MARK L. BAKKE'S
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are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
NOTE: Presented here are general comments from readers of my Philosophy of Life essays and responses who have disagreed with something I've written and/or have taken exception with my method of making my points. Some are presented without comment while others include short responses to particular items. There is also a separate "Kudos" section for those readers who agree with me.
[27 Oct 98]
(R) Most of the important issues you write about (abortion, adultery, babies, and
religion) are the exact opposite of everything that I hold dear and close to my
heart. And it's those same things that give me the greatest peace and
satisfaction that I've known up to this point in my life.
(MB) I approach issues from an intellectual point-of-view since I know that the emotional approach almost invariably leads to erroneous or insufficient understanding. Both methods lead to peace and satisfaction. It's only those who fail to think at all who are in trouble.
(R) I can think of no greater thing that I could do in my life than to raise my
children to be fine, upstanding, God-fearing people.
(MB) Leave out the "God-fearing" and I would agree with you. I will not force any religious or non-religious views on my children. Instead, I encourage them to investigate all sides of the question and make their own decisions. I feel that one does their children a disservice by demanding that they believe in any given religious dogma.
[12 Aug 98]
NOTE: I'm not sure that the following letter is properly a "flame", but since it did question me a bit, I'll post it in this section...
(R) I have a couple of questions to ask you, and I do not mean to sound upset or
(MB) Not to worry. A question is a question and all deserve good answers no matter what the mindset of the questioner might be. Fire away!
(R) Are there any topics in which you cannot make up your mind on.
(MB) Of course. Generally, these topics would fall into two categories. One is where there simply isn't enough evidence (or, I haven't researched the topic sufficiently) to formulate a definitive opinion. The second contains topics
that hold little or no interest for me.
(R) Have you ever changed your mind on an issue and-or later regretted that you
were so authoritative in your answer to someone else?
(MB) I've always stated that my opinions are completely open to change if and when the evidence clearly shows me to be wrong or shows another view to be even
better. I would have no regrets about my earlier opinion since I know that it
would have been based upon the evidence that I had available at the time.
Rather, I would be satisfied in my new and higher level of understanding.
Part of the rationale behind my Philosophy of Life section is to encourage readers to contribute their own opinions on issues and to supply supporting evidence that either backs me up or shows me up. Informed debate is the best way to combat general ignorance.
(R) Do you believe that it is possible to be very opiniobnated but totally
non-judgemental at the same time?
(MB) Probably not "totally" in the respect that strongly-held opinions almost always carry some amount of judgmentalism along for the ride. The best we can
hope for is to present the evidence and reach sound conclusions. The process of
reasoning is, by nature, non-judgmental. Judgments tend to arise by inference
from the conclusions that are reached.
(R) One last question. Do you think that society has a right to criminalize
(MB) Society has a "right" to criminalize anything it wants to criminalize, since moral issues of "right" and "wrong" are little more than the majority
opinion of the members of that society. If society decides that suicide is
"wrong", then it will criminalize it.
While I don't approve of suicide and certainly don't believe that it solves anything for the person who is contemplating it, I think that criminalizing suicide attempts is silly. Consider that it's the only "crime" where the perpetrator can't be punished if he succeeds!
[11 Feb 98]
(R) To whom it may concern:
Your views are disgusting and offending. I am a Christian and I don't appreciate your atheist views. People like you don't even deserve the equipment to spread your trash throughout the world. My GOD will deal with you at the judgement. Till then, pray hard.
A concerned Christian
(MB) This reply was initially sent to me in large, bold letters. I guess that's supposed to represent great outrage. In any case, my response has been posted as "Reply #23 to Religion". Check it out!
Update: I attempted to send a personal reply to the sender of this hate mail, but found that both the sender's name and e-mail address were bogus. Is this a reflection of how confident and proud that this person is in the opinions that were expressed? I thought that Christians had no problems in standing up for what they believe. Oh, well...
[24 Dec 97]
(R) I have found many of your essays to be very interesting, insightful; and knowledgeable. I agree with you probably 50% of the time.
(MB) Heck, if everybody agreed with everything, I wouldn't have much reason to write anything!
(R) The only problem I've had with some of your writings are usually when you are responding to a respondent. Occasionally, you respond sarcastically or simply, defensively. I have seen how some of the readers have written you in response to an essay, and they are clearly inflamed; and I can understand how you would want to "throw something back at them". It comes across so much more legitimately and confidently, though, when your response to them is impersonal. I "listen" more to the clear, direct
responses without the sarcasm; and I think most other people would, too.
(MB) We all have our own style. Mine is undoubtedly influenced by the many years that I've been doing this and the number of times I've heard many of the same old and moldy arguments on certain issues. The bulk of one's efforts, of course, must be directed towards rebutting an argument rather than jumping all over the person who is making it. However, at times there comes a point where abject silliness or stubbornness which flies in the face of reality must be confronted and
critiqued. Science is not only about facts and data, but also about methods of inquiry and understanding. Competent alternative views are welcome. Unreason most often is not.
[01 Dec 97]
(R) Who ever you are your views and thought are totally from a complete wacko. Abortion is MURDER reguardless of the reason. Get real
(MB) Am I to bear the label "complete wacko" based solely upon my views on one issue? In any case, please see "Reply #5 to Abortion" for my complete response...
[01 Dec 97]
(R) He are nodoubt the most misled person in the universe. Sure glad you are not in control of anything of inportance.. People like you gggeeeeee!.
(MB) I wasn't even aware that there was a "Most Misled Person in the Universe" competition! What are the criteria for winning this award? Who judges it? Is there an address to which I could send a resume? Can I link to their web site?
Oh, by the way, how do you know that I'm *not* in control of anything of importance? *grin*