinoza would say about the distinction between living and nonliving objects, however speaking biochemically, the distinction is simply one of complexity. Typically, crystals are seen as non-living, however viruses can be made to crystallize and still function. Viruses are very simple organisms, somewhere in between being alive and not being alive. The distinction is a vague one.

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Posted: 11 June 2008 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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redcrayon - 11 June 2008 10:48 AM

...
traveler, the definition of god as i have given it does exist.  that is the totality of infinity and the ultimate source to everything, of which we are inherently a part of.

Ok, we just disagree. You seem to be saying that everything is god - to infinity and beyond! There is the question, what produced your “ultimate source”?

i see i shouldn’t have stated my original question with such loaded terms.  apologies.  i will further refine my question with no claims that it is complete, only more refined: are there best practices to live a good life by without having to subscribe to dogmatic ideology?  this to me is in the broadest sense religion, but maybe i should be in a philosophy forum?

That’s a good question, but how can anyone proclaim their idea of “best practices” without being dogmatic - at least to some extent? Morals are very situational. I think that anyone who tries consistently to learn and be of help to other living things will be a fine person. That, of course, does not mean they will have a “good life” - shit happens.

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Posted: 11 June 2008 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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redcrayon - 11 June 2008 10:52 AM

PLaClair,

good points. i see how it is important to distinguish between the idea of infinity and the finite realm in which we can operate.  by my understanding of what you are saying, you would say that my actions don’t need to be, or shouldn’t be, dependent on how i view existence, god, inifity, whatever one would choose to represent it, but rather be focused on the realm in which i have the ability to act, leaving the ideas of granduer to be a sort of ___? (please fill in the blank i am not understanding you here actually)?

and the serving living beings, i think i hear you saying that by serving living beings you are serving the environment, and all the other things that have to do with living beings.  so by living a life that serves living beings you are in a sense taking care of the rest of everything.  that makes sense. can you recommend any good reading on your comment of ‘religious life as a secularist’.  that is really my aim here, to find that kind of stuff

Thank you, red, and a belated welcome from me. To answer your questions:

Taken to the last degree, I don’t think we can draw any sound conclusions about “existence, god, infinity, whatever . . .” Therefore, all we can have is an attitude, or approach to the whole. This is in keeping with the original Latin root word for religion: religare, which means to look upon all things (re) and bind it all together into a coherent whole (ligare). To my eyes, the biggest mistake people have made in approaching and practicing their religions is not in seeking to know, but in claiming to know too much without justification. Some people call it “owning God.” The value of religion is that it encourages us to seek (re) and to find (ligare), but unless the search is a humble one, with an awareness of our limits, it can become a nightmare, which is what most religions have become.

I might fill in your blank with the word “mystery.” The country-folk singer Iris Dement has a song called “Let the Mystery Be,” which expresses the idea pretty well.

As to good readings: Earlier this year, I started trying to compile a Humanist narrative. What I realized was that everything is part of our narrative, even the fiction and the myths - the trick is to take it in the right way. For example, if I want to focus on the drive/action centers of the brain, I might study the precursors of the human brain by reading Wilson and Holldobler’s marvelous Pulitzer-prize winning tome titled “The Ants.” Or you can listen to music. If you want to hear a musical representation of the first stirrings of life, try Morton Feldman’s 2nd string Quartet. There’s a performance by the FLUX quartet on CD, about five hours long. If you want to hear ecstasy represented musically, try the Qawwali singer Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan. If you want to hear about spiritual rebirth, try Mahler’s Second Symphony (“The Resurrection”). There’s just so much, and different things will appeal to different people. I still hope to finish a guidebook to our narrative some day, but I’ve realized that the subject is as vast as we are. Just the same, I can envision Humanist educational systems, from elementary school through college at least, that tell the story of humanity in a more systematic way than is done now.

To answer your question a little more directly, you might try William James’ classic The Varieties of Religious Experience, or anything by Thich Nhat Hanh. Some of my fellow secularists will be put off by some of the things I would read, but I think that’s because they’re not drawing the distinction between an attitude and a belief. Or try Ken Wilber. I’ve found many of his writings terrific. Or Sam Harris’ books, though they’re more in the form of a critique of theism. Hell, just find a good book that inspires you and go with it - just remember that there’s a difference between your subjective experience and objective reality (I think). Read, devour - bite into the watermelon and let the juice run down your chin. And don’t take yourself too seriously, we’re all tempted to think we’ve found the final answer or that our method is right for everyone. That’s my two cents.

And keep us posted. I’d like to see this forum become a place where participants also share their experiences.

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Posted: 11 June 2008 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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placlair,  you totally blew me away with the latin for religion… there is an axiom from judaism that says that spiritual knowledge is not learned, rather it is recognized… i think that is relevant to the idea of of the latin for religion…english is a rather muddled language by this point in time which can cause problems.  another instance from the jewish example is the word for sin.  a better meaning of the hebrew word for sin that the bible copped would be ‘missing the target’.  the ideas that humans miss a targert and the idea that humans are sinners are related but carry wildly different connotations.

as for a sound conclusion about the totality of our existence, traveler asks a fantastic question that never ceases to paralyze me, what produced the “ultimate source”.  a tree comes out of the ground, the ground is earth, the earth comes from space things, space things come from the big bang, the big bang comes from the huge crash which comes from the massive whomp, ad infinitum.  one can always ask of the previous source, what is that thing’s source.  so the conclusion then is that everything is never ending.  couple that with the idea that you can’t get nothing from something and viola, an ultimate source that is the totality of never ending existence.  for me i like to put it in those terms because otherwise, like i said my brain is paralyzed.

i am very influenced by the hindu version of existence on this.  i like meditating on this idea of never endingness because while having the idea of infinity is possible the actual thing that is infinity is incomprehensible.  trying to grasp it makes my mind peaceful, but then again so does holding my head underwater

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Posted: 11 June 2008 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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redcrayon - 11 June 2008 10:48 AM

cgallaga, you need to ask me to further explain my ideas or point out exactly where you see problems with my thinking rather than just label them as meaningless and not worthy of your attention to be fair.  dismissiveness is not tenable argumentation.

Dismissiveness, while not an argument is tenable when someone is speaking gibberish. How can one argue against a non sensical statement?  As example prove the following wrong: Big bats down to one-five-five, over cross up the thing knows. Nose baseball hieroglyphic hopscotch pouch. Inevitably two for eight four ate for eight.  I , eye with a two to too. Down here Mother, we’re all home now, so long Jill. Beep beep, hungry hungry? I couldn’t stand it. Not in MY house! Up yours too, Don. Back in a moment. We’ll all try. 50-50? Okay, but not me. (thank you George Carlin).

But I can show some areas of nonsense if you so desire (though the waste of energy pains me).

redcrayon - 10 June 2008 09:58 PM

we are part of infinity, therefor part of infinity is us.

Infinity is an abstract concept we are neither part of it nor it part of us. IN much the same way that we are no more part of zero and zero is not part of us. It is this sort of silliness that you may think is poetic but turns out to be meaningless. And it is also why every religion has schism and multiple translation. When one employes fungible rhetoric as their dogma than the meaning is entirely dependent upon the will of the interpreter.

redcrayon - 11 June 2008 10:48 AM

taboo - a prohibition or interdiction of anything; exclusion from use or practice. 

blind faith - belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination

the scientific method excludes untestable ideas, blind faith is an untestable idea.  u

now, don’t go changing definitions on me,

See there you go parsing definition into dogma so that your argument must be the only possible way to see the issue.

Thanks to Cake for these selected lyrics from Comfort Eagle

We are building a religion,
We are building it bigger
We are widening the corridors and adding more lanes
We are building a religion.
A limited edition

Now today is tomorrow and tomorrow’s today
And yesterday is weaving in and out
And the fluffy white lines that the airplane leaves behind
Are drifting right in front of the waning of the moon

And so it goes. Revelation, dogma, schism, revelation, dogma, schism, lather, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

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Posted: 12 June 2008 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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cgallaga,

are my definitions of taboo and blind faith not true definitions of meanings for those terms? (this is a yes or no answer)

are there boundaries to space and time?

and sorry but i will have to ask you to give examples of my meaningless gibberish because i am here to talk to people and work out my ideas so they are not just that

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Posted: 12 June 2008 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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cgallaga - 11 June 2008 07:37 PM
redcrayon - 11 June 2008 10:48 AM

cgallaga, you need to ask me to further explain my ideas or point out exactly where you see problems with my thinking rather than just label them as meaningless and not worthy of your attention to be fair.  dismissiveness is not tenable argumentation.

Dismissiveness, while not an argument is tenable when someone is speaking gibberish. How can one argue against a non sensical statement?  As example prove the following wrong: Big bats down to one-five-five, over cross up the thing knows. Nose baseball hieroglyphic hopscotch pouch. Inevitably two for eight four ate for eight.  I , eye with a two to too. Down here Mother, we’re all home now, so long Jill. Beep beep, hungry hungry? I couldn’t stand it. Not in MY house! Up yours too, Don. Back in a moment. We’ll all try. 50-50? Okay, but not me. (thank you George Carlin).

But I can show some areas of nonsense if you so desire (though the waste of energy pains me).

cgallaga, this is arrogant, rude, insulting, and demeaning of others.  Even post #13 in this thread, also yours, was rude too.  Now I don’t know what the issue is that you seem to have with redcrayon’s post, but please stop with the demeaning attitude.  People are here to share thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc, not be insulted and demeaned.  You may not share the ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc that people post or not understand why they say things or ask questions, but that does not mean you have to be rude in your responses.

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Posted: 12 June 2008 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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redcrayon - 10 June 2008 02:48 PM

To me god is the ultimate source of existence and the totality of infinity.  To serve god in my view is to live life in accordance with the natural order having appreciation and love for everything, and doing everything within my capabilities to promote the most harmonious, comfortable, and equitable existence for nature and living beings.


what is stopping you from doing the above on your own and for your own without having to bring god into this? aren’t you worth it as a human being?

My being is a piece of this infinity, albeit in the smallest minutia relatively.  My individuality in this system is so fleeting and constituted by material and cultural influences that are small waves on the vast ocean of infinity that I would like to give up my perceived self to serve the harmonious totality of being.


speaking of giving up your percieved self, how about fasting?! or is your post is just another empty chitchat type of post?

I try to stay away from anthropocentric personifications of god, i.e., he knows, he is someone that does things, etc.  These can help us understand some aspects of the truest nature of reality but ultimately fall very short of ideas such as the source of infinity.

So does this sound like Agnosticism? Humanism? Hinduism?  I think my basic ideas are not logically unsound but where to go from here as far as day to day practice and long terms goals as to how I should live my life in accordance with my views of existence?  Does atheism/agnosticism/humanism have set principles without a god in the traditional western monotheistic interpretation or should it be a choosing of the truest elements of any religion?

I think you are complicating your life and its meaning for yourself more than they actually are in truth. Atheism, humanism, agnostism share pretty much the same values as religion claims to have, the only difference in between is the former does on its own free will and the latter thinks if it doesn’t it will go to hell.

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Posted: 12 June 2008 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Daisy - 12 June 2008 01:00 PM
redcrayon - 10 June 2008 02:48 PM

To me god is the ultimate source of existence and the totality of infinity.  To serve god in my view is to live life in accordance with the natural order having appreciation and love for everything, and doing everything within my capabilities to promote the most harmonious, comfortable, and equitable existence for nature and living beings.


what is stopping you from doing the above on your own and for your own without having to bring god into this? aren’t you worth it as a human being?

George Carlin might say that people think they need a place to put their stuff.

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Posted: 12 June 2008 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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daisy, i see what you mean with the complication part…. today i was thinking about that and PLaClairs responses of mixing “mystic ideas” with the reality of the world.  now i’m thinking that it doesn’t matter really what i think about “god” in terms of my actions.  because if i met someone who was a really nice person, and they were helpful and thoughtful of their actions towards others and not imposing of their ideas, what does it matter if they think that, let’s say, there is a big invisible rabbit behind pluto that we all go eat delicious pizza with when we die?  so between myself and this pluto rabbit pizza person, we should be understanding of what it is useful to be agreeing about.

as for the perceived self stuff, that is something that i think about to understand my life through different perspectives.  i would say that the main influences for those ideas are anthropology and hindu philosophies.  In anthropology, broadly speaking, a persons identity and actions are seen through the lens of how those things are shaped by culture ie, i go to college because that is a measure of success(if you are familiar with anthropology forgive me i’m not trying to teach you anything just get through my ideas).  so i might have thoughts about what i want to do, but perhaps that thought is only the product of cultural influences and that there is a better action.  hindu philosophies will say that the entire world is an illusion, and that what we perceive are only waves on a vast ocean…if you concentrate only on the waves, you miss the vastness of the rest of the ocean.  so it’s not so much saying my physical self is an illusion, or that i might not actually be here, (i haven’t read anything on that type of metaphysical philosophies so if you could suggest something in that department i would be interested to read it) but more about my perceived identity…i guess a follow up question would be (under the assumption of discounting metaphysical ideas) “if a persons identity is created by a combination of nature and nurture, then where does self identity come from?”

edit-  if a person’s self is created by a combination of nature and nurture, is there anything that is truly “me” other than my individual body?

[ Edited: 12 June 2008 06:12 PM by redcrayon ]
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Posted: 12 June 2008 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Daisy - 12 June 2008 01:00 PM
redcrayon - 10 June 2008 02:48 PM

So does this sound like Agnosticism? Humanism? Hinduism?  I think my basic ideas are not logically unsound but where to go from here as far as day to day practice and long terms goals as to how I should live my life in accordance with my views of existence?  Does atheism/agnosticism/humanism have set principles without a god in the traditional western monotheistic interpretation or should it be a choosing of the truest elements of any religion?

I think you are complicating your life and its meaning for yourself more than they actually are in truth. Atheism, humanism, agnostism share pretty much the same values as religion claims to have, the only difference in between is the former does on its own free will and the latter thinks if it doesn’t it will go to hell.

No, it does not sound sound like agnosticism or Humanism.  Humanism does not rely on any supernatural being and the majority are either atheist or agnostics.  Agnosticism doesn’t know if there is a god and it cannot be known and one can be a theistic agnostic or an non-theistic agnostist.  Here: This gives more info of what I mean:  http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/Agnosticism_Agnostics_What_Do_Agnostics_Believe_Whats_Agnosticism.htm  Only it calls what I called theistic agnostism “agnostic theism”.  This one specifically covers the two specifically:  http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/a/theism.htm  One can be an agnostic and be a Humanist, but as a rule this group of agnostics are not agnostic theists.

Next you may say, “yeah, but there are Religious Humanists.”  Don’t let that fool you or even confuse you, however, since it does keep the peace, due to it’s confusing people, here in the Bible Belt I sometimes add the adjective “Religious” before the word Humanism.  Somehow being open to the study of religion smooths things over a little with some theists, because they don’t know what it is and just assume what it is as a rule.  Here are two great articles on that, one by Robert Price:

Price’s Article:  http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/price_22_3.htm  I love what he said about it being “all lobe”, because on a psychological level, it is lobe.  LOL  Anyway, Religious Humanism isn’t much different from Secular Humanism as far as belief, or rather lack of belief, goes.

This one is not as thorough I wish to explain all of this, but it does clarify some.  http://atheism.about.com/od/abouthumanism/a/religioushuman.htm  An example of a Christian Humanist, or “humanistic religionist” would be Bishop John Shelby Spong.  An example of Religious Humanists would be Robert Price and Greg Epstein.  This is not to say that some Unitarians are not Religious Humanists or some humanistic theists- there is both under one roof.  Confused yet?

Some atheists are also Humanists, but not all atheist are Humanists and if you follow the links to the left on about.com you can find a little info on all of this, but again, none of what is said about any of the topic is the whole of it.  It only clarifies some.  There are no real set principles, dogma, or what have you in any of the three (excluding Christian Humanism and possibly Humanistic Judaism.  Yes, I threw in yet another and yes, there is Humanistic Hinduism.  You lost yet?) One last link that gives definitions to some of the forms of humanism (notice how I switched from capital “H” to lower case “h”, there’s a reason for this, but this is another topic):  http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/whatis.php  The thing is Humanism is a non-theistic philosophy and not a religion, but theism can be humanistic.  To clarify or rather simplify, if one is a theist, yet have humanistic views, they might be a humanistic religionist, but if they are atheists or agnostics, yet are similar to Bob Price or Greg Epstein, they might be a Religious Humanist.  Secular Humanists are agnostics or atheists.  Humanism focuses on the human, not a deity of any kind nor is there a belief in a deity.

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Posted: 13 June 2008 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Mriana - 12 June 2008 10:16 PM
cgallaga - 12 June 2008 05:56 PM

I respectfully disagree, and wonder if this has more to do with some personal issue, and our discussion on vegetarians. Other mods please weigh in.

Edit to add: Sorry I just remembered that the forum rules do not allow me to question this warning here. Mods please move my challenge to the proper forum.

This has nothing to do with our disagreement in another thread, but rather what and how you said what you said to redcrayon.  I clearly specified that in my warning.  However, if Doug or Brennon want to weigh in, as you requested, I have no problem with that, but then again I already know where they stand.  You are right though, anyone who receives a warning from a mod is not suppose to challenge it, so it is really up to Doug and Brennen as to whether or not they reply to you or not.  My warning still stands though.

I have to say that I see nothing in cgallaga’s reply that is rude or bad ... personally I think redcrayon’s stuff was waffly and, agreeing with cgallaga, gibberish from the very first but I elected to stay out of the thread (until now) because I know the kind of things that happen when I do get involved in such stuff. I can’t really understand, especially in a forum like this that seems to be inherently concerned with rationality, why anyone would object to cgallaga’s comments and I would have to assume that your criticism of him is motivated by something more than objective moderation.

Sorry Mriana but that’s the way I see it.

Kyu

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