Ten Commandments Have no Role in Public

Ten Commandments

Some Christians have no patience with a separation between church and state and want to display the Ten Commandments in the public square—the state-supported public square.

Judge Roy Moore

As chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Judge Moore installed a 2.5-ton granite monument in the Supreme Court building showing two tablets holding the Ten Commandments in 2001. He said, “Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded. … May this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land.” A lawsuit was filed, Moore lost, he was ordered to remove the monument, he refused, and he was removed from office in 2003.

In 2012, the good people of Alabama gave him his old job back. We live in interesting times.

Who knows the Ten Commandments?

2007 poll compared Americans’ knowledge of the Ten Commandments with the seven ingredients in a McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger. More people remembered “two all-beef patties” from the TV commercial than remembered “thou shalt not kill” from Sunday school. Even among churchgoers, 30% didn’t remember “thou shalt not kill,” and 31% didn’t remember “thou shalt not steal.”

One atheist wit observed that the Big Mac had an unfair advantage—it had a jingle. Solution: set the Ten Commandments to music. “Only God, no idols, watch your mouth, special day, call your mom … on a sesame seed bun.”

How big a deal is this? Does poor recall of the Ten Commandments correlate to poor morals? I say no, and I think Americans’ poor memory in this case isn’t a shocking oversight; instead, it reflects the irrelevance of the Ten Commandments in modern life. We don’t need the Commandments to remind us that killing is wrong, and they’re not an especially complete or relevant list for secular America. “Don’t enslave,” “don’t rape,” and “no genocide” are glaringly absent, and “have no other gods before me” has no place in a country with a First Amendment to keep the state out of religion.

(Sorry, pro-lifers—abortion was obviously not top of mind for God when he dictated the Commandments, since he included “don’t covet” but omitted “no abortion.”)

When the Old Testament becomes a problem

To wiggle out of uncomfortable baggage, some Christians try to play the “Get out of the Old Testament free” card. They do this when they want to give God a hand, and they say that slavery and genocide were products of that archaic culture. Okay, but then haven’t you shed the Ten Commandments as well, since that’s also in the Old Testament?

The Old Testament is relevant today or it isn’t—it can’t be both ways.

As ancient legal codes go, the Mosaic law isn’t all that groundbreaking. It is predated not only by the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi but Mesopotamian law and Egyptian law. In fact, the pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court building, which many history revisionists claim holds the Ten Commandments, is actually a frieze of Moses along with two other ancient lawmakers, Solon of Athens and Confucius of China (shown in the photo above). And no, Moses isn’t holding the Ten Commandments but rather blank tablets. Moses is also depicted on a frieze inside the courtroom, but he is simply in a procession of 18 great lawmakers.

What if all people followed the basic conventions that society agrees are its moral foundation? That would be great, but if this happened, why give the credit to Christianity? That is, why point to morality and say, “Aha! That’s the good ol’ Ten Commandments they’re following!” No, morality comes from society. The Ten Commandments are a clumsy reflection of some of the best traits from society, not the other way around.

New and improved Ten Commandments

What if we discarded the religious baggage—important within Christianity but irrelevant to the secular, all-inclusive society—and distilled down social wisdom into a secular Ten Commandments? Here’s a version from A.C. Grayling’s Secular Bible.

1. Love well
2. Seek the good in all things
3. Harm no others
4. Think for yourself
5. Take responsibility
6. Respect nature
7. Do your utmost
8. Be informed
9. Be kind
10. Be courageous

At least, sincerely try.

NYC Atheists has an excellent version here (search for “Atheist Freedoms” on page 4). And here is Christopher Hitchens’ version (skip in the video to 6:30). Hitchens’ punch line: “Don’t swallow your moral code in tablet form.”

The Ten Commandments is nothing more than a fragment of an interesting historical document. An example from Georgia shows the problems with treating it as if it’s more than this. Poverty in that state has recently increased so that it is now the third-poorest state. What did its legislature spend time on in response? Getting the Ten Commandments in all public buildings, including schools.

Posturing is easier than actually solving problems, right? And it gets one reelected, so it’s all good.

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully 
as when they do it from religious conviction.
— Pascal

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 5/25/12.)

Photo credit: djv2130

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  • RichardSRussell

    Back when I was a history major, I was privileged to see a draft copy of the 10 Commandments, with pencilled notations in God’s own handwriting in the margins. Seems the Big Guy was undecided until the very last moment whether to go with “Thou shalt treat women and dark-skinned people as equals.” but finally decided to devote that particular slot to the vexatious and insidious problem of graven images.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I heard also that he was considering a “no slavery” commandment but went with “no coveting.”

      What winds up on the cutting room floor, eh?!

      • hector_jones

        You think that’s bad, you should have a look at God’s blooper reel, some of which somehow managed to make it into the OT anyway.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d pay to see that! I imagine that the editing phase was pretty hurried, given the contradictory nonsense that made it in. I wonder what the director’s cut would look like.

    • Greg G.

      What was left out for “Thou shalt not commit adultery?”

      • Sophia Sadek

        A ban on adultery is actually more rational than it seems on the surface. A society could become divided by hanky panky on the part of its leaders. A divided society was subject to foreign domination.

        • Greg G.

          But without the taboo, society wouldn’t become divided.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Every law creates an outlaw” (Tao Te Ching?)

        • Sophia Sadek

          If you mean that without the taboo, adultery would not cause social problems, think again. Even if it were not considered against some supposedly divine entity, adultery would foster hard feelings between the people involved. It was especially important for leaders in palace cultures to resist the temptation to take advantage of their power positions. With enough domestic opposition, foreign invaders could more easily plunder the palace. The taboo against adultery was more important for leadership than it was for joe peasant.

        • hector_jones

          Leaders have always been the most inclined to hanky panky of all people in society. I don’t see how this is more likely to lead to foreign domination.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know about most inclined.

        • hector_jones

          They are no less inclined than the rest of us, and their power gives them more opportunities for adultery than the average, so I see them as more inclined. History is rife with examples of the adultery of leaders. Granted history tends to devote a lot more time to the lives of leaders over non-leaders so we are bound to know more about them. But it stands to reason that a rich and powerful leader will be more inclined to avail himself of the many opportunities for adultery that will present themselves because of his position.

        • Kodie

          I don’t really know. It’s alleged that power gets the girls and is the underlying motivation for all the endeavors of men, so the men in power must have wanted it more? I know that status gives more opportunity, but I would take the word ‘inclined’ to mean more of a personal intention than an incidental side-effect.

        • hector_jones

          No I’m not saying that getting the girls is the underlying motivation for all the endeavors of men. I am saying, however, that when a man is in a position that makes getting the girls easier, he’s likely to make use of it.

          But my real point was a response to the idea that rules against adultery help prevent foreign domination. I think this idea is unsupported by the evidence.

        • Kodie

          I agree that it doesn’t seem to have worked against us overall, but I be pretty careful making statements that support that conclusion. I still think that opportunity is an incidental side-effect of positions of power or influence or status, and doesn’t make these men more inclined to stray necessarily, although temptation in the face of things tends to make the will weaker as well. I would not discount sex as an incentive for reaching status either, so whoever gets those positions are more inclined, because they have heard already what’s waiting for them when they get there, but I am also thinking of rock stars and not politicians when I say that (and then I am saying that because I don’t follow politics or read up much on history).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If leaders are more likely to be sociopaths (studies show this), and if sociopaths are more likely to ignore the potential consequences for their actions, more adultery in this population would seem to follow.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Without extreme imperial power, petty aristocrats were vulnerable to foreign conquest if they lacked domestic support. Jewish culture was not the only one where leaders had to be sensitive to the downside of sexual indiscretion.

      • RichardSRussell

        It’s hard to say, because it was so heavily crossed out, but I think it might have had something to do with critical thinking.

  • Sophia Sadek

    This is all moot since the Christian deity was not invented until the fourth century of the common era. The Ten Commandments were from a different literary entity altogether. The Deists who cobbled together the American Republic were pretty skeptical about the Bible as a source of information on the divine. They held secret conclaves in Masonic lodges to stay safe from the prying eyes of the Moores of their own times.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      4th century CE? That doesn’t fit my understanding. Can you give us a brief summary of this argument?

      • ZenDruid

        The First Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 for the purposes of defining the nature of Christ, and to develop the creed and canon. IIRC, the trinity thing came later.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Was that the point? I can see that. The Trinity was introduced during the 4th century and put into final form at the Council of Constantinople in the late 300s, I believe.

      • Sophia Sadek

        The trinitarian deity was crafted in the 4th century in a two stage process. By the end of the century, anyone who disagreed with the newly defined entity was persecuted as a heretic with the sanction of a despotic Roman state behind that persecution. The first step in the crafting of the trinitarian deity was the conflation of Jesus with a poor understanding of the Jewish Yahweh using the doctrine of consubstantiality. The hypostatic union added the third person into the mix and placated some of the opposition to the language of consubstantiality. The followers of Paul basically redefined Jesus and redefined the Jewish Yahweh under state sanction. It was not until centuries later that the whole process was recognized as a sham.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’d think that the simple thought experiment, “What would Paul or Jesus say if you ran this idea of the Trinity past them?” would be enough to show it to be a sham.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Can’t say I blame them for not remembering “Thou shalt not murder.” Their god sure doesn’t follow that one.

    • Kodie

      I think of the 10 commandments like a mini-version of the bible. People are more familiar with the act of swearing on the bible than what’s in it, the same way people are assured the 10 commandments has some kind of magical power just by being there.

      I also think of a little backlash from this report. A couple generations of Americans have grown up with the 10 commandments being absent from their schools and courthouses and city hall properties. Even though we didn’t get rid of all the instances, I’m pretty sure they used to be posted everywhere, and people did complain it was a violation of the 1st Amendment, so they were taken down or not installed most places. How could we know what’s in the 10 commandments if we don’t have them publicly posted so we can’t miss them? For balance, I think it’s been a couple decades since the Big Mac jingle.

      I also notice you went with reverse statistics. I misread them as did, not didn’t, and I wouldn’t have noticed it at all if I didn’t read the article at the link.

  • Mick

    Many Christians have never read the bible and they don’t pay attention when it is read to them from the pulpit. Even those who have read it often can’t remember any of the details.

    Ask any member of the laity about any situation and if they think it’s good they’ll assume the bible also says it’s good. If they think it’s bad they’ll assume the bible agrees with them.

    Then show them a bible text that indicates their claims are incorrect and they’ll say you are rude and mean and taking the text out of context.

    For many Christians the bible is a talisman to wave in the air or tuck under the arm in order to impress their peers (but who has time to read the bloody thing!?).

    • Lbj

      That may be true for some but not all.
      So what do you believe? What are you basing your beliefs on?

  • Lbj

    If society lived by the 10 commandments there would be less crime and family breakups.
    Atheists have nothing to offer to make society a better place.

    • MrWizard

      Every shred of evidence points in the opposite direction.
      Atheists are less than 1% of the prison population…
      Less likely to divorce…
      More likely to be well-educated…
      I could go on………………

      • Lbj

        What does atheism have to offer society? I can’t think of one thing that is good for society that comes from society.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What a coincidence! I can’t think of one thing that is good for society that comes from the supernatural.

          Atheism is a very narrow position, a rejection of the god claim. That’s it. Nevertheless, dropping superstition in favor of reason sounds like a hugely important thing for society.

        • Lbj

          Ok. So atheism can’t offer any inspiration to be a better person. There is no reason for such a thing in atheism.

          Christianity has been doing good for the past 2000 years by helping the poor, educating them, charities and hospitals. What has atheism done? Who has established charities and helping the poor for the past 2000 years based on atheism?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Read what I write so I don’t have to write it again. Atheism is simply the rejection of supernatural claims. That’s it.

          That said, there’s plenty of social good that comes from rejecting superstition. If you’re whining because “there is no god” doesn’t lead you to good works, the same is true for chemistry or carpentry–that’s simply not what they’re for.

          If you want to see atheists doing good works, perhaps humanism is what you want. Christianity has no monopoly on good works.

        • Lbj

          Is that all atheism is? No wonder atheism doesn’t inspire people nor does it lead to the further good of society.

        • Baby_Raptor

          The fact that you don’t approve of Atheism does not mean that it doesn’t inspire people or further society.

          Lying’s a sin, buddy. Keep that in mind.

        • Lbj

          Show me how atheism inspires someone?

        • Baby_Raptor

          Realizing that god doesn’t exist and all that bullshit in the bible isn’t real inspires quite a few people. All the sudden people with vaginas aren’t being blamed for the fall of mankind and every sexual urge a man has, and we learn to be ourselves instead of mice. LGBTs learn that they aren’t disordered abominations but natural human beings and they accept themselves and learn to really live. Men learn that they don’t have to be bossy assholes, and that there’s nothing wrong with them for being sexual beings, so they grow into healthy adults. And all of us learn that we aren’t actually horrible “sinners” in need of saving lest we face hell for how god created us and we become good, moral people of our own rights.

          Is that enough or do I need to continue?

          Religion doesn’t offer a single good thing humanity couldn’t have accomplished without it and is the cause of most of humanity’s ills.

        • Lbj

          Give me some positive examples from atheism that inspires people.

        • Baby_Raptor

          I just did. All of those things come from realizing that god doesn’t exist, IE Atheism.

        • Lbj

          No you didn’t. You just ranted about disdain about God. Give some positive reasons from atheism that would make a person better for himself and the world?

        • Baby_Raptor

          …How about you go actually read my comment and then come back and try again?

          There was no disdain in there and I only mentioned god once. I gave you what you asked for. Pretending I didn’t isn’t going to score you any points.

        • Greg G.

          He read it with his eyes closed, fingers firmly planted in his earholes, and singing “lalalalala”.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          Mothers would stop killing their babies “cuz God said”. Shall I continue? I got a long list here…

        • Martin Jibberjab

          I wish I could get across to you how difficult my (and many people’s) journey into Atheism was. My family, community, and most everyone in my barracks shunned me. I wanted to have my new beliefs (or lack of), but I was bombarded with “Come back to the Fold, heathen!” (and _many many_ not so nice things).
          About 10 years later I became very sick for many months, but I discovered Philosophy and read voraciously. That was 11 years ago. I now live my life by “8 Commandments” which are far more stringent then any of your 10. Why would an Atheist have “Commandments”? Because I know that simply living a life of immorality and shame is empty. It gets boring and lonely.
          If Atheism is just about anarchy and chaos, why are so many Atheists I’ve met just like me?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What are your 8 Commandments? Not the Buddhist 8-fold way?

        • Martin Jibberjab

          They are my own, I’ve never shared them, except one: Do not lust. 2 are quite lengthy, but all are quite personal. If I list them, I’m at risk of having them misinterpreted. Or people showing up at my doorstep.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ‘K.

        • Lbj

          Sorry to hear you were shunned. Far better to discuss our beliefs. I don’t see how atheism helps given that it has no support for it and if true means its all meaningless.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Atheism is the default position. Christianity hasn’t even begun to carry its burden of proof. Evidence: all the posts on this blog. Have a read.

          You have evidence in favor of Christianity? Bring it.

          As for meaningless, (1) it’s not, and (2) so what?

        • Lbj

          Atheism is the lazy position. It cannot be proven to be true. There is no evidence for it and we know where the implications of it lead.

        • Kodie

          You’re just saying that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, you win. You’ve worn me down by repeating the same weak bullshit over and over and over …

          Kidding! (About you winning. But you are indeed repeating empty arguments without evidence.)

          Atheism is the default, there’s plenty of evidence (read this blog), and where it leads don’t matter to the question at hand: is it true?

        • katiehippie

          Atheism is harder than blind faith. You actually have to think for yourself.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          I make the conscience decision every hour not to do things that will end me in jail. Not being in jail makes me happy. In my spare time I occasionally make others happy.
          I sound pretty cool to me :)

        • Kodie

          Really? I very occasionally get a conscious decision whether I want to commit a crime or not. Most of the time I unconsciously do not want to or choose to commit a crime.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “No you di-int”

          Uh, yes he did. Raptor gave a long, detailed, and powerful list of the shit you discard when you reject the supernatural. This is an eloquent statement of the benefits possible from embracing reality.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Now I’m wondering if you’re stupid. For the third time, replacing superstition with reason is a Good Thing for society.

          And I’m surprised that you are puzzled about what atheism is. Seriously?

        • Lbj

          There are millions of people who believe it is true and not a superstition. The superstition is atheism. There is no proof that its true and you have to deny reality to believe it.

        • Baby_Raptor

          There’s no proof that any religion is true, and honestly, I’ve found all the proof I need that god doesn’t exist.

        • Pofarmer

          millions of people believe all kinds of things that aren’t true. It’s rather part of the human condition. Read Michael Shermer “Why people believe weird things” or Carl Sagan “Demon Haunted World.”. Or, if you like old literature, read some Andres Dickson White.

        • Nemo

          Atheism is a nullification. I don’t have to prove a nullification. YOU have to prove your supernatural claim. Understand how burden of proof works, please.

        • Greg G.

          There are maybe two billion people who think it might be true, though most don’t understand it. The sects within Christianity don’t even agree on major components of the religion.

          Now compare that to the five billion people who believe Christianity is not true.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          There are millions of people who believe it is true and not a superstition.

          So what? There are millions of people who believe that astrology is true. There are millions who believe that Mormonism and Hinduism are true.

          The superstition is atheism.

          Atheism is the null hypothesis just like “there are no unicorns” is the null hypothesis. That’s the starting point, and we’re obliged to remain there if there is insufficient evidence. No, there is no symmetry between our positions—sorry.

          There is no proof that its true and you have to deny reality to believe it.

          No, there is no proof. I don’t have any, nor do I plan on offering any. I’m not asking you for proof, just compelling evidence. In this domain, we follow the evidence, and the evidence points to there being no supernatural.

        • smrnda

          Numbers don’t matter when it comes to belief. Millions of people believe ignorant superstitions.

          tell me, do you believe in ghosts? Does the fact that millions of people believe in ghosts make them real?

        • Lbj

          Some of those millions of believers are some of the smartest people who have ever lived.

          Not sure about ghosts. If there is good evidence for them, then they must exist. Right?

        • Kodie

          A lot of the millions of believers who come by the atheist blogs to propel their shitty arguments are among the stupidest people who ever lived.

          There is no good evidence for ghosts. They don’t have bodies, their clothes aren’t ghosts. There are no reasons to believe in ghosts.

        • smrnda

          The intelligence of a person does not mean that everything they believe is true. Intelligent people believe in stupid shit all the time. Sometimes it is because the person is an expert in some areas but not in all, and they believe stupid shit that they are not experts on. Take Steve Jobs, who bought into worthless alt-med woo when it came to medicine. You could fill volumes with accounts of intelligent people who believed in ridiculous things. The question is whether or not they provided any better evidence for the ridiculous beliefs.

          Euler was a brilliant mathematician. He wrote stuff in defense of Christianity. His mathematics is brilliant, his Christian apologetics are banal.

          Intelligent people are also still susceptible to the biases within their own cultures. This is a basic fact of cognitive and social psychology.

          On ghosts, so far the evidence fails to accrue, though I note from what I see of paranormal investigators that they seem unable to grasp a ‘falsifiable hypothesis.’ There’s also a massive amount of evidence that you can explain away the paranormal through confirmation bias.

        • smrnda

          I guess the anti-racism league is just against something then, and not for anything.

        • Kodie

          You cling to this ridiculous idea that atheism is like a religion with its own dogma. You know god isn’t going to feed the hungry, right? So what do you do? What do you think a good person does? Why do you think to be good one has to believe in god? You’re the one who needs this action to serve god, and not the people. You want to do good works to please god and not care about people, because god doesn’t care about them, and neither do you. You only care about your own salvation and god’s opinion of you. That’s a shitty attitude.

        • Greg G.

          Christianity borrowed the idea of hospitals from the Romans who got it from the Greeks. The religion-based hospitals treated patients for demon-caused diseases for over 1000 years. It was critical thinking that led to modern medicine. The Catholic owns many hospitals but there are some procedures where religion trumps medicine as the doctors and nurses face excommunication and job-loss for violating that priority.

          Consider the progress of knowledge and technology while religion held sway. Then consider the gains there have been since the scientific method was developed.

          Christianity only looks good because it is firmly attached to the post-Christian society.

        • Lbj

          The Romans and Greeks did not have hospitals for the average person or the poor. Early medicine was based on a lot of superstitions beliefs.

          There is nothing wrong with Catholic or Christian hospitals having moral guidelines. Their anti-abortion stance is an example of this. it is based not only on sound reason but good theology.

          many of the early scientists of a couple hundred years or so were Christians and they made great discoveries and inventions.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          Mother Teresa’s Death Hospitals are a great legacy.
          You are now starting to bore me.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t forget her torture orphanages. Or, the Magdalene Laundries.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          Embezzlement and fraud are off topic, so I digress.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          I was born in a Catholic hospital… When I was returned to my mother the first time she was SHOCKED that I had been circumcised, because no one had asked. It was just their Holy Rite I guess to do whatever they want with my body.

          What else ya got smart guy?

        • Greg G.

          My mother-in-law was shocked and upset that they did that to my nephew. My wife’s family are all Buddhists.

        • Lbj

          Did the hospital say the circumcised you because it was a “Holy rite”?

          I wonder if they do this today without asking.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          It was 1970, the post below seems more recent.

        • MNb

          In addition to underneath: google “catholic kidnap baby”. There are reports from Australia, Spain and Chile.

        • smrnda

          catholics are incredibly arrogant in assuming that they can push their beliefs on patients. They’ll baptize babies without parental consent, showing that they have NO RESPECT for the beliefs of their customers.

        • Greg G.

          The Romans and Greeks did not have hospitals for the average person or the poor. Early medicine was based on a lot of superstitions beliefs.

          You are probably right about that. I just wanted to pointout that hospitals were a pagan invention that Christianity took from them.

          There is nothing wrong with Catholic or Christian hospitals having moral guidelines. Their anti-abortion stance is an example of this. it is based not only on sound reason but good theology.

          If a treatment on a young woman could possibly harm a fetus, they will delay treatment to make sure she isn’t pregnant. If a fetal heartbeat is detected and they cannot save both mother and baby, they can be excommunicated for saving the mother at the expense of the fetus. That happened in Arizona a few years ago, IIRC.

          many of the early scientists of a couple hundred years or so were Christians and they made great discoveries and inventions.

          A sound methodology can produce benefits no matter who employs it. The beneficial yield of an unsound methodology is low.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That happened in Arizona a few years ago, IIRC.

          Remember the case in Brazil (?) a few years ago. IIRC, they did an abortion on a 9yo girl, impregnated through incest, and everyone involved got excommunicated except the uncle responsible. (I’m certain I’m butchering many facts here, but I’m too lazy to look it up.)

        • Pofarmer

          There is good evidence the Romans knew rudiments of antiseptics and some other health procedures. The Christians promptly lost that knowledge.

        • MNb

          It’s not clear if the christians are to blame – Western Europe has suffered from 600 years of destroying barbaric invasions. That knowledge was afaIk preserved in Constantinople. But christianity has done exactly zilch to advance scientific and related knowledge. The first influence came from the muslim world and can be dated at 1085 CE – the fall of Toledo. The last influence came from the fall on Constantinople. Combined with the decline of authority of the RCC, ao because of the Black Plague a century before and the social changes this gave rise to undogmatic thinking. Alas one of the first results was witchhunts. To the credit of the RCC it strongly discouraged it. That’s not a credit of christianity though – it were mainly protestants who backed it.

        • Greg G.

          When anesthetics were invented, some Christians opposed the use of them because the pain was no more than the patient deserved or some such reason like that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Messing with pain is messing with God’s Plan!

        • Lbj

          How do you know that? What records show this to be the case?

        • Pofarmer

          Richard Carrier talks about it some when talking about Ancient science, for one.

        • MNb

          Yeah and since science has advanced enormously the vast majority of scientists (engineers and surgeons seem to be the exceptions) have become non-believers.

        • smrnda

          Religious hospitals, particularly Catholic ones, serve populations who are not always Catholic and who do not want their health care to be subject to Catholic teachings. The Catholic church buys up hospital so that consumers will not have choices. That’s deceptive business practice right there – buy out your competition to get a monopoly in a market.

          Religion needs to get out of health care, the way it isn’t part of health care in civilized nations where health care access is a right, not a privilege.

        • Baby_Raptor

          You know what’s wrong with hospitals having “moral guidelines”?

          Hospitals serve people who don’t have those same “morals.” Why should a patient die because Catholics are fetus fetishists? Why should they have to undergo, and pay for, tests completely unrelated to their medical issues because a Catholic hospital won’t do anything they could possibly twist into “harming” a fetus?

          Also, pro-forced birth theology is neither based on the bible or based on reason. God ordered abortions in the bible, and the bible is very clear that life does not start until the first breath.

          You don’t seem to have the vaguest clue what reason is, so I’ll leave explaining that to you to someone with more patience. I’d be dead if people like you had your way, so I don’t have much patience for pro-forced birthers.

        • MNb

          “Christianity has been doing good for the past 2000 years” by inspiring people to kill off each other over theological disputes.

        • Lbj

          Sadly that is true in some cases. The overall effect though has been very positive for societies.

          What good has atheism done over the past 2000 years? What charities or hospitals or education has been done in the name of atheism or its principles?

        • Kodie

          You don’t have a god either. It is a symbolic figurehead and scapegoat for you to threaten people with and hide behind when they oppose you. If it helps some people to think they are doing it all for god, then I hate those people, because other people are worth the effort without any incentive. You’re the ones who need to be whipped into helping people when you don’t want to.

        • MNb

          How much the quality of hospitals and educations have improved since religious principles (like the four humours and the idea that a disease is a divine punishment) were replaced by scientific principles (which have no use for god)?

        • Martin Jibberjab

          And how many computers did they build during 1300 years of total western domination?
          Oh, what? Science, technology, health and lifespan all went _down_ during their rule?

        • Lbj

          Actually modern science was born in a Christian culture. Many of the early scientists were devote Christians.

        • Martin Jibberjab

          WRONG!
          Atheists were killed if they admitted their beliefs. The Church “claims” these scientists as their own, albeit they were no more than slaves who had to (often) edit their own findings when they were not in line with dogma.

          You are amateur hour, kid.

        • Lbj

          Can you give me some evidence that shows that “Atheists were killed if they admitted their beliefs”?

        • Pofarmer

          Really? Read the history of Thomas Moore, patron saint of politicians. He had people locked up and killed just for expressing different CHRISTIAN beliefs. You think they didn’t proclaim Atheists witches or apostate and burn them at the stake? Do you have a single original thought?

        • Martin Jibberjab

          (This-is-a-link-to-the-individuals-killed-during-the-Inquisitions-who-were-proclaimed-Atheists)

          Do your own history lessons.

        • MNb

          And the role christianity played in their scientific research was exactly zero. In their theoretical models and in their observational and experimental results you will look in vain for the word god. Take for instance Copernicus. He formulated the same model of the Solar System as Aristarchus of Samos – who definitely was not a christian, as he lived 200 years before Jesus was born.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Modern science was born in a culture that spoke Romance and Germanic languages.

          Modern science was born in a culture that ate meat.

          So what? You want to imagine that Christianity had a significant role in advancing science? Show us. (The stagnant progress during the medieval period will probably be a challenge for you.)

        • Nemo

          Pretty much every part of the world had the sparks of science in it at some point. Believe it or not, but the Muslim world used to embrace some scientific principles. China invented many of the goods which for a time defined the civilized world, including gunpowder and paper. The Mayans, who had never heard of nor cared about the ancient war god Yahweh, were brilliant astronomers. While Europe was in the Middle Ages, Africa was building large kingdoms with education rivaling Christian Europe. Within the Christian world, science flourished during periods where the nobility who practiced it were fascinated with the classical Greeks and Romans who had pioneered science before the life of Jesus. Science is not the sole domain of Christianity. Never was, never will be.

        • MNb

          You should check how much India contributed to modern science. Just in addition.

        • smrnda

          They did give us the 0. I can’t imagine how people did mathematics without it.

        • smrnda

          Taking these tasks away from Christianity and having the government do it has gotten better results.

        • MrWizard

          Obviously, a lot more than religion does.
          The most religious states in the US have a higher poverty rate, lower education, and higher murder rates in the country.
          In what bizarre world do you live in, that you consider any of that better for society.

        • Lbj

          How do you know that those states that “have a higher poverty rate, lower education, and higher murder rates in the country” is due to Christianity? Where is your evidence for this claim?

        • ZenDruid

          The pulpit storytellers have a vested interest in keeping the sheep in the pews ignorant and paranoid. That doesn’t do much at all for the national literacy rate, to start with.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Have you done any research on this? I’m not trying to be overly harsh–we all have to start somewhere, and if you’re eager to learn from people outside your comfort zone, that’s great–but I’m just trying to figure out your starting point.

          Are you a newbie with these ideas, or are you claiming to have it all figured out?

        • Greg G.

          Correlation does not prove causation. But it does prove that Christianity doesn’t improve those things, which is what you are claiming.

        • Pofarmer

          Just imagine how bad it would be if……….

        • Margaret Whitestone
        • Kodie

          It’s called checking things out and not just believing what you’re told.

        • Baby_Raptor

          You forgot higher discrimination, more teen pregnancies and STDs, less access to medical care…

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Hey–just get rid of Big Gubmint, and it’s all good.

        • ZenDruid

          Many if not most secular humanists are atheists. Atheism is a null-hypothesis position regarding gods, and that’s all it is. The social philosophers back to Epicurus were humanist. Marcus Aurelius, for example, recognized that a king and a slave are very much the same underneath.

        • Lbj

          I’m not asking who is an atheist but what good does atheism offer society based on atheism.

        • Pofarmer

          Rationality instead of Dogma. Physics instead of Metaphysics. Medicine instead of Prayer. Science instead of Superstition. Freedom over shackles. Chemistry instead of Alchemy. Astronomy instead of Astrology. Justice over Arbitrary punishment. Being a free agent instead of a follower. There is a book you should read called “damned good company.”. Which relates the contributions of humanists since Socrates,

        • Greg G.

          Damn fine inspiration. I think I will go out and not kill anybody today.

        • MNb

          I join you and set the bar a bit higher – I will not rape anybody either.

        • Lbj

          How does matter produce rationality? How does the chemicals in brain produce rationality? After all, in atheism there is no God nor an immaterial mind-soul that produces thinking.

        • Pofarmer

          And? We are our brains, amazing ain’t it? You can look at the chain of evolution and see the advances in cognitive ability. Homo Sapiens sapiens just happens to be the best so far on our little rock in space. If there is some immaterial mind /soul, some evidence formit would be helpful. No branch of science that I’m aware of, seriously considers it.

        • Lbj

          If all your thinking is just due to the chemicals in you brain then you have no freewill. All you are is a meat machine with no independent thinking.

        • hector_jones

          That may be true. Now deal with it.

          Why do you persist in argumentum ad consequentiam? We have another christian around here whose pet fallacy is argumentum ad populum. Is having a pet fallacy a thing with you guys?

        • MNb

          That’s a question we should leave to science – more specifically to neurobiology. Personally I think it likely that the scientific model of the human brain will have a meaningful room for free will. Others don’t
          If they are right, so what? Your thinking, so you claim, is not independent either. It comes from your sky-daddy.

        • Kodie

          Just because you don’t know how it works doesn’t mean that “god” explains it. You are satisfied with easy answers, and not skeptical of your own claims. Learn some things from sources that are outside of your dogmatic beliefs, because they are feeding you propaganda, and I can see it’s having a negative effect on your intellect and curiosity.

        • Lbj

          How do you know what you believe is not propaganda? After all there is no proof that atheism is true.

        • Kodie

          It’s pretty much posts by idiots like you and the nonsense you make that lets me know Christianity is not the correct choice. Reality is too hard for you to comprehend and to cope with, that’s pretty much your argument. I know I know more than you do, so you don’t have information that compels me to think differently.

        • MNb

          In the first place it’s theists who need to prove that the null-hypothesis is wrong, not atheists who need to prove that it is correct.
          In the second place there is actually proof that atheism is true, though you undoubtedly will reject it. That’s because belief systems are not build on rationality and thus only seldomly are overthrown by rationality.
          Anyhow the only means known, the only means imaginable (even by believers) to interact with our material reality are all material too. There is no way even thinkable how an immaterial entity like your god can interact with our material reality – or we could detect it by scientific means. This makes theism meaningless.

        • hector_jones

          What atheism has to offer society is a freedom from superstitious belief. Chuck those beliefs and the door is open to a real understanding of how the world works. It wasn’t living by the Ten Commandments that eradicated small pox.

        • Lbj

          It wasn’t atheism either.

        • MNb

          No, it was the scientific method – which threw the supernatural, including your god, out of the window about 200 years ago.

        • hector_jones

          I never said atheism directly gave us the eradication of small pox. But the thinking that leads to one leads to the other. Religion, otoh, is a dead end.

        • Greg G.

          It was the belief that the disease was not caused by supernatural beings that eradicated small pox.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, and once again, those promoting vaccination had to work against the religious nitwits saying it was against Gods plan.

        • Greg G.

          I can’t think of one thing that is good for society that comes from society.

          It looks like you have the wrong word at the end of your fusebox.

          Atheism is just a conclusion from critical thinking. It is not supposed to offer anything. It is nothing like a religion that offers empty promises.

          Critical thinking reduces false beliefs. That results in fewer incorrect actions based on false beliefs. That should lead to a better society.

        • Lbj

          If “Atheism is just a conclusion from critical thinking” then take it further and realize that your life is ultimately meaningless. Without immortality, God and judgement you face oblivion and non-existence. That means you are not held accountable for your life because when you die you cease to exist. It matters not how you lived.

        • hector_jones

          Without immortality, God and judgement you face oblivion and non-existence.

          Yes we know this. But this is just an argument from consequences coming from you. Reality, however, is still reality whether you like it or not.

        • Lbj

          I agree. If after we die we cease to exist then it means our lives are ultimately meaningless.

        • Lbj

          How do you know there is no judgement after death? What is that based on?

        • MNb

          You already answered that yourself. There is nothing after death, so no judgment either.

        • hector_jones

          The complete lack of evidence. I haven’t seen one single reported decision on a judgement rendered after death, and yet billions of people have died and supposedly been judged. Do you have a list of who is in heaven and who is in hell? I would love to see it.

        • MNb

          “realize that your life is ultimately meaningless”
          It is and that is a good reason to make the best of what we actually have. We atheists realize that we have only one shot and don’t get another chance. We realize that when we are 60 or 70 we prefer to look back on our lives saying that we have made a difference, even if a small one, to our fellow-people and the part of the world we live in.

        • Lbj

          This sounds nice but its a waste of time since mankind will ultimately cease to exist someday and all will be forgotten. What happens to you as individual will happen to all.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you decide what is truth based not on evidence, but just on how appealing something sounds to you?

        • MNb

          It’s a better way to waste my time than your way – or if you prefer the way your god wastes your time. If Heaven is so attractive – and according to christians it is – why doesn’t he let you skip the vale of tears called Earth and let you go to Heaven immediately? Omniscient as he is he knows you deserve it.

        • smrnda

          There was this great restaurant that went out of business. I used to like to eat there. I guess that is all meaningless now because they closed down?

        • Baby_Raptor

          You’re still stating things you have no proof for as fact. And lying is still a sin.

        • Lbj

          And your the one who is lying.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Which of those statements was a lie?

          Do you have actual proof that god is going to end the world?

        • Lbj

          You are lying when you claim God does not exist when creation itself shows it and He has made the knowledge of Himself evident within you.

          Someday the world will end. No way to have proof until it happens.

        • Baby_Raptor

          So…I’m lying because I’m not saying what you believe, in other words.

          You’re doing that projecting thing again.

          By the way, god hasn’t “made himself evident within me.” I spent several long and painful years begging god to give me proof he existed. Nothing ever came. So either your god doesn’t exist or he’s perfectly content to hide from people. Frankly, I’m more content to believe he doesn’t exist. People like you help my belief.

          Still waiting for you to explain how you got mind-reading powers. You sure do claim to know a lot about perfect strangers. And apparently you know us better than we know ourselves. You either need to explain how you know me better than I know myself or stop talking about me.

        • Greg G.

          You have fallen for another of religion’s tricks. There is no teleological meaning of life. Our lives have a meaning for us, it is everything. “Life has meaning because God” is nihilistic.

          It matters how we live while we live.

          Reality is pretty cool. You should look into it.

        • Lbj

          It does not matter ultimately matter how you live if atheism is true. You can tell yourself it has meaning but the reality is that it does not. You are here today and cease to exist tomorrow and forgotten within a short number of years. Even this is useless since you won’t know if anyone remembers you anyway.

        • hector_jones

          And that’s reality. You can face it and make the best of things, or cower in fear in the false hope that maybe death isn’t really coming. You die either way.

        • Greg G.

          What I do today will have consequences tomorrow or next year. I want those consequences to be positive outcomes, just in case I don’t die, which is my goal. I don’t harm others and others feel the same way toward me so that works out well. If nobody remembers me after I’m gone, I don’t care.

          Religion has taught you to fear these things. You should eliminate those fears by rejecting religion. You will appreciate life more when each second you live is a significant portion of a too short life.

        • Lbj

          Here is a quote from a atheistic philospher on meaning that I think gets to the core of the implications of atheism: Ayn Rand: “Live totally for self; no one holds you accountable! Indeed, it would be foolish to do anything else, for life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person would be stupid.”

          There is no way to live a full life if this is the only life you have and it ultimately is meaningless.

          On the other hand, Christian know there lives have ultimate meaning and that everything we do matters.

        • MNb

          The funny thing is that Ayn Rand herself failed to live according to her own quote. Apparently it isn’t an implication of atheism after all.
          Why Rand? Why not Jeremy Bentham, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre or one of many, many other atheist philosophers? Let’s see – because Rand happens to fit your stereotypal view.
          Anyhow, take a look over at Daylight Atheism, where Adam Lee totally deconstructs Rand’s thinking.

        • smrnda

          There has to be a ‘worst atheist thinker.’ As far as I can tell, Rand fits the bill.

        • Greg G.

          Critical thinkers are not impressed so much by the status of the person who states a proposition. It is the strength of the argument that matters. Rand is a bit of a sociopath. Humans are social creature who benefit by living with other humans. We gain benefits from the shared benefits of society. People who follow Rand’s philosophy exploit the system by taking more than the give to society. The short-term benefits result in long-term detriments.

          The Bible tells us how to enslave people to work for us. That is an uber-Rand philosophy.

        • Nemo

          Fun fact: the overwhelming majority of atheists in the United States are liberals. It is Christian conservatives who support Ayn Rand. Many of the atheist libertarians I’ve met who do support Ayn Rand furthermore argue that living for yourself can include living for other people as a means to do so.

        • Kodie

          Christians are the most arrogant and self-absorbed. They think unless they have meaningfulness in themselves, despair. And the only one who can grant meaningfulness to them is a deity. You don’t get meaningfulness feelings from meaning things to ordinary humans? If your life is ultimately meaningless because you don’t have a god, then your life is ultimately meaningless. You don’t have a god any more than I do, you just believe you do, and I accept reality. Not having an ultimate meaning doesn’t make me selfish, it makes you selfish. You are saying these things because if you knew there wasn’t a god, that’s how you would behave. You have been trained to be upset at ultimate meaninglessness, and that’s really odd, but if you think that means atheism is selfish, then you are really only learning anything about atheism from Christians. Christians are liars.

          Let’s let that sink in a little. Christians can’t handle reality, and they can’t handle you handling reality, so they lie.

          I think lying is #8.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nice catch! Ayn Rand is the pope of all atheists, and we have to parrot her views on everything.

          Thank you for the correction, brother.

        • hector_jones

          Christians are so authoritarian in their thinking that they can’t comprehend the idea that atheists recognize no atheist authorities.

        • katiehippie

          Am I going to atheist hell for having no desire to read a book of her’s ever?

        • Baby_Raptor

          If you are, I’m going with you. My AP English teacher gave me one once and it was *horrible.* I have no desire to read anything else of hers.

        • katiehippie

          I’ll bring the music to atheist hell if you bring the drinks!

        • smrnda

          Ayn Rand was an atheist, but she was also an idiot and a rather shoddy writer of crappy pulp-fiction.

        • Kodie

          What do you think is wrong with that? You get a turn at life, and then it’s someone else’s turn. Why do you think it’s important for them to remember you? Why do you make up a story that god knows you and will remember you for all time, because everyone else will forget, but you can’t stand the thought of being forgotten.

          Have you ever moved away from somewhere or left your job to go to a new job, and maybe you keep in touch with one person, do you remember them? Do you feel horrible because you’ve forgotten people instead of remembering them? How much does it really hurt you to go back and find out there’s a whole new shift of people and you don’t recognize them? Do they feel bad that you don’t recognize them? They are all anonymous placeholders to you, and you feel no anxiety about that. You only care about yourself. Silly. That’s all religion is, it appeals to your ego because you want to matter more, and your imaginary friend supplies a second self in your own head to keep you company and know you inside and out.

          As if your first self isn’t worthy company. As if you don’t think it counts that you matter to you, or even another actual person. It doesn’t count – which is bullshit, you are a snob. You need someone bigger and more important to notice you. Don’t put that esteem issue on us like it’s a flaw in the atheists’ characters.

        • Lbj

          You assume that religion ” appeals to your ego because you want to matter more”. Rather religion shows that man does desire more. The only explanation for this is that God has put this desire into the hearts of men.

          In atheism, you would go crazy if you really understood the implications of this issue.

          When I think of the death of a loved one it makes me sad. However, I have the hope of seeing them again. For the atheist, there is no hope of seeing a loved one ever again. It is mind boggling to even think about that.

        • hector_jones

          It’s only mind boggling for you to think about it. I have thought about it plenty and I accept it. I fully comprehend the implications of believing that I am never going to see my departed grandparents ever again.

        • Kodie

          That’s mind-boggling for you? I might have over-estimated your intelligence before, and I’m deeply sorry.

        • MNb

          I have thinking about his since my father was brutally murdered six years ago. He was found by my son, then 13. My mind hasn’t boggled since then even for a split second. Apparently you have some problems with your mind. My guess is that they are religiously inspired.

        • Nemo

          Christianity gives you the hope of watching Jesus personally pour out torture on your loved ones, and then turning to you and saying “commence with the worship and praise, servant”.

        • Lbj

          Nonsense.

        • MNb

          “It does not matter ultimately matter how you live if atheism is true.”
          Right – and the conclusion is that my many flaws don’t matter too much. I don’t need to be perfect.
          Apparently you care more about tomorrow than about today, which is perhaps why you dwell on beauty and neglect ugliness – let alone think about improving that ugliness.

        • Lbj

          Why try to improve if it does not ultimately matter? It matters to me immensely that my life has an ultimate purpose. Only Christianity can satisfy this need and give a purpose to life.

        • Kodie

          What makes you think atheists can’t erect a similar structure to which their lives have meaning? You are made to believe that through Christianity, your life has more meaning than it probably does, but you want to live your life how you want to. It’s just a made-up structure that helps you wake up every day. Nothing you said is an argument to support an actual god. BELIEFS are, as an atheist sees it, necessarily separate from a god. You are saying that only Christianity can serve your needs, but you are saying it in a way that only Christianity can serve everyone’s needs. We don’t need to delude ourselves to have pretty interesting lives. You’re the one who can’t cope with reality, and you need to pretend a little harder that your life means something to an imaginary friend. Ordinary people and a short shelf-life isn’t good enough for his majesty, Justas.

        • MNb

          Exactly because what doesn’t ultimately matter doesn’t matter to me. What matter to me are the few decades I actually have. I have told you this before: what matters to me is the highly satisfactory feeling I get when I’m 60 or 70 and I can say that I have made a positive difference.

          ” Only Christianity can satisfy this need and give a purpose to life.”
          You’re not even capable of thinking through the consequences of your own belief system. You need an ultimate purpose, that is situated after your death. That makes everything you do and don’t now in your Earthly life less relevant. So you are the one who claims that it doesn’t matter to improve things here and now. Actually this was a widespread attitude during the thoroughly christian Middle Ages: focus on afterlife, not on here and now.
          This contradicts your claim that christianity has improved the human condition. So what is it, dear Justas? What matters for you? Afterlife (hence forget the here and now) or the here and now (hence don’t focus on afterlife)?

        • Nemo

          Only Scandinavian paganism can satisfy the need for an ultimate purpose. Only Islam can. Etc. Demonstrate that yours actually gives purpose that others cannot. I have no need of an ultimate purpose, nor do many people. If that intimidates you, get used to it.

        • Lbj

          How does “Scandinavian paganism can satisfy the need for an ultimate purpose”?

          Jesus said that to give a cup of water in His name a person will be rewarded. Those that follow Him will be rewarded with eternal life. I have a great incentive to deny my selfish tendency to serve Christ. I have the hope of eternal life because of what He did.

        • MNb

          Eternal party in Valhalla. Looks more attractive to me than christian heaven, which is essentially eternal boredom.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re discounting the harp music in Christian heaven. Who couldn’t listen to that, even after a trillion years?

        • Kodie

          Your selfish tendency is to accept the false promise of eternal life despite reality.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So someone makes a bold claim about paganism, and your response is to make a bold claim from your own religion? Why is the first religious claim wrong? And if it is, what grounding to you still have for your own religious claim?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s this obsession with ultimate meaning? I don’t plan to be around in a billion years, so my being forgotten won’t matter a whit.

          Seriously–how big does one’s ego have to be for you to get in a lather about being in God’s little black book centuries from now? You won’t be, but you’ll be dead, so it really doesn’t matter.

        • smrnda

          To me, Christianity makes life meaningless. Could you explain to me what hope it offers in a few quick points?

        • katiehippie

          So you remember all the lives and accomplishments of previous christians? I think they are pretty much forgotten as well.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why this is so scary for you people.

        • Lbj

          Scary? If an atheist takes his view seriously it leads to despair.

        • MNb

          Isn’t it typical that only christians pull this off? I have never ever met an atheist who was despaired because of the reasons you give. You christians only show how your belief system is based on despair, not atheism.

        • Kodie

          Who told you that? Was it a Christian?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And yet any atheist you ask will disagree.

          Maybe it’s actually you who is wrong, not them. Ever think of that? Maybe if you understood atheists’ response to this challenge …?

        • smrnda

          Then why am I not despairing?

          Please, make better arguments. If I said “All Christians are poorly educated” it’s a bad argument – many Christians are, but not all.

          The idea that atheism == despair is another mindless knee-jerk apologetic argument. Just because Christians need a god to make life meaningful, doesn’t mean everybody does.

        • katiehippie

          I take it seriously. More seriously that I’ve taken anything. I’m happier than I ever was as a believer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ultimately meaningless

          Who cares?

          It matters not how you lived.

          You swim in an ocean of wrongness. Atheists don’t want to raise a family? They don’t want society to be improved for their benefit?

          Get a clue. Read your stuff before your click Post.

        • smrnda

          Actually, it does matter how I lived, because it matters to *people.* Right now, the choices I make determine the kind of life I will have, because in the real world, choices have consequences. Who cares that it won’t matter FOREVER?

          If anything, Christianity makes life meaningless, as people exist to be nothing but mindless praise-bots for a rather boring god.

        • MNb

          A sense of responsibility for other people iso for an imaginary sky-daddy.

        • smrnda

          Atheism is just a byproduct of being driven by evidence. People who are driven by evidence will make better decisions than if they were being led by something false.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yeah, except reason. I think I’ll take reason over fantasy, thanks.

      If society lived by the 10 commandments

      In the United States, the Constitution calls the shots, not the Ten Commandments. Sorry.

      • Lbj

        That may be but the 10 commandments have had a great impact on our society. If people lived by the 10 commandments there would be less crime.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve seen no impact on society. Show me. It’s a combination of irrelevant Jewish demands (irrelevant because the Constitution is the law, not the 10 Cs) plus obvious platitudes.

          You could compose a list of rules that, if people would follow, would reduce crime. So what? Standing on a soap box at the street corner and saying, “But if you’d just stop murdering, lying, and stealing, things would be better!” won’t do much. I think everyone already knows that.

        • Lbj

          The reason you don’t see much impact today is that most people disregard them. Just look at how full prisons are and how much is being committed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

          Yes, if people didn’t murder, there would be fewer murders. I get it. What I’m missing is the value of the Ten Commandments.

          If people followed Justa’s 10 Most Fabulous Rules, there might be less crime as well.

        • Lbj

          There is no reason to follow “New and improved Ten Commandments”. In atheism it doesn’t matter what kind of life you live since there is no accountability to anyone greater than yourself.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Nor is there in religion. It’s just pretend. The buck stops with you whether you live in reality or fantasy.

          Kind of empowering, I think.

        • Lbj

          Its a fantasy to live as if God does not exist. Everyday you get up and look around the world you must believe that all the beauty and complexity is just the result of the mindless forces of nature with no ultimate purpose. When you look in the mirror all you see is matter in motion that has no more value than other pieces of matter.Your ultimate destiny is to cease to exist as a conscious being and become dust and forgotten. This is the ultimate reality if atheism is true.

        • hector_jones

          Look at the trees, look at the trees!

          If you explain all the beauty you see in the world as god, how do you explain all the ugliness? God’s shit doesn’t stink?

        • Pofarmer

          Free will, The fall. Satan, I could go on.

        • Lbj

          “ll the beauty you see in the world as god” is not true. God is not the world. The ugliness is because man sinned and brought evil and sin into the world.

        • MNb

          I was waiting for this. It’s one of the most sickening aspects of christianity.
          “If something is good and/or beautiful, praise god. If something is bad and/or ugly, blame Homo Sapiens.”

        • Lbj

          Of course. God created the world perfect and it was man who screwed it up.

        • MNb

          Which confirms what Kodie wrote: you have a low opinion of yourself because of your screwed up world view.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Christianity is the ultimate unfalsifiable hypothesis. What fun that you don’t have to deal with the difficulties of reason!

        • katiehippie

          God created us too. So maybe he didn’t create it perfect after all if we were able to screw it up so easily.

        • hector_jones

          No I’m saying if you see God as the explanation for it. I’m not accusing you (Heaven forfend!) of being a pantheist.

        • Kodie

          And if someone asks you for a citation to support your claim?

        • Greg G.

          When I get up and see the beauty and complexity of the world without thinking “That’s the best an omnipotent being can do?” I don’t ignore the fact that millions of people are suffering at the same time I see the beauty but I don’t have to wonder “Why does an omnipotent, benevolent being allow that to happen?”

          Your ultimate destiny is to cease to exist as a conscious being and become dust and forgotten.

          Is there something wrong with that? If we exist for eternity, these few decades are meaningless anyway. When you appreciate teh finality of death, every second of life becomes more precious. I enjoy life now while I have the chance instead of delaying the enjoyment in hope of a childish vision of heaven.

          For many, the fear of death is a strong motivation for religion which believers will cling to no matter how silly the tenets are.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Its a fantasy to live as if God does not exist.

          Look, bro, you need to provide evidence. An emphatic statement of your belief does absolutely nothing to advance your cause here.

          Everyday you get up and look around the world you must believe that all the beauty and complexity is just the result of the mindless forces of nature with no ultimate purpose.

          And that we’ve evolved to appreciate what we see as beautiful. See how that works?

          When you look in the mirror all you see is matter in motion that has no more value than other pieces of matter.

          Wrong. I assign value to lots of things—family, friends, good deeds, great art, and so on. I’ll bet you do, too. The only difference is that you feel obliged to toss in the God hypothesis.

          Drop it. It doesn’t help explain anything.

          Your ultimate destiny is to cease to exist as a conscious being and become dust and forgotten.

          Wow—good point … in a billion years, no one will care about all my fabulous and heroic deeds.

          Aaaaaaaa! My life is meaningless now!

        • Kodie

          I feel sorry for you if you think it’s like that. You have a low opinion of yourself.

        • Lbj

          What I have is a low opinion of atheism. The implications of atheism is meaninglessness.

        • MNb

          Which, if anything, is a comfort. You have a problem with meaningless, not us. You think you are not strong enough to live a find meaning yourself, to avoid criminal and unethical behaviour without your imaginary sky-daddy. Hence you have a low opinion of yourself indeed. All your comments are ridden with fear and self-delusion to combat that fear.

        • Kodie

          There is a big difference between having a low opinion of something and being terrified of imaginary consequences. Your opinion of atheism is “fear” and that’s programmed into you by people who want you to be afraid to question their claims, which are also your shitty unsupported claims. Your answers aren’t satisfactory to a thinking person, they are meant to be a fairy tale to appease the non-thinking, and should you even think of thinking! Meaninglessness! You don’t mean anything to me already. That’s why you need an imaginary friend who never says that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Save the critique. We’re trying to find out what’s true, aren’t we? Or are you admitting that you’re a Christian simply because you prefer the story?

        • MNb

          That’s not fantasy, that’s reality. You only argue that you are self delusional.

        • Jose Chung

          Yes, that is the ultimate reality, and there’s nothing particularly troubling about it.

        • Nemo

          So what? Are you saying that if an intellectual position is “sad”, it should be discarded? Reality exists independent of any person, and the nature of reality does not conform to your discomfort.

        • http://empiricalpierce.wordpress.com/ EmpiricalPierce

          That is apparently irrelevant, considering that on average, the vast majority of European countries are both more atheistic than the US and also more peaceful, having less violent crime and a smaller percentage of their population imprisoned.

          Similarly, if one takes a list of the states in the US, higher levels of violence are correlated with states that consider religion more important, whereas states that consider religion less important tend to be less violent.

          Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but the fact that areas which are more inclined to disregard religion are also more peaceful places demolishes your claim that becoming more religious will improve things.

        • Lbj

          There is no doubt Christianity has had a positive influence on societies for the past 2000 years where it has been practiced.

        • hector_jones

          There is plenty of doubt.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Oppression of women, LGBT people and minority religions, suppression of science and education, fostering of ignorance and superstition… Yeah, Christianity has had a positive influence on society.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Yeah, Christianity has had a positive influence on society.”

          …if you happen to be a white religious male, born to a position of power and influence, that is. For the rest of us–not so much.

        • Lbj

          Christianity has helped every culture it has gone into. Atheism has done nothing to improve any society,

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re quick to demand evidence from everyone else–as a stalling tactic, I’m guessing.

          How about returning the favor? Give us some evidence for these bold claims of yours before we have to ask.

          Pro tip: groundless statements of the form, “Christianity is fabulous; atheism sucks” do nothing good for your position. Just makes you look like an idiot.

        • smrnda

          Lack of religious belief has certainly led to a decline in European antisemitism. It’s worse in Russia, which is less secular than the rest of Europe ,where much Jewish emigration is from in the present.

        • Kodie

          People are enslaved by religion to fear the consequences of thinking for themselves and going against their earthly authority, who uses god as a bludgeon and a shield. They are convinced by propaganda that they do right, and people who don’t do like them must be wrong, and to join the cause to oppress others. This is not “doing good”, this is organizing an effort to make divisions between people and fail to have compassion for them. They are told their compassion is getting these people “right with god” through any means necessary, including exclusion, abuse of power, and literal assault against human liberties and those humans’ bodies and lives, if it comes to that extreme. They don’t know their place, and they are arrogant when we try to enforce their place. We have a 1st amendment that gives people the choice to be dicks if they really want to be, but their power stops at themselves. Unfortunately, this extends at the very least to their children, taken out of schools, lied to, and potentially eventually disowned for thinking for themselves.

          Christianity does nothing for anyone except scar them. If they are not scarred by exclusion from their community, they are scarred morally by behaving as a hive-mind in that community. They know the consequences and participate in acting them out against others. And yet, as atheists, we’re supposed to be sensitive and inclusive, or shut our mouths and let them be free to run theirs. They don’t want to fight, they want to live blissfully ignorant of any diversity of thought or beliefs. They want the world to pretend to be Christian even if it’s insincere. They want the world to pretend to be straight, etc. If you are gay, “you have the same exact rights to marry someone of the opposite sex as anyone else”. They don’t care about dishonesty! “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” they don’t care! If it looks like a straight, moral-living Christian, it is. And later, if some scandal occurs, and the person was lying about their good-living Christian life, the community forgives and forgets as long as there are tears and verbalized remorse.

          Another example is the Boy Scouts – they don’t seem to suspect anyone is closeted gay or atheist. It doesn’t keep them up at night that their system isn’t fool-proof against whatever bogeyman they’re trying to sift out of their holy organization. “You’ll know them by their fruit”, indeed. Any man seeming to be an upright citizen mentor of young boys can’t possibly be gay or an atheist. They don’t seem to realize how easy it is to be a decent human being!

          Alternately, they really want people to be honest and wear their labels so they can judge them and confront them with bible passages and earthly consequences. This tends to be what keeps people closeted and none’s the wiser, but to assert this is a good thing? It’s quite a lot of pain for someone not to be able to be honest if they’re not going to be accepted.

        • Lbj

          How about some facts to back your claims up?

        • Kodie

          Are you on the internet like I am?

        • Lbj

          ya

        • Kodie

          The information is not a secret.

        • http://empiricalpierce.wordpress.com/ EmpiricalPierce

          Tell you what – I’ll link you to evidence for my earlier claims (that less religious states and countries have on average less violent crime like homicide than more religious states and countries) if you put in writing that you will concede Christianity is either not helpful or actively harmful to society if I can demonstrate my claims are accurate. Deal?

        • Kodie

          I think it has encouraged people to dehumanize other people, and keeps the poor poor, it tells them a light at the end of the tunnel if they just keep digging their lives away. Christianity and religion is a form of oppression, threatening people under it with a judgmental figurehead and keeping them in fear and suffering, and try to see a good side to it, without helping them at all. You need ignorant people to fall in line, and not think, just do what you need from them, promise them god is in it for them, and god is with them. Who benefits from this system?

        • Lbj

          Where are you getting the idea that Christianity “dehumanize other people, and keeps the poor poor”? It was Christians who fed the poor, educated them so as to improve their lives and be self-sufficient. It is a historical fact that Christianity has improved the conditions of a society where it is practiced.

          Jesus is the one who taught there will be a judgement for your life.

        • MNb

          “Where are you getting the idea that Christianity “dehumanize other people””
          Try the Crusades, especially the First and the Cathar one.

        • Kodie

          None of what you say is believable. Christians like to manipulate people, and if feeding them manipulates them, they do that, but if they can avoid feeding them and still manipulate them, that’s what they do instead. Christians care not for the poor, but for the people they can evangelize at their most vulnerable. In the US, Christians tend to have a distinct hatred and suspicion of the poor who go to the government for help instead of them.

        • Lbj

          I suppose some Christians manipulate some. However, this is not what Christ taught. More Christian charities and churches have helped the poor than any other institution in history.

        • Kodie

          What Christ taught doesn’t seem to matter to most active Christians who feel good about themselves.

        • Lbj

          Why do you say this?

        • MNb

          They display a stunning lack of modesty. You are one example. You claim to understand atheism better than all atheists on this blog. That’s a form of superbia, which, as you may recall, is a deadly sin.

        • Kodie

          Because I have eyes.

        • smrnda

          Wrong. Food stamps kick the ass off ‘charity’ in terms of feeding the poor in the US.

          TECHNOLOGY kicks the ass of Christianity in terms of feeding the poor. Thanks to better agriculture, and better crops, we now have less hungry people.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          SNAP (food stamps) are worth $77 billion in the U.S. every year (source), and Social Security is $1.3 trillion (source). Then there’s Medicare and Medicaid.

          Society helps people a lot more than churches do. We don’t even know what churches do in the U.S. every year since they refuse to open their books, but I’m guessing less than $10 billion spent on charity.

        • smrnda

          A standard Christian response is that these EVIL SOCIALIST PROGRAMS give aid to the *unworthy.* Which is totally what Jesus said – make sure you don’t accidentally give something to someone who is unworthy.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, modern Evangelical Christian dogma, as expressed by their political allies, firmly believes the tenet that “it’s better that 100 people should go hungry, rather than 1 ‘undeserving’ person get fed.”

        • Kodie

          They want control over the person and distrust anyone they think may be dishonest. This is what happens to compassion when you’re religious.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, for the religious, “helping the poor” is dog-whistle language for “proselytize”. Religion is pissed about the government preventing hunger because they don’t get a cut of the pie.

        • katiehippie

          Oh how I hate that. The most of anything christian I have personal experience with. A woman at the church I used to go to was incensed that our small town might build a homeless shelter. “Then the homeless people will come here!”

        • smrnda

          I call that ‘vulture evangelism.’ It’s basically what they do.

          There is a Christian shelter in my area where, apparently, in order to get a roof over your head and food you need to commit to joining the ego-cult of the guy running it and attend services every day of the week and agree to abide by a 101 rule ‘covenant.’ I’d so much rather a secular agency, or even the government handle the homeless. Nobody should be subjected to that.

        • smrnda

          Christianity sure did not improve the quality of life for Jews. You might want to read up on the history of Christian antisemitism.

        • hector_jones

          There’s accountability to one’s conscience and to one’s peers. There are plenty of reasons to follow the law without the threat of a god to punish us.

          Your logic says we might as well dispense with a criminal justice system entirely and just leave it up to your god to punish people, since you claim there is no accountability to anyone but god anyway.

        • Lbj

          I wish it worked this way. The justice system is for those who really have no fear of God. If a crook does not fear God then let him fear the govt who can punish him.

        • hector_jones

          It’s a far more tangible threat. If your god was such a major threat, we wouldn’t need our own justice system in the first place, because we would all know from experience that people who commit murder get cancer or receive some other obvious punishment from God. Of course you will reply that God’s punishments all come in the after life, but that’s precisely what someone would say in defence of a non-existent god.

        • MNb

          Yeah, yeah – and all the christians in American prison are closet atheists.

        • Pofarmer

          There is accountability to yourself and your fellow humans. Why do we need the threat of eternal damnation to inspire us? Throw off the dishonest, outdated, superstitious baggage and come into the modern era.

        • Lbj

          An atheist does not have to be accountable to anyone else. Its not a sin or morally wrong not to be since no one can hold you responsible for your life. Only someone like God who has the power to judge and reward or punish you can.
          Without this, the atheist should seek to maximize his pleasure since this is the only life he has. After this is non-existence.

          The “threat” of judgement is a powerful incentive to avoid evil and do good.

        • hector_jones

          An atheist is accountable to this thing most countries have called the ‘justice system’. It’s a better system because it poses a threat of actual judgement. We can all have a look and see that there are real examples of people who have actually been punished by this system for their crimes and misdeeds.

          As for your system, the evidence that anyone has ever been punished under it or that there is even a judge in the first place, is sadly lacking. It’s also not a very threatening system that says all crimes are forgiven if you just believe the judge exists and you ask him to forgive you. Better still, you can just forgive the things people did to you and all your crimes are forgiven (Matt 6:14-15). Where’s the threat in that?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I knew this guy named hector, and one day I borrowed $20 from him. About a week later, he asked for it back.

          I said, “Y’know, I’ve been a bit anxious about that, because I don’t have it to give back to you. But then I prayed to God, and guess what? He forgave me! Problem solved!”

          I noticed, though, that hector never lent me money again. (He must not be a Christian.)

        • MNb

          A while ago you wrote that you are not very witty, but I notice that you’re learning fast.
          Great comment.

        • Greg G.

          How about that $20 you borrowed from a guy named Greg?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, God forgave me for that, too.

          Score!

        • hector_jones

          And you know what? I forgive you. Which totally gets me off the hook for that bad bad thing I did to someone else, according to Matthew. It was worth the $20. Why, you even did me a favor by ripping me off. What a great system.

        • Kodie

          I’m totally cool if someone gives me $20 to pay back someone else.

        • Lbj

          Its good that society punishes those who do evil.
          The judgement that Christianity refers to is the ultimate judgment that happens after death and one that determines the eternal destiny of a soul. This is the judgement to fear.

        • Kodie

          I don’t fear it. It’s a fantasy of yours.

        • hector_jones

          Just ignore everything I say, ok.

          1. Why does society have to punish evil when God is the supreme judge and supremely powerful? Why does he wait only until we are dead, when his judgement is, conveniently for you believers, unknown to us here on earth?

          2. Why is that judgement one to fear when I haven’t a shred of evidence that it exists? But I do have plenty of evidence that the human justice system exists and metes out some pretty stiff penalties.

        • Lbj

          1-God mandate govts to punish evil in this world. That is their god-given responsibility to make just laws and enforce them.
          The judgement at the end is for your entire life. That is the way He set it up. You can ignore this and go about your life but if it turns out to be true then it will be to late.

          2- I believe in judgement because Christ said there is going to be one. He is the ultimate authority and He warned about it.

        • Kodie

          That does not convince me. It is really just some stupid ass named Justas399 talking, well blathering, really.

          Do you think you’re the first Christian to tell us these things? Do you not understand many atheists used to be Christians under the spell, and know these arguments better than you and why they’re false? If god wanted me to know this, if he’s as good and as all-knowing as you say, he wouldn’t send a diptard like you to explain it to us, d’ya think?

        • Lbj

          Wow. You make some real powerful arguments.

        • MNb

          And you don’t.

        • Kodie

          You have a detachment from reality that is easy to ignore when making my life decisions.

        • MNb

          “God mandate govts to punish evil in this world.”
          Prove it. You won’t find it in several European constitutions for instance and the USA only have a vague reference in the DoI.

          “if it turns out to be true then it will be to late”
          And if it turns out to be wrong – or you have embraced the wrong religion – you have wasted your life.

          “because Christ said”
          Yeah and Mohammed said something else and so does The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        • Lbj

          Part of the responsibility of govts has been to punish evil doers. Most do.

          True. If i’m wrong I would have wasted my life. If i’m right it will be you who has wasted your life.

          What influence has this “Flying Spaghetti Monster” had on the world?

          If you want to compare what Muhammad said with Christ then we can do that.

        • MNb

          “Part of the responsibility of govts has been to punish evil doers. Most do.”
          And several European countries do not need god for this.

          “What influence has ….”
          Which only shows that Jesus has managed to delude more people than The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        • Kodie

          The responsibility governments have is to their citizens to be safe. Crimes that endanger public safety are reasonable to punish, or in reality, keep that person off the street. It’s strange that you like to use the word “evil” to describe criminals.

        • Kodie

          What god mandated governments to punish evil? Governments have a responsibility to their citizens. What you are describing is a theocracy like those Muslims you hate.

        • Kodie

          Why would a god-fearing society need to apply their own faulty judgment? What if they convicted the wrong person? What if that person were doing god’s will?

          The very problem with your religion is that it’s you who do all the judging of who you think god will punish, so you punish them on earth. You punish people by putting them in prisons, executing them, and you punish people by harassing, threatening them, and assaulting them because what they’re doing is not illegal and they will never be punished otherwise, even as you believe there’s a god and they will get their punishment later, you need to judge and punish them now. Plenty of criminals believe they are performing god’s job for him, executing justice… and why do we need justice on earth?

          If there’s a god, he knows the truth about each person, as you say. The human justice system has its own flaws. Based on very little evidence, a person can be arrested and their reputation ruined. Judges like you need to blame someone, and you can’t let someone get away with it (even if they will be judged by god when they die?), so you ride the wave of accusation and final judgment. How sure are you that you have the right person? It doesn’t matter to you, as long as you got somebody, you don’t care what the truth is. You’re not willing to believe how manipulated you can be. Throw someone in jail, done. You don’t need to look for the real perpetrator as long as you’re convinced you already have them.

          You’re an amateur. Why would god need your help?

        • Pofarmer

          You need to do some reading on moral developement. You are arguing against nihilism, which no one is promoting. In Christianity, the “threat” of judgement is actually empty, since you can always be forgiven.

        • Nemo

          The threat of the Ministry of Love is a powerful incentive to avoid thoughtcrime and do what Big Brother says. And to call such things evil and good, respectively. According to the Bible, genocide is an objective, moral good (except for the little girls, wink wink), and no, Jesus never denounced his dad for saying so.

        • Kodie

          The threat of judgment is a powerful incentive to go along with a crowd and let them influence you.

        • Lbj

          Not really. The judgement is between God and the individual and not a crowd.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you’re capable of parsing sentences. God is not a real threat, it is used as a tool. Christianity teaches you not to think for yourself, so you are more likely to believe there is a threat to your eternal soul if someone says there is, and you do whatever they say. Your beliefs don’t actually come from a personal relationship with a deity but from the group you are aligned with.

        • smrnda

          The crowd is real. God is imaginary. This is why we have real cops, lawyers, judges and prison guards.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Maybe you should talk to some Atheists and learn about what we actually are instead of setting up and attacking your strawmen.

        • Lbj

          I’m pointing the implications of atheism. Its not that difficult to understand atheism.

        • MNb

          For you it clearly is.

        • Kodie

          Atheism isn’t analogous to your religious structure. It doesn’t compel people to act any certain way, other than to find the assertion there’s a god to be unbelievable, and so it isn’t believed.

          This opens up a lot of room to be honest and face life as it is, and solve problems with solutions that will work instead of solutions that just make you feel like you’re pleasing god. It’s not compulsory with atheism, but atheism doesn’t stand in place of a religion and try to offer anything like religion offers. It’s merely a statement on whether or not your religion is true or if it seems false. To me, it seems false, and I don’t just base this on following the evidence, but how illiterate and gullible believers are to keep trying these same shallow arguments. You don’t know any better arguments.

          Did you choose your beliefs because it offered society something? Or it offered you something? Does that make something true? You don’t even ask yourself if it follows logically, if it offers a construct to society, does that make it true. It offers the 10 commandments, which are outdated list of rules assuming a god in the sky, that we’re to live by because this god in the sky said so. Are you stupid? Are you afraid to ask? What good is this list in reality, and in the society in which I live in now?

          You live by customs, and customs are a social construct. You didn’t construct them, but to get along where you live, you abide by customs. Not all of these customs are rational. Many can be questioned, opposed, and overturned. It used to be custom to keep slaves, and it didn’t bother anyone, if you ignore the fact that slaves are human beings. If it bothered them, too bad, they are not humans, right? But they overturned this custom.

          The 10 commandments is a similar sort of custom. I don’t think not killing people will go out of style very soon, but there are circumstances in which killing people is supported – ending a life is supported with huge enthusiasm when we’re at war, but ending a life when the subject is brain-dead and hooked up to machines to do breathing and circulation tends to be not. Ending a life when the dying has a terminal disease and close enough to death that they just want to go with dignity at home instead of in a hospital hooked up to machines and drugged out of their mind, tends to be not. This is superstition that god can pull out a miracle, thus we need to put on hold and wait for the intervention of a miracle. This is not facing facts or giving someone who wants to die the choice, and is your chosen superstition obstructing human dignity. Any time what a person wants differs from what you think god wants, you get scared to do the compassionate thing. The implication is the faith that god will do the compassionate thing when he’s ready, and time and time again, this is just not so. As an atheist, I can question, but as a Christian, you defer to god and call a bad situation “good”.

          I don’t see what’s wrong with drafting a new list, that applies to current times, that isn’t full of superstitions that we’re only adhering to these rules because god will smite us if we don’t.

        • Greg G.

          Not that difficult? Do you understand the difference between implicit atheism and explicit atheism? You keep arguing against the implications of nihilism.

          With Christianity, one can bears no responsibility to anyone. A person can exploit everybody, killing, pillaging, raping, committing genocide at will, then say “Lord, forgive me. Jesus, come into my heart” and get away with it all. But if you live a good life with an honest doubt, God is going to fry you. That is not a better system.

        • Lbj

          That is not true about Christianity. In Christianity if you “exploit everybody, killing, pillaging, raping, committing genocide at will” then you will be held accountable before God in the judgement.

        • hector_jones

          Christianity says that. But the evidence that you will in fact be held accountable just isn’t there. How about addressing this point rather than asserting over and over again that there is an afterlife and punishment in said afterlife? Evidence, please.

        • MNb

          And immediately be forgiven and rewarded (by going to Heaven, which I don’t think much of a reward, but you totally do) after you have committed, repented and put your soul in the hands of Jesus. I know a few inmates who would like that system in legal court.

        • hector_jones

          Yep. I referred to David Berkowitz. I’m sure he thinks he’s going to Heaven, and the christian shmucks eager to have their picture taken with him seem to agree.

        • Greg G.

          If you do all that and don’t accept Jesus, you get the same punishment as the meek little teenage girl who never got around to learning the gospel story. If the murderer does accept Jesus, God frowns at them and sends them on to heaven. In Christianity, anger is as bad as murder and lust is as bad as adultery.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Well, you’re failing spectacularly, so it must be hard for you.

          Like I said, talk to some actual Atheists and get to know what we really are instead of attacking the strawnman in your head. You’re not going to get anywhere in any conversations until you’re dealing with reality.

        • Nemo

          You claimed that if more people followed your religious dogma, there would be less crime and emptier prisons. This is demonstrably false, as secular parts of the world have less crime. Secular states in the United States have less crime, divorce, etc. Don’t shift the goal posts unless you’re prepared to admit you were wrong when you claimed not following your dogma leads to more crime.

        • Lbj

          Then demonstrate that a omitted Christian is more likely to end up committing crimes and going to prison than someone who is not. Just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean they are. I know many people like this.

        • hector_jones

          Since you most likely define a [c]omitted Christian as someone who doesn’t end up committing crimes and going to prison there’s really not much point to this.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Hey, let’s define all the “Christians” in prison as “not Christians.” Problem solved.

          God 1, Atheists 0!

        • Pofarmer

          What happenednto “we’re all sinners?”

        • MNb

          Like BobS wrote above: the No True Christian fallacy always comes to the rescue.

        • Nemo

          As I said: secular countries have far less violent crime than religious ones. Do you deny that the United States is more religious than many other first world countries? Do you deny that we have more violent crime and prisoners? Please don’t commit the No True Scotschristian fallacy. The Bible says everyone is equally a rotten sinner who needs to burn. Remember “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” is a staple of apologetics.

        • MNb

          “In atheism it doesn’t matter what kind of life you live since there is no accountability to anyone greater than yourself.”
          Non-sequitur. Given the underrepresentation of atheists in prison you should have written: “in atheism it does matter what kind of live you live since there is only accountability to your own conscience and your peers – no sky-daddy to excuse you”.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          If you need an invisible friend to keep you in line, and a “holy book” to tell you that rape, murder, etc, are wrong, you aren’t a good person.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And if you’re not murdering people only because you’re a Christian, please remain a Christian.

        • Lbj

          How does that follow?

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Good grief you’re obtuse.

        • Kodie

          Do you know the difference between good and obedient?

        • Kodie

          How would the 10 commandments work any better than any other list of rules if we don’t have the fear of god? If you need the fear of god to follow rules, then you aren’t authentically a good person, you are only an obedient person. I don’t know what you think is wrong with society (that wasn’t made worse by Christians).

        • Baby_Raptor

          That’s why the vast majority of people in our prisons are Christians, whereas less than 2% of them are Atheists. Right?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Far less than 2%. More to the point: atheists are underrepresented in prison compared to the general population.

        • Lbj

          If the person was a committed Christian before he went to prison he would not be in prison. Committed Christians don’t steal and murder because its forbidden.
          Either these people are Christians in name only or they became Christians after they were in. This would account for so many in prisons.

        • hector_jones

          So is David Berkowitz not a real Christian? Guess which system is punishing him for murder? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not God’s system:

          http://www.armyofgod.com/images/BrendaMillinerBerkowitzPic.jpg

        • Margaret Whitestone

          You are either very funny or very ignorant.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No True Scotsman, eh? Nicely played, sir!

          (Or, you could face the question squarely and understand its consequences.)

        • Baby_Raptor

          So your rebuttal is “Christians don’t do bad things”?

          Where, exactly, do you live? The rock must be hella comfortable.

        • Lbj

          Never said “”Christians don’t do bad things”.

        • Kodie

          Your implication was that atheists do bad things, and that YOU could benefit from US having the 10 Commandments posted publicly as a reminder.

        • Lbj

          Atheist do bad things and good things. I believe that if people lived by the 10 commandments there would be less problems in society.

        • smrnda

          Maybe if people lived by the UN Declaration of Human Rights there would be even less problems? It seems a better document than the 10 commandments. It even addresses more relevant issues, like workers having collective bargaining rights and access to education.

        • wtfwjtd

          We all know how much God loves democracy. He loves it so much that in ancient Israel, he…oh, wait, never mind.

        • smrnda

          And totally, god was so into freedom of religion.

        • Lbj

          Do you know What Was the Faith of Our Founding Fathers was?
          51 of the 55 were Christians.

          Wonder why they did not base the Constitution on atheism?

        • wtfwjtd

          So, how many times does the word “God” appear in the US Constitution? Hint: not as many times as you might think.

        • Kodie

          They made the 1st Amendment. Nothing is based on atheism. It is either based on a screwed up false fantasy religion like Christianity or it’s based on neutrality without any mention of religion.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Someone’s a fan of David Barton. I guess you’ll take any “evidence” so long as it supports what you want to believe, yeah?

          Would people who wanted a Christian nation establish freedom of religion, ban religious tests for office and explicitly state that the country was not based on Christianity?

        • smrnda

          They also did not base in on Christianity. “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,” – John Adams.

          I don’t think so highly of our founders either. Many owned slaves and such, and none of them seemed to care about women or minorities having rights.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Great example. I haven’t compared that to the Humanist Manifesto, but that might be another source of guidance.

        • smrnda

          I just took it since it’s an existing document that isn’t the US constitution, so it might be more familiar to people outside the US. It’s has a similar nature to the Bill of Rights, though unlike the Constitution it isn’t a formula or an actual government, just rights that member nations are supposed to be respecting.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You don’t change, do you? You’ve been told that this is a tautology, but it scratches your itch so you just keep bringing out this flabby line.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you think so and you have yet to provide anyone with a supporting argument or link they could read.

        • Lbj

          It would be interesting to see what the crime rate was in ancient Israel when then 10 commandments came out and what the crime rate among the people was over the centuries.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you show us some integrity and look up those numbers for us?

        • Greg G.

          According to Josephus, the Sicarii would mingle in crowds in Jerusalem with a sickle-shaped sword hidden in their garments. When they located their target, they would kill them slyly, then join the search party for the killer.

        • Pofarmer

          What were the rates of people killed for apostasy? Religious wars waged across Europe? Cities destroyed by Crusaders. People burned as witches because of religious superstition?

        • smrnda

          This way of defining the crime rate is rather circular. If I pass new laws, things which were previously not crimes become crimes.

        • Baby_Raptor

          “If the person was a committed Christian before he went to prison he would not be in prison. Committed Christians don’t steal and murder because its forbidden. ”

          Try again?

        • Lbj

          try again what? The statement is true. Committed Christians don’t steal and murder because its forbidden. It goes against the teachings of Christ.

        • Baby_Raptor

          1) What you just did is called a No True Scotsman. You deny that any “true” Christian would murder or steal because you see those things as bad and Christianity as not bad.

          2) Have you read your bible? Your god is a genocidal tyrant. Murder can’t be that bad.

          3) The bible also states that people cannot stop sinning. So even “true” Christians are gonna Fuck up.

          4) Theft and murder aren’t the only things people go to jail for. Other things we’ve seen Christians go to jail for recently: Money laundering, child molestation and rape.

          Christians aren’t any better than the rest of us. They answer to the same authorities we do.

        • Lbj

          1) I never denied a true Christian could not do those things. If he does, then he is going against the teachings of Christ.

          2) God has the right to take a life if He so chooses to. After all, He owns everything and is accountable to no one.

          3) Agreed that Christians will sin. When they do, it goes against their natures. When the atheist sins, he is going by the dictates of his nature.

          4) Those Christians who do “Money laundering, child molestation and rape” are either not Christians or are going against Christ.

          Your right Christians are no better than anyone else except that Christ died for them and gained them eternal life.

        • Baby_Raptor

          1) No, you just said that if they’re “true” Christians, they won’t. The point, you’re either missing it or dodging it.

          2) Prove god exists and then we’ll talk about his supposed right to end a life and his false lack of accountability.

          3) Everyone has the same sinful nature, dude. It’s right there in your bible. Becoming saved doesn’t change your nature, it means you’re “forgiven.”

          4) No True Scotsman again.

          If Christians are no better than anyone else, then why are you claiming they are?

          Are you actually capable of having an honest debate? I’m beginning to seriously doubt it.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you mean by a true Christian. Every Christian believes they are doing the right thing and justifies it as whatever god must want. I never see a Christian feel guilty or think they are probably screwed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1) I never denied a true Christian could not do those things.

          Yes you did. You said, “Committed Christians don’t steal and murder because its forbidden.”

          2) God has the right to take a life if He so chooses to. After all, He owns everything and is accountable to no one.

          This one never stops being funny. God can do whatever the hell he wants to, morality be damned, because he’s the boss.

          Remind me never to work for you.

        • Greg G.

          1) You said “Committed Christians don’t steal and murder because its forbidden.” Now you admit that they could, but BR didn’t say that they couldn’t.

          2) So much for objective morality.

          3) So when a Christian sins, he is forcing himself to do it against his own nature?

          4) Or they are forcing themselves to launder money, molest children, or rape because it is against their natures.

          If you don’t sin, then Christ died for nothing.

        • katiehippie

          The bible says that Jesus died for everyone. 1John 2:2

        • Jeff

          Your god does not own me. And if he hurts me, I will hold him accountable.

        • Greg G.

          I am not a committed Christian but I don’t steal or murder either. It doesn’t matter to me whether those things are forbidden. I don’t do them because of empathy for the victim. Of course understanding morality might be too nuanced for a theist. Thinking is forbidden, too. Just believe.

        • Lbj

          Glad to hear you don’t do those things. But in atheism you have no reason not to since it doesn’t matter what you ultimately do.

        • Kodie

          Why do you even believe that crap?

        • Lbj

          That’s what atheism is.

        • Kodie

          Atheism is the lack of belief in god. Your arguments don’t hold up. I don’t know why you’re making outrageous inferences.

        • Lbj

          There nor outrageous inferences but logical inferences if atheism is true.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          You wouldn’t know logic if it hit you upside the head. You are an epsilon semi-moron and a complete waste of further time.

        • Kodie

          You have a fear and ego, and fear and ego is what keeps you Christian, what convinced you it was true in the first place. Most of your arguments against atheism is that it would make you uncomfortable to realize there’s no god. It’s so superior to you to believe a comforting story because it comforts you, because the alternative is scary and you would be a nobody.

          Is that what you really think we think like? Your information about atheism is from Christians playing on your fear and on your ego.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          No, that’s not what atheism is. You’ve been told that a dozen times now by as.many actual atheists and you keep spewing bullshit. Either you are a complete blivet or a complete ass.

        • Lbj

          I know what atheism is and its junk.

        • MNb

          Every single comment of yours shows you don’t know what atheism is. So you haven’t even started to show it’s junk. Plus you’re judgmental, hence violating Matth. 7:1. Good job, Justas.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Does your mommy know you’re being ignorant on her computer?

        • MNb

          Or both. In any case he is another fine piece of christian anti-propaganda.

        • Baby_Raptor

          He’s a Christian. He believes in his reading of the bible, therefore he can’t be wrong about anything.

          He’s also an asswaffle. You know, for stubbornly denying people their own lives to adhere to his fantasy.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know what a blivet is, but I’m gonna find out. dI I

        • MNb

          That’s what you want atheism to be.

        • Sasori

          So may i ask what you are trying to do here, you keep spouting shit salad after shit salad but i dont understand why?
          Do you have no knowledge on atheism and are trying to get it?
          Are you trying to convert people her?, because your failing.
          The only thing i can think of is your are trolling which would make sense because of the word shit salads your chucking around here.
          Because so far you have show a lack of knowledge of history, religious history, and atheism.
          Good luck with all of that though.

        • Baby_Raptor

          He’s collecting witnessing points.

          He’ll go off later and talk about how he tried to show us poor heathens the truth but we just wouldn’t listen, so it’s our fault if we end up in hell.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yet again: why the fascination with “ultimately”?

          Who cares what your standing in the League of Superheroes will be in a billion years? You’re really so shallow that you need to be memorialized after you die?

        • Lbj

          Because these things matter for deep living. If you don’t think about them and just watch TV then it won’t matter. Think deeply about it, then it will be troubling for the atheist.

        • Kodie

          If you don’t think about them and think that god has arranged for you, then just watch tv and it won’t matter. It is not troubling for most atheists. It seems to be most troubling for Christians.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No, these things don’t matter. You’ve whipped up the idea of the eternal out of fairy dust and wishful thinking. It doesn’t exist–sorry. We do just fine without it.

          Think deeply about it, then it will be troubling for the atheist.

          No, it’s not troubling. You live your life fully and then you die, just like antelope and avocados. Most atheists are pretty OK without the fantasy of living for a trillion years.

        • smrnda

          I have yet to be troubled by atheism. The ‘big picture’ in atheism is life on earth, right now, which means that we have to fix things *here* since no magic god will come from the sky and fix them, or they won’t be fixed in some magic heaven.

          Living in a fantasy world makes people kind of useless when it comes to real problems.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Seriously. Stop attacking the strawman in your head and get to know some real Atheists.

          You’re not helping. You’re not being right. You’re not going to prove anything. You’re just being a misguided jackass.

        • Greg G.

          It does matter what I do because I want to live in a world where people don’t steal and murder each other. I do my part trusting my neighbors to do their part. If someone does, our society had created civil authorities to punish them in case their desire to do their part isn’t well-developed enough.

          But you have it backwards. In Christianity, the thought of committing a sin is as bad as actually committing it. A Christian is forgiven so they go to heaven because their sins are washed away by the blood. It doesn’t matter what they do under that theory.

          In secular society, if someone just thinks of punching me, I don’t care. it hurts a lot less than if they do hit me. So, the consequences are greater and more meaningful to people outside the Christian delusion.

        • Lbj

          It does matter what a Christian because he will have to give an account for the deeds he does in his body.

          We both agree that we want the civil authorities to punish evil doers.

        • Greg G.

          How long is that supposed to take? It wouldn’t be like you had someplace better to be. You’re not going to say, “Can we get this over with? I haven’t got all day.” But God will be just as upset with your thoughts, your little white lies about how nice the preacher’s elderly wife looks, and your teen-age lusting as much as your murders and thievery.

        • Lbj

          What do you mean “How long is that supposed to take?”

          God is upset over all sin. Some sins are worse than others. However, for the Christian the price has been paid for his sins because Christ died for them.

        • Pofarmer

          How does this work exactly? How can someone else dieing atone for the bad things I do?

        • Greg G.

          Where exactly does it say in the Bible that some sins are worse than others?

          Matthew 5:21-22
          21 “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.

          Matthew 5:27-28
          27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

          Thoughts are as bad as crimes.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          In other words, go ahead and commit muder since jesus paid for your sins. How morally bankrupt.

        • Kodie

          I think here, your religion is a judgment-lust for you to vanquish your enemies. If whatever they do is not against the law, you want them to be punished regardless, or for what they do to be included in our laws, so punishable by some means. It irks you that some people will get away with whatever they do you don’t like by dying and getting off scot-free.

        • Lbj

          No one gets off. Take the 911 terrorists. They were never tried and punished for their crimes and yet they will not escape the judgement of God their wickedness.

          If atheism is true, then they did get away with it. They were never held accountable for their evil.

        • Pofarmer

          Got away with it? They all died you moron.

        • Kodie

          And according to their theology, were rewarded, not punished.

        • Kodie

          That’s what I said: you can’t cope with reality and you need them to be punished. You can’t handle the fact that you’re going to the same place they went, just dead.

        • smrnda

          Do you know what would have been better? If religious fanatics hadn’t launched an attack in the first place.

        • Kodie

          You have given no reason for me to believe your assertions.

        • MNb

          Ah, like all apologists you prefer to ignore answers that don’t suit you. Again: that account the christian has to give is just confess, repent and putting his soul in the hands of Jesus. Then the road to Heaven is open again.

        • Lbj

          Not necessarily. If a person just confesses belief in Christ but does not really believe it in his heart (conviction) then he is not saved.

        • MNb

          OK. Then we get: confess, repent, be convinced and put your soul in the hands of Jesus. Now that’s a frightening prospect. Not.
          In the meantime forget about the victims. They don’t matter.

        • Greg G.

          Are you sure you have enough conviction?

          Matthew 7:22-23
          22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’”

          If you can’t prophesy, cast out demons, and do mighty works, then you don’t have enough conviction. Your only power is to make lame arguments. You are doomed. Don’t worry about it. The concept of the Christian God is impossible.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          In Christianity you have no motivation to do good because you can do whatever evil you want and ask god to forgive you, ignoring all the people you harmed because they don’t matter in your worldview.

        • Lbj

          not true. There is a lot of motivation to do good given that each Christian will be rewarded for the good he has done for the sake of Christ. A Christian who does evil will also give an account and suffer the consequences.

        • Pofarmer

          What about people who do good for it’s own sake?

        • MNb

          The christian who confesses, repents, is convinced and puts his/her soul in the hands of Jesus suffers exactly zero consequences.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          So you do good to get rewards and avoid punishment. This is your fabulous moral system? Dogs are better than that.

        • Kodie

          Committed Christians just accept they are sinners. You are making claims out of your ass right now.

        • Lbj

          Who is perfect? You?

        • Greg G.

          True Atheists are perfect. If someone does something wrong, then you know that person is not a True Atheist.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I know I’m not perfect. I was wrong once–I thought I’d made a mistake, but I was wrong.

        • Greg G.

          But you became a True Atheist again as soon as you stopped being wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah–I hadn’t thought about it that way. Feels good to be a True Atheist again.

        • Kodie

          Do you know what a non sequitur is?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No True Scotsman–funny for any occasion.

        • MNb

          Full with believers. You are preaching to the wrong choir.

        • Pofarmer

          Switzerland is 69% atheist with something like 2% church attendance. Must be hell on earth, right?

        • Margaret Whitestone

          The US is like 80% Christian. Obviously your religion does nothing to curb crime/promote morality.

        • Kodie

          They love to claim these numbers to demonstrate a majority or any other large totality, and lie next time and say these aren’t true Christians. The problem is they also use personal feelings as evidence, but believing god drives these feelings, do not acknowledge that every believer of every religion relies on these same feelings to justify whatever they want to name right or name wrong.

          Another thing wrong that has to be mentioned is the prison system – not everything people can be imprisoned for should be considered a crime. So the prison population is padded with people who should not be in there, and also didn’t violate any commandments. I would say that they are definitely still Christians. Also many of the commandments are not illegal to break, so people could be breaking some of them without ending up in prison. It is mostly just murdering and stealing, with some forms of lying, that are illegal and could wind you up in prison, from breaking a commandment.

          Yet, all of us are allegedly sinners, and some falter but are forgiven. Calling the prisoners who say they are Christians non-Christians doesn’t solve the problem of sinning and being forgiven. And yet another thing is, prison is a really good place, apparently, to proselytize and get converts. People with no other hope in the world are offered a chance to be saved, and then take it. Just because we won’t let them out any time soon doesn’t mean they haven’t converted and believe sincerely.

          And yet another extra problem is that these Christians seem to think atheism is committing crimes and whatnot with no care for consequences. I mean, they literally don’t know why else anyone would choose to not believe in god. Conversions to Christianity tend to come from people who were already Christians once, and Christian in name, but took a bad turn somewhere. They don’t stop believing in god, they just put god on a shelf for a while. These are not atheists, and having a bad turn somewhere along the way is not a consequence of atheism.

        • Lbj

          I hate to think what society is going to look like in a post christian culture. We will see more crime and brutality.

        • Kodie

          You have any reason to think that’s true?

        • Lbj

          Yes. I think the world we live in today is becoming more brutal. What do you think? Do you think the world is getting better?

        • Kodie

          I mean a basis besides your opinion which is fed by fear.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, it has been shown that the chances of being assaulted, murdered, dying in a war, or being eaten by a wild animal is lower now than any time in history.

        • Pofarmer

          Asolutely the world is getting better. If we could stop religiously fueled violence it would be better yet. This is the best time so far to be alive on this planet.

        • MNb
        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, just like in Western Europe(not).

        • Baby_Raptor

          Right. That’s why secular countries enjoy and all-around higher standard of life than the US does, and blue states are better off than their super-religious counterparts.

          Reality just does not penetrate your brain, does it?

        • Kodie

          Justas399 is a pawn, and only knows a few things. He can’t vary from the script at all.

        • Greg G.

          Europe is more post-Christian that this country. Compare the crime and brutality there with the US.

          New England is more post-Christian than the Bible Belt in the US. Compare the crime and brutality rates between those states.

          Christianity is not helping.

        • smrnda

          Like in Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany? All these nations have WAY LOWER CRIME RATES than the US and even the clergy in some consider the nations post-Christian.

        • smrnda

          Most people are in jail for drug related offenses. Since the 10 commandments don’t really talk about drugs, I don’t see the connection. Nowhere is there is a commandment ‘thou shalt not make meth.’

        • Lbj

          What do a lot of drug addicts do? They commit crimes to support their habits. That is stealing. They lie about their addictions.

        • Kodie

          Your religion does not do what it’s supposed to do and contend with the human condition. It judges people and parks them into segments. You may benefit from reading:

          The 6 Weirdest Things that Statistically Lower Crime

          6 Weird Things That Influence Bad Behavior More Than Laws

        • smrnda

          “A lot” is not all. There are plenty of people in jail who have only 1. made drugs 2. possessed drugs who have committed no other crimes.

          Also, not all drug use is addiction.

          By the way, I actually do research on prison populations. Most drug offenders are NOT guilty of other non-drug related crimes. One can use drugs and get by just fine.

          The war on drug is just racism, puritanical bullshit propaganda about ‘reefer madness’ and out of control and unaccountable cops.

        • hector_jones

          This is just a tautology. If people lived by the Ten Commandments then there would be less violation of the Ten Commandments.

          And if people lived by the existing law codes there would be less violation of the existing law codes. At least in the case of existing law codes, there would be less rape and stoning of children. Under the Ten Commandments, there would be more.

        • smrnda

          The 10 commandments make freedom of speech and freedom of religion a crime. You’re suggesting a list of rules that don’t enshrine these basic liberties is somehow good?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Enforcing the 10 Cs would throw the U.S. Constitution in the trash.

        • Baby_Raptor

          They want that.

        • Baby_Raptor

          God didn’t seem very big on freedom of religion. And god’s the ultimate morality, doncha know.

    • hector_jones

      You seem to think it’s only atheists who were responsible for the laws we have today which exclude the 10 Commandments. You need to rethink this.

    • Nemo

      If what you say is true, we would find more crime in more secular areas. That is the opposite of what we find. Aside from the ones which are carbon copies of every other society, the Commandments have no basis as the laws of any first world nation.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        One of America’s greatest contributions to civilization was a secular constitution.

    • MNb

      Ah – that’s why there relatively so few atheists in American prisons – too many christians fail to live by their own Holy Book.

    • Margaret Whitestone

      So why are teen pregnancy, murder, rape, misogyny, racism, homophobia, poverty and other social ills higer in highly religious states and nations?

    • Pofarmer

      If that were true, divorce rates wouldn’t be highest among evangelicals

    • wtfwjtd

      Atheists offer *reality* to make society a better place. How many diseases has religious dogma cured?

    • Kodie

      I think it’s outdated.

    • smrnda

      Most of the 10 commandments are irrelevant to quality of life issues.

      Any of them dealing with god are pointless. Taking the name of god in vain is certainly not anything that has any impact on reality. Sabbath day? Graven images? You’re telling me these things matter?

      Coveting? How does one have a booming economy without coveting?

      I note that nowhere in these 10 commandments are there any injunctions against child abuse. Nowhere in the 10 commandments is there any concern for human rights.

      • Lbj

        You might want to go an reread the 10 and see where the concern for human rights is. Stealing, murder, adultery and bearing false witness are human right issues.

        • Kodie

          Stealing their right to be a fully-acknowledged human being; murdering them by oppressing their lives to be lived for your sake, not theirs; cheating on them? Find that in any civil rights action. Lying and saying there’s a god and god doesn’t want this or that, so the rest of us have to follow your imaginary laws?

          Christians, you might not understand, are humongous hypocrites.

        • Lbj

          What are you talking about?

          All of us are hypocritical in our lives in some ways.

          It is not a lie to say there is a God if there is good evidence for God. Billions of people believe this.

        • Greg G.

          Billions of people have contradictory beliefs about gods. It only shows that most people are wrong about the supernatural.

        • Lbj

          True. However it does show that many to have a belief in some kind of god.

        • Greg G.

          Why appeal make an ad populum appeal to people who are wrong?

        • Lbj

          No appeal to ad populum to prove the existence of God.

        • Greg G.

          Were you using billions of people as evidence that people think the evidence is good? That’s a fine hair to split. At best, it’s evidence that people are willing to call bad evidence good if you promise them life after death if they believe it.

        • Baby_Raptor

          So?

          Most people believe the sky is blue. It’s really not.

          A lot of people believing something does not in any way espouse it’s validity as a claim.

        • Kodie

          Billions of believers are not the evidence we’re looking for. You were asserting that civil rights was contained in the 10 commandments and they are not, and Christians do not seem concerned that anyone have any rights.

        • Lbj

          I agree that “Billions of believers are not the evidence” but is an indicator how persuasive the evidence is.

          in the fight against slavery in this country it was Christians who were in the forefront of this movement. Where were the atheists?

        • MNb

          The first country in history to abolish slavery was Revolutionary and anti-christian France. In 1794. Why did christian USA need 70 more years?

        • Greg G.

          It’s bad enough without such wild exaggerations. It was only 69 years until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

        • smrnda

          The Southern Baptist Convention formed to defend slavery. Christians were divided on the issue.

        • Baby_Raptor

          So you’re completely ignoring the fact that Christians were also the slave owners, and that Christianity was used to keep the slaves happy and obedient?

          And why are you even talking bad about slavery? Your god is all for it. He even has rules about how you can beat your slaves to within an inch of their lives, and rules about who can and cannot be sold into slavery.

        • Greg G.

          No, it is an indicator of how gullible people can be.

        • Greg G.

          Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation but he wasn’t a Christian.

        • Kodie

          Have you ever noticed that Christians revise history to make themselves look better than they actually are? Is “slavery ending” your only example of?

          Your claim was that the 10 commandments are relevant to civil rights.

          You might want to go an reread the 10 and see where the concern for
          human rights is. Stealing, murder, adultery and bearing false witness
          are human right issues.

          Why don’t you tell us in more detail how civil rights issues are concerns of the 10 commandments?

        • Ron

          There were also Christians who actively defended and promoted slavery.

          Like William Ford, his brother-in-law, Tanner was in the habit of reading the Bible to his slaves on the Sabbath, but in a somewhat different spirit. He was an impressive commentator on the New-Testament.

          The first Sunday after my coming to the plantation he called them together, and began to read the twelfth chapter of Luke. When he came to the 47th verse, he looked deliberately around him, and continued—”And that servant which knew his lord’s will—here he paused, looking around more deliberately than before, and again proceeded—”which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself”—here was another pause—“prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

          “D’ye hear that?” demanded Peter, emphatically.

          Stripes” he repeated, slowly and distinctly, taking off his spectacles, preparatory to making a few remarks.

          “That nigger that don’t take care—that don’t obey his lord—that’s his master—’ye see?—that ‘ere nigger shall be beaten with many stripes. Now, ‘many’ signifies a great many—forty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty lashes. That’s Scripter !” and so Peter continued to elucidate the subject for a great length of time, much to the edification of his sable audience. (pp. 127-128)

          Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave

        • adam

          No it is not an indicator of how persuasive the evidence is, but how powerful propaganda is, especially with backup up with the force of armies of Crusaders, Inquisitioners and the political force of those who want submission.
          It demonstrates how powerful propaganda of ‘The Big Lie’ can be.

        • Kodie

          A quick search on the internet we all have access to tells me between 850,000 and over 1 billion people on earth smoke cigarettes. They must be good for us?

          http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/

        • Pofarmer

          Are you stating that the church having life or death power over you might be a motivating factor? The Catholics killed their last apostate in the 1850′s, which is pretty recent when you think about it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not aware of this anecdote. Do you have more details easily available?

        • Greg G.
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow. The list of crimes of the Catholic church just keep getting longer.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy Fuck.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m not really sure. I think I read it while researching the horrible movie on the Cristeros rebellion.

        • Pofarmer

          Asshat.

          “On the contrary, freethinkers played a role as well. In my post on the freethinker Abner Kneeland,
          I pointed out how his lecture hall was the only place in Boston that
          would give the fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison a place to
          speak after the churches turned him away. As Garrison later said:

          It was left for a society of avowed infidels to save the city from the
          shame of sealing all its doors against the slave’s advocate.

          Garrison himself was a freethinker who said, “The human mind is greater than any book… All reforms are anti-Bible” (source)

          And Robert Ingersoll, the great agnostic orator, fought for the Union
          in the Civil War and was likewise an unflinching foe of slavery:

          “We must be for freedom everywhere. Freedom is progress — slavery is desolation, cruelty and want.

          …I am astonished when I think how long it took to abolish the slave,
          how long it took to abolish slavery in this country. I am also
          astonished to think that a few years ago magnificent steamers went down
          the Mississippi freighted with your fathers, mothers, brothers, and
          sisters, and may be some of you, bound like criminals, separated from
          wives, from husbands, every human feeling laughed at and outraged, sold
          like beasts, carried away from homes to work for another, receiving for
          pay only the marks of the lash upon the naked bark. I am astonished at
          these things. I hate to think that all this was done under the
          Constitution of the United States, under the flag of my country, under
          the wings of the eagle.” (source)

          In that same address, Ingersoll said to a crowd of black listeners:
          “Today I am in favor of giving you every right that I claim for myself.”
          Would that the Christian world as a whole had come to that realization
          far earlier than it finally did.

          Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/11/did-christianity-abolish-slavery/#ixzz33Xjp6WxA

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–are you on the wrong side of this issue.

          Southern preachers had the more powerful argument, given all the slavery in the Old Testament. You really ought to read your own book.

        • Baby_Raptor

          “Good” evidence is subjective. It is a lie to assert that god exists if you cannot prove he exists. It’s really easy to get around this: Simply state that *you believe* god exists. Honesty is a novel concept.

        • Lbj

          God exist because He is the best explanation for the creation we see. No way all the things we see in this world could have come about by the mindless forces of nature.
          We also have the life of Christ who also clearly demonstrated the He does indeed exist.

          It is the atheist that is not being honest. He knows the evidence is very good but he chooses to ignore it and believe stupid things about the world.

        • Baby_Raptor

          So, the world could not have come about by chance, but apparently an all-knowing all-powerful being did? How’s that any different? Or any less non-sensical?

          How has Christ “clearly demonstrated” that he exists? Note: I am asking for *proof.* Your personal feelings are not proof.

          Where did you get your mind-reading powers? How do you *know* that all Atheists think the proof for god is good but we choose to ignore it? Surely you have to know this somehow, because you can’t just be judgmentally projecting. Being judgmental is a sin, after all. So, ‘fess up. The rest of us want mind-reading powers too!

        • MNb

          God explains everything hence nothing. Plus it predicts nothing. Perfect creation: god. Imperfect creation: god. But we already know that you’re antiscience.

        • smrnda

          I think the evidence of Christ is pretty shaky. Events that happened during that time didn’t tend to be well substantiated.

        • MNb

          I suppose you mean “the evidence of Jesus”. The evidence of christ (ie the divine part) is exactly zero.

        • smrnda

          True, I should have noted that.

        • Lbj

          No reputable scholar believes this.

        • Pofarmer

          Around 85% of the members of the National acadamy of sciences and about 70% of professional philosophers believe this, or are those not the scholars you are talking about?

        • Kodie

          Where do you get your information?

        • Greg G.

          He gets his information by using the first four letters of analysis.

        • MNb

          And of course you only label those scholars as reputable who believe what you believe.

        • katiehippie

          Proof they don’t believe and proof they are reputable, please.

        • Jeff

          Well, no *truly* reputable scholar.

        • Pofarmer

          You really need to go to sean Carrols blog, preposterous universe, and try that line out. Maybe you could watch some Laurence Kraus and Neil Degrasse Tyson videos, or, you could just wallow in your ignorance.

        • Lbj

          Right. Watch Neil and Larry tell me about reality. Kraus is the one who believe nothing can create something. It does get any more absurd than that. Agreed?

        • smrnda

          I think it’s more a case that our ordinary words like ‘nothing’ and ‘something’ don’t really map to concepts in physics so well. You can’t always translate science into layman’s terms.

        • Pofarmer

          Wallow in ignorance it is, then. No, I’ll not agree it’s absurd. What’s absurd is believing that there is some super powerful being who created a universe with hundreds of billions of galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars with the possibility of hundreds upon hundreds of billions of planets, who cares about and is personally accesible to us. THAT my friend, is absurd. Quantum mechanics is hard, but not absurd.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Love it! You’re going to school Lawrence Krauss about physics. What relevant degrees do you bring to the debate?

          I think he’s got a doctorate in, y’know, physics.

        • Greg G.

          No, Krauss says that nothingness is unstable and cannot exist.

        • Greg G.

          An omnipotent being could do any number of miracles perpetually to prevent all suffering. Therefore, all suffering is unnecessary. Suffering exists so either the omnipotence does not exist or it has chosen for unnecessary suffering to exist. Choosing to allow unnecessary suffering to exist is sadistic, not benevolent. Therefore, no being that is both omnipotent and benevolent exists.

          Do you believe God is omnipotent and sadistic or that God is benevolent but not omnipotent? If the former, why worship him? If the latter, you may as well worship me because I would prevent suffering if I wss sufficiently powerful to do it.

        • Lbj

          I agree that God could eliminate suffering and will do so someday. The benevolence of God is shown to you every day you live by all the good things in your life that you attribute the mindless forces of nature. Instead of giving God thanks for these things you take them for granted.

        • smrnda

          Most of the good things in my life are not caused by god or gods.

          Food – we have plentiful food thanks to science.

          Technology – thanks to dedicated people, massive government investment, giant businesses have all given me the internet and all the benefits with quick access to info.

          Crime – thanks to a decent standard of living, crime is not so prevalent where I live.

          Freedom to marry who I want – obtained over the objections of many people following some god.

        • Lbj

          Where do you think the raw materials come from that makes food possible? Man did not create this.Where do you think your ability to reason comes from? Just the chemicals in your brain?

          Everyone has the freedom to do evil.

        • smrnda

          Actually, much of the food available in the wild is either not edible nor particularly good to eat

          What happened was that people bred better cultivars. The raw materials and original plants weren’t that great. Humans made them better partly through trial and error.

          Since humans evolved, our brains evolved to help us survive. This means that they are good at some things, but they also have weaknesses like cognitive biases. This is why we have the scientific method; so that we can get around our biases. If our brains were made by some god, then they shouldn’t be biased in the way we see. It took quite a while before people figured out how to properly investigate claims.

        • Pofarmer

          The raw materials to make planets and food and us and everything else were forged in the hearts of stars in the early Universe. The process is still going on. Our ability to reason does indeed come from chemical and electrical processes inside our brains. Processes that we are really only beginning to understand, and may never absolutely. But, we are certain that is where it resides.

        • xscd

          Justas says: “Where do you think the raw materials come from that makes food possible? Man did not create this.”

          Man did not create man, either (nature evidently did). But man _did_ create God, lots of them over time, peppering our history with religions that now seem as quaint and archaic to us as Christianity and Islam will probably seem at some future time.

          Not only did man create God, but evidently, man created God in man’s own image, because our gods tend to have our own prejudices, flaws, capricious cruelty, etc. It’s interesting how closely our God’s resemble us (except for that whole actually exists in physical reality thing).

        • xscd

          Justas says: “Everyone has the freedom to do evil.”

          Everyone has the freedom (and often the inclination) to do good too, often for no religious reason.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We adapted to changing conditions; the conditions weren’t made to satisfy our needs.

          Read up on evolution.

        • Greg G.

          If you are going to credit God for beauty and pleasure, he is also responsible for the ugliness and suffering. You need to own up to that. When you take an honest view there are just as many signs of malevolence.

          Also when you view the magnificense of this planet but compare it to what an omnipotence would be capable of, you have to concede that he’s not putting forth much effort.

          The world really looks like the product of an indifferent universe.

          If God can’t manage the suffering in the thin biosphere of a small planet for a few billion years, you should fear eternity with him more than death.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Ah, so we just presuppose God and, viola! God exists?

        • Kodie

          The evidence is not very good and contradicts the things we know about the world. You’re on the internet, go look up how things work.

        • Ron

          …Christ who also clearly demonstrated the He does indeed exist.

          If he does indeed exist, then you should also be able to produce this resurrected fella named Jesus. Let us too examine the nail holes in his hands and the wound in his side.

        • Pofarmer

          Like I asked in another thread. If it was so obvious back in the day, why didn’t the Jewish leaders spontaneously convert? I mean, they couldn’t have ignored an all powerful ressurected being running around their stomping grounds could they?

        • wtfwjtd

          The apostle Paul was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he had to have a personal vision to convert. Yeah, label me unimpressed.

        • Pofarmer

          How many years after the supposed fact?

        • wtfwjtd

          At least 10-15 years after, I’d say. When you actually study what Paul says in the NT, compare it with the gospels, and attempt to formulate a time line and a cohesive narrative, there’s plenty of things that don’t square up, and leaves apologists squirming to try and explain away.

        • Ron

          Perhaps he was doing that “being mysterious” thing; or his reappearance was totally overshadowed by that zombie invasion recorded in Matthew 27:52-53.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’d think an invasion by a zombie hoard would be a hard event to ignore, wouldn’t it? I guess all those stubborn Jews, and numerous historians, managed to somehow.

        • katiehippie

          Someone ought to make a movie of this. Walking Deadesque

        • Greg G.

          Guessing the supernatural is never the best explantion. It has been proven to be wrong time and time again. Being wrong about the supernatural has stifled intellectual growth and scientific advances for centuries. Consider how many suffered because of the Demon Theory of disease.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Billions of children believe in Santa.

        • Lbj

          So what. Belief in santa is not the same as belief in God. Belief in God entails so much more than in santa.

        • Margaret Whitestone

          Not really.Magical guy who sees all, knows whether you are naughty or nice and rewards or witholds reward accordingly. Not any discernable difference.

        • katiehippie

          If I had to believe in something, I’d go with Santa. He doesn’t torture people eternally for not believing in him or drown them all for acting like he created them to act.

        • Greg G.

          Belief in God entails so much more gullibility than in Santa.

          FIFY

        • MNb

          ” if there is good evidence for God.”
          If.
          There isn’t.

        • smrnda

          Freedom of religion and speech are also human rights issues, and the 10 commandments opposed to these basic human rights with at least 4 commandments.

          Adultery is also not a human rights issue. Permitting divorce would be a human rights issue, but criminalizing adultery is not.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Criminalizing adultery would just force people into the Christian anti-sex rules. Adultery should be defined by the couple in question, not by a law.

        • Baby_Raptor

          The 10 Commandments are not civil rights issues; they’re black and white morality made to police. Every single one of those “bad things” can be shown to actually be good.

        • satanaugustine

          And none of the other has anything whatsoever with human rights or morality. You just listed the only good ones. The rest are ridiculous: obey the sabbath, do not covet your neighbor’s wife’s ass (coveting is a mind crime; it’s not even an action so how could what one thinks have to do with morality?), no graven images; no gods before me (cuz I’m jealous blah, blah), don’t take my name in vain, and which ever one I’m forgetting.

  • MNb

    Quite off-topic, but this is too good to be ignored. If anybody needs to be reminded why religion needs to keep out of science class then nobody shows this in a more brilliant way than my favourite creationist David Rives :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSSlSit9YYc

    And goofs like him want to found the legal system on the 10 Commandments, no doubt. Rationality ensured. Take that, everyone who uses the Cosmological Argument.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Wow–what a loser.

  • Greg G.

    I recall seeing three commandments from somewhere:

    1 Eat when you are hungry.
    2 Sleep when you are tired.
    3 Make love whenever you can.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      1. Fill what’s empty
      2. Empty what’s full
      3. Scratch where it itches

      – Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter)

      • Greg G.

        1. If it moves but shouldn’t, use duct tape.
        2. If it should move but doesn’t, use WD-40.
        3. Otherwise, don’t fiddle with it.

  • Ricker

    I think you’ve mentioned this before in a different article a while ago, but the 10 Commandments that religious folk all want to display aren’t the real 10 Commandments. Only in Exodus 34 does the text say “these are god’s 10 Commandments”, and what’s written in that passage is vastly different than what the layperson knows today.

    You also make a great point about the OT wiggling. Because Christian’s look to their god and holy book as the source of morality, they can’t derive reason without it. To justify their adherence to some common sense rules (no murder, stealing, etc) they must resort to the same tactic they use to justify the ridiculous (sabbath, etc.). You make a great point saying that they can’t just pick and chose which parts of the OT to keep and which parts to throw away. However, I will point out that there are references to the OT “10 Commands” interspersed in the NT, but there are never references to slavery or genocide or some of the other unpalpable aspects of the OT. That’s sometimes used as reinforcement that the OT Commands still matter but the uncomfortable stuff doesn’t anymore.

    Finally, the issue of abortion is taken care of by the “Do not murder” law. Since many religious folk view a fetus as a human life (human being the important part; everyone terribly conflates the definition of life in this regard), they view abortion as murder.


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