A Seriously Warped Moral Compass

“So what would you consider immoral?” I asked.

It was a crisp, cold night, on the boundary between late fall and early winter, and the tang of frost and woodsmoke hung in the air. An orange gibbous moon was rising through the tangled leafless fingers of the trees into a clear, dark night sky. The air had a biting chill, but my friend and I were not out in it. We were indoors, in the recently built student coffeehouse of Practical Bible College, a warm and well-lit space paneled in rich earth tones and bright polished wood. It was a late hour, and most of the red wood tables and chairs were empty save for a few students watching sports on a TV above the bar, and the two of us, sitting at a table in a back corner of the room.

I first met John* several weeks earlier, during the beginning of my junior year in college. I was heading down to the student union one night when I noticed two figures standing out in front, handing out literature to anyone who would take it and attempting to engage passing students in conversation. I approached them and soon found out that they were evangelical Christians from Practical Bible College, a small private Christian college in the same town as the university I attended, come to my larger and much more secular campus to proselytize. When I identified myself as an atheist, they were interested, and eager to engage me in conversation. (An atheist’s soul must be a particularly juicy plum for Christian evangelists.)

We sat on a bench in front of the student union, in the freezing cold, and debated for almost an hour that night. Eventually I had to leave, but the three of us agreed that we would meet again. John’s companion seemed less devoted to their cause than he was, and I did not see her again, but I met up with John several more times over the next few weeks. We walked across the campus at night, debating religion and discussing our respective life histories. John told me he had accepted Jesus into his heart and was saved at the age of five, and intended to become a missionary after his graduation and travel the world to spread the gospel. I also learned that, despite being no older than I was at the time, he was engaged to a fellow student from his school. The two of them would end up married before my graduation.

I have had the dubious privilege of meeting quite a few nasty, judgmental and sanctimonious Christians in my life, but John was not one of them. He was always mild and friendly, never rude, angry or hostile with me, and I have no doubt that he sincerely believed in what he was doing and wanted to save people because he genuinely viewed it as a moral imperative. I do not think that sincerity necessarily makes a person’s actions above reproach – indeed, some of the worst crimes and oppressions of history were committed by religious people who believed in what they were doing. But no matter how I disagreed with John’s beliefs, I never once perceived any malice or ill will in him (except, perhaps, for one occasion which I will discuss shortly). For whatever this is worth, coming from an atheist, I did and still do believe that his personal conduct matched up in all respects to the highest Christian moral ideal.

After several discussions on my campus, I agreed to come to his so that we could talk there, and that is how I ended up in the coffeehouse of Practical Bible College that wintry night. It was at the end of the night, nearing the end of our discussion, that I posed him the question at the start of this essay. We had been debating for some time, and as you might have guessed, without either of us altering our positions very much at all. He was well versed in the standard apologetic replies, and no matter how I pressed him, he would always fall back on faith as an answer to every question, a solution to every conundrum. It was out of a sense of frustration that I asked him for his Bible and began flipping through the pages, determined to show him something that would shock him out of his immovable conviction in God’s goodness.

My repeated mentions of the vile cruelty of the doctrine of Hell had not swayed him, so I thought something more concrete might work instead. I showed him Hosea chapter 13, the infamous passage in which God promises that for the crime of disbelief, the city of Samaria’s “infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

“Is this something a good god would do?” I asked. “I thought God was pro-family! I thought he valued the lives of unborn children! And now you’re telling me that it’s perfectly okay for him to decree that pregnant women will be cut open?”

John was placid in his faith. “God only commands us to refrain from taking life. He’s the creator of us all and he owns our lives, so he can decide to do whatever he wants with them.”

“But you don’t think this is an evil thing to do?” I pressed him. “Those babies had nothing to do with the sins of other people in the city. They were innocent. You think God can order them to be violently murdered and we should still consider him good?”

“God is all-good,” he said imperturbably. “We have no right to judge his actions. He knows best and our duty is to praise him whatever he does.”

It was at this point that I gave up on the Bible. It was obvious that he would not go against it no matter how brutal its passages were. But I was determined to find out just how far his faith would go, and what, if anything, it would not excuse.

“You’ve said that it’s perfectly okay for God to command genocide. You’ve said it’s okay for him to condemn people to be tortured for all eternity because they had some sincere doubts about his existence. And now you’re saying it’s perfectly okay for him to order the slaughter of pregnant women and their unborn children! So what would you consider immoral? Is there anything you think he can’t do and still be good? Is there any act – anything at all – that a good god would never command?”

For the first time, a shadow of disgust passed across John’s face. “Yes. A good God would never say that it’s okay for people to be gay. Homosexuality is disgusting and unnatural and God would never permit it.”

Much of what we talked about that night has faded from my memory in the subsequent years, but that part has stayed with me. I have never ceased to be astonished by how completely the moral sense of an otherwise kind and concerned person can be warped and subverted by religion. God ordering genocide so that his chosen people could have all the land they wanted? Fine. The gleeful condemnation of sincere unbelievers to an eternity of unimaginably horrific torture? No problem. (Indeed, John is not alone in this: a Beliefnet survey found that a substantial percentage of believers think that their own family members will end up forever damned.) Butchering children and pregnant women in the most gory and violent manner because other people in the same town offended him? A-OK. John accepted these things as right and just without a single tremor of conscience. His moral sense was numbed to these horrors, and not just accepted them but actively praised them. But when it came to homosexuality, then John’s moral sense rebelled. It was not bloody mass murder or savage torture in a pit of flame that aroused his disgust and indignation, but love and companionship between two consenting adults who happen to be of the same sex.

People such as this have a seriously warped moral compass. They have their priorities precisely backwards, they are obsessed with precisely the wrong things. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg once said:

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

This is a harsh assessment, but as stories like this show, there is some truth to it. This is one of the primary reasons I, as an atheist, oppose religion: because it can warp and distort people’s moral priorities, blinding them to true evils while causing them to obsessively focus on things that are not problems at all. In both of these respects, the villain is faith: blind belief in the unseen, the unevidenced, and the irrational. Only when we reject faith as a method of decision-making and instead base our morality on reason can we undo the damage that religion has done.

* Name has been changed.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://thescienceethicist.blogspot.com/ Aerik Knapp-Loomis

    Another excellent example of why religion is so inherently flawed. Not belief in a god, but religion, which instantly forces people to politicize it.

  • http://seaoffaithhawkesbaygroup.blogspot.com/ Terry

    We have a society in New Zealand,also in Australia and the UK where it originated, called the ‘Sea of Faith’ A strange name indeed if you don’t know its origins. We have a notice up at the meetings reading’This is a safe place to say unsafe things’ Probably most do not not believe in a supernatural god,the resurrection of Jesus , the virgin birth,miracles or prayer but may accept that Jesus was a sage and teacher but wholly human. Many still attend church,perhaps hoping to change it from within. They may call themselves Christian and religious though I feel these terms carry too much baggage and should be reserved for people who believe in a supernatural personal god in which case I don’t believe they can then be anything other than fundamentalist.This means that Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life. A church without fundamentalist beliefs is no different from a garden club.

  • Alex Weaver

    This reminds me poignantly of a couple of friends of mine. The “God can do whatever he wants with his creations” line is one that one of them used in response to my making similar points (this same friend is also the source of, with all due respect to her, the single stupidest statement I have ever heard from a creationist: “There’s no evidence for evolution, just a bunch of bones!” [verbatim or nearly so]). I still haven’t found an effective response to it; it’s like arguing with a solipsist.

    This reminds me more, however, of a girl I had a crush on for approximately the duration of my 16th year of age (I could tell she held the bizarre beliefs she did merely because her parents held them and had sheltered her from anything else. I hoped she would, for lack of a better term, “grow up.” She didn’t.), and who notably advocated nuking the entire Middle East during the weeks after the 9/11 attacks; supported the use of torture, massive constitutional violations, and the Iraq war; and never answered me when I asked her what evidence would convince her that Bush is a scoundrel–but who felt strongly that premarital sex was immoral.

    In both cases, these are basically decent people whose worldviews and values have been, for lack of a better word, completely fucked up by their religious creeds.

  • Kate

    I’ve just discovered your blog, and I very much enjoyed this post.

    This reminds me (in an inverse way) of my parents’ continuing unease with my atheism. They are loving, very intelligent, and rational people. Had I “come out” to them as gay, they would have unquestioningly accepted it. However, my lack-of-belief-system is something that never ceases to trouble them, and they insist that I am a “lapsed” Catholic. They are worried I will have no moral compass without belief in religion.

    My mother founded an AIDS clinic, my father helped me get a job at an abortion clinic when I was sixteen, they love all our gay relatives, and refuse to give money to charities through the Church. But the comforting idea of a warm, gooey God who will protect and prevail is just too much to lose for some people. Your friend has the inverse moral compass of his church telling him whom and what to hate – but both systems stymie the acceptance of others.

    I look forward to more entries!

  • http://secularplanet.blogspot.com Secular Planet

    The ending surprised me. I’ve encountered individuals who say that anything that God commands is good, but I simply didn’t anticipate that consensual sexual contact between people of the same sex would be considered absolutely taboo while murdering innocent people was okey-dokey.

  • BILLF

    I just don’t understand how die hard christians can have the thought process you illustrate in your blog and then condemn suicide bombers. They are the ones who say that blind faith in their god is a good and great thing, and they will fall back on their faith with any argument presented to them. They believe that their god can do anything it wants to us. Who demonstrates these very same principles better than a suicide bomber?

    They don’t get it. I hope someday they will, but I am not banking on it.

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com Infophile

    Something tells me that if the Bible had supported homosexuality, he would instead be okay with it. The only reason he’s safe saying that he wouldn’t respect a god who supported homosexuality is because his god didn’t.

    Kate – Welcome aboard! I’m in a similar situation to you, actually. Both of my parents are weak Christians, bordering on Deists. They outwardly accept my atheism, but it still troubles them. After one heated argument on whether there are actually any benefits to religion or reasons to believe (all they could offer was an appeal to consequences, which I still argued against), my mother has completely refused to discuss the subject at all. They’ve given up all of the doctrine of religion, but for some reason they just can’t make the final step and give it up completely.

    But anyways, I’m pretty sure Ebonmuse has done many posts on the subject of how atheists are just a bit too out there for most religious people, but I can’t find any at this moment; maybe he’ll come by and help. Until then, you can check out his Greatest Hits, or the essays up at Ebon Musings. No reason to wait, there’s already plenty of good stuff out there.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I’d suggest a post from May, “What Are You, Stupid?

  • http://thescienceethicist.blogspot.com/ Aerik Knapp-Loomis

    Something tells me that if the Bible had supported homosexuality, he would instead be okay with it. The only reason he’s safe saying that he wouldn’t respect a god who supported homosexuality is because his god didn’t.

    What I find just as interesting is when you can tell that a person really is not ‘of faith’ and only chooses their religion because of it’s inherent misogyny and/or homobigotry. Such as the Raving Atheist who went on a long rant about how rape is only about sex as if men can’t help it, and now that he’s on this long sting against feminists and Richard Dawkins, you can tell he’s converting to Xianism b/c it cajoles his sexism.

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com Infophile

    Ah yes, that’s the one I was thinking of; thanks.

  • Alex Weaver

    Yeah, right. Rape is only about sex like mandated school prayer is only about instilling moral behavior *eyeroll* (Yes, feel free to use that metaphor, or the reverse…)

  • Chris

    To be honest, I don’t know what rape is about because I’m not a rapist. I can’t really understand what motivates some people to rape because it doesn’t motivate *me* to rape, so I have at most secondhand reports of other people’s mental states to go on. Or guesses pulled out of my ass.

    I think a lot of people pontificate about the “real” causes and motivations of rape without sufficiently considering this problem.

    …I wonder if there’s some connection between this and homophobia? Not that homosexuality actually *is* like rape, but that some people *think* it is because, being neither gays nor rapists, they don’t really understand either, just that they’re “not normal”? (I need hardly add that assuming everything that isn’t X is the same is monumentally idiotic… but it’s also dichotomy, one of the oldest and strongest idola tribus, so in spite of its manifest stupidity once you think about it, it keeps on sneaking into people’s perceptions subconsciously.)

  • http://infophilia.blogspot.com Infophile

    Actually, rape is about violence, not sex. It’s a show of dominance and power… So I hear, that is.

    What?

  • Alex Weaver

    It occurs to me that rather than saying their moral compass is “warped” that we could describe this as “a big, cross-shaped magnet throwing it off.” ^.^

    As for the motivations for rape, I expect it varies between rapists, if there is a universal element I would predict it to be a lack of respect for the rights and decision-making ability of other individuals (who are usually, but not always, women). Nevertheless, power and dominance seems to be a common motivation, as does hatred and spitefulness towards women, judging by many of the common correlates of committing rape, such as a fondness for weapons, a tendency to abuse or torture animals, and a generally misogynistic disposition.

    Of course, to hear some tell the story rape is entirely because of either 1) women teasing and tempting men, such that they can’t help themselves, or 2) pornography, broadly defined (doing more or less the same thing, if many of the descriptions are taken at face value)…

  • andrea

    Rape is about violence and control. It’s not just a beating because our society puts such a value on virginity and who belongs to whom in a sexual way. If those puritanical sexual hang-ups didn’t exist, most of the sexual acts in rape would diminish. And you’d just have the violence left.

  • Alex Weaver

    Andrea: That interpretation sounds reasonable, but need I say that results and claims which seem to support our preconceptions require extra scrutiny? For instance, is there any research establishing that rapists selectively target virgins?

  • Kate

    Alex- rapists don’t have to target virgins. Rape requires the victim (male or female) to have to prove they didn’t “want it”. Since most rapes (over 80%) are committed by persons known to their victims, like ex-boyfriends or acquaintances, victims have to *convince* police that they were forced to have sex. That’s why it’s rare to successfully prosecute rape. The victim’s *entire* sexual history may not be admissible in court, but their prior contact with the rapist is.

    Sadly…an Italian court just ruled that victims who were not virgins when they were raped warrants a lesser sentence. That’s supposed to be Western-bleeping-Europe.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    On the somewhat brighter side, Pakistan’s parliament looks set to amend its disgusting and savage rape laws (the Hudood Ordinances), which punish raped women for adultery unless they can bring foward four male witnesses to the crime. The new laws allow rape victims to file criminal complaints in a secular, rather than Islamist, court. Predictably, Islamic fundamentalists are already up in arms about this, but it does seem as if Pakistan is poised to take a bold step forward into, say, the 18th century.

  • Alex Weaver

    Kate: I’m aware of the definition of rape, and wasn’t contesting it. However, whether or not real-life rapists preferentially rape virgins would seem to be quite relevant to whether or not our society’s emphasis on virginity and the equation of sexual intercourse with possession is a major motivational factor in the use of forced sex, rather than some other kind of violence, as a mechanism of power and control, as andrea alleged. In other words, I was specifically responding to the comment immediately above. Can you perhaps suggest a change of phrasing that might have made this clearer?

    Ebonmuse: It’s a start. Still…yeesh. Incidentally, do we have any figures on what percentage of American wingnuts would support the establishment of similar laws in the US? I strongly suspect it’s at least a few percent, and if we could get that–or better yet, names–it would give a lot of more moderate believers pause…

  • Kate

    Alex- I think I got your point. The fact that our society does place such a high premium on virginity essentially requires rape victims to prove their “virginity” in relation to their attacker. If a man rapes his next-door neighbor, he may claim she flirted with him but she can establish that she never before given consent to sex with him. Sadly, it’s nearly impossible to get a conviction for huband-wife or boyfriend-girlfriend rape, largely because our society (and therefor our jurors) see consent to ANY sex as consent to ALL sex, especially with an abusive “partner”.
    That’s relevant to your point because it can be inferred that rapists do crave power and possesion. They seem to prefer women they already know, especially women they know are not virgins, because those women are less likely to challenge the power that their rapists hold over them.

  • Things

    Is it not possible that your friend John did not have all the answers – or the answer to your specific questions? I’ve often found it ironic that when one meets one christian – all of christianhood is then judged on that particular person’s answer.

    The answer to the old testament question is far more complicated then was inferred to you – not that he wasn’t trying, but perhaps he was not fully informed.

    You are certainly entitled and welcome to have your opinions, but do not judeg any group of people based on the answer of ONE of their people.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    As you can see from reading this post more carefully, I wasn’t concerned by the answers he couldn’t give, but rather by the answers he did give.

  • Polly

    “(An atheist’s soul must be a particularly juicy plum for Christian evangelists.)”

    LOL! Don’t flatter yourself, a Muslim soul would be worth a crowd of atheists.

  • Polly

    OK, finished reading the post. (I’m a little impulsive)

    “The answer to the old testament question is far more complicated then was inferred to you – not that he wasn’t trying, but perhaps he was not fully informed.”

    Au contraire mon frere, the answer is simple: IT’S WRONG!!!!! What’s wrong with you people that you can’t see that!?! Carving “thou shalt not kill” in stone and subsequently ordering the mass slaughter of women and children is also plainly hypocritical. That is, unless you view infidels as less than human?

    And what the heck kind of answer does John of PBC actually give? Homosexuality is the one thing he can’t take even from God?!? How about lying; since bloody murder is kosher?

    The atrocities had bothered me for years but everyone around me acted like it was OK. And, sadly, I doubted my own conscience:

    Xian friend: “They deserved it.”

    Me: “But it specifies that even infants should be killed, too. What could they possibly have done to deserve that?”

    X’n:”God is just. He owns us all and can do what he wants”

    Me: “um…OK…I guess”

    That just confused me. But, in the last few months that confusion has given way to anger and, finally, disgust. And they’re worried about atheists’ lack of values! That’s a laugh. I’m not making the mistake of suspending my conscience in favor of dogma ever again. OH, all the internal, moral conflicts that have been settled by that one decision.

    I’m new to this so excuse me if I rant a little. I always thougt it would be Evolution that would turn me into an atheist. But, it wasn’t. It was the study of the Bible itself, or rather, the study of how it came to be. I had read the OT when I was still young and reread it as a teen. It was awful, but I continued in my belief choosing to focus on the good stuff in the NT. Though, in the back of my mind the questions still nagged me. But, even then, I kept wondering how all these billions of people could live their lives only to be taken by surprise by their LOVING creator and tossed into the Lake of Fire for eternity for not believing a 2,000 year old story, many of whom would have never even heard it. I just couldn’t understand it. But, all at once, my eyes were opened and I saw that this was just a collection of writings by barbaric middle eastern tribes as polemics against their enemies both within and with-out. Everything started clicking in my head: Why the supposed victory over sin never really materialized, why every church seems to be a business, why our born-again president is so…lacking in wisdom, why Christian science is always so damn easy to refute, why the explanations for all the apparent contradictions just souned so ad hoc and employed scripture wrenching tactics that would never be tolerated from liberal Xians, why the Christians I’d known who remained faithful never really wondered about or questioned anything and why I was always considered the most knowledgeable and intelligent Christian in our church. It’s because I was the only one even trying to use my brain. It’s Sunday morning and I plan to go to church later on this morning, as usual. Eventually, I think I may have to “come out.” I’ve only hinted to my wife that I MAY be reTHINKing my belief in God. And she’s already worried I’ll end up in Hell. I can only imagine what my 700-Club, TV evangelist devotee mother is going to think. Ugh!

  • anti-nonsense

    I can’t undestand why anybody could read the bible and still believe all that stuff about how God is infinitely good and that stuff. I’ve never been able to understand that. Even when I was very young I could see the contradiction between what they say about God being infinitely loving and all that stuff and the insane stuff that happens in the Old Testment, the flood and the murder of the firstborns and all that stuff.

    I was very fortunate to be raised by parents who were both non-religious and thus I didn’t get screwed up by being told that “God loves you and he’ll send you to hell if you don’t believe that”. In my early teens I did some reading about various religions and decided that I could not believe in any of them because that would require me to ignore many many observations about the way the world really works and i don’t have the ability to bury my head in the sand and ignore the facts like these creationist maniacs seem to be able to do, nor do I want to have that ability!

  • Polly

    @anti-nonsense:

    Oh, but there are so many “justifications” for why god just has to be such a dick, it makes your head spin:

    1)Life lessons for humanity
    2)Opportunity for growth
    3)Opportunity to exercise faith
    4)It’s not me, it’s you(humanity)
    5)god is just, so he HAS to do this even though he really hates to, — poor guy.
    6)free will – after all, what of the freedom of all those rapists and genocidal maniacs if god stopped them in their dastardly tracks?

    7)It’s OK, as long as you’re saved, everything will be fine in the end

    8)In the neverending future, you’ll look back and will see the wisdom of all that god did and allowed and you’ll agree 100% because then you’ll be supernaturally wise and capable of understanding.

    The list actually goes on, but I’m getting tired already.

  • Lauren

    Ok let me ask you this…. Just say you found out tommorow that God DOES exist and you knew 100% that he did. Does the bible change?

    No. It doesn’t. So whether or not you AGREE with the characteristics of God and what he has done DOESN’T MATTER, it’s irrelevant. You can’t argue that God doesn’t exist because you don’t like him or the bible. He either exists or he doesn’t. But he doesn’t NOT exist just because YOU DON’T LIKE HIM! See my point? That’s why your friend can’t argue with you, he just believes in God and he can’t argue on his behalf.

  • Tomas S

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m not sure who the “you” is you’re writing/responding to, but I’ll just jump on in anyway. I have noticed that both sides use a sort of “I don’t like it, therefore it’s not true” kind of reasoning:

    Christian: “God exists because life would be meaningless without him.”
    Atheist: “God doesn’t exist because the god of the Bible is horrible.”

    … At least it seems that both side use this kind of reasoning. I haven’t read all the comments, but I did read the original entry, and I don’t see where Ebonmuse is guilty of this. He’s not saying that God doesn’t exist because He’s horrible, he’s saying that his friend’s reliance on the Bible has led him to some warped conclusions.

    Or are you asking us to see it from John*s (*name changed) point of view? That’s fine up to a point. I have been in similar situations as John* when I was a Christian – having to justify God’s atrocities. I think one person did comment that if the Bible ever suggested that the Israelites kill a bunch of women and keep the men for themselves, he’d have given a different answer in the end, even if he thought homosexuality was wrong.

    No, in the end, it matters whether God exists, not God is moral. After all, He’s bigger than us. (Ooh, we’re all really impressed Down Here, I can tell you.)

  • Friday

    I became an atheist when I was very young – in fact it was when I learned to read and I started asking simple, logical questions about the bible – and was promptly punished for them.

    Admittedly this punishment did not come from my parents – hence my ‘conversion’ never really took place. I did briefly convert to Mormonism when I was suffering clinical depression in my twenties, but at the time I was looking for answers to my own personal suffering. I am glad it helped me to realise my true atheist roots…

    It must be said – I agree wholeheartedly with Ebonmuse’s rather dry repost that “I wasn’t concerned by the answers he couldn’t give, but rather by the answers he did give.”

    Ultimately that us all that really matters.

  • OMGF

    No, in the end, it matters whether God exists, not God is moral.

    That depends on what one is arguing. If one is simply arguing that god exists, then god exists independently of whether god is moral or not. If one holds to the Xian myth, however, that god is omni-max, then it does matter whether god is moral. Similarly, if one argues that we get our morality from the Bible, it matters whether god is moral or not, etc.

  • Alex Weaver

    “God doesn’t exist because the god of the Bible is horrible.”

    I’m not aware of any atheists who make this argument. What I have seen repeatedly is arguments reducible to “God probably doesn’t exist, due to the total lack of evidence and various logical problems entailed by the qualities God supposedly has. Given that the god of the Bible is horrible, this is a good thing” which are then strawmanned into the above by apologists for religion, theist and nontheist alike.

    (The closest argument to your example I have ever seen is the argument from evil, which concludes that the existence of “God” as traditionally defined by Abrahamic religions (omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent) cannot logically be reconciled with certain facts about the world that we live in, since those qualities necessitate the foresight, ability, and desire to prevent needless suffering, which the majority of suffering in the world demonstrably is. The unfortunate insistence of apologists for religion of pretending that this argument is not conclusive because “it is possible that there really is a good reason for all this suffering” is a bit like suspending judgement in a geometry problem because “it’s possible that someone will find a way to construct a square circle.”)

  • Tomas S

    I’m not aware of any atheists who make this argument.

    It’s not an argument which a thoughtful person would make, but don’t we all have times when we speak without thinking? Have you really never heard anybody say “I want nothing to do with a God who does X”? If this isn’t an argument that God must not exist, then it’s something worse. If there’s a bully who’s going to take your lunch money, wanting nothing to do with him doesn’t matter. You’ve got to figure out how to gain the upper hand.

  • OMGF

    Have you really never heard anybody say “I want nothing to do with a God who does X”? If this isn’t an argument that God must not exist, then it’s something worse.

    Huh? That doesn’t follow. Saying that I want nothing to do with an immoral god is not the same as saying that god does not exist. It is a statement of the morality displayed by said entity. If I said that person X’s morality abhores me and I want nothing to do with said person, did I just deny the existence of person X?

  • Tomas S

    It DOES follow — provided that “it” is “then it’s somethng worse”.

    We can avoid “said person”, but we cannot avoid a big “sky bully”, if one does exist. Wanting nothing to do with said sky bully is irrelevant, as long as the sky bully wants something to do with you. When we say that we don’t want anything to do with “person X”, we’re saying we plan on avoiding this person. When we say we don’t want anything to do with “god X”, we’re suggesting that he doesn’t exist.

    Can you name any specific examples of someone saying “I want nothing to do with a God who does X” said by someone who believes in such a God?

    Of course, my point here is that Ebon didn’t say this. So, I think we agree on my main point.

  • OMGF

    It DOES follow — provided that “it” is “then it’s somethng worse”.

    It’s something worse to decry the immorality of the sky bully? Huh?

    When we say that we don’t want anything to do with “person X”, we’re saying we plan on avoiding this person. When we say we don’t want anything to do with “god X”, we’re suggesting that he doesn’t exist.

    That’s still a non-sequitor. What the sky bully wants would be independent of what I want. Even if the sky bully makes me interact with it, that doesn’t mean that I have to desire it.

    Can you name any specific examples of someone saying “I want nothing to do with a God who does X” said by someone who believes in such a God?

    Why should I need to? If the Xian god exists and behaves like the tyrannical, genocidal maniac that is described in the Bible, then I want nothing to do with the Xian god. Nowhere in that statement did I suggest that god does not exist. I made a statement attacking the supposed morality in the Bible and/or that god holds if god does exist.

    Of course, my point here is that Ebon didn’t say this. So, I think we agree on my main point.

    What was your main point again? That Ebon didn’t use this bad argument that you are claiming (insisting?) that some atheists use? Like Alex, I’ve not heard any atheists use this argument either. Perhaps an example would be good.

  • Tomas S

    OMGF. I believe we agree on the main point here, so I will refrain from further comment unless someone else requests a clarification.

  • OMGF

    I did request a clarification. What was the main point again? I’m really not sure what you are referring to.

  • Another Rosemary

    The trouble with modern Christians is that they have given their god a make-over in line with what they would like a god to be like.

    If the Yahweh god is really as horrible as he is portrayed in the Old Testament, then IF he happens to exist, all the naive “god is love” Christians are in for a very nasty jolt in the after-life. The Yahweh god thinks nothing of lying and torturing and failing to adequately look after his followers. Heaven will be Hell.

    These Christians will either turn into fawning psychopaths along with their monstrous god or they will start another popular uprising in Heaven and end up in the eternal torture chamber, along with all the friends and relatives that they had been forced to watch and hear while fawning in front of their Sky Monster.

    If a god does exist, I hope it is nothing like the god portrayed in the Christian Bible. Living with such a monster for a week would be Hell. Living with such a monster for eternity could be possible, providing that the first week sent you permanently psychotic and out of touch with heavenly reality.

    Fortunately, I think the possibility of ANY god existing is extremely remote.