Progress is Winning
Conservatism is the anchor on the ship of progress.
My theory of Progressivism holds that knowledge improves over time, allowing us to better understand ourselves and our environment. Knowledge is advanced by individuals through both free and systemic inquiry. I encourage change through the application of better knowledge, resulting in a more perfect union.
My theory of Conservatism, by contrast, places value on past knowledge, emphasizing culture, history and authority (god, religion) as the source of knowledge. Conservatism suggests the status quo has been earned, and change should be resisted. It seeks to maintain our union as a function of what is or was, rather than what might be.
Human nature is both progressive and conservative. Ours is a story of incredible progress tempered by an appeal to conservation. We hope for that which can be, but hold tight to that which is.
We infrequently seek to understand the philosophical rationale for our actions, most often choosing positions based in a near-term calculus of that which we desire.
This article is meant to represent my current thinking on my own political philosophy. I recognize the choices I make, that my position is not mandated by facts, but rooted in desire.
We hold the power to choose our path, or to have our path chosen for us. I choose to value progress over conservation.
The United States has a single foundation: The Constitution. It outlines our legally shared values:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Any appeal to principles not contained herein are not shared values. For example, we are not a biblical nation. We are a Constitutional nation. Argumentation of law must only appeal to legally shared values.
During each political season, we are inundated with campaign slogans and rhetoric which appeal to foundational American values. We hear reference to our being a Judeo-Christian nation, appeals to biblical authority, nostalgic recounting of the founding fathers’ personal beliefs, or even the eulogizing of small-town American values. The values of some Americans are identified as real, while others are demonized as un-American.
From this basis of branding values, many attempt to both discredit the ideas of others and to lend authority to their own. Their position is necessary, they’ll argue, given the core values they’ve defined.
The problem? Frequently these defined foundational values are not legitimately shared. Agreeing to a shared set of values is fundamental to any productive argument. Discussion of a topic, absent agreement on the foundational values, is most often pointless.
Imagine a bicycle built for two; if the riders don’t agree on the purpose or direction of travel, their odds of arriving at a mutually acceptable place is unlikely. If one rider attempts to define his own values as universal, in this example by seizing the front seat of the bicycle, they’ll simply be imposing their non-shared value on the other. Their values, then, are no longer shared, they’re authoritarian; one party attempting to force their values on the other.
I choose joy as the primary purpose of my life. I specifically choose the word joy instead of other similar words such as happiness. In my usage of joy, I mean something more enduring than simple pleasure.
My Definition of Joy: An enduring sense of contentment, measured not in each moment, but as a dynamic summation of experience. The constituent parts of joy include instances of happiness, sorrow, pleasure and pain, boredom, excitement, leisure and work. Joy is the result of life well-lived, adjusted by experience to achieve a net-positive sentiment. It is an expression of my desire.
This is an issue that just won’t go away, darn it! That’s frustrating to those mormons who don’t like the implications of racism in past (and current!) prophets of the LDS church. The LDS Church, in 1978, became the last major religion to fully integrate all races into it’s priesthood (though, still, women are left out).
The tactic taken by the Church over the past few years has been to remain silent on the racist priesthood ban for black members. Liberal mormons think that this speaks well on the issue; that the silence equals some semblance of admission of wrongdoing. Silence rarely means that, in any context, and especially in matters of church doctrine and official positions. More popularly, silence equals complicity.
So, why bring this up now? Well, in 2003, I was involved in some online discussions concerning this topic, and in the course of my research, I wrote some letters to LDS Public Affairs, and received some interesting responses from the Church. Those letters have been circulated around the net since, and I get occasional requests for copies of the letters. To make it easy, I’m posting copies of the letters here, on my blog, for all to see, copy and distribute. I only ask that you reference this post if you use the letters.
So, here they are:
My Original Letter to LDS Public Affairs, Aug. 4, 2003
Response from LDS Public Affairs, Aug. 14, 2003
Response “Envelope” from LDS Public Affairs
My follow-up letter
The follow-up response
The follow-up envelope
The primary question that I was teasing out in these letters was the question of attribution of the source of the racist ban. Is it the position of the LDS Church that this racist policy has its origin with God or fallible men? The historical position of the LDS Church has always been that the source of the racist ban was with God. And, my 2003 letters show that the LDS Church, still, maintains that position.
As I was taught clearly in LDS Sunday School, the first step to repentance is confession of guilt. I’m still waiting for the LDS Church to begin the process of repenting. By remaining silent, by maintaining the position that God is the source of the racist ban, mormon’s are still teaching racist doctrines to their membership, still contributing in a material way to racism within the world.
In other words, according to them, mormons aren’t racist, God is!
In relation to my recent entry LDS Male Feminists? Where your heart lies… I have been asked to define what a feminist is.
A person whose beliefs and behavior are based on feminism.
Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
The movement organized around this belief.
The relevant question is “can an active Mormon (Latter-day Saint) consider themselves a feminist?” In most cases, I believe the answer is no; at the very least, such a label would be disingenuous. I think it is possible to simultaneously be a feminist and a member of the LDS Church, but I have never met anyone who I think fits the definition as I have it in mind. What’s more, I’m confident that such a person would find their membership quickly revoked if they held true to their professed beliefs in feminism and, more importantly, acted upon those beliefs.
In short, I think a feminist is defined by their actions more than their stated beliefs. This follows from the mantra “if you want to know what a person believes, watch what they do.”
In the LDS Temple Recommend Interview, members are asked the following question:
Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
In essence, the LDS Church wants to know whether one supports causes or groups whose aims run counter to LDS Mormonism. Fair enough. I think that calling oneself a “feminist” requires a similar level of commitment to the ideals of feminism, and one measure of that commitment would be a denunciation of organizations that are actively fighting against feminist ideals.
The LDS Church is near the top of the list of organizations that are at war with feminist ideals. There aren’t many organizations still in existence that so obviously place women into a role of inferiority. What’s more, the LDS Church has been actively working against feminism and feminist ideals for decades.
To sum up, if one has dedicated their time, talents and energies to the furtherance of the LDS Church, then I think it disingenous to call oneself a feminist.
However, as I stated, I think it might be possible, and here are the minimum steps that I think one would need to take to qualify.
1) Stop paying tithing to the LDS Church.
The LDS Church has become a political organization that spends money to influence in the political arena. Specifically, the LDS Church has been fighting the rights of individuals, including the feminist movement and the gay-rights movement. Tithing money goes directly to support these causes, both directly and indirectly, and I think it inconsistent to financially support such an effort. At the very least, if one found this step too difficult, then one should donate at least as much money to causes of feminism as one donates to the LDS Church.
2) Don’t Participate in Patriarchal and Authoritarian Rituals
…such as the Temple ceremony. Can one claim to hold feminist ideals and yet further the acts and actions of patriarchal oppression? The two are incompatible. Specifically in the LDS Temple Ceremony, participants are asked to donate all of their time and talents to support the anti-feminist authoritarian regime. Additionally, in this ritual, men are placed in positions of superiority above women. It is inconsistent to take such an oath and yet to call oneself a feminist.
3) Renouce membership in the Priesthood
If one is male, then they should renounce membership in the Patriarchal Priesthood. That one would recognize the exclusiveness of the Club of the all-male LDS Leadership and privilege, and yet still participate in it, reveals the nature of one’s commitment to feminist ideals. It is inconsistent with feminist ideals to knowingly benefit from the very structure that subjugates women.
4) Openly espouse Feminist ideals and denounce anti-feminist ideals
In sacrament meeting talks, in bearing one’s testimony, in leading and participating in sunday school lessons, in teaching children. The feminist should speak openly and boldly for ideals of feminism, and be willing to renounce those teachings and leaders that support anti-feminist ideals. This transcends a mere statement of “doubts” towards the anti-feminist leanings of the organization, and becomes an affirmative defense of feminist ideals.
5) Spend more time arguing with Anti-feminists than with feminists
If one finds themselves engaged in battle more often with those who are fighting the anti-feminism of the LDS Church than with the authoritarian and anti-feminist movements within the Church, then the commitment to feminist ideals is suspect. If these argumenst tend to cause one to be more angry at the critics of the Church than with the actions of the Church itself, then this reveals, to me, where the fundamental commitment lies.
6) Be willing to pay a price for your convictions *
The summation of all of this is that the LDS Feminist must value feminism more than they value the perpetuation of the very institutional organization that devalues women. If one professes feminist values, and yet is unwilling to pay the price that may be required to fight for those values, then the label of “feminist” is meaningless.
This list is not exhaustive.
I recently attended the Sunstone conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. This conference is focused on Mormon philosophy and culture. Sunstone has become the sole alternative voice in LDS Mormonism. Amazingly, in a Church that boasts 12 million members, the largest alternate-voice-publication has a subscription base of less than 5000. The Church, obviously, has done a masterful job at squelching dissent, going so far as to state that there is no such thing as a “loyal opposition.”
As a result, those who have real and sincere questions about their faith, about the Church, must do a delicate dance to both remain loyal to the church, and yet answer their own natural and justified questions of doubt, all without appearing to oppose the church.
As an example of this, I attended a symposium panel discussion at Sunstone of so-called “male feminists” in the LDS Church, wherein they discussed their efforts to support the cause of feminism from within the Church. This is a church that openly discriminates against women, that is blatantly sexist, and that not only does not apologize for this position, but rather, lays the charge of their sexist attitudes and behavior on the shoulders of God. That’s right; the Church is not sexist, many members will respond, they are just following God’s will. Or, in my parlance, the Church is not sexist, God is.
Imagine for a moment that you were a mormon male. You are granted power and status that is denied to your wife. Imagine that your wife perceived real harm being done to her, was sincerely troubled by the actions of the Church, and confided with you regarding her discomfort.
The men on this panel, I have no doubt, are trying very hard to do the right thing, the ethical thing, the just thing. But, in the end, the overriding principle, for them, was to support the church, to remain within the fold, no matter the harm being caused to their wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, and others.
In an oligarchical organization, where all policy comes from above, where there is no formal recognition of the desires of the membership, where nobody has recourse to petition for change, the only option left, if one desires to oppose the policies of the Church, is to leave.
And yet, despite the injustice being done to the women in their lives, these men value membership in this exclusive club to a greater degree than they value justice for women. Feminists? I think these men, though of good intention and in many ways equal victims of an oppressive organization, need to reanalyze their value system, and for now, drop any pretense of calling themselves feminists.
To them I ask: what is it that you value more than justice? Fairness? Equality? What god do you worship that would have you place these ideals behind others? What are the ideals that trump these things? What message do you send to your wife, daughters, and other women when you tell them, by your actions, that you value your membership in this male-centric social club more than you value their status and the injustice that this club is perpetuating upon them?
Where is your heart? There is your treasure.
As science continues to erode the viable realm of religion, apologists for religion seem to cling to the life-vest of “meaning” as the last stand for the value of religion.
In other words, religionists claim that science is unable to answer the “why’s” of an issue (which, I think is a tenuous claim, but which I’ll put on hold for now), and that these questions are best left in the hands of religion.
OK. If this is the case, then let’s discuss it directly. This posting is meant to solicit responses and ideas.
Can anyone give me some examples of “why” answers that religion does well? If this is the realm in which religion excels, then let’s have a listing of those answers it provides.
So, I’m late in viewing the movie The Magdalene Sisters. I had a sense of the topic of the film, and I think I just wondered why on earth we needed more films to tell us that authoritarian idealist regimes do bad things?
After viewing the film, I read a review written by Steven D. Greydanus for the web site Decent Films.
Though Mr. Greydanus, an apparent apologist for the Catholic Church, admits to some wrongdoing on the part of the Church and some nuns who were involved in the Magdalene Laundries, he saves his real shot for film director Peter Mullan.
Mullan claims that his film isn’t meant to be anti-Catholic, but is meant to expose the victimization of young women by a certain phenomenon in the Church. Nevertheless, he freely acknowledges his animosity toward his Catholic upbringing, and admits that he brought his prejudices and sympathies to this project.
Perhaps he didn’t consciously set out to make an anti-Catholic film. D. W. Griffith didn’t set out to make a racist film, but it doesn’t make Birth of a Nation any less racist.
Whatever value the film might have had as an exposé of social sin is undermined, not enhanced, by its prejudicial stereotyping of every individual nun and priest. Instead of being a morally serious film about a corrupt institution in a flawed society, The Magdalene Sisters becomes mere agitprop about how evil and terrible Irish Catholic nuns, priests, and parents are.
To repeat a theme, human history has taught us that authoritarian idealistic regimes do bad things to people. These regimes are perpetuated by seemingly nice, normal people, who just happen to be participants in the abuse of their fellow humans.
Are there nice priests and nuns in the Catholic Church? I’ve no doubt that there are. But, in the end, fundamentally, they are working to further the cause of and giving their life’s energy to support an authoritarian idealist regime. As such, they are contributing to the devaluation of human rights and individual dignity.
Mr. Greydanus thinks that we should temper our criticism of nuns and priests who imprisoned a slave population of women, punishing them for minor sexual conduct, at times for years, for the mere possibility that some of them may have been conflicted about their role, or may have had other complex motivations for doing what they did.
This is silly. It is hypocritical to simultaneously decry the bad that is done by authoritarian idealist regimes, and then to also demand fair treatment of them. Authoritarian Idealist Regimes (Cathoicism, Mormonism, Communism, etc) afford no fundamental rights to individuals, provide no checks and balances for fair treatment, give too much authority to their leaders, and give too little assistance to adherents. “Just following orders” went out the window centuries ago as a moral justification for bad acts.
Even if you were a nice nun who worked in a Magdalene Laundry, you were still participating in the unjust imprisonment and forced slavery of young, innocent women. It doesn’t matter if you consoled a few of the girls along the way; in the end, you were still committing an abhorrent crime against human dignity, and committing a terrible injustice to these very girls.
Shame on you, and shame on any who seek to apologize for organizations that, by their very nature, will continue to commit grievous sins against humanity.
I am your son. I have been raised to value and cherish your ideals. I have been raised to fight whenever those ideals are challenged. And this morning, I must draw a line in the sand and give a warning to any who would seek to deny those ideals to me, my family, or my friends.
My brother is gay. He is an American. I will fight to make sure that he is recognized as a full citizen of this country. Any “ideal” that seeks to marginalize his full and unapologetic participation in this country will be met with as much resistance as I can marshal. This is not negotiable.
We will not find common ground so long as your goal is to deny him. If your vision of America does not include my brother, you have set yourself up as an enemy to the ideals of America that I cherish; ideals I learned at your breast.
Four years ago tomorrow, the morning after Al Gore lost, I had a knot in my stomach. Certainly, I was upset by the scenarios surrounding the election. But, to leave my anger there would have been defeatist and would have left me feeling powerless to affect change. I made a commitment, that morning, to engage myself in the political process.
What I forced myself to recognize was not so much that others had “stolen” that election from us, but that WE had failed to adequately sell our vision for America. We had to do better, and therefore, I had to do better.
I went online, found where my democratic legislative district met, and attended the next meeting. The first few were extremely frustrating. The party organization is chaotic. I attended state party meetings. I met whomever I could meet, spoke to any and all who I thought could teach and guide me, and continued to progress in my knowledge of party, state, and federal politics.
Today marks the end of the 3rd official campaign that I’ve worked on in the past 4 years. I worked for early gubernatorial candidate Phil Talmadge as his Communications Director. Then, in December of 2003, I learned that Mark Sidran was running for Attorney General and felt this was a good fit for him and for the State. I asked to manage his campaign and was given the job.
Mark’s campaign was a fierce, long battle. From my position there, I was able to see into the inner-workings of nearly every major political race in our State. I got to know the players, I saw the candidates in all their strength and weakness. I was able to witness the push and pull of the most powerful special interests in our State.
Mark’s narrow loss in the September primary was difficult. We had worked hard to narrow the huge gap between Mark and his opponent, Deborah Senn. In the end, however, and for reasons that in many ways were out of our control, we weren’t able to close the last 1.3% gap, and Mark lost. It was a bitter defeat.
Following that loss, I was immediately offered the job of managing a city-wide initiative to recall the building of a monorail. This campaign, with only 5 weeks to plan and execute prior to today, was a whirlwind campaign and an uphill battle.
This has been the most difficult and most thrilling period of my life. Personally, I’ve had many blessings and challenges that have kept me on an emotional roller coaster. Professionally, I’ve gained valuable experience and moved dramatically forward in my effort to engage myself in the process of building a more perfect union.
So, four years later, where are we now? In many ways, we’ve barely moved. Our country is still essentially split in much the same way as it was during the 2000 election. As I write this, I don’t yet know who has won the presidency; but, either way, the work is only, as always, just beginning.
It is time to commit again, for the next four years. Will you join me?
Following a poor August, the Republican Convention in NYC, and some less-than-promising polling numbers this week, I’ve heard emerging despair from many of my democratic friends. It appears, however unthinkable, that George Bush has a real shot at retaining his presidency. It’s now clear that John Kerry is actually going to have to run a campaign to defeat George Bush, who refuses to be shamed into just leaving office with his tail between his legs.
We’ve got anger in abundance. We’ve had protests. We’ve held marches, vigils, and sit-ins. We’ve worn clever t-shirts, affixed cute bumper stickers, and dutifully supported political documentaries. We’ve felt good about ourselves, and self-righteous in our indignation. And yet, George Bush remains a viable candidate in the upcoming election. How can this be, after all that we’ve done?
Here’s an idea: perhaps what we have done, what we are doing, is ineffective? One of my favorite quotes comes from Thoreau: “it is not enough to be industrious, so are the ants; what are you industrious about?”
On the morning following the inauguration of George W. Bush into the office of presidency, I made a promise to myself that I would not just let my anger take over, but that I’d actually do something about it. I’d involve myself in the system, and learn how to affect change. I concluded one all-important lesson from the election of 2000: we had done a poor job organizing our support and communicating our message. In short, we got our ass kicked by a better team.
The Presidential election is still 2 months out; we may yet obtain victory. But, in the ensuing 2 months, let us re-evaluate our efforts. Are we just patting ourselves on the back, turning inward to our insular communities of self-support and singing to the choir? Or, are we broadening our message, and learning to communicate with Bush supporters and non-voters and giving them a reason to support John Kerry?
Even if we win, and especially if we lose, there is much work to be done. We need to rebuild the democratic party and message, and learn how to speak to those who see the world through different eyes. We need to focus our energies where they do the most to further our ideals.
It is not enough to be angry; we must be effective. It is not enough to be industrious, we must have purpose.
I recently saw the remake of the movie The Manchurian Candidate. In general, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Most rely on a series of events and actions that fall outside of my experience with human nature.
Conspiracy theories have the effect (often unintended) of making us feel powerless to change the world. They seek to convince us that there are forces “out there” inherently stronger than us.
Noam Chomsky is one of the premier purveyors of conspiracy theories (see Manufacturing Consent ). I believe he correctly identifies some of the difficulties in the world (e.g. political and corporate Influences wield too much power over our lives). He asserts that this control is covert and coordinated; classic conspiracy. However, I believe his conclusions as to the causes of this are too simplistic, and overlook human nature.
We tend to look for and protect that which is like us. We tend to view our actions as “good” and the actions of others as “bad.” While the “effects” of certain conspiracies are valid, I believe the causes to them are more organic than the coordinated efforts that various conspiracy theories posit.
Why is this important? Because it causes us to be distracted from the real sources of problems facing humanity. It causes us to look outward rather than inward, and it causes us to despair relative to our ability to change the world.
There was another movie released this Summer that more accurately addresses the nature of conspiracies: The Village. It starts with a traditional conspiracy of monsters and creatures; evil beings who are “out there” and who want to harm us. The movie progresses, however, to show us that the source of the evil was internal to the community, not external.
Be not distracted. We have the power to shape our lives, to change our communities, and to improve our world. Don’t cede that power to those who would convince you otherwise, including yourself.
With the emergence of 527 groups, which were born out of the attempts to better regulate campaign contributions, I’m not sure we’ve really taken a step forward in making our elections more fair or voters better informed. These groups will likely become the bogeymen of political consultant’s worst nightmares.
Often, a campaign’s biggest problems are not its opposition, but overzealous and politically naive supporters. This was certainly true when I ran the two medical marijuana initiatives in the late 1990’s in Washington State; single-issue activists on any given issue rarely understand the nuances of running a campaign.
That’s why I’m relatively confident that the Bush campaign didn’t coordinate the Swift boat Veteran’s For Truth campaign that is taking shots at Kerry’s military record. For the past week, this has been THE hot news story, and I think will ultimately prove to be a losing issue for the right and for Bush’s reelection. The Bush team is riding it out now, getting any benefit they think they can get; but the moment that polling tells them that this issue is backfiring (and it will), they will take distinct steps to distance themselves from it. They will need to regain control of the “message” of the campaign.
And, that is the problem with 527s. Their advocacy will frequently not be tempered by big-picture judgement; they exist to forward a single-issue agenda, but don’t have an overall view of the broad issues that need to be managed in a political campaign. And, with their ability to raise and spend unlimited funds, they can easily overshadow the “official” messaging of a given political campaign. As I say, it’s going to be a nightmare for political consultants.
Now…regarding the actual content of the Swift boat Veteran’s For Truth ads; I find this tactic distasteful and unjustifiable. The defense of this “inquiry” by some on the right is that John Kerry invited this scrutiny by making his military service central to his campaign. Sure; but that doesn’t mean that any question or any inquiry is in good taste. The analogy that comes to mind would be like probing the sexual history of Laura Bush, and then claiming “well, Pres. Bush made this an open issue because he included her in his political campaign.” This crosses the line of decency, and simply hiding behind the “527” is not good enough.
But, I am confident that independent voters will see this for what it is, and ultimately, this will become a net-positive for John Kerry.
How should we decide where to spend our votes?
My work in political consulting has given me an inside view of electoral politics. On behalf of my current client, I’ve spent the year making pitches to various special-interest groups, often with radically differing views of what they want government to do. These groups tend to make long lists of specific requirements for candidates to meet in order to gain their support.
At a recent democratic legislative district meeting, a woman suggested a “no endorsement” for the district’s very democratic incumbent State Representative. “He’s never supported our platform 100%,” she argued.
Elected politicians operate independently of the local organized party and platforms. Should this State Representative align his legislative positions on the platform of his legislative, county, or state party?
Party platforms, like the platforms of most special-interest groups, are created in a vacuum. They are elaborate sketches of a ship that will never float. These groups spend hours drawing their plans with one key factor missing: opposition.
Drafting a platform without an understanding of opposition is like designing a ship without considering the properties of water. If you never have to test your theories, then the specifics of your design are meaningless.
Elected officials operate in the real world of politics. They have to present legislation and ideas that can “float” in the face of radically opposite ideologies.
Many of us follow the pattern of special-interest groups; we create check boxes of our issues, and support politicians who align with them as closely as possible.
Is this the most productive way to spend our vote? To see the results of this thinking, we can hold up the candidacy of Ralph Nader in the 2000 election; many who voted for Nader did so out of a sense of duty to their own convictions. And yet, the direct result of their actions was to move the country further away from their ideals.
The ship of state is a large vessel, and turning that ship takes coordinated and patient effort. The Naderites expected the ship to make an immediate 90 degree turn to the left; in their zeal, they failed to realize that ships and politics don’t work that way.
If the ship of state is pointed even 1 degree in the wrong direction, over a period of time, the results can be dramatic, taking us miles off course. Rather than seeking to radically alter the course of the ship, we should first work to ensure that it is pointed at least 1 degree in the right direction. Over time, that 1 degree will take us towards our desired destination. Steer the ship 1 degree in the wrong direction, and we will soon be miles away from our goal.
In place of check box voting, I use something I call contextual voting. I weigh the pulse of the country, the strength of the opposition, and then I look to see which of my ideals has opportunity to move forward at this time. I give my vote to candidates who can effectively keep the ship of state headed in the right direction, even if only in small degrees. My ideology has to be tempered by the context in which my vote is being cast; to ignore that context is to waste valuable time and effort.
I have strongly held beliefs and ideals. I wish that many things in our society operated differently. But, I also realize that steering the ship of state is a coordinated effort, with many hands at the wheel. This requires me to emphasize some of my ideals while being patient on others.
Contextual voting gives me hope by forcing me to take a long-term view; when I get caught in check box voting, I am left with despair because my specific platform hasn’t gained attention or support.
When asked about my beliefs in God, I describe myself not only as an agnostic, but as a passionate agnostic. Many chuckle when I say this, thinking it an oxymoron. I of course, passionately disagree!
Claimed knowledge should be justified. If we don’t have adequate data to justify a claimed belief, we harm ourselves and our community relative to understanding and furthering our knowledge on that given topic.
I guard my claims of justified knowledge. Relative to the God defined by the religion of my youth, or the God of the religions of my friends, I have found little to support claimed knowledge.
By capitulating on questions of knowledge, by claiming knowledge before we can justify such claims, we do injury to our ability to continue on in the search, unimpeded by falsehoods.
See? I’m justifiably passionate in my agnosticism.