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PaulS

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Everything posted by PaulS

  1. Apologies for the late tune in - but I just felt I didn't have anything further to add to our discussion, Thormas. But I would like to make it clear that my main point of contention was not about the 'absolute certainty' of the Gospels we have today compared to the Gospels when they were written (although the unreliability of their accuracy does feed into my points that we may be mistaken about much of what we think these authors wrote because of the demonstrated inconsistencies and errors), but moreso I was trying to express to you my doubts about any scholarship being able to demonstrate or establish that the Gospels, even in their original form, must be regarded as an accurate depiction of the 'gist' of Jesus. It appears to me, that the only evidence proffered is that we have nothing else, so assumptions seem to be that the Gospel writers must have been on the money or their views wouldn't have prevailed. I simply don't think that is a sound conclusion. I think there is certainly room for error and exaggeration about Jesus between when he lived and the next forty years before anything that we actually have left today, was written. And even more room for the 'gist' to grow over the next 50 or so years when the remaining Gospels were written. So for me, when Bart says things like "If these gist memories are accurate..." he is acknowledging that these authors are the only 'existing' view we have of Jesus, but that doesn't make them accurate (even in their unadulterated form if we had it). I'm pretty sure I gave you Donald Trump as an example - if in 40 to 100 years time things were written about the 'gist' of Donald, I expect they would not all agree. And if over the decades and centuries that followed, Republican followers of Donald became the dominant group and successfully shouted down or overgrew other views of his 'gist', and subsequently over time they drowned out and destroyed the writings of the other views, then hundreds and thousands of years later, what would we be discussing as the relative certainty of the gist of Donald? Of course we could only really consider what we had and not perhaps the other bits that were shouted down and destroyed, even with good intent, way back in the beginning. So to summarize, scholars may reasonably know what the authors of the existing Gospels and NT wrote - but how do scholars establish these writings are an accurate portrayal of the gist of Jesus? That these stories accurately capture the gist of Jesus and aren't rather just a particular stream of Jesus belief that won the day and eventually got canonised?
  2. There is no black and white - rather, everything is shades of grey. Our experiences make us who we are. We would be that other person if we'd had their experiences. We're all going to die eventually, so try not to take it too seriously and enjoy the ride. I think considering those who will come after you is a nice thing to do.
  3. PaulS

    Drugs

    Oh the horror!
  4. PaulS

    Drugs

    The Barossa is lovely, but for the most scenic wine region in Australia, consider my state's southwest region - Margaret River! As for Malbec at 8am - it's always wine o'clock somewhere in the world!
  5. PaulS

    Drugs

    Yes, I had read about Portugal and it seems to be a huge success in many ways. There are still issues, but we have issues with current legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco too.
  6. But lots of people commit crimes without really making a 'choice', perhaps they are drug addled, or have mental difficulties (but not enough to get them off the crime) etc. Like you say, if you had been born with the same exact genetics, life experiences etc, you would be no different. So doesn't it seem a little unfair that because of genetics and the lottery of life experiences, that we judge these others for their actions, which you acknowledge would be you but for nothing but fortune?
  7. PaulS

    Drugs

    I know the feeling - I am partaking of a lovely South Australian Shiraz as I type.
  8. PaulS

    Drugs

    I am probably split between decriminalization and continuing enforcement. Perhaps it should be a more multifaceted approach - I have no issue decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis and I believe there would be lots of benefits in doing so. However, I'm not as comfortable with decriminalizing say methamphetamine, simply because it seems such a damaging substance and I think many people are not aware just how easy it is to become addicted to and how damaging that addiction can be. I don't think cannabis is in the same class. I'm not sure what the main problems are with drugs in the US (or more to the point, which drugs), but it seems the US does spend a lot more on fighting drugs than say Australia. I imagine your close proximity to countries like Columbia and issues with cocaine feature more heavily than Australia which is much more isolated (or maybe Americans have a greater penchant for drug use?). In any event, where Australia spends about $1.5bn of its $1.4t economy on drug law enforcement, it seems the US spends something like $51b from its $21t economy. Maths isn't my strong point but it seems that the US spends nearly twice as much (as a % of its economy) than Australia, so possibly there are others issues there which we don't have in Australia? Or maybe Aussies are just tight But that aside, much of the argument for decriminalizing cannabis comes from better use of the money otherwise spent on drug enforcement. It has been speculated here that something like 70% of that budget is used to fight cannabis. I'm not certain how accurate that it, but even if it was only half of that 70%, it does seem like a significant waste for a relatively harmless drug (but up there with tobacco and alcohol). It has been suggested that if cannabis was licensed like tobacco and alcohol, that it could be worth nearly $5b a year to the economy. If this is similar for the US, then greater amounts of money and a greater % of GDP could be better utilized also. Maybe cannabis is the low fruit though. Australian States have decriminalized it before (only to change it when usually a conservative government re-enters power) without any significant effect and I know many US States are moving toward decriminalization and/or legalizing cannabis. But what about the other drugs. Like I mentioned, meth or ice seems a bit harder for me to accept as allowing them to become freely available. It's impact on people is rapid and tragic. I'm not sure anyone starts taking it intends to become an addict but that is how many end up, very quickly. So clearly there needs to be a lot more education about such drugs, but where do governments get the funding from? Taking it away from drug enforcement activities that are no longer required? I wonder if illicit drugs are much different from what today we call legal drugs, such as alcohol. A large percentage of the population choose not to partake in the consumption of alcohol, and of those who do partake there are many who have no problems with it. But of course there are many who do struggle with alcoholism. I wonder if legalizing drugs might be a similar scenario - there will continue to be those who don't want them, there could be a percentage of the population who take some drugs and live just fine, but then there will likely be a certain cohort that suffer addiction and ill effect. But perhaps it is the reasons people take drugs in the first place that could be addressed with surplus ex-enforcement funds? Nearly 2.3% of adult Americans battled an illicit drug use disorder in 2017 - why? (I would quote an Australian stat but I can't find one - presumably we're up there too). Why do people desire to take mind-altering drugs? Would some maybe not if we simply stopped telling them not to? Would there be less interest in drugs if they weren't illegal? Are lower-socio economic groups more represented in illicit drug use (I suspect so) and if so, why? Is it because many are disillusioned knowing they are unlikely to break out of the poverty cycle. I would have to say "I don't know" as well, Joseph, but that's why I'm putting it out there to discuss.
  9. PaulS

    Drugs

    I wonder what people here think about drug use and the criminality associated with drugs? Would countries be better off allowing all drugs to be legal perhaps and spend the billions of dollars otherwise spent on law enforcement on other ways of improving our communities, which in turn is likely to see the desire to turn to otherwise illicit drugs as less necessary? Or, should countries continue to burn billions of dollars in efforts to stem the flow of illicit drug trading? Do people think this is the most successful strategy we should continue to employ? Is it working? Is there any other alternatives?
  10. PaulS

    Migration

    The policies of many, many other countries are similar to the US (e.g. concerning refugee rights if they make landfall and also for many the rights of children born to illegal aliens automatically being granted citizenship rights by birthright) to the degree that there really isn't anything outstanding in the US's approach. However many of these countries do a lot better when it comes to per capita acceptance of immigrants and spending per capita on such issues. Again, this doesn't make the US 'bad', just not at the peak like some patriots may blindly believe. As for Trump, having seen how ineffective he has been I am now less concerned how badly he will impact the US and the wider world, either this term or if he should win a second and final term. I like to look at it positively - the US and the world may suffer up to 8 years in total of Trump, but eventually he will be gone and consigned to history as likely a pretty ordinary President.
  11. PaulS

    Migration

    Indeed, I think people like Burl would be surprised what the rest of the world actually does concerning immigration & refugees, in many instances leaving the US wanting when it comes to being the 'best' in responses to them. Not that the US is a poor performer or anything, but rather that it simply does not have, by far, the kindest & most liberal policy in the world, and if Trump had his way, things would be a lot worse. As one not claiming the superiority of Christianity as the way to treat others in the world, how do you regard current approaches to immigration, particularly around illegal aliens, and do you think that more should be done to help those who are by far worse off in the world?
  12. PaulS

    Migration

    Not interested Burl. If you want to make a Trumpian statement and then fail to provide support for the statement when asked (because you can't), I can't be bothered either. If it is because you don't understand what other countries do in comparison to the US, just say so. Clearly you misunderstand the Australian situation (because you don't live there but which didn't stop you making claims in the first place) - perhaps that goes for a lot more countries outside of the US for you?
  13. PaulS

    Migration

    But still not able to back up your statement that the "US has by far the kindest & most liberal policy in the world" with any evidence? You do The Donald proud.
  14. PaulS

    Migration

    You need to do a bit more research Burl. Anybody who arrives in Australia without a visa or stays in the country when their visa is expired, gets detained. The circumstances concerning how they arrive in Australia determines the processing method. As of June 2019, 14,507 people who had sought asylum in Australia by boat were living in the community on what is called a Bridging Visa. None have been sent to PNG for several years now. Another island detention centre (Nauru) currently houses about 250 illegal arrivals. If the person is seeking asylum, they don't get a 'trial' but rather their claim is assessed to consider if it is genuine or not. There is no sentencing. During this process, certain asylum seeker groups are detained so that they don't disappear in the community, never to be located again. Does the US detain illegal arrivals? In 2001 the Australian Government made a deal with the PNG Government and set up a detention center on an island in PNG with a population of about 45,000 - Manus Island. One was also setup with the agreement of the Government of Nauru. The Manus Island centre was wound down between 2003-2008 but cranked back up again in 2010 with a significant increase in irregular maritime arrivals. The centre was closed in 2017 (see further below for what has happened to those non-refugees that refuse to go home). This detention strategy has been proven and the point is not argued by either side of politics here in Australia - it significantly stemmed the flow of illegal boats coming to Australia. Part of the reason for wanting to stem the flow was the number of people dying in unsafe boats and seas in attempts to make it to Australia where they thought they would be safe (some 400-500 people died in the 4 years leading up to the implementation of Manus Island Detention Centre). Probably also like the US's concerns, these arrivals had to pass by or through several countries before arriving at their country of choice, so in part the strategy was to encourage our neighbors to do more to stem boats and arrivals also. As an aside, typically our Liberal Party (currently in government) are the ones regarded as hard on border security and our Labor Party as soft. In our recent Federal Election all money was on Labor winning government but amazingly they didn't. Within weeks of the election date at least 6 boats from Sri Lanka were blocked from illegal entry - people smugglers had started up again in th elead up to the Federal Election presuming that Labor would likely weaken the laws and allow more boat entrants (the last time Labor were in power the boat arrival numbers went through the roof). So all in all, everyone (except you) agrees it has been an exceptionally strong deterrent. As I mentioned above, the Manus Island Detention Centre was closed in 2017, when the PNG Supreme Court found that the Centre breached the PNG constitution's right to personal liberty. So although the PNG government had previously agreed, 16 years later their courts disagreed with that decision and the center was promptly shut down. Many of the asylum seekers who were present at that time, and who's claims had been rejected, refused to leave Manus Island and so they were offered other housing on the island (non-detention). They of course are free to leave if they wish, but they are not free to visit Australia. Is being held in detention whilst your claim is being assessed disgraceful? In isolation I don't think it is but in this bigger picture of how we handle immigration in general and that which I am raising in this thread, I am questioning all aspects of how we prohibit and treat those wishing to seek a better future for their children and themselves, and why we think it is okay to do so. In regards to 'life sentences' on Manus Island, the My questioning of your claim that "the US has by far the kindest & most liberal policy in the world" concerning 'legal policy' (whatever you mean exactly by that term) wasn't to encourage you to debate the US vs Aussie approach, but rather to see if you had anything to substantiate your claim (I called it Trumpian because it seems to be a pretty common mistake of your president to make a bold claim without any supporting evidence and even in fact where there is evidence to the contrary). It seems to me that your patriotic claim cannot be substantiated in any sort of empirical way as all of the evidence available (try doing some research on refugee numbers, treatment, policies and some very good UN reports) would suggest the US isn't the best in the world concerning refugees and/or immigrants. But hold fast to that if you feel the need to be right.
  15. PaulS

    Migration

    I think for me what further complicates the matter is that it shouldn't just be a case of 'us and them'. We are privileged by nothing other than birthright, others are not. But adding to this, many other countries are disadvantaged due largely to interference from other countries, wars they never asked for, and natural tragedies such as drought and starvation. How do you explain to a child born into misery and poverty in say Zimbabwe, that is is simply his bad luck for being born there and now he has to live with it? Honduras I think is a classic example where other country interference, although not solely responsible, has helped create and environment that neither you or I would want to raise our children in, so I can't blame them for wanting to get to a better place such as the US - https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/19/central-america-migrants-us-foreign-policy I wonder how people would feel about American Indians if they had said no to British illegal immigrants way back when!
  16. PaulS

    Migration

    So no specific data but just opinion? Fair enough. Yes, any child born in the US is automatically a citizen but I understand your President would like to change that - see this article: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/does-constitution-guarantee-citizenship-all-born-here-n411451. Also, there is nothing in your legal system that guarantees citizenship to the parents of a baby born in the US if they are in fact an undocumented illegal immigrant - citizen baby or not. Also, there is a lot of misunderstanding associated with the derogatory term 'anchor babies' with investigations suggesting mixed evidence to support the idea that citizenship is not the motivating factor for people having these children. Here's a snip from Wikipedia for your info: "Some critics of illegal immigration claim the United States' "birthright citizenship" is an incentive for illegal immigration, and that immigrants come to the country to give birth specifically so that their child will be an American citizen. The majority of children of illegal immigrants in the United States are citizens, and the number has risen. According to a Pew Hispanic Center report, an estimated 73% of children of illegal immigrants were citizens in 2008, up from 63% in 2003. A total of 3.8 million illegal immigrants had at least one child who is an American citizen. In investigating a claim by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, PolitiFact found mixed evidence to support the idea that citizenship was the motivating factor.[26] PolitiFact concludes that "[t]he data suggests that the motivator for illegal immigrants is the search for work and a better economic standing over the long term, not quickie citizenship for U.S.-born babies." As for refugees being granted refugee status, the US is not unique in this regard. Australia, and the other 145 countries that have ratified the Refugee Convention, also are obliged to grant refugee status to any genuine refugees. So of the two factors you claim make the US the kindest and most liberal when it comes to 'US legal policy', one is no greater than anyone else and the other looks like going down the path that every other European country has done in the last 2 or so decades. But for now, the US does allow any child born in the US to be granted citizenship (but not their parents). I think if you look at any of the available measures and data concerning a country's ranking for immigration, you'll see that whilst up there in the top 10 or so, the US doesn't ever rank as number one on a comparative basis. For instance, Australia is much more liberal in immigration whereby 33% of its population are born outside of Australia, whereas in the US less than 15% of your population are born outside of the US. Some other countries that are better than the US for hosting migrants as a % of population include Saudi Arabia (37%), United Arab Emirates (88%) & Canada (21%). This is just one of many measures that indicate to me that the US isn't the kindest and most liberal, but at least they're doing something.
  17. It's just that I don't see 'forgiveness' as being present in our legal system. So I was asking from that perspective how you see it tying in with your understanding of forgiveness as preached by Jesus. Our culture appoints judges and magistrates as substitutes for us in passing judgement. I agree they don't make their judgements in the spirit of self-judgement, but is that a flaw in the process because our culture has allowed such to develop that way?
  18. PaulS

    Migration

    I agree and that is a fair point. Perhaps it is the bit that trumps having an open heart and letting anybody and everybody share in what we have. It is completely practical and I agree. But still, it niggles at me and makes me feel like we are only saying that because we are the ones on the right side of the fence.
  19. PaulS

    Migration

    That sounds like a very 'Trumpian' claim Burl. What data can you refer to that demonstrates that 'US legal policy' is by far the kindest and most liberal in the world?
  20. Now I don't seem to be able to find your original post on Judgement. Am I missing something?
  21. PaulS

    Migration

    I agree with you both on what is a completely practical way of dealing with the matter. I'm definitely pro-vetting so that there is some sort of control to stop terrorists and criminals, but when Jesus says (allegedly) in Matthew 6 that we shouldn't worry about food or clothing, is that not a contradiction to the 'everyone loses' approach if we did allow unrestrained immigration? I can't help but think restricting immigration because it will negatively impact on our living conditions (criminal and terrorist vetting aside) as not aligned with the value of love that Jesus was preaching.
  22. Joseph - is it possible for you to shift it again & put it in its own discussion thread in Debate & Dialogue instead of inserting it into this thread initiated by Burl's on a different topic. Apologies, I haven't mastered doing that yet.
  23. PaulS

    Migration

    Yes, in our modern world that is the structures we have in place. But I'm trying to get past the politics of it and try to understand how others 'feel' about saying 'No' to those in need when it is plainly clear we have so, so much more and largely because of pure luck (the luck of being born in the better country in the first place). I just try to imagine that if I was a father struggling to raise and protect his wife and children in a violent, poverty-stricken country, and I wanted to make it to a better country just so my kids could grow up safer and with a little hope, that to be rejected by others who say that to love others is their highest priority, just seems so crap. To me it seems we are sort of saying "I love you so much that I don't want to lose my 4 bedroom house with a pool, 2 x cars, and a very comfortable lifestyle because to share means my quality of life will diminish, albeit probably not as poorly as your life currently is now". Again, I'm not pointing fingers because I am just as guilty as anybody else, and the way I probably deal with it is some little self-satisfying thoughts about contributing to charity and not being able to help everyone, but really, that just seems so hollow.
  24. PaulS

    Migration

    Yes, but obviously nobody gets to live like that. Laws and power and people prevent you form living where you want, when you want, how you want. But I can't help but think those laws are in place to selfishly protect what one has and are designed to prevent sharing.
  25. PaulS

    Migration

    I just find it hard to imagine, that the Jesus many of us think we understand these days, would be prepared to say 'No' to a family of immigrants trying to escape abject poverty and make it to a far better place to raise their children. It just strikes me as selfish and an unwillingness to maybe suffer some reduction in our lifestyle - a lifestyle which largely we have simply because we were luckier than the other family to be born in a better country. Don't get me wrong, I do it too so I am not pointing the finger at anyone, Christian or not. Just questioning how it all fits in with the idea that Jesus was love, that we want to emulate Jesus, but then go and so "I'm not sharing with you". It just seems so hypocritical of us, but what do you do. Harden your heart and satisfy yourself that you're doing 'enough' anyway? As Rom points out, who are we really to say another cannot share in the goodness of our countries.
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