Sunday, April 09, 2017

Vimy Ridge

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The battle invovled four divisions of the Canadian Corps and it has become a symbol for Canada of the sacrifices made during World War I. The symbol is remarkable for the beautiful Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial designed by Walter Seymour Allward. He intended it to be a "sermon against the futility of war."

It is remarkably successful as such a symbol since, among other things, it contains the names of more than 11,000 Canadians who died in World War I and whose bodies were never recovered. We visited the memorial in 2011 with my granddaughter Zoë [Canadian National Vimy Memorial] and found the name of Lance Corporal Robert Alexander Hood, a cousin of Leslie's grandfather and Zoë's great-great-grandfather.



59 comments :

  1. I'm getting a little annoyed with all the talk about the sacrifices made by the soldiers, as they never say what that sacrifice was *for*. Because everything I've read about WWI says that it was a war about nothing -- there was no Great Cause to advance or defend; it boiled down to a lot of dick-swinging among the European heads of state of the day. All it accomplished was to set up the conditions for an even bigger war 20 years later (which was "about something", but only because the clusterfuck of interbellum German politics enabled the rise of Nazism). So yes, the Vimy Memorial should very much be that sermon.

    That said, my grandfather Watson served (British Army, not Canadian) in the trenches of a lot of the major battles (I recall my Dad specifically mentioning Somme and Ypres). I have his medals -- nothing Victoria Cross level, just the ones they issued to everyone who turned up, and did their job without running away. Which is not a small thing.

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    1. Of course it was bullshit. There's actually a serious argument to be made that it would have been better for the US not to have entered and to let the Kaiser win as that would have prevented WWII.

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    2. I heard 30,000 Canadians went over to celebrate. remarkable but satisfying that many care as long as for good reasons.
      Indeed as posters here said few canadians would know what the fighting was about and for and what was won.
      its a topic on youtube amongst historians as to whether Britiain etc should of gone to that war.

      I would not of gone. I would not have been persuaded to iil and be killed for the reasons given.
      in fact the first canadian army, and australian , was later found to be way out of proportion enlisted by british immigrants to both countries. later this even out for both.

      They pushed heavily that germany invaded Belgium, killing soldiers and civilians, there and thats what stirred up the British people.
      Hmmm. That is the only christian justification for war namely to stop/punish unjustified killing.
      It was mad and crazy all the killing everywhere.
      They were all to blame. Leaders and people.
      God didn't protect very many relatively because they were all killing for no good reason.

      Vimy ridge is seen as a canadian military victory that was better then the others who had failed to conquer it before.
      I believe General currie did it and it was his superior ideas that won it. Advancing artillery hits and all that.
      one of the few allies victories that year in those areas.

      They do say Sacrifices without saying what for. They don't know I think.


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    3. Perhaps Robert you should take a look at the symbols of the group which assassinated the arch duke of Austria. Looks familiar, doesn't it?

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    4. No it doesn't . i have no idea what your point is or relevant.
      The Killing of the Duke just set into play the nations combining and ganging up on each other.
      There was not anything important to fight over.
      It was the Austrians, a evil empire, attacking a terrorist state, Serbia,.
      Then Russia joining Serbia, france joining Russia, and Germany joining Austria. Britain said it was for Belgium that they joined France. canada joined Britain because of identity claims but probably not because of Belgium.
      everybody was willing to kill too quick for no good reasons. It really is a diminishment of human life value however much everyone says they have a good reason.
      This is going on right now regarding Syria as I see it.

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  2. The causes and justification of World War One are many and varied and argued about by serious historians to this day. The comments above are ill informed and pay no respect to the calm dignity of Larry's original post. Stop it!

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    1. I see no no disrespect or lack of dignity in any of us who commented!
      Who says they are ill-informed?
      it is not just 'serious historians" who can argue and figure out these war motives and whether just or not.
      In fact its wars that should draw all citizens to weight the moral matters and the claims of parties BEFORE wars just as much as after.
      it is the peopole who , from my Country, have gone over there for the occasion.
      Yes we can , must, should discus that war and all war.
      it might stop them when they should be stopped.
      If ever folks should not be told to stop its about the causes of the wars that kill the folks.
      I couldn't disagree with you more.
      Since you know there are "many and varied" causes for the war etc which serious historians do you agree with? Which serious historians do you not agree with?

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    2. There may be some who mistake this place for an outpost of what another outstanding Canadian, Saul Bellow, pithily entitled "the moronic inferno". Notwithstanding the pathetic creationists who prolifically pollute its pages, it is not. It is a channel for informed and knowledgeable exploration of serious matters. Let others go elsewhere with their contributions.

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  3. Celebrating WW I anniversaries makes as much sense as much sense as celebrating Crimean War anniversaries

    Bernard Shaw's analysis was spot on: the Great War represented the last gasps of Imperial geopolitics dating back to 1848

    What a waste... what a tragedy

    If not for the Great War to end all wars, we would never have witnessed Nazism/Fascism nor Bolshevism

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    1. It was a waste and evil. I question the Allies going to the war. As i said there are some great youtube scholarly discussions on the merits of wwi.
      I don't see Shaw as knowing more then anyone and I don't see the war as a imperial thing for most.
      I do agree with celebrating our side however.
      I guess war is a subject for everybody to put serious intellectual and moral thought to.
      Not leave it up to the experts of the moment.

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    2. See below for what you are encouraging! Get back to genomics!

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  4. I was in Paris around this time and saw several English student groups touring the city wearing red jackets. It wasn't till I got home that I found out that they were Canadian students.

    Sadly, I think it is lost in them. WWI is ancient history to them. As is WWII. Hell, I was born in 58 and when I was young I thought that WWII was ancient history, even though I talked to a WWI vet who was the grandfather of my friend almost every day.

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    1. I am not much older than you... and I remember as a youth befriending a veteran of The Boer War

      He gave me his Pith helmet which regrettably I have since lost

      I recall the great line from Monty Python were the head master reminded the school congregation of their need to respect the memory of those who sacrificed their lives to keep Africa British

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    2. WS
      Actually there is no need, nor is it so, that the great historic events be not remembered. Canadian kids do get well publicized history's.
      in fact its only what is chosen that is a problem.
      I talked to wwi veterans and heaps of wwii.
      Funny point from Monty. Unfortualely this is a issue even with our side in all wars.
      War really is always about taking human life.
      God is very clear on this. Only self defence or judicial punishment.
      Otherwise he won't help as much to save you.

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    3. "God is very clear on this. Only self defence or judicial punishment."

      I'm not sure where you would get that. It seems to be more about being on the right side, and fighting for the right thing.

      Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight

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    4. Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight

      Here, let me shorten that for you:

      Gott mit uns.

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    5. "God is very clear on this. Only self defence or judicial punishment."

      He is clear, since he's the original mass murderer.

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    6. Substitute 'killer' for 'murderer', and recognize the concept of ownership, and you'll be correct.

      Some people have a fate, and some have a destiny.

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    7. Ownership? So now he's a slaveholder as well as a murderer?

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    8. No no John, it's that mass killing is ever so much more moral than mass murder.

      They all probably had it coming to 'em. And so do cute little puppies who die of cancer.

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    9. txpiper obviously got his degree in theology from Miskatonic University (Go Unspeakable Terrors!). Alas he is surely mistaken in differentiating between fate and destiny here - everybody gets eaten by Cthulhu just the same.

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    10. We'll have none of your heresy here, Simon. Let's stick to the script Everyone Knows is true. God sent a flood to kill (*not* murder) all humanity. Afterward, God put up a pretty rainbow to say he would never do it again, even though he was not wrong to do it the first time. (Like love in an Erich Segal novel, being God means never having to say you're sorry.)

      Having made humanity ever so much better by killing a bunch of us (as witness our exemplary behavior since), God was able to get back to making cute little bear cubs eat cute little seal pups or else starve to death, since that's the way He, in His infinite moral perfection, designed the universe and our world within it.

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    11. "God is very clear on this. Only self defence or judicial punishment."

      Where is your God 'very clear' on this?

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    12. "Ownership? So now he's a slaveholder as well as a murderer?"

      Yeah, you'll have to digest that in with an approximate context that will make sense to you. Think of it as similar to a woman's exclusive right to choose.

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    13. txpiper,

      That was just incoherent. I can't even guess what you were trying to say.

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    14. "Think of it as similar to a woman's exclusive right to choose."

      If you view your god's penchant for genocide as being in any way a woman's right to choose, you shouldn't be using the word "think" in the same sentence - because you clearly aren't.

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    15. So txpiper is pro-choice. Who knew?

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    16. "So txpiper is pro-choice."

      I was just wasting my time appealing to pop-sacrosanctity.

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    17. chris B
      very clear from front to back.
      man must not take human life except in self defence or to punish crime. nOw in the old testament god decided what was crime. however these days only murder would be a crime punishable by death.
      i don't even agree with executing spies etc as was done by the allies.
      Anyways only to stop murder can nations kill people. or to punish for murders committed.
      Not for freedom or defending property or a better world. tHese are important causes but less important to killing people.
      thats why god doesn't support human wars save for just a few.
      I do suspect thats why even the "good" guys take so much causalities.
      Hard to say that but i suspect so.
      God has a high standard of human right to life.

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    18. Think of it as similar to a woman's exclusive right to choose.

      Cue singers: "Ev'ry sperm is sacred...."

      Tx, have you ever seen an incubator? Did it look like a woman to you?

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    19. I guess the other cool thing about this is that Tx has just admitted God is on a moral par with Planned Parenthood. (I personally think PP comes out much better, but for Tx this admission seems to represent significant movement.)

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    20. "in the old testament god decided what was crime. however these days only murder would be a crime punishable by death"

      Then why did Paul write that "they which commit such things are worthy of death"?

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    21. This is a bizarre sequence of nonsense which has no place on this blog which is for the serious consideration of serious matters.

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    22. Shhh. I want to see what happens if txpiper gets into an argument with Byers. Maybe the combined gravitational forces will create a black hole of stupid.

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    23. Then why did Paul write that "they which commit such things are worthy of death"?

      Because he got the word right from the infinitely merciful, compassionate and loving God, of course.

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    24. Robert,
      The Bible is all over the place on killing, and in general is a moral/ethical travesty.

      "man must not take human life except in self defence or to punish crime."
      So the mass killings, genocides, etc in the Old T were all in self defense? What about Absalom? And to punish crimes like disobeying your parents or not being a virgin on your wedding night (females only, of course) or working on the Sabbath? Is that the clear moral code you follow?

      "nOw in the old testament god decided what was crime. however these days only murder would be a crime punishable by death."
      And what part of the bible clearly changed death as punishment to all sorts of minor infractions to murderers only? Also, your god famously claimed vengeance was his, so how does that fit in?

      "i don't even agree with executing spies etc as was done by the allies."
      Well, I'm glad to hear that. And you seem to have arrived at that ethical standard all on your own, since the bible gives no definitive command on how to treat spies.

      "Anyways only to stop murder can nations kill people. or to punish for murders committed.
      Not for freedom or defending property or a better world. tHese are important causes but less important to killing people."
      Where does it say that in the bible?

      "thats why god doesn't support human wars save for just a few."
      Just a few? Which ones? And how do you know?

      "God has a high standard of human right to life."
      Now from what I have read in the bible, or see everyday. But maybe you are talking about some other god.

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    25. "Because he got the word right from the infinitely merciful, compassionate and loving God, of course."

      Well yeah, that's where he got it, but whoever taught you that those attributes are infinite did you a disservice. The general perception is that God should be sort of a composite of Mr. Rogers, Gandhi and some favorite democrat. Unfortunately, His character is more about justice than it is love, and justice demands either the prosecution of evil, or atonement.

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    26. chris B
      As i said, and you noted, the old testament changed the old laws completly. Thats the whole point of Easter.
      god judged what was punishable by death but after jesus that was replaced with new doctrines. so only the most ancient prohibition against murder remains from Gods command. So the rest can be seen as not worthy however important.
      For man its clear only the evil of murder justifies execution and so prohibits all wars save in those cases of preservation of innocent life or judicial punishment.
      The bible is very clear on this equation. very clear only god decides except in the first law given way back in early genesis.
      Love, mercy, etc etc is expected to rule mens affairs.

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    27. Shhh. I want to see what happens if txpiper gets into an argument with Byers. Maybe the combined gravitational forces will create a black hole of stupid.

      Well, so far, that seems to have gone nowhere. Biggest disappointment since "Alien v. Predator."

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    28. As i said, and you noted, the old testament changed the old laws completly. Thats the whole point of Easter.
      god judged what was punishable by death but after jesus that was replaced with new doctrines. so only the most ancient prohibition against murder remains from Gods command.


      So tell us, again, about God's transcendent, eternal, unchanging universal laws.

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    29. Robert,
      I think your ideas on killing are your own ethical reflections, since the bible doesn't say the things you say it does.

      "As i said, and you noted, the old testament changed the old laws completly. Thats the whole point of Easter."

      Do you mean the New T changed the old laws completely? Where is that spelled out in the bible? On the contrary, Jesus was very clear on this point. I suggest you go read Matthew 5:17.

      "god judged what was punishable by death but after jesus that was replaced with new doctrines. so only the most ancient prohibition against murder remains from Gods command. So the rest can be seen as not worthy however important."

      I still don't know how you get that out of the bible. Reference some passages to support this idea. Even if true, this creates quite a problem for the objective universal moral code passed down by god, doesn't it?

      "For man its clear only the evil of murder justifies execution and so prohibits all wars save in those cases of preservation of innocent life or judicial punishment.
      The bible is very clear on this equation."

      Again, some passages from the bible that makes this claim so clearly.

      " very clear only god decides except in the first law given way back in early genesis."

      Really? I don't remember that passage from Genesis saying killing by people is justified only as retribution for murder. Didn't god claim vengeance for himself?

      "Love, mercy, etc etc is expected to rule mens affairs."

      Well there's the fist sentence in which you make sense. Did you need the bible to tell you that, or do you think you could have concluded that on your own?

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    30. In genesis ,after the flood, a single law was made that mans blood being shed meant that man's blood was to be shed. that means execution for murder. nurder before the flood was a noted problem.

      Its absolutely the case the New testament articulates Jesus changing all the old laws. Thats the point. Freedom from law. its grace now. A gift. No more laws.
      So only the obvious great laws remain. Murder is a obvious great evil and so it only may be punished by death.
      War is just killing people to impose ones will.
      so if the killing is not for justified reasons then its murder.
      if even gods old laws no longer allowing execution then how can mans affairs?
      so only self defence or punishment for murder justifys war.
      This would cover some of the famous ones, for one side, but I'm questioning about wwi. They said the killing of civilians in belgium was the reason for the brit empire to go to war. Hmmm.
      A lot for a little.

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    31. More desperate incoherent ungrammatical semi-literate nonsense.
      When will it ever end?

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    32. Actually, Robert is just expressing, in his own inimitable fashion, ideas that are actually taken quite seriously in seminaries and university departments of theology. In fact, he expresses them far more concisely and in a more entertaining manner, with little, if any, loss of intellectual rigour.

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    33. Robert,
      Nowhere in the bible does god say, you know all that killing I ordered of (female) non-virgins on their wedding night, adulterers, homosexuals, people in your way, etc., etc.? Well just forget all that, from now on, kill only murderers. Nowhere.

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    34. "Nowhere in the bible does god say, you know all that killing I ordered of (female) non-virgins on their wedding night..."

      That particular execution was not because the woman was not a virgin. It was because she had represented herself as one. The details are in Deuteronomy 22.

      But the bigger point is that the OT law applied only to Israel. It was never imposed on Gentiles. You could make a case for using the moral codes as a framework for civil and criminal law (which most civilized cultures did or do to some degree), but the point was to exhibit the descendants of A, I and J as unique and chosen.

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    35. That particular execution was not because the woman was not a virgin. It was because she had represented herself as one.

      Ah! Well, that makes it OK, then.

      iBut the bigger point is that the OT law applied only to Israel. It was never imposed on Gentiles.

      Ah! Well, that makes it OK, then.

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    36. "Ah! Well, that makes it OK, then."

      Yes, it does. But I'm curious about why you would even care. Was there a series of mutations in particular genes that resulted in your profound moral indignation?

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    37. "That particular execution was not because the woman was not a virgin. It was because she had represented herself as one. The details are in Deuteronomy 22."

      Thanks for the moral clarity there. If only she had been a virgin, she could have lived. This god is rather cruel and sadistic.

      "But the bigger point is that the OT law applied only to Israel. It was never imposed on Gentiles."

      So god's law is not absolute? Which parts of the law are also meant for Gentiles, and how do you know? Why doesn't Israel execute non-virgins on their wedding night, or children that disobey their parents, or homosexuals, or people that work on the Sabbath?

      "You could make a case for using the moral codes as a framework for civil and criminal law (which most civilized cultures did or do to some degree)"

      You think the "moral" codes of the old T serve as a framework for criminal law in civilized cultures? How do you figure that?

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    38. "If only she had been a virgin, she could have lived. This god is rather cruel and sadistic."

      No, that is not the issue. If only she'd been honest with the man she was going to marry, she'd have been just fine. It might not bother you, but it was a very serious deal in their culture.
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      "Which parts of the law are also meant for Gentiles, and how do you know?"

      From the New Testament. If you're really interested, you might be able to figure it out by reading Acts 15, for a start.
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      "You think the "moral" codes of the old T serve as a framework for criminal law in civilized cultures? How do you figure that?"

      I think if you review the decalogue, you'll find some similarities.

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    39. Tx,
      "No, that is not the issue. If only she'd been honest with the man she was going to marry, she'd have been just fine. It might not bother you, but it was a very serious deal in their culture."

      It is irrelevant whether or not it 'bothers' me, even though you make the opposite argument above:

      "Yes, it does. But I'm curious about why you would even care. Was there a series of mutations in particular genes that resulted in your profound moral indignation?"

      Your intellectual inconsistency aside, if you think the moral concept that is paramount in this story is that th ewoman in question was 'dishonest' and therefore deserving of death, you are seriously deranged.

      "From the New Testament. If you're really interested, you might be able to figure it out by reading Acts 15, for a start."

      Nonsense. Nowhere in Acts does it spell out what Old T laws were only for Jews and which were for 'Gentiles'. In any case, this god's laws for the Jews were morally reprehensible, rejected even by Jews in Israel today, so where does that leave god's objective morality?

      "I think if you review the decalogue, you'll find some similarities."

      How did we get from the bible being the foundation of the moral code of civilized nations to the decalogue? What specific biblical moral lams underpin modern civilized law?

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    40. "this god's laws for the Jews were morally reprehensible"

      According to who or what?

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    41. tx,
      you ignore most of my post, I suspect because you have no good answer to it. So we'll go with your preferred thread:

      "According to who or what?"

      According to me and the 'civilized' societies you refer to. We don't kill people for mowing the lawn on Sunday, or if we discover that our bride is not a virgin, or if a child disobeys his/her parents, or if someone is homosexual. These absurd, arbitrary 'laws' aren't followed by Jews themselves today, the people you claim are supposed to be the specific subjects to these laws (I still await your reckoning of these facts with god's supposed deliverance of objective moral truths for the Universe).

      tx, do you think these laws are morally appropriate?

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    42. "According to me and the 'civilized' societies"

      Then your morality is matter of locale and local consensus, which means that there isn't really such a thing as morality.

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    43. Then your morality is matter of locale and local consensus, which means that there isn't really such a thing as morality.

      What a weird thought. So, because dietary habits and culinary customs differ between cultures, there really isn't such a thing as "food"? I sometimes think you just say stupid things just for our entertainment.

      So let me get this straight: If rumours started going around that God has changed his mind (for some reason, he never seems to come out himself and plainly state his moral laws) and we're supposed to again start killing girls who lie about being virgins, that would now be "moral"?

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    44. "Then your morality is matter of locale and local consensus, which means that there isn't really such a thing as morality. "

      That makes no logical sense whatsoever. Of course there is morality. We don't need some magical sky daddy to tell us how we should treat one another. We decide what kind of society we want to live in. We reject the bronze age barbarism of the bible, and for good reason. I would not want to live in a morally bankrupt, senselessly cruel society like that. Fortunately, the bible does not 'underpin modern civilized law'.

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    45. “We decide what kind of society we want to live in. We reject the bronze age barbarism…”

      Well, maybe you should start a campaign to oppose bronze age barbarism.
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      “I would not want to live in a morally bankrupt, senselessly cruel society like that.”

      Oh. Well, in that case, there are lots of places you’ll want to steer clear of if you start your movement.

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    46. "Well, maybe you should start a campaign to oppose bronze age barbarism."

      No need. It has been rejected by modern society, thankfully.

      "Oh. Well, in that case, there are lots of places you’ll want to steer clear of"

      Like what places, tx?

      "if you start your movement."

      As I said, I'm not starting a 'movement'. I already live in a society that ignores the barbaric 'ethical' codes presented in parts of the bible. What part of that concept is not getting through to you?

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  5. Were is this picture from?

    It resembles... something that would not be appropriate to mention here...

    I hate war. I personally have seen the effects that war has had on the front-line-battlers in my family... I'd say that the politician that make the decisions to go to war, they should be put in the front-line of the battle first...

    I have a feeling that many, many wars would have been avoided, if the people who make the decisions about going to the war would be put in the front line of the conflict...

    If that were the case, 2 of my uncles could have been alive today... Maybe some fathers could be alive too... That alone could have had a dramatic change on the psyche of many...

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