You seem to waffle on the issue of whether factory farming is "bad". Can you please clarify, keeping in mind all the consequences which arrise because of the practice? I, in turn, will clarify my beliefs: meat eating is not inherently wrong (many forms of Life participate in the Life-cycle in this way.) The overconsumption (please consult a nutritionalist on this, or read my references) of meat by "our" culture, and the process which feeds this overconsumption (factory farming) is wrong. Now, since you haven't challenged the reasoning behind my "hallowe'en candy" argument, I will assume you have come to accept that it is a valid form of deductive reasoning. Therefore, I re-assert: simply because the "vast majority" of people do something or support something does not necessarily make it right. If we can get past the falacy that might makes right, then I will (again) state my reasons why I believe factory farming and the assumptions that underlie it (namely that the planet and all Life on it is there for human consumption, that the planet and all Life on it can be treated disrespectfully, that humans exist independent from the Life-cycle) are morally suspect.
(First, a small point though: I don;t know where you get your information, but 2 of the world's oldest and largest religious traditions, Hinduism and Buddhism, have been questioning the practice of eating meat since well before the "birth" of christianity. Although the majority of Hindus and Buddhists consume animal products in moderation, the practice is (and has traditionally been) viewed as a spiritual short-coming. Most spiritual leaders and ascetics from these traditions are vegetarians, and are (obviously) widely respected.)
Factory farming requires grazing land. The creation of new grazing land to cater north american meat overconsumption depends largely on the destruction of tropical rain forests at an alarming (for most) rate (see stats and references.) The grazing lands are fertile for only a short period (then they cut down more forests) because of the low nutritient content of the soil, on which only high-energy ecosystems with rapid nutritient-cycles such as tropical rain forests can thrive. While logging certainly is a factor in forest depletion, timber is largely a byproduct of the clearing process. Often, trees are burned instead of being processed and sold. The destruction of these diverse and richly populated forests is largely responsible for the current mass species extinction, which is the most drastic known throughout geologic history.
Subsistence farmers are removed from their lands primarily to make room for the cattle industry. (It, more than any other industry, requires vast ammounts of land, hence it is the primary cause of such evictions.) I will not do all your homework for you, Stuart. If you truly believe that I (and the other "disenfranchised socialists", namely the ones with published literature on the subject) am making all this up, and you want to prove it, then provide a documented argument as to why these assertions are utterly false. Concerning subsistence agriculture, read _Women_and_the_World_Economic_Crisis_ by Jeanne Vickers (I know you'll love her) and dispell those "fabricated" stats she provides. If you'll only believe something is actually happening when it occurs in your neighbourhood or backyard, and dismiss my arguments (which are widely discussed in all sorts of literature) without backing up your dismissal, there is no hope of a reasonable dialogue here.
As for the world being a biological system, and the statement that cutting down all the tropical rain forests would lead to new growth because of the excess CO2, I have some questions. Where did you learn your biology of ecosystems? Agreed, Life adapts, new species arrise, but have you any concept of how LONG it takes for a species to evolve, let alone how long it takes for an entire ecosystem to adapt to the degree you are suggesting? Do you REALIZE how long it took for biodiversity to recover after the mass extinctions that occurred 65, 94, 213, 248 million years ago? Do you REALIZE how slowly those extinctions occurred? Have you any concept of geologic time? Do you understant that the extinction rates have been steadily accelerating for the past several centuries, and that they are occuring not on the scale of tens of thousands of years, but on the scale of days and hours? Maybe you believe that all the global environmental conventions of the past few decades are blowing things out of proportion, that all scientific research on this matter has been falsified, that it is all a big conspiracy to frighten suburban america. I don't. I am more inclined to believe that such conferences are rather conservative in their estimates and suggestions. By the way, Stuart, my Biology 101 text book seems to indicate that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it has been steadily rapidly increasing in density in recent years (so no miracle species of CO2 hungry plant has evolved yet), that deforestation is a significant threat, since it reduces the number of CO2-synthesizing plants, that global warming is having a drastic impact on the biosphere, which will require a rather long time to adjust to. Do you like warm weather Stuart? I hope so. Oh, but those intro biology courses are notoriously left-wing and they exaggerate the truth, don't they?
I don't quite get how you justify accusing me of "balnket assertions" and unfounded arguments, and in the next breath dismiss my "destruction of the planet" without the least explanation as to why. How many species do you think live in a rain forest? Are these forests being destroyed or aren't they? Do you believe humans are not dependent on the biosphere to live? I already know you value human life above all else, though you have not stated why. Where on earth did you come up with the succulent bit of information that humans belong at the top of the food chain? Here's a basic food chain: plants, herbivorous animals and omnivorous animals, carnivores. Last time I checked, humans were omnivorous tending towards a vegetarian diet (like most other primates.) "Oh Stuart, what big teeth you have!" "All the better to artificially transplant myself to the top of the food chain, my dear."
Please don't use the word "pity", Stuart, you know it is a loaded term, and implies rather bad things about me. I am not claiming to be a morally superior person, Stuart, and I try not to come off as arrogant (though it is really fun to write with big words, and pretty much required if one is to be the least bit respected in this forum of mental masturbation.) I said it saddens and sickens me. It does. Much of what I have done and continue to do in my life saddens and sickens me. But I am trying to change, Stuart. If I am indeed arrogant though, my arrogance is certainly overshadowed by the speciocentric arrogance you cannot even recognize. What superior knowledge have you that humans are the be-all and end-all of Life on this planet? How arrogant is is to assume that a species such as ours, which occupies an infinitesimally small slot in geologic time, and shares the planet with millions of other species, is the goal of Life? I'd really like to chat with you're reference for that one (I know, I know, I need only resume my church-going practices...) Don't call me arrogant, Stuart, when you assume such superiority over a Life-process you like to think humans can "govern". The truth is, that Life-process is so beyond my comprehension, or yours, that assuming we know how to play and tinker with its intricacies is BY FAR the most wide-spread and deep-rooted of arrogances.
I do not pity my mother for her meat-eating. It saddens me that she does. She knows my beliefs. I rarely debate with her, because I (however wrong and selfish this may seem) do not want to strain my relationship with her any more, since I value it, and I believe it is better to argue in a public forum with people I don't have feelings for. My mother is stubborn, and her beliefs and assumptions are deep-rooted, and she doesn't like having them challenged. I argue with those friends of mine who are less "settled in their ways" and I argue with people like you, who aren't my friends, whether you're stubborn or not, because of the chance that my views will convince more people than yours.
Bible stuff (wasn't really pertinent to our argument, and it's boring for most): On divorce and differing interpretations by the authors, read Matt 11:12-13 as compared with Luke 16:16-18. The passages are similar, but the former implies divorce is always wrong,save in cases of unchastity, while the latter suggests that divorce is acceptable as long as either person doesn't remarry. This reflects the different times the two books were written and the prevailing social norms each author represented.
On Paul and pseudo-pauline letters. Most biblical research indicates that books such as Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, while attributed to Paul, were written pseudonymously, at a later date. This was a common and accepted practice in those times. One example as to why scholars believe this is the inconsistent views regarding women. See 1 Corrinthiansn 11:5 as compared to 1 Timothy 2:8-15.
As for general discussions on agendas of biblical authors (mainly that they each had agendas) please see any biblical scholastic research, for example _The_New_Testament_ by Stephen L. Harris, or _Mark_and_Method_, Anderson and Moore.
Of the dates you have for the three synoptic gospels, only those you gave for the author of Mark corresponded with mine. My references find that Matthew was written between 85-110 CE, while Luke was written between 80-90 CE. We clearly have different sources. Mine are cited above (only books I had but they have extensive bibliographical references.) The arguments for these dates rely on several things, one of which is the fall of Jerusalem. Contrary to your assertion, my sources feel the apocalyptic references to the seige of Jerusalem are too accurate, and therefore (meaning no disrespect to Jesus' auguring abilities) they assume the authors wrote after the fall of Jerusalem. As I said, we clearly have different sources, and since it is not so directly relevant to our debate, I am prepared to let it rest. Just thought you might like to know what my references were. Many more qualified people than I have dedicated their lives to studies of such matters. Suffice it to say there is an "extensive" body of literature.