Hello, everyone. I'm Derp. I have been lurking on TA for about 6 months or so and have finally decided to join in on some of the fun. My story is probably pretty typical with a few slight variations, but from the posts that I have read, I think that you all understand where I come from.

With that being said, I want to thank you all for being a place that I can go to read about ideas. I desire nothing but the truth, and it is my goal to represent that desire. If I am wrong about something, please correct me immediately and site any sources that you might have on the subject.

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Good points, thank you. I'll re-evaluate my own uses of the word in the future.

Thanks, @Derp.  I understand where you're coming from now.  We use "dogma" within Catholicism differently than the Oxford Dictionary, something closer to what @Pope describes below. 

I mostly agree with your sentiments.  I'm perhaps a bit more skeptical of nationalism than you are, but I do agree with the sentiment that people need communities and sometimes governance to keep us from being stupid.  Whether religious or national (or tribal), they are crutches to an extent, and we do hope someday to be free of them. 

Thanks, @Derp.  I understand where you're coming from now.  We use "dogma" within Catholicism differently than the Oxford Dictionary, something closer to what @Pope describes below.

I'm afraid Bob is wrong about Catholicism, as usual.

Note what Pope said regarding 'dogma': "E.g. the Bible is typically expected to be the sole source of authority and God's word, although it seems to me that Bob is fortunately not in that camp of interpreting it literally and as an infallable source of truth."

Note how the Catholic Church specifies the "definition of dogma by the Church's authority" and what it means: "The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these."(Source)

A number of dogmata are listed at the sourced link to the Vatican web site, including the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the dogma of the Holy Trinity, and other 'domestic church' dogma.

The Catholic Church may not interpret the Bible literally but it does assert infallible, irrevocable, definitive "truth", based on a claimed authority from God, which must be believed. If Bob doesn't believe these things, that's fine with me, but the Catholic Church doesn't consider his views to Catholic.

That's dogma: authoritative, absolute and unsupported.

Isn't your loyalty to the Constitution of the United States a form of dogma?

Note that dogma means authoritative but unsupported, accepted without question or doubt.

A document compiled by men, interpreted by other men? The founding document of a nation that has done many good things, but also done many wicked things ... Slavery (enshrined in the original constitution), genocide, oppression, torture, etc.

How is that different from being part of an organized religion, replete with pledges of allegiance/vows of obedience?

This is a burden of proof fallacy. Bob's implicit claim is that your oath to support and defend the (secular) principles in the Constitution is the same as being part of an organized dogmatic religion.

It falls to Bob to support his point and explain why it's true, not for Derp to explain how Bob's point is not true. To do that, Bob would have to show the Constitution is without support (as a basis of government) and that Derp accepts it without question or doubt.

Good luck, Bob. This should be fascinating.

I have sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States at all costs, which I still hold dear. The U.S. Constitution, as a secular document, is an incredible piece of work forged by the minds of great men. The more I study about it and the men who wrote it, the more passionate I grow to defend it. It is a shame that those appointed over me do not share the same passion that I do.

Thank you again for your service, Derp.

I was stationed in Italy and was part of the NATO mission Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011 (and also Operation Unified Protector) when NATO was supporting the rebels that wanted to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddhafi, the Libyan dictator at the time. My job was to build the bombs that we dropped daily on his palace and other places that needed to be destroyed. In the process, we killed many people. I don't know everyone that was killed, and that bothers me. War is messy. Basic reasoning says that I indirectly had a hand in the destruction of innocent people. They were people just like me who didn't join their military because they were all evil and wanted to rape and murder women as Gaddhafi himself did, they were just people. This is something that I will have to live with.

My worst job was rounding up Haitians and Cubans who crowded onto anything that would float hoping to reach the United States by sea. During that time, the Cubans, due to a unique quirk of US policy on Cuba, got to stay no matter what. Once a Coast Guard cutter intercepted them they were home free. The Haitians and everybody else never had a chance. We caught them and they got repatriated, which means sent back home to face the music. I understood the reasons but it troubled me a lot. These were people, sometimes whole families, who gave up everything they had and risked their lives hoping to escape poverty and oppression. They were willing to die just for a slim chance of making it. Sometimes they did die. I didn't see it firsthand, but overloaded boats swamped, capsized or broke apart and nobody had anything but the clothes they wore, let alone a life jacket. The process whereby, based on a few lines on the map, some people get to stay, others are turned away, but everyone took the same deadly risk seemed grossly unfair. But it wasn't my call to make. It was my job and I did it.

What sucks about the military is that your duty sometimes means participating in messy, ugly, brutal, unfair and wasteful situations, with the worst part being that sometimes people die who don't deserve it. That being said: someone has to deal with these fucked up situations our leaders and laws create, and I'm grateful to the people who volunteer to do it.

It is also worth mentioning that a year later, when we got the word that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons on their own people, we prepared to help out, but then was just told it was a false alarm. It wasn't. They really were using chemical weapons on their own people. In my own research, I found out that Libya just so happens to export oil to the U.S., but Syria doesn't. Does this mean that we only "helped" Libya because they give us oil? I don't know. It would appear that way by my research, but the validity of any online source is always to be questioned. I can't help but feel disappointed somehow in myself and the U.S. for aiding NATO in such a strong show of force when it was for the guarantee of personal gain based on limited resources.

The Syrian situation is more complicated, being in the middle east, with Russian and Iranian interests both involved by proxy. Libya in Africa wasn't the same kind of hornet's nest.

Even so, is protecting an oil supplier a legitimate interest of the United States and its allies? That's open for debate, but it's at least reasonable that it COULD be. I suppose what troubles me the most is that our political leadership isn't always forthcoming about the reasons for doing what we do.

Case in point, pitching the Iraq war as a campaign to stop Saddam and his terrorist WMDs was bullshit, but an easier sale than a perhaps more honest pitch about peak oil, a handy excuse and a legitimately brutal Saddam sitting on some of the world's largest oil reserves.

Indoctrination such as this is used to quell insubordination among the ranks, but my increasingly pacifistic view of the world sees a standing military as a necessary evil in order to prevent total annihilation from enemies. This line of thought is why I also find nationalism as the second great plague of mankind. Combined with religion, they make a very dominant trian of though that is extremely prone to corruption. History has shown us this.

I think given that the US Military is (supposedly) under civilian control, the best protective measure for using the military properly lies with ending political corruption. That's a tall order, considering rulings like Citizens United have (re)defined 'free speech' as super-rich people spending their money to buy elections.

welcome buddy!

Hi Derp McChuckles. Awesome nick.

Hi, Derp!

I grew up in the Mennonite/Anabaptist tradition – that’s pacifists. My grandpa served in one of those public service camps instead of going to war when he was drafted way back when. When I became an atheist, and realized Jesus wasn’t there to take care of things, it kind of set me back. I’m actually more patriotic now that I was as a Christian, because before I saw nationalism as a form of idolatry.

I think there are some atheist pacifists on here, as well. I’m trying to remember who I was talking to about this. I agree with what you say about the necessary evil of war and nationalism.

I feel my loyalty is owed to the human race first, and to the world second. I think my country probably has to come third on that list.


I apologize for the delayed reply, and I appreciate the comment.

I can totally understand the reasoning behind why you would become more patriotic than before you were an atheist. Had I been in you situation, I would have probably done the same. I can also agree, to a point. I only name nationalism as the #2 problem on my list because sometimes I can be guilty of thinking too far ahead. I should revise my post/comment. If all religions were gone completely, the next major threat to peace among mankind would be nationalism (I think I worded that the right way). Would that be something you might agree with, or do you have anything to add?


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