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Although I agree more with Romney’s policies than Obama’s, I didn’t vote for him.  That’s partly because, thanks to our antiquated electoral college system, he shouldn’t need my vote to win Texas.  But that’s also because I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe he actually leads with conviction, or that his policies are guided by any deep philosophical beliefs about what type of government action (or inaction) encourage the best behaviors in society.  In fact, I get the impression that Obama leads with more conviction and integrity than Romney, even though I think most of his conclusions about how to solve the nation’s problems are misguided.

And I think this is the problem with the Republican party these days.  It’s not that their policies are fundamentally inferior to the Democrats’.  I generally believe the opposite is true.  But the Republican party doesn’t know how to explain why they hold the positions they do, especially not in a way that appeals to anyone but the base.  To take a few examples…

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As an engineer, I work with a lot of smart people who are logically- and scientifically-minded.  I share this perspective, so it makes for a comfortable and enjoyable environment for me.  However, many at my workplace and in the larger scientific community hold to a naturalistic worldview akin to that espoused by its more vocal proselyte, Richard Dawkins.  While I do not intend in this post to present a complete rebuttal to this perspective, I do want to explain how I, a self-considered “reasonable” man, can be both a devout Christian and an honest lover of science.  I’ve already presented much of this in a video series that I’m almost done uploading (ran into a snag with Blip.tv and I’m migrating to Vimeo), so feel free to check it out.  But I thought it’d be valuable to give a more succinct summary in writing.  I considered writing an original post, but then read through an exchange I had with an atheist friend of mine a while back, and thought I’d just post it.  I’ve paraphrased his comments so as not to reprint them without permission.

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I recently took a road trip with my family to California and spent the travel time catching up on some reading.  The first book I read was given to me by my grandmother for Christmas, a choice ostensibly inspired by my recent purchase of a motorcycle.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written in 1974 by Robert M. Pirsig and received widespread acclaim for the novel way in which it presents fresh philosophical ideas.  Here’s my review.

Zen is a rather remarkable book in that it brings together many genres of literature into one fairly lengthy but enjoyable book.  Depending on what part of the book you’re referring you, it could be categorized as a travelogue, psychological drama, presentation of alternatives to traditional forms of higher education, or innovative philosophical theory.

The whole of Zen appears to be a semi-autobiographical account of a motorcycle trip the author takes with his son, Chris, and two friends.  Where they visit is hinted at, but not ultimately important.  The important details are the thoughts the narrator shares during the long stretches of road that separate the group’s various stops and personal interactions.  The heart of the book is contained in these passages, and it is here that the book is interesting, fresh, and at times strange.

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So I just saw this article on MSNBC about that extreme Baptist church in Kansas which protests the funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims, all in the name of God. These people (including their children) can be seen carrying signs that say “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God is America’s Terrorist” and “God Hates Fags.” These people are disgusting, but particularly to me as a Christian. Their argument is that God hates homosexuality (which the Bible does clearly state is a sinful lifestyle), America is becoming too tolerant of homosexuality (a sign of America becoming more sinful), and that God is now attacking America as punishment for this degradation through war, disease and natural disasters (an argument that commits the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy).

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