On the Character of Jesus

One of the most common tenets of Christian faith, believed by denominations across the spectrum, is that Jesus Christ taught and displayed some kind of unique, superlative moral virtue, unmatched by any other individual from myth or history. I’ve also heard this belief advanced as a counter to the argument from religious confusion, claiming that we should consider Christianity to stand out from all other religions because of the obvious superiority of its founder’s moral teachings.

I do grant that the teachings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament are morally superior to the rules of the Old Testament. This is not, in and of itself, high praise; it’s rather like saying that someone is nicer than Stalin. And, if you’re inclined to believe the dogma of the Trinity, it raises the obvious point that it was Jesus who instituted those cruel rules in the first place. But leave that aside for now.

Yes, some of the teachings attributed to Jesus are superb, even beautiful. There’s no doubt that they’re advancements over what came before. However, we have advanced further. In the two thousand or so years since the gospels were written, we’ve made considerable moral progress, and many beliefs which were widely held in Jesus’ day we now recognize to be gravely immoral. The New Testament, being a product of its times, attributes many of those same beliefs to its founder. Far from being an unmatched moral exemplar, Jesus (if he was a real person) was actually far behind where many of us are today in terms of moral development. His character shows no evidence of unique or unmatchable virtue. Consider some of the following deficiencies:

Slavery. Not only does Jesus not condemn slavery, he speaks favorably of it, comparing God to a slaveowner who beats his slaves for not obeying:

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.”

—Luke 12:47

Unless one is a moral relativist, a label most Christians would fiercely deny, the moral conclusion must be that if slavery was ever wrong, it was always wrong. That being the case, we would expect a divine being not bound by the culture and prejudices of the time of his incarnation to have condemned it unequivocally. Instead, he speaks of it and works it into his teachings as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Racism and favoritism. In one incident from the synoptic gospels, a Gentile woman comes to Jesus and begs him to heal her sick daughter. At first he ignores her. When she persists, he says, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), and, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs” (15:26). He does eventually heal the woman’s daughter, but only after she submits to his degrading analogy and agrees that she is like a dog. Shouldn’t the Son of God treat all human beings as equals?

Breaking up families. Jesus’ teaching that “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother” (Matthew 10:35) could be interpreted as a simple statement that his new, exclusivist religion will cause argument and dissension. But the next passage is not so easily explained away:

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

—Matthew 10:37

and even more bluntly:

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

—Luke 14:26

This cannot be sugarcoated. It’s the classic cult teaching that, to be a member of the cult, you must forsake all external attachments and love and trust in the cult leader above even your own friends and family members. This is an evil teaching which has been exploited to brainwash people throughout history, and it is not worthy of inclusion in a religion based on love.

Sexist treatment of women. Granted, the gospels, as opposed to the rest of the New Testament, contains relatively few explicitly sexist teachings. (There are exceptions: such as when Jesus teaches that men can divorce their wives for adultery, while apparently making no similar exception for women, or when the resurrected Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to “touch me not”, but allows Thomas to literally put a finger into the nail holes in his hands.)

However, what’s notable is what Jesus does not say. Although the gospels have him nullify some of the Old Testament rules, such as the provisions about ritual hand-washing or not working on the Sabbath, he never abrogates cruel laws such as the one mandating that rape victims marry their rapists (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), or the one that values women’s lives as worth half as much as men’s (Leviticus 27:3-7). He does not even contradict the rampant sexism elsewhere in the New Testament, including many of the letters of Paul. Like slavery, the devaluation of women is another cultural prejudice about which Jesus has nothing to say. Just imagine how much suffering and misogyny could have been prevented with one single, unambiguous statement that women deserve to be the equals of men in all things!

Hell. Bertrand Russell once said that Jesus’ most serious moral flaw was that he believed in Hell. On this point, I’m in complete agreement. For all its cruelties, the Old Testament never envisioned further torment in the afterlife. It was Jesus who introduced that innovation to Western religions.

As Robert Ingersoll eloquently put it:

It was reserved for the New Testament to make known the frightful doctrine of eternal pain. It was the teacher of universal benevolence who rent the veil between time and eternity, and fixed the horrified gaze of man on the lurid gulfs of hell. Within the breast of non-resistance was coiled the worm that never dies.

If this seems like an exaggeration, consider some of the more bloodcurdling gospel verses on the subject. In one of the most infamous teachings of the New Testament, Jesus tells us that we should be afraid of God because he has the power to send us there:

“But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

—Luke 12:5

Hell is such a terrible place, in fact, that we should mutilate ourselves if necessary to avoid it – a teaching which scarcely seems less gruesome if it’s meant metaphorically.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

—Matthew 5:29

But it gets worse than that. Jesus also teaches that Hell is not just a place of punishment for the handful of incorrigible sinners, but is in fact the destination of most of humankind:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

—Matthew 7:13-14

And in a final sadistic twist, Jesus explains that he often speaks in parables because many people are predestined to damnation, and so he deliberately seeks to confuse them so they won’t understand and repent:

“And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

—Mark 4:11-12

In fact, Jesus says, God supernaturally prevents people from understanding so that they will remain damned:

“He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”

—John 12:40

Not only are these teachings wrong, they are obviously wrong. There is no unapproachably superior morality to be found in the teachings or the character of Jesus – merely another moral philosophy of a primitive era, which, like all past moral systems, was advanced over its predecessors in some ways and deficient in others.

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.

  • Christopher

    “I’ve also heard this belief advanced as a counter to the argument from religious confusion, claiming that we should consider Christianity to stand out from all other religions because of the obvious superiority of its founder’s moral teachings.”

    And on what grounds should the “moral” teachings of one value system be judged superior to ANY other? Is not the act of finding one value system superior to another a “moral” judgement in and of itself? Ultimately, this is a circular argument: value system X is superior to others because value system X says so.

    This statement alone could have replaced this entire article and carried the same overall message.

  • velkyn

    No, Christopher, there are concrete reasons to show that Christianity is wrong. It isn’t a “moral” judgement, based only on “belief”.

    I wonder how many Christians will rush to say that Jesus “really” didn’t mean “hate” but just “love less” in Luke 14.

    Oh yes, don’t forget Luke 19 with the parable of the 10 minas where Jesus says that ” 26″He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.” I’ve never had a Christian willing to explain this parable, and tell me just who the “king” is (obviously Jesus/God) and why he wants believers to kill those who do not “accept” him. This parable is quite different than those, like the parable of the vineyard, where Jesus/God is doing the killing himself.

  • http://www.alexparsons.co.uk/blog Alex

    Ah but Christopher, that’s a relativist argument. If we’re not capable of judging and ranking moral systems, then we can’t really say if there’s such thing as right or wrong at all! We can’t say that murder is worse than an act of kindness because we can’t judge! Given criteria like which system produces the greatest net happiness and which treat people as being equal and having dignity, it’s quite easy to rank systems as the value of happiness to people isn’t an arbitrary means of measuring morals.

    The point of the article was quite clearly different to ‘We can’t judge’, it demonstrates that no matter if the New Testament is an improvement on the Old, it’s still far from what we today would consider a moral document. We can judge and this is a case in which we quite clearly should.

  • http://unix.culti.st/ Ceri

    To my mind, the last few examples would seem to point to a dichotomy between inner (secret) and outer (public) teachings. In this case, the inner teachings would be delivered to those who are willing and able to transcend their own every day experience, and experience what the Buddhists would call shunyata, or emptiness in day to day reality (also known as becoming “enlightened”).

    Really, a lot of these ideas seem to have a lot of metaphorical value. For example, if your eye (or point of view) was offensive (eg: I don’t know, thinking that all Jews were the root of all evil), would it not make sense to try and change your point of view? The idea here (and as borne out by my own experience), is that described by the phrase “rose tinted spectacles”; that our own attitudes will at least colour the way we see the world. So, it might be more efficient to think again, and perhaps reconsider one’s attitudes towards Judaism, in this case.

    Christian teachings are very much about the idea that grace, or whatever, is delivered from some external source; wheras other traditions (such as Zen Buddhism) would dictate that it comes from within. So, from this perspective, the idea of grace being withheld does make sense. On the other hand, that’s simply shifting the root of the moral problem, in my view, but if one transposes this into a more self-centered viewpoint, then it becomes the idea that one’s actions and attitudes are what holds you back, assuming you’re seeking transcendence, of course.

    Of course, I’d still agree that much of this is on the surface repugnant and life-denying. As with most things related to the matter, problems occur when a tradition degenerates, and people start taking things literally instead of looking at it symbolically, which is what a goodly number of traditions, particularly eastern, do with the inner teachings.

  • Christopher

    “Ah but Christopher, that’s a relativist argument. If we’re not capable of judging and ranking moral systems, then we can’t really say if there’s such thing as right or wrong at all!” – Alex

    As it happens, I’m a moral Nihilist: I don’t think there’s an objective “right” or “wrong” of any kind – only behaviors that accomplish what they intend to accomplish and behaviors that don’t accomplish said ends. Thus “morality” plays no role in my decision making.

  • http://friar-zero.blogspot.com Casey

    You are stealing my thunder man ;). I wrote just a few weeks ago about the character of christ. I focused on ten main areas and showed biblical support in the orthodox gospels. I specifically talked about his Jewish heresy, his absurd stements and actions, Jesus’ racism, slavery, his advocacy of violence, his lies and contradictions (actual doctrinal contradicts and semantic ones), Christ’s radical ascetic view of life, his bad advice, What he didn’t say, and the issue of Infinite Punishment for Finite Crimes. Check out my post.

  • Ric

    What about the whole cursing of the innocent fig tree thing? That shows that Jesus has a deformed sense of justice, not to mention the temper of a two year old.

  • javaman

    If there was a real person named Jesus, he appears to show signs and symptoms of bipolar dysfuntion. And he also appears to be the Ron L Huddard of his day,starting his own cult. Do you think the jews of his day though he was as crazy as Tom Cruise is today?

  • lpetrich

    I also find that fig-tree episode bizarre; I was very shocked when I first read it — it seemed so immature.

    Some noncanonical gospels contain things at least as bizarre. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas tells us that when Jesus Christ was a little boy, another little boy bumped into him, and JC zapped that other boy. Sort of like Anthony Fremont in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”, who would send anyone that he dislikes into the cornfield, a dreaded fate. So the people around him would praise him a lot and never say anything that might displease him.

    Another oddity is where JC claims that there is one unforgivable sin: blaspheming or speaking against the Holy Spirit. That’s what inspired the Rational Response Squad’s Blasphemy Challenge, to deny the Holy Spirit on YouTube.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Christopher,

    As it happens, I’m a moral Nihilist: I don’t think there’s an objective “right” or “wrong” of any kind – only behaviors that accomplish what they intend to accomplish and behaviors that don’t accomplish said ends. Thus “morality” plays no role in my decision making.

    Ah, yes. It’s true there are no moral absolutes. Nature just is. We happen to exist on this planet, and some other species could have overtaken and destroyed humans. Or a meteor wiped out civilization entirely. That would be a morally neutral outcome in the absolute sense.

    But this is a philosophical trap. By having consciousness and identity, we necessarily take on a value system relative to our own interests. I wonder how long you would remain a “moral nihilist” if I strapped you down and began to torture you with a red-hot iron?

    Human ethics are all relative to human subjectivity. But since our awareness as human beings can be scientifically defined and our basic needs and desires quantified, then moral “good” can be objectively derived: It is that which fulfills human needs, maximizes human freedom, dignity and happiness, and minimizes human suffering and pain. Moral “bad” does the opposite. Animals and other life on earth figure into our moral universe only insofar as their well-being affects the interests of humans.

    It is this human-centric objective morality on which the Bible is entirely silent. It is a book of arbitrary and capricious authority having no basis in the interests of human beings. I think that is Ebonmuse’ point, and I think it was well made.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Good post. I made a comment that cited some similar points at another blog several weeks ago. My comment was prompted by a Christian who said that atheists shouldn’t look at the lives of Christians; they should look to Jesus instead – I know nobody here has ever heard that line before :). He said something like, “Can you find anything wrong with Jesus?” He was taken aback when several of us answered, “Why, yes, we can find some things wrong with Jesus.” After disputing some of my examples, the good Christian said to me, “You may go to hell.”

  • Christopher

    BlackSun,

    “Ah, yes. It’s true there are no moral absolutes. Nature just is. We happen to exist on this planet, and some other species could have overtaken and destroyed humans. Or a meteor wiped out civilization entirely. That would be a morally neutral outcome in the absolute sense.”

    I’m with you so far…

    “But this is a philosophical trap. By having consciousness and identity, we necessarily take on a value system relative to our own interests.”

    I don’t see how this is a trap: we’re selfish beings, so it’s only natural that we place self interest at the center of our value systems. I can’t think of any living thing that wouldn’t do this…

    “I wonder how long you would remain a “moral nihilist” if I strapped you down and began to torture you with a red-hot iron?”

    1. You would never succeed: I’m always armed to the teeth and on the lookout for those who mean me harm – any attept to preform said action may carry a lethal consequense. And as I said earliier – I only see actions that are effective at accomplishing an aim and those that aren’t, so no punches would be pulled in this scenario.

    2. In the (highly unlikely) event that you did succeed and I was placed in this position, I still wouldn’t recognize your act as being “right” or “wrong” – but I would treat this situation as a threat to me and frustrate your efforts in any way that I can. Not because I’m convinced of my “right-ness” or your “wrong-ness,” but because my interests run opposite to yours – thus it’s in my best interests to fight against you through any capacity availible to me.

    “Human ethics are all relative to human subjectivity. But since our awareness as human beings can be scientifically defined and our basic needs and desires quantified, then moral “good” can be objectively derived: It is that which fulfills human needs, maximizes human freedom, dignity and happiness, and minimizes human suffering and pain.”

    But what if things that bring one man “happiness” bring another man pain? Why should we care about human “happiness” overall and not merely the “happiness” of certain individuals within the human species? On what basis should I accept the “good” of humanity over anything else (say, the “good” of Africa’s elephant population for example)?

    In the end, this moral system is based on the a priori assumption that the well-being of the human species is the end-all-be-all to our existence. I, on the other hand, will without a second thought put my own interests ahead of the interests of the rest of the human species should (hypothetically) I have to make a choice between the two.

    I know this isn’t a popular philosophy right now, but it’s an honest one: I think of myself first, my own second and everyone else last.

  • Anthony

    Interesting to me that this is an atheist site and a lot of the listings in the right margin are directed at christians. Why is that? There are many faiths, but christianity seems to be the most under attack.

    I see a lot of intellectualization here. It appears that the authors, a lot of the time, are taking the context of scripture to an inaccurate level.

    The bottom line is this: you were created by God who sent his only son to live and go to the cross for your sins so that you could live eternally. He lived perfectly because you or I could never. This is why we lean on him and shoot for what he has taught. We will never be perfect, but we are perfectly forgiven for all the bad we have done and will do.

    Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be hard and it may seem like he is not there. Silly sites like this one will draw you away from him. That is the enemy’s plan….to draw you away from God…..the God of the Bible.

  • bassmanpete

    Interesting to me that this is an atheist site and a lot of the listings in the right margin are directed at christians. Why is that?

    Probably because, in the West, Christianity is the religion we have the closest contact with or knowledge of. That doesn’t let other religions off the hook – see here for example.

    A petition in support of Pervez Kambaksh can be signed here. I fear though that such a petition would only be seen as outside interference or an attack on Islam by the Afghan government, which seems to be little better than the Taliban which it replaced.

  • Alex Weaver

    And on what grounds should the “moral” teachings of one value system be judged superior to ANY other?

    Its results in terms of contributions to human happiness. I suggest reading Adam’s essay on the topic.

  • Alex Weaver

    Interesting to me that this is an atheist site and a lot of the listings in the right margin are directed at christians. Why is that? There are many faiths, but christianity seems to be the most under attack.

    Christianity is the faith most aggressively besieging society here in America.

    I see a lot of intellectualization here. It appears that the authors, a lot of the time, are taking the context of scripture to an inaccurate level.

    …I know all these words and I still can’t parse this.

    The bottom line is this: you were created by God who sent his only son to live and go to the cross for your sins so that you could live eternally.

    1) evidence, plzthx, and
    2) so, in other words, we’re supposed to be grateful because God decided to sacrifice part of himself to another part of himself to change a rule that he himself made? (See here for more).

    He lived perfectly because you or I could never.

    There is good reason to believe that he never lived at all. If he did, and the Gospels are an account of his life, then the above is a compelling argument that he most certainly did NOT live perfectly, one that you have utterly failed to address.

    This is why we lean on him and shoot for what he has taught.

    I assume you mean “aspire to follow what he has taught” but it’s actually an ironically appropriate word choice.

    We will never be perfect, but we are perfectly forgiven for all the bad we have done and will do.

    1) evidence plzthx and
    2) if this was true, what incentive would it give us to stop doing bad?

    Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man.

    I’m sorry you’ve had so much pain, but that doesn’t make your argument any more compelling.

    No drugs. Just the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I’m unaware of any convincing evidence that religious doctrine consistently makes a positive difference in the lives of people who accept it, or does so more effectively and reliably than psychiatry.

    It may be hard and it may seem like he is not there.

    I think deep down we both know the reason why it seems that way.

    Silly sites like this one will draw you away from him. That is the enemy’s plan….to draw you away from God…..the God of the Bible.

    1) evidence, plzthx and
    2) is anything you have to say more than tangentially relevant to the topic? This isn’t a site where atheists assemble to be preached at.

  • nfpendleton

    @christopher:

    We non-relativists call said behaviors and ideologies you claim to hold “sociopathic” and/or “pyschopathic.” Society could not exist without a basic sense of right and wrong–it’s the details that our disperate cultures have been parsing out over the last few thousand years.

  • billf

    Anthony,

    How about addressing the issues raised rather than giving us generalities and personal testimony?

    What is the method you use to interpret scripture? How do you interpret Matthew 7:13-14, Mark 4:11-12, and John 12:40? How do you cherry pick what is meant literally and what is metaphorical? What makes your method right? Which of the 1000+ (10,000+?) Christian sects do you belong to? What makes yours the ‘right’ one?

    You do realize that your personal testimony is equaled (and made meaningless) by equivalent testimony given by countless others whose beliefs contradict yours?

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Christopher, I’m with you in the torture scenario. It would never happen. Not just because of the threat of lethal force which I have no doubt you would carry out, but also because I would consider the act immoral and would never attempt it.

    But my sense of morality takes into account your response. Even if I was to accomplish it, you or your family could come after me later and do worse. I recognize instinctively that such actions are unprofitable and therefore wrong. This is what I was getting at. We do have a sense of ethics, and it’s based on our survival and that’s our objective value system. You have it just as well as the next person.

    Where we get into problems is when you say:

    I, on the other hand, will without a second thought put my own interests ahead of the interests of the rest of the human species should (hypothetically) I have to make a choice between the two.

    This is why we need society. Because there are people who think this way. Natural competition is healthy, and leads to improved efficiencies–hence the free market. But when people try to hide their externalities (costs and benefits which accrue outside an economic transaction) they create great harm to the ecosystem and indirectly themselves.

    So a human-centric value system is based on our own desire to survive and propagate. If we do things at others expense that benefit us in the short term, we ultimately will hurt ourselves or our offspring.

    We cannot exist in the long-term without including the whole of humanity in our moral universe. Or it will eventually come back to bite us in the ass. Plenty of people have thought otherwise and tried to maximize their short-term gains at any cost. That’s what gives us warfare and environmental devastation.

  • Paul S

    Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Of course Anthony realizes that his statement could be written with any deity in place of “Lord Jesus Christ.” I’m assuming he is from Western Europe, the US, or Canada. If he was from, say, Saudi Arabia, his statement might look like this: “Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just Allah.” If he was from India, this might be his statement: “Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.”

  • bassmanpete

    If he was from, say, Saudi Arabia, his statement might look like this: “Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic…”

    I think if he was from Saudi Arabia he’d be safer not admitting he’d ever touched alcohol :)

  • OMGF

    Let’s also not forget Jesus driving the herd of pigs off a cliff to kill demons (or was it into the sea…I forget) but he also physically whipped people in the temple. Yeah, the prince of peace my arse.

    I was thinking about the fig tree and this post and I wonder if the fig tree wasn’t meant as a parable about how god will send us to hell for not being able to live up to his maxim to be perfect. We obviously can’t live up to god’s expectations, just as the fig tree could not suddenly grow figs on command and out of season, so we will be punished by god just as the fig tree was punished by Jesus. He seems to be making a show to his followers of the evil that awaits them.

    Oh, and to Dutch, see what Ebon says about Mark 4:11-12.

  • SteveC

    Was there a reason you left out the end of Matthew, ch 25?

    I’ve had many Christians tell me that hell is “separation from God”, or that the flames of hell are eternal, but not the suffering, souls are made not to exist anymore in Hell, it’s only the flames which perform this feat which are eternal.

    Matthew 25 says:

    25:44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    It says right there, “eternal punishment.”

    I’ve also been told I was “taking it out of context.” Er… what context makes “eternal punishment” not “eternal punishment”?

  • Alex Weaver

    Let’s also not forget Jesus driving the herd of pigs off a cliff to kill demons (or was it into the sea…I forget) but he also physically whipped people in the temple. Yeah, the prince of peace my arse.

    I don’t know; seems like a “prince of piece of arse” would probably accumulate a lot of followers pretty rapidly… O.o

  • Christopher

    nfpendleton,

    “We non-relativists call said behaviors and ideologies you claim to hold “sociopathic” and/or “pyschopathic.” Society could not exist without a basic sense of right and wrong–it’s the details that our disperate cultures have been parsing out over the last few thousand years.”

    I’m aware that the herd animals of the social order would think like that: condemn anyone who doesn’t follow the path they establish (i.e. their system of “morality”) as being “sociopathic” due to the thefact that it’s people like us that threaten their little dream world. As far as I’m concerned, the opinions of these herd animals means nothing to me…

    BlackSun,

    “But when people try to hide their externalities (costs and benefits which accrue outside an economic transaction) they create great harm to the ecosystem and indirectly themselves.”

    Damage to the ecosystem? This world has survived countless celestial impacts, ice ages, episodes of volcanism and much, much more over the course of the last 4.5 billion years than what even the most powerful weapons ever built by man can ever hope to do! This world was around long before us and will be around long after, so any “damage to the ecosystem” we cause cause will be so minor by comparison that it’s not even worth thinking about…

    Damage to ourselves? We may not be as resiliant as the cockroach, but I have no trouble finding the human species capable of overcoming its immediate troubles (provided those “moral” barriers come down first) – as with any other species, the strong will adapt and evolve and the weak shall perish.

    BlackSun,

    “So a human-centric value system is based on our own desire to survive and propagate.”

    As John Menard Keyenes once said: “in the long run, we’re all dead.” Barring some advance that would cause us to possess eternal life, our species is going to die someday – so why shouldn’t I focus on improving my life and my values in the here and now instead of preparing the lives of a generation that may not even come into being?

    The way I see it, I’m sacrificing a long-term goal of uncertain worth for a short-term one of certain worth: fair trade as far as I’m concerned…

  • Ric

    Anthony said:

    The bottom line is this: you were created by God who sent his only son to live and go to the cross for your sins so that you could live eternally. He lived perfectly because you or I could never. This is why we lean on him and shoot for what he has taught. We will never be perfect, but we are perfectly forgiven for all the bad we have done and will do.

    Anthony, have you ever heard of begging the question? Your “bottom line” is the exact thing that many people do not see as true. Thus claiming it as the bottom line, by fiat, does nothing and impresses no one.

  • Bill Johnston

    Thinking About God Leads To Generosity, Study Suggests:from sciencedaily.com:”This is a twist on an age old question — does a belief in God influence moral behaviour?” says Shariff. “We asked, does the concept of god influence cooperative behaviour? Previous attempts to answer this question have been driven by speculation and anecdote.” ‘We did not anticipate such a subtle prime, simply getting participants to unscramble sentences with a few key words, having such a large effect on people’s willingness to give money to strangers,” said Shariff. “These are compelling findings that have substantial impact on the study of social behaviour because they draw a causal relationship between religion and acting morally — a topic of some debate. They by no means indicate that religion is necessary for moral behaviour, but it can make a substantial contribution.”

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Christopher,

    Imagine a scenario where you had 100 slaves who worked to support your every whim. They kept you living in the utmost comfort while they lived on the edge of starvation and your guards kept them from leaving or helping themselves.

    Contrast that with a situation where you started an ethical business which gave you an income where you could pay to live in the same comfort and kept your 100 employees living well also.

    According to moral nihilism, there is no difference between the two scenarios. Because both ways you benefit equally. But I doubt you’d agree the scenarios are equal.

    Prohibitions against coercion and fraud are the basis of society.

    Re: the environment. The earth is in absolutely no danger. It will survive for billions of years no matter what happens to us. But our future is in question and the ability of the natural systems to continue to provide us what we need to live. This is a fact. Taming externalities and living within our means as dictated by natural capital is the only ethical long-term policy.

  • Christopher

    “According to moral nihilism, there is no difference between the two scenarios. Because both ways you benefit equally. But I doubt you’d agree the scenarios are equal.”

    This is where you’d be wrong: it would actually be in my best interests to use the hired labor as they significant advantages over the slaves – there’s less chance of an all out revolt (see Sparticus and the slave riots in the Deep South), they are more motivated to work than slaves and they can contribute in ways that slaves either can’t or won’t (such as introduce new ideas to their field of work).

    Slavery was ultimately eliminated from this nation because it was inefficient, not because it was “immoral” – I know that many of those historical revisionists say otherwise, but that’s all slavery ultimately boiled down to; a question of economics.

  • lpetrich

    Rewrite of history. Slave plantations were not driven into bankruptcy by wage-labor plantations; US slavery was forcibly outlawed and suppressed as a result of the Civil War. The Confederacy’s main issue was slavery and the protection of it; if all the slaveowners were going broke and freeing their slaves, they wouldn’t have been able to support all those pro-Confederate politicains.

  • Christopher

    Ipetrich,

    The Civil War wasn’t about slavery at all: it was abuot the power of the federal govt. vs. the individual states. The whole slavery angle came in when the Confederacy courted England to join them in defeating the Union – Lincoln feared that it would work, so he came up with a nice PR stunt to keep them out of the war (i.e. the Emancipation Proclomation).

    You see, England had recently banned slavery due to a strong abolitionist movement in that country – and this proclomation helped elevate the Union in the eyes of the Brittish and made the prospect of a war with them unpopular. Had this not been done, the Brits would have almost assuredly entered the war on the side of the Confederates and changed the outcome of the Civil War.

    Had there been no Civil War, slavery would have simply faded away as an institution and machine tools rendered the need for excessive amounts of manpower obsolete – no need for manpower, no need for slaves and thus no need for the slaver; the institution would have succumbed to the lack of demand for its product.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    it would actually be in my best interests to use the hired labor as they significant advantages over the slaves – there’s less chance of an all out revolt (see Sparticus and the slave riots in the Deep South), they are more motivated to work than slaves and they can contribute in ways that slaves either can’t or won’t (such as introduce new ideas to their field of work).

    OK, Christopher, so what I’m hearing you say is that treating people with dignity is to your advantage. In your last few comments I think you have just laid out the basis for a moral system. Self-interest drives morality in almost every case. You and I agree on the basic premise. I just draw the circle of what constitutes my self-interest a little wider, and the time-frame a little longer than you do.

    But what’s clear is that morality is a practical human construct based on desires and needs, and this is far from a nihilist perspective. It is also far from the arbitrary authority-based “morality” of scripture.

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    Christopher:

    Are you the same Christopher from the Roots of Morality series of posts?

  • Christopher

    Nes,

    Yes I am: and I still find my philosophy of life to be effective as ever.

    BlackSun,

    “In your last few comments I think you have just laid out the basis for a moral system. Self-interest drives morality in almost every case. You and I agree on the basic premise. I just draw the circle of what constitutes my self-interest a little wider, and the time-frame a little longer than you do.”

    But unlike you, I don’t count this as a constant in all circumstances: in relation to a modern society the aforementioned behavior would be to my best interests, but let’s just say that our circumstances were suddenly altered – that I found myself in a society of weak-willed individuals that lack any significant level of creativity. In this scenario, it would be to my best interests to enslave them and make them do my bidding. Their weakness of will would make them ideal for obeying commands, thier lack of creativity points to an inferior intellect and such a society would likely be wiped out if left to its own devices (assuming that a society of such being evolved in the first place) thus elevating me, the greatest intellect in that society of half-witts, to the position of a protector in their eyes.

    However, at it stands this is not the case: humans tend to be much better equiped for handling life than these hypothetical beings, thus are more difficult to enslave – which just makes it easier to employ them normally if one wants their services over the long run.

  • Alex Weaver

    Christopher:

    Any chance you’ll introduce some supporting evidence for your… interpretation… of the Civil War?

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Christopher, the Civil War was about slavery, not the power of the Federal government. The supporters of secession had no qualms about expanding the powers of the Federal government as long as that power supported their interests, such as the Fugitive Slave Act and the support for annexing Cuba and Latin American territories in order to create more slave states in the Union.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Even if I was to accomplish it, you or your family could come after me later and do worse. I recognize instinctively that such actions are unprofitable and therefore wrong.

    I’m not sure that it makes sense to privilege self-interest as a motive for morality. Whilst I realise that self-interest has the advantage of being near-universal, I’d like to point out that care for others is actually nearly universal, too. It tends to be more focused on the people we can actually see, and we’re perfectly capable of blocking others from our circle of awareness, but if our subjective (though nearly universal) desire to survive can be part of what makes up and drives our morality, would you agree that our subjective (though nearly universal) care for others can also play a part?

  • Robert Madewell

    Interesting to me that this is an atheist site and a lot of the listings in the right margin are directed at christians. Why is that? There are many faiths, but christianity seems to be the most under attack.

    Yes, some atheists target christians (especially fundamentalists) for debate. The reason I debate christians is because I was a christian. I was force fed all the doctrine and dogma I could stomach. So, I know how and why christians are wrong. I however know little about islam. I am learning more about it, but I was not indoctrinated in islam like I was with christianity. If I had been born in Iran for example, the religion I target would probably be islam. But, I am an american, so christianity is the religion I know about.

    Also, Why do you think christianity is being attacked? When someone doesn’t agree with your religion and says so and why, is that an attack? I on the other hand, have been attacked for my atheism. I don’t mean my beliefs were riddiculed. I mean I got the crap beat out of me, because I don’t believe in God.

    Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Alex, that is not an appeal to pity. It’s a (rather bland) testimony. These guys believe that they have to have been a horrible sinner to have a good testimony. I have been denied positions in church because I didn’t have a “good testimony.” A good testimony usually goes something like this, “I was a drug dealer, I spent 3 years in prison, but God healed me! If he can heal me then he too can heal you!” It’s more of an appeal to emotion than to pity. It’s also counted as evidence of the Holy Spirit by some churches. You were a horrible person, but now look at you! Your life is a witness to the power of God. It’s just another example of the magic and superstition of the christian faith.

  • Eric

    “Take it from a 35 year old ex alcoholic, depressed, suicidal, fatherless, man. No drugs. Just the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Why did this “god” or “christ” let you become addicted to drugs and booze in the first place?

    And don’t pop out the old “It was Satan” crappola. If God is all good, he wouldn’t let Satan crawl up your nose via white powder or whatever your drug of choice was. He would have prevented it in the first place.

    As for the free will argument. It has been covered here and elsewhere ad nauseum…

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    It’s all very nice to condemn the herd animals and say there is no right and wrong when nothing is on the line. It makes one feel very superior, looking down on the peons who think things matter. Look at them scrambling around, as if their feelings matter. How laughable! (I think Nietzsche had some things to say about that, actually.) I do find it quite enjoyable to read Nietzsche, and he is often quite right, and there are some very compelling arguments for moral nihilism (e.g. Mackie’s error-theory argument.)

    But it is quite another thing to espouse moral nihilism when people’s lives are on the line. Tell me, what would you do if you were suddenly transported back to 1939 Germany, knowing what you do about the Holocaust? Would you simply sit back and say, “Ah well, it’s not really wrong. There is no right and wrong. Such terms are meaningless”?

    What if an illegal war was started by your country, and your government started torturing and holding prisoners without cause or charge? Would you shrug your shoulders and say it doesn’t matter since everyone dies anyway?

    Perhaps you might, if you were being true to your beliefs. I question whether anyone can live that way, or at least be happy living that way. Certainly all of the very best humans I know (and in fact, Nietzsche himself, I would fancy) would speak out against government sanctioned anti-Semitism, or persecution of any kind.

    There might be no way to convince a moral nihilist that he is wrong, since moral nihilists cannot even see that being logical should matter, for there are no “shoulds” for moral nihilists. In which case, they are free to be as illogical as they please. In the end, it comes down to whether you are a heartless fucking bastard or not. I think most people aren’t, and I’m glad, for my sake and the sake of my family and friends. I try my best not to be a HFB myself, and to help others not to be (if not through rational argument, through the arts and through friendship, which can allow you to see things you might have otherwise missed).

    It pisses me off when religious people assume all atheists are nihilists, but to a true nihilist, I really do have to ask, why not just kill yourself if that is what you believe? Why bother with anything at all, if none of it matters?

  • Christopher

    Response to Mathew Wilder,

    1. In the examples you proposed, my response would vary depending upon my position within the society in question and what I saw as being in my best interests – I can’t give you a more specific response than that as I would need more detail to answer.

    2. There’s no such thing as an “illegal war” as war presupposes the absence of law in the first place (thus the reason two or more factions fight to assert their own law): whoever wins the aforementioned war is the one to declare that which is legal or not…

    3. Now that you mentioned him, Nietzsche was one of my primary philosophical influences. That said, I consider myself to be an unfaithful disciple of his works (see “Thus Spake Zarathustra” for more on that) and thus have mixed his ideas (the eternal return, the Ubermensch, the master and slave moralities, etc…) with my own interpretations of reality. In short, even though I respect his works I don’t use them as a Bible for life (I think of them more as guidelines).

    4. As for suicide – why should I commit this act? The way I see it, my life has as much value as I ascribe to it and I’ve made it my own standard for existence. I created my own value for life and can unmake it at a future date if circumstances caused me to will it, so I don’t see what the big deal is.

    I know it all probably won’t matter in a few thousand years, but I don’t live for the future – I live for the present with the intention of being a law unto myself.

  • Robert Madewell

    Anthony said,

    It may be hard and it may seem like he is not there.

    I can’t resist using Occams Razor on this. If it seems that God is not there, there’s 2 possibilities. 1) He’s there, he is just hiding for some reason, he is testing us by not showing us that he is real, or he works in mysterious ways that our minds can’t fathom. 2) He’s not there.

    Occam’s Razor says that the simplest of these possibilities is probably the right one. Which one is the simplest? 1? or 2? I let you decide.

  • Christopher

    Response to Tommykey,

    “Christopher, the Civil War was about slavery, not the power of the Federal government. The supporters of secession had no qualms about expanding the powers of the Federal government as long as that power supported their interests, such as the Fugitive Slave Act and the support for annexing Cuba and Latin American territories in order to create more slave states in the Union.”

    You should know that the Fugative Slave Act was merely an attempt on the part of the states which allowed slaves to get back stolen property: had the thief stolen anything else and fled north, the north would have happily extridited him and returned the stolen property. There was a double standard that existed regarding slaves (which the Southern sates saw as being no different from any other piece of property) and they just sought to rectify it.

    And as for state annexation, this would have bolstered the powers of the individual states in the long run: because niether set of opposing states would ever achieve a majority in the Congress, niether would be in a position to enforce their will on the others.

    It’s easy to look at this from the perspective a modern individual and see a bunch of “evil” slave owners desperately trying to keep people from ever being free, but when examined in the context of that day and age one sees a culture that was attempting to remain independent as possible from federal influence over their property. Remember: actions don’t occur in a vacuum, but within a given context.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Christopher,

    What are your objections to conceiving of morality as pertaining to what we have most reason to do? As Richard argues in many posts, morality is deeply connected to rationality. Presumably you value rationality, else you wouldn’t bother posting in discussion threads on atheist blogs, in all likelihood.

    If that is true, it is open for us non-nihilists to convince you by argument that you are mistaken about the existence of moral truths. Why should we want to be rational? Well, it seems to me there is no way out of rationality. If you argue against the importance of rationality, you are engaging in a rational discussion, and so undermining yourself. Perhaps you can live with that, but you certainly won’t convince anyone!

    Might I suggest, then, that you read some of Richard’s posts dealing with moral theory:

    Red Pill: Ethics and Rationality

    Why be moral?

    Collective Rationality

    Objective Moral Relativism

    The Problem of Normativity

    Those are probably the core arguments that you should read. Here are some others that might be of interest:

    Desire Fulfillment

    Morality as Means

    McNaughton vs. Non-cognitivism

    The Meaningful Life

    That is a lot to read, but if you are really serious about holding a position, it behooves you read the best objections to your position, in order to make sure you are justified in holding that position. (Or maybe it doesn’t behoove you, since there is are no “shoulds”?)

  • konrad_arflane

    Christopher:

    1. In the examples you proposed, my response would vary depending upon my position within the society in question and what I saw as being in my best interests – I can’t give you a more specific response than that as I would need more detail to answer.

    That’s an… interesting answer. Lets say you were an Aryan German with no Jewish blood whatsoever, but no particularly elevated position in society at large or the the Nazi organization in particular. What would your stance have been on such things as helping Jews flee the country?

    You should know that the Fugative Slave Act was merely an attempt on the part of the states which allowed slaves to get back stolen property: had the thief stolen anything else and fled north, the north would have happily extridited him and returned the stolen property. There was a double standard that existed regarding slaves (which the Southern sates saw as being no different from any other piece of property) and they just sought to rectify it.

    I’ll freely admit that I’m not American, and thus probably have a somewhat simplistic view of the history of the US civil war (my country was involved in a war of its own at the same time, the results of which had far-reaching consequences on our politics and culture to this day, so we tend to focus a bit more on that).

    However: Whichever way you slice it, it seems to me that the Fugitive Slaves Act would have used the authority of the Federal government to enforce the legal standards of the South (people can be property) on the Northern states. If they were truly committed to the issue of states’ rights (as opposed to merely their own states’ rights), I’d say they should have simply accepted that any fugitive slave that made it across a state border into a state that didn’t recognize slavery was free to remain in the north. After all, what right did they have to impose their values on their northern neighbours?

    Quite apart from that, the analogy exposes one of the principal paradoxes of slavery: If your example of stolen goods crossing state lines applies to runaway slaves – who is the thief?

  • Judy

    About Jesus and the fig tree:

    If he was sent to redeem humanity, it seems like a better use (and example) of that “power” would have been for him to cause the fig tree to mature and give fruit, not kill it, thus teaching that a person could be redeemed by following him.

    Also, a better Jesus would have been one who truly suffered all the things humans suffer and who committed all the acts that a human commits in the course of living, so that he could truly know what it means to be human. The “fact” that he was “perfect”: so what? He was made that way. He didn’t endure what humans endure, turn to god, and come out better for it. Why should we humans have to suffer, some immeasurably, for this same “reward”?

  • OMGF

    Re: Mr. Johnston’s post,

    Thinking About God Leads To Generosity, Study Suggests:from sciencedaily.com…

    This is not surprising given society’s a priori assumption that religion = good. Since we are inculcated with that from an early age, it would be surprising if people thought about god and didn’t want to do good things. This doesn’t make religion good in itself because it doesn’t take a lot of issues into consideration, nor does it mean that we can’t attain the same results without religion.

    Re: nihilism,
    I find nihilism to be short-sighted and ill thought out. One may think that (s)he is the top dog and therefore can withstand any and all challenges, but there’s always someone bigger and badder. It also ignores the evolutionary contributions to morality and our selfish genes. I wonder if Christopher has children. If so, why? Also, does Christopher love his children? Again, why? If he does love his children, then it is incompatible for him to hold that the ecosystem doesn’t matter and ideas of that nature.

  • MisterDomino

    As far as the comments on the U.S. Civil War are concerned, I’d like to point out that we’ve already discussed the topic of States’ rights in the Ron Paul thread.

  • hereigns

    I see you left this verse out of your commentary, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

    It’s all about love. Jesus’ earthly life was about love. His death and resurrection is about love!

    Consider some of the following deficiencies:

    Slavery. Not only does Jesus not condemn slavery, he speaks favorably of it, comparing God to a slaveowner who beats his slaves for not obeying:

    Luke 12:47- You’ve taken this verse out of context, Jesus is telling us we should obey God’s will and not our own. We are all called to be servants (help/love others) just as Jesus was a servant. (John 13:12-17)

    He does eventually heal the woman’s daughter, but only after she submits to his degrading analogy and agrees that she is like a dog. Shouldn’t the Son of God treat all human beings as equals?

    Matthew 15:26 – On a cursory glance it seems Jesus isn’t even obeying his own word by not loving his neighbor but let’s dig a little deeper shall we.

    In order for one to understand Jesus’ statement, we must first recognize the primary purpose of the comment. Jesus was passing through the land of the Gentiles and was approached by a woman who was not a Jew. While Jesus’ message would eventually reach the Gentile world, it is evident from the Scriptures that the Jewish nation would be the initial recipient of that message. In his account of Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, Matthew recorded that Jesus said: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (15:24). When Jesus sent the twelve apostles on the “limited commission,” He told them: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6).

    Just before Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He informed the apostles: “And you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The sequence of places where the apostles would witness manifests the order in which the Gospel would be preached (i.e., the Jews first and then the Gentiles). In addition, the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the church at Rome, stated: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (1:16). Jesus’ statement to the Syrophoenician woman indicated that the Jewish nation was Jesus’ primary target for evangelism during His earthly ministry.

    For Jesus’ statement to be construed as unkind, hateful, or disrespectful in some way, a person would be forced to prove that the illustration He used to refer to the Gentiles as “little dogs” must be taken in a derogatory fashion. Such cannot be proved. In fact, the term Jesus used for “little dogs” could easily be taken in an illustrative way without any type of unkind insinuation. The Greek term used by Jesus in this verse is “kunaria” which translates “little pet dogs”. Jesus is not calling her worthless He is simply asking the disciples and the Gentile woman to accept the Lord’s divine plan that Jesus must work out his mission among the Jews first.

    In regard to the non-derogatory nature of Jesus’ comment to the Gentile woman, Allen Black wrote: “The form of his statement is proverbial. And the basis of the proverb is not an antipathy for Gentiles, but the necessary Jewish focus of Jesus’ earthly ministry.”

    What was Jesus doing in Tyre and Sidon anyway, it’s some 50 miles out of His way. I propose He went out of His way to meet this woman. What love and compassion He displayed, and to a woman of Canaan! We read of nothing else that Jesus did during this time in Tyre and Sidon. His only divine appointment was to meet the need of this woman of faith and her sick daughter.

    So don’t “dog” Jesus for the way He used an animal illustration, you are simply “barking up the wrong tree” by attempting to call Jesus’ character into question. “Call off the dogs” on this one and “let sleeping dogs lie.”

    Sexist treatment of women…the resurrected Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to “touch me not”, but allows Thomas to literally put a finger into the nail holes in his hands

    “Touch me not, cling not to me.” Apromai has this sense in Job 31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the Hebrew dabak, which signifies to CLEAVE, CLING, STICK, OR BE GLUED TO.

    From Matthew 28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. We can’t know for sure but it apears this is what Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect:

    Bascialy He said, “Spend no longer with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven — you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage.”

    Hereigns!

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    While Jesus’ message would eventually reach the Gentile world, it is evident from the Scriptures that the Jewish nation would be the initial recipient of that message.

    Trivially disproved by what the rest of the verse says:

    “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    Clearly, the author of Matthew intended to have his Jesus character the exclusive savior of the Jews, even if the other gospels contradict that.

    For Jesus’ statement to be construed as unkind, hateful, or disrespectful in some way, a person would be forced to prove that the illustration He used to refer to the Gentiles as “little dogs” must be taken in a derogatory fashion.

    This kind of apologetic is emblematic of the way Christian believers will tie themselves in knots trying to avoid the obvious implications of a biblical statement. The Greek word used in this passage, kynarion, is a derivation of kyon, which is used in verses like the following:

    “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

    —Philippians 3:2

    “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

    —2 Peter 2:22

    “For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

    —Revelation 22:15

    I’d turn that challenge right back around on you and ask you to show me any verse in the Bible where someone is described as a “dog”, little or otherwise, with a positive connotation in mind.

    Oh, and one other thing, “hereigns”: you plagiarized this text from a Christian apologetics site without giving any attribution or indicating that these aren’t your own words. That is dishonest and it may expose me to copyright liability. You will be removed from this site if you do that again.

  • Robert Madewell

    Don’t you love “Cut and Paste apologetics”?

    A simple Google search found the site hereigns used. I get it all the time in yahoo chat. It’s funny when I google a phrase and get the page they are cutting and pasting from and post the url back at them.

  • Christopher

    Response to konrad_arflane,

    “That’s an… interesting answer. Lets say you were an Aryan German with no Jewish blood whatsoever, but no particularly elevated position in society at large or the the Nazi organization in particular. What would your stance have been on such things as helping Jews flee the country?”

    Once again, this depends on the context of the question: if I was one born and raised in this environment of constant inculcation of propaganda, I would have no choice but to accept the party line on the aforementioned issues as I would have no other frame of reference to follow (and don’t say “you can choose not to do it” because this presupposes “free will” – which is just a fabrication of our imaginations in this deterministic universe of ours).

    On the other hand, if the version of myself that exists now was somehow transported into the body of said individual in that time period and I retained my knowledge of what the Nazi party’s agenda would do to people like myself, I would seek to take down the existing order and replace it with a new one with whatever means are at my disposal: not for the sake of the persecuted groups (I really don’t care about their ultimate fate – provided they don’t take me down with them, of course), but for the sake of the interests of myself and of my own as we would suffer from the Nazi party’s demise should it come at the hands of the Allied powers.

    Also konrad_arflane,

    “However: Whichever way you slice it, it seems to me that the Fugitive Slaves Act would have used the authority of the Federal government to enforce the legal standards of the South (people can be property) on the Northern states. If they were truly committed to the issue of states’ rights (as opposed to merely their own states’ rights), I’d say they should have simply accepted that any fugitive slave that made it across a state border into a state that didn’t recognize slavery was free to remain in the north. After all, what right did they have to impose their values on their northern neighbours?”

    Since you don’t know much about American history I’ll fill you in: many (if not most) of the slaves that escaped from the Southern states were assissted by various abolitionists that worked in a network that came to be known as “the underground railroad.” From the perspectives of the slave-holders, these people were the thieves taking their property up to the Northern state – thus they reasoned that they should have to pay for their crime of theft and return the property (i.e. slaves) that they had taken just like any other type of thief would be handled.

    Note: I take niether side of the slavery debate – as far as I’m concerned it was going to be declared obsolete eventually anyway and thus the abolistionists merely hastened its inevitable demise.

  • Lyssad

    ‘Animals and other life on earth figure into our moral universe only insofar as their well-being affects the interests of humans’, that’s why its fine to set fire to kittens while eating foie gras at the local dogfights, and why it’s fine to stone the less-than-human infidels to death.
    Replace ‘human’ with ‘Christian’ in Blacksun’s post, and you have a nice synopsis of the fundy worldview. His ‘objective morality’ is just as arbitrary, capricious and self-serving a sham as theirs, and it’s odd no one has called him on it. Does this mean you guys agree with that?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Replace ‘human’ with ‘Christian’ in Blacksun’s post, and you have a nice synopsis of the fundy worldview.

    Whatever your view of animal rights might be, I don’t consider it a pertinent criticism of a moral system that you can change it into a different, worse one by substituting words at whim.

  • OMGF

    …but for the sake of the interests of myself and of my own…

    Your own Christopher? Huh?

    Lyssad,
    You are guilty of a non sequitor. It simply does not follow that what Blacksun said leads to setting fire to kittens while eating foie gras at a local dogfight, or stoning non-human animals to death. Nice try.

    His ‘objective morality’ is just as arbitrary, capricious and self-serving a sham as theirs, and it’s odd no one has called him on it. Does this mean you guys agree with that?

    Do I agree with your strawman argument? No, I do not.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Lyssad,

    Since many people value and feel connected to animals, it is in humans interest to offer them protection. For most of human history, human economy has been based on exploitation of animal labor and products. To this end, proper ecosystem management allows animals to live as well as possible and therefore maximizes human benefit.

    Animals have no inherent rights. They slaughter each other at will. They overconsume their resources and starve themselves out. They are subject to the complete whims of nature. Humans are the only organisms with enough self-reflection, empathy, and power to protect them. So any rights granted to animals are based on human desires.

    Having said that, one of many human desires (driven by empathy) is to prevent needless suffering. The suffering imposed by animal torture, foie gras and veal production, and dog-fighting are something we can very easily prohibit under a human-centric self-interested moral system. Basically, we protect animals because we don’t want the discomfort of having to think about them suffering.

  • Friday

    Another reason to discourage animal cruelty might be a growing awareness of links between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans:

    Personally, I would be extremely wary of anyone who practices or supports deliberate and wilful cruelty to animals – be they the Messiah or not…

  • hereigns

    Ebonmuse, you’re right, I did plagiarize a portion of my response without giving credit and for that I stand corrected, I make no excuses. I can assure you it will not happen again. I used two sources in my response, one I was able to locate and is listed below while the other evades me, if I’m able to locate it I will gladly list it at a later time.

    Apologetics Press: Jesus, the Syrophoenician Woman, and Little Dogs by Kyle Butt, M.A.

    As far as the context of the term “little dog” is concerned I still believe the point is quite clear. He seemingly went out of His way to meet the woman. Based on the scripture it doesn’t appear He had any other business to tend while there. If He truly saw her and her daughter as “little dogs” why then did He heal her? The fact that He did heal her daughter I believe disproves the point you’re trying to make. I will not deny that these words and others used in the Bible can be at times strange to us in the year 2008. But in every case we need to read the entire text to truly get a “feel” or understand what is taking place, in both the old and new testatments.

  • OMGF

    hereigns,
    I’m sorry, but your point about Jesus going out of his way to meet the woman don’t seem to make sense. If he went there to meet her, then why would he ignore her at first, and then insult her? Then, he would not heal her until she consented to his personal attacks on her. Why would he do all that if he traveled there to heal her? Why did he have to travel so far to heal someone when I’m sure there were plenty of people around all over that could have been healed? It’s simply not adding up, except as a reaching apologetic to try and excuse Jesus’s bad behavior.

  • dutch

    A bit late, but

    You cannot and must not let your own understanding try and understand the scripture verses mentioned in this article. Mathew 10:37 above refers to the soul. Not our earthly relatives.
    “Deu 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;”
    This is spoken in parable, indeed all the verses in this article are in parable. Jesus Christ was never on our planet physically.

    The whole premise of this article is false…the verses are not literal – they are spiritual.

    Dutch

    Dutch

  • hereigns

    OMGF,

    Allow me to preface my response with, I realize this will probably cause this conversation to become even murkier than it already is but…verse 28 seems to clarify why Jesus initially seemingly ignored her plea and then tell her He must first go to the house of Israel.

    Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

    God knows the heart and He tests us…many old and new testaments verses clearly point this out. “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (JEREMIAH 7:10)

    Jesus simply informs her she is outside the house of Israel whom Jesus has been called. But she is stubborn and continues in her faith knowing that Jesus has the power to heal her daughter and because of her unrelenting faith Jesus heals her daughter.

  • Friday

    Err I meant to post a link, but just ended up with red writing…sorry

  • Eric

    Dutch,

    What special knowledge do you possess that let’s you know when to intepret the bible and when top take it literally? I have never seen that in the instruction manual, so how did it come to pass that you ended up with this priviledged information and line to god’s word?

    Also, Dutch, I find it interesting that you have deliberately ignored my response to you in another thread where you were shown to be, quite factually, dead wrong. A normal personm would at the LEAST issue a mea culpa. There was a young man who posted here and plagirized and even he had the stones to recoghnize his fault and admit it? THAT seemed a “christian” act, yet you when proved wrong chose to ignore that and move on with your “special knowledge” of the good book.

    Could you please explain that Dutch? As well as how you know when to interpret the myth book and when you must take it literally?

  • Lyssad

    Hyperbole aside, I don’t see mine as a straw argument. I suggested changing one word to illustrate that BlackSun’s argument hinges on the definition of that term, and it’s anything but obvious.

    As I understand the claim: The fact of our individual consciousness necessarily means we take on a value system relative to our own individual interests, and this causes each individual to define ‘good’ as that which brings maximum personal happiness, minimum suffering. The problem I see is applying this idea beyond the individual. There is no real necessity to extend it to even our own offspring, or family, let alone anything as nebulous as ‘human’. We may be biologically driven to include our family and a small tribal group, but no more.

    To include all humans, we have to say what counts as human, and how much. Aristotle didn’t count non-Greeks, women, or slaves; The Pope said in 1537 that we should count Americans—-because they were able to receive the Gospel;Until recent times Christians didn’t include any non-believers as human, and fundamentalists still don’t. In the moral universe of Zawahiri or Cotton Mather, soulless infidels like me only matter to the extent we are of use to the ummah. Communities decide what’s human.

    Old Testament morality comes from a tribal era, it seems to me, where your tribe was God’s Chosen People, all those outside were subhumans with no inherent rights, fit only to be slaughtered and enslaved for the benefit of the tribe. The New Testament seems morally superior because Jesus pushed the new idea that we should extend the circle of humanity to include other groups. Redefining ‘human’ to be more inclusive, he drew a circle that was a little closer to our modern one. Including others as full humans suggests we have to give them the same rights as our own, and there’s a long string of US court decisions denying full human status to Africans, Chinese, the handicapped and so on. Last month one even ruled that Guantanamo detainees are not human beings, and there are endless debates about fetuses.

    So…an ‘objective’ moral system can’t be ‘human-centric’. It can be ‘Christorpher-centric’, ‘Baptist-centric’, or ‘Homo Sapiens-centric’, but these are just as arbitrary and capricious as the bible-centric ones.

  • dutch

    Eric,

    I am sorry I didn’t respond to your question or comment where as you said, “where you were shown to be, quite factually, dead wrong.”
    I will freely admit when I am wrong or “dead wrong.” I have been away for awhile. Please tell me what thread your comment is in, and I will attempt to help you understand. I have written much more than I expected.

    I and a few others do have “special knowledge” on Biblical interpretation. This Christianity will slowly, but inexorably, supplant the current Christianity.
    It is still Christ based. All of the Bible is written in parable.
    Mat 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
    Mat 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the
    We are the multitudes. Parable is the same as allegory, dark sayings, etc.
    2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

    From genesis:
    Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    From revelation:
    Rev 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

    Jesus’s geneology is well described in The Gospels; He is traced back to Adam.
    Obviously, Adam was created in The Garden of Eden(Paradise; Heaven) not on our earth. The big question then is was Jesus Christ physically here? The short answer is, NO.

    We are considered heretics by mainstream Christianity. It does seem there is another minister from a “megachurch” that recently came into some understanding. I think his name is Peterson. I caught a news item so my memory is a bit fuzzy. I believe he told his church that we are in hell already. He lost this church as most members considered this heresy.
    So yes, it is “special knowledge,” but it is freely available to anyone with “an ear to hear.”

    My feeling is that Christianity is in a progression, the culmination will be the full ressurection of Christ’s body(us) in approximately 1000 years. We are in the third day. I wonder if this “new age spritualism” will not one day merge with Christianity, indeed we are all “interconnected,” in more ways than we know.

    I can well understand atheists feel threatened by all this. No longer will you be able to criticize The Bible. The Bible speaks to the “multitudes” – us. The Bible is God’s Word, Christ.
    You, of course, will for awhile be able to criticize Christian behaviour, and deservedly so.

    Eric, I have written on many threads on this site, please tell me where I failed to respond to you, and I will answer your complaint.

    Very sincerely, Dutch

  • dutch

    addendum

    oops,
    Mat 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

    I inadvertently left out some of the verse

    Dutch

  • Eric

    Dutch,

    You claim to “have been away” and that is the reason for your avoidance of responding to your egregious errors in fact. Yet, the posting history here proves otherwise. One can only conclude a couple of things:

    1) You are not telling the truth.

    2) You realized your ridiculous claim as being fallicious and simply hoped it would fly under the radar.

    3) You truly believe in your error as truth.

    None of them speak well of you.

    Also, you just freely admitted you have special knowledge of the bible and of god. That alone qualifies you as just out in left field. As such, I am discountinuing any further back and forth with you.

    You are quite out there and I sincerely hope you get the help you need.

  • Christopher

    Blacksun,

    “Animals have no inherent rights. They slaughter each other at will. They overconsume their resources and starve themselves out. They are subject to the complete whims of nature. Humans are the only organisms with enough self-reflection, empathy, and power to protect them. So any rights granted to animals are based on human desires.”

    Last time I checked, humans were animals too – and we exhibit all the characteristics of them plus one extra (i.e. an enhanced level of cognative thought). When push comes to shove, we really are no different from them.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Christopher,

    we exhibit all the characteristics of them plus one extra (i.e. an enhanced level of cognative thought). When push comes to shove, we really are no different from them.

    Correct. Biologically, we are little different.

    But the enhanced level of cognitive thought is what gives us the ability to not only dominate animals and each other, it gives us the ability to think about what we’re doing, and empathize with how other organisms feel about it.

    That’s the essential difference, and that’s what allows us to develop a human-centric morality. Animals have their own version of that within their limited capabilities, which is what leads to hierarchies in animal societies. Their empathy also runs deep in many cases–deep enough that animals will often help humans in distress.

    But since we are the big kid on the evolutionary block, we control much about the animals’ environment–including whether many species survive or go extinct. This is why I say that for all practical purposes, animal rights are only those granted by humans. Without us, they would otherwise be at the whims of nature and each other.

    Lyssad,

    As I understand the claim: The fact of our individual consciousness necessarily means we take on a value system relative to our own individual interests, and this causes each individual to define ‘good’ as that which brings maximum personal happiness, minimum suffering. The problem I see is applying this idea beyond the individual. There is no real necessity to extend it to even our own offspring, or family, let alone anything as nebulous as ‘human’. We may be biologically driven to include our family and a small tribal group, but no more.

    Your understanding of the claim is wrong. Humans are primarily self-interested, it’s true. But at least 2 forms of altruism exist as a check and balance. 1) Mirror neurons which cause us discomfort at the sight of suffering. 2) Reciprocal altruism which has shown to be a better social strategy.

    Many times, natural competitive pressures have brought despots to power, and through either an iron-fist or propaganda, out-groups have been dehumanized. But that is a tactic which involves either force or fraud causing isolation and exaggeration of the differences of the out-group–which runs counter to the idea of a broad human morality. Another phenomenon is that out-group dehumanization often disappears when people confront one another face to face. Especially when an out-group member is gravely injured or suffering. Counter-examples of atrocities committed against out-groups abound, of course. But this simply shows that mirror neurons provide a weak signal compared to tribal loyalties and/or ideology.

    To get to human-centric morality we must expand the circle of concern and eliminate tribalism and nationalism. So you just proved my point for me. You acknowledged that morality became less arbitrary–the wider the circle. Inherent human needs and some of the structures of social interaction transcend culture and are therefore universal. By studying anthropology and evolutionary psychology, we can get a handle on just what these universal moral ideas are. We can start with the basics of Maslow, and Donald E. Brown’s list of human universals (included in Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. Then we can move on to game theory and various ethical dilemmas which people predictably and overwhelmingly choose a certain way. Those example are just a few of the tools we can use to determine what’s universally good or evil.

    That these principles may not have been supported or practiced properly in human history does not mean they don’t exist. We may find that to allow human-centric morality to thrive, we may also have to put in place certain political structures. I never claimed that human-centric morality was 100% innate. We must first discover and refine our knowledge of the universals. And it may require some assistance and strategies to provide the reinforcement of an external support system.

    Human-centric morality may be idealistic, and its perfect application may be unattainable. That does not mean it does not exist or that it is not useful as a concept, or that we should not try to find it. And you cannot just dismiss this entire process of inquiry as “arbitrary and capricious” with a wave of your hand. That is not an argument.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    and there are endless debates about fetuses.

    Lyssad,

    The requirement for inclusion in the human moral universe is human-level sentience. Therefore it behooves us to figure out when sentience occurs and extend that protection to fetuses at some point in their development. I am unequivocally pro-choice. But I also propose in order for it to remain ethical, it should be an educated choice based on our understanding of the levels of sentience and the fetus’ capacity to suffer. You have to draw the line somewhere. It’s clearly not ethical to abort a viable fetus 5 minutes before it would otherwise be born. How much further back does that line extend? It’s a non-trivial question we should try to answer.

    In broad outline form: contraception and early-term abortions are far more ethical than later-term abortions.

  • dutch

    Mat 13:57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

  • hereigns

    Dutch,

    I and a few others do have “special knowledge” on Biblical interpretation.

    How did you acquire this “special knowledge” regarding Biblical interpretation?

    All of the Bible is written in parable.

    I don’t see how Matthew 9:36 helps solidify your parable point. How does 2 Peter 1:20 help you? This verse makes it crystal clear no prophecy is given for private interpertation. Isn’t that what you are claiming?

    Jesus’s geneology is well described in The Gospels; He is traced back to Adam.
    Obviously, Adam was created in The Garden of Eden(Paradise; Heaven) not on our earth.

    If Adam was not the first man to be created as stated in Genesis then who was? If we are not decendants of Adam then from whence did we come?

    I can well understand atheists feel threatened by all this. No longer will you be able to criticize The Bible. The Bible speaks to the “multitudes” – us. The Bible is God’s Word, Christ. You, of course, will for awhile be able to criticize Christian behaviour, and deservedly so.

    I would suggest choosing your words more carefully. Seems to me you’re simply trying to cause division between you and ALL others.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Wishful thinking much, Dutch? Or did you drop some acid last night? Seriously, such claims as yours shut down all rational intercourse, for there is in principle no way to convince you that you are mistaken.

  • goyo

    Dutch does not engage in debate. He simply declares that everything in christianity is wrong, and that he is the one who is right. And of course, uses the bible to prove his point. He will not respond to a direct question. He continually preaches to us, and refuses to directly answer a simple question.
    Dutch: We don’t believe in the bible. Why do you continue to use it’s scriptures to prove your points?
    Why can’t you just answer the questions people pose to you.
    To come on this site and continually quote the bible is ridiculous.
    I’m not trying to be mean-spirited, it’s just frustrating.
    Let’s have some serious debate.

  • OMGF

    hereigns,

    Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

    This happens right after she agrees that she’s a dog trying to eat the scraps off the table. This isn’t painting a pretty picture of Jesus.

    God knows the heart and He tests us…many old and new testaments verses clearly point this out. “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (JEREMIAH 7:10)

    Yes, and it’s non-sensical. If god knows our hearts, then why must he test us? Why does Jesus have to test her? Shouldn’t he know what is in her heart? Why should he put her through the suffering of worry about her daughter’s health, instead of simply healing the daughter? It seems that Jesus could not simply do so without inflicting cruelty through insults and mind games. This is what you would defend?

    Jesus simply informs her she is outside the house of Israel whom Jesus has been called.

    By calling her a dog. Besides – and this has been asked before – why must god only serve one house at a time?

    But she is stubborn and continues in her faith knowing that Jesus has the power to heal her daughter and because of her unrelenting faith Jesus heals her daughter.

    Because of her faith or because of her pestering? Perhaps he thought she was faithful because she agreed with him that she is a lowly dog? This still doesn’t support your assertion that he went there to heal this woman’s daughter.

  • hereigns

    OMGF,

    Seems to me we must agree to disagree on the “dog” issue. We’ve both made our points on the topic and it appears both of us view Matthew 15 quite differently.

    As to why Jesus tested her, obviously I’m not Jesus and I don’t know what was in her heart so I won’t even dare to speculate. However, James 1:3 tells us the testing of our faith produces patience.

    Why must God only serve one house at a time? Short answer, “Abrahamic convenant”. And as you are undoubtedly already aware, salvation is avaiable to both Jew and Gentile today.

  • Lyssad

    BlackSun–
    I’m aboard to study altruistic behavior in all animals, including genus Homo, in pursuit of a scientifically objective source for morality. That might replace God-based systems that grant inherent rights only to members of some ideologically defined ingroup, thus licensing any imaginable persecution of non-members.

    The evidence indicates universal morals exist that transcend tribe, troop, nation or species. You inconsistently claim these principles are ‘universal’ yet give inherent rights only to one group. Your Chosen group is those you consider human, yet none of the factors you cite–reciprocal altruism, mirror neurons, sentience, pain avoidance–are unique to human beings. In spite of this complete lack of support for your position, you still insist on limiting inherent rights to a specific ingroup, defined by you: just exactly what the ‘arbitrary and capricious’ (your words) moral systems of the bible do.

  • Jim Speiser

    Hereigns, Dutch, et al…

    I am amazed that Christians do not see the philosophical, logical, empirical, you-name-it-al efficacy of atheism, especially after getting bogged down in the quagmire of apologetics. In the space of one blog page, you’ve managed to euphemize the almost universally pejorative sense of the word “dog”; you’ve argued that since the Scriptures say nothing else of Jesus’ stay in Tyre, that his entire purpose for going there MUST have been to cure that woman’s daughter; you’ve told us that an omniscient God who knows what’s in our hearts must still test us; and then argued among yourselves over which plane of existence the Gospels refer to, each claiming “special knowledge” (yes, you too, Hereigns – after all, without special knowledge, how can you claim Dutch to be wrong? Especially in light of Earl Doherty…)

    All these mental gymnastics are distracting you from the real problem here: We atheists are standing back, watching all of this unfold, scratching our heads, looking at each other with mouths agape, saying, “Are they serious? They can’t be serious, right?” You see, while you are busy redefining words in order to pound round pegs into square holes, we are reveling in the fact that we atheists have no need for such mental games of Twistertm. “No God. Shit Happens.” That’s the sum total of our apologetics. Step back for a minute, if you can (and that’s a huge “if”) and weigh the two worldviews, one in each “hand.” Even if you choose to cling to theism, once in a while you’ve gotta feel pretty silly defending it, in light of the alternative.

  • dutch

    My God you people.

    My response to Ebonmuse is that what he perceives(his interpretation) is just plain wrong. Adam through Christ did not happen here. I showed you several verses in The Bible regarding The Garden of Eden. It should be so patently obvious that something is wrong there. If Ebonmuse wants to attack The Bible by quoting some verses, then why can’t I reciprocate and use The Bible to make a point?
    Here is a hint on what Samaria is.
    Mic 1:5 For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?
    Is Samaria a place or is it something else? Taken literally, Jesus went to a place called Samaria, but it isn’t literal.
    Where was He crucified?
    Rev 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

    I think what upsets you is the same thing that upsets Christians, but from a different angle. Christians have a hard time spending a great amount of time studying The bible, and they don’t like people ruining the cute Christmas story, but actually the Christmas story becomes much more. Atheists on the other hand enjoy ridiculing The Bible. Along comes a group that says you simply don’t understand, it didn’t happen here and is written in parable. Kind of blows apart your lame attacks on The Bible.

    I have given you Bible verses that don’t apparently add-up. I would think you’d be glad. Go ahead and ask a Christian where is the Garden of Eden? See how dumbfounded he/she will be when you tell them the verses I quoted earlier. The usual Christian reply is God destroyed it in the flood, or God moved it.

    Good day, Dutch

  • Eric

    Okay,

    I know I have said I am not going to coorespond with you anymore Dutch, and I hate the fact I am about to resort to ad hominem attacks, but you are seriously D-U-M-B. There is currently another thread going where the focal poster is a religious apologist ((MS aka Quixote) who has shown himself to be open to challenges, listens, and makes his arguments with at least an effort towards scientific method, fact, and logical theory.

    Dutch, you are just plain becoming a nuisance here. You make these weird and bizarre non-sequitors and proclaim them as “truth.” All the while giving your “proof” as 1) the bible (a glaringly idiotic book with nebulus human origins, myriads of different contemproary versions, contradictory in nature and hate filled at its BEST) and 2) your “inside information on the mind of god.”

    Dutch, in your latest post, you said “I have given you bible verses that don’t add up. I would think you’d be glad.” We aren’t glad. We are stupified. WE DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING IN THE BIBLE. IT IS MYTHOLOGY! And you trying to preach to us has become tiresome.

    If you are going to remain here and contribute, you would be wise to read MS/Quixote and how he goes about his arguments with us with respect, understanding and a humaness that is admirable.

    In essence, people like MS/Quixote are to be respected, while we may not respect his beliefs. While you have just plain lost my respect for you as a person, let alone your idiotic beliefs.

    Please either contribute positively or go away.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Jim – I whole-heartedly agree. More and more I feel I can’t even critique Christianity rationally. All I can do is laugh at it!

  • goyo

    Eric: I concur.
    Jim: Great comment. Great theology: No god. Shit happens. The world keeps on spinning, and the same things happen to everyone, no matter what superstitious beliefs you may possess.
    The proof there is no god is that there is nothing special about anyone else, and their religious beliefs, while promising differences in the lives of the believers, simply do not deliver.
    I challenge any believer in any religion to prove to me that their life is any different from mine, an atheist.

  • dutch

    Dear Eric,
    Eric.

    Of course you would “respect” them, they take the Bible as a literal account of events as they happened on earth. This makes it easy for you to attack their beliefs. I repect them as well, their hearts are in the right place, and it’s just a matter of time when people like you will help them toward a very personal knowledge of God. I am not the only Dummy that knows this, nationwide there are about 300 members in our church. Slowly, very slowly, it grows.

    I am not angry at you Eric, in fact, I feel sorry for you. I know you and I will be in God and we will remember this teeny little dialogue. No, I wouldn’t tell you, “I told you so,” we will both be overwhelmed by being in Him.

    Dutch

  • Mrnaglfar

    Dutch,

    I’ve raised this point before, and I never got an answer for it, so allow me to raise it again:

    If what you’re saying regarding the scripture happening on some seperate plane of existance is true, what connection, if any, does that have to our world?

    If god created humans in some other dimension, how did the humans on earth get here? Did Jesus die for their sins and ours? Why are cities in other dimensions named the same as cities on earth? Why do people in different dimensions hold the same religion as people here? Why are romans in this other world somehow? How do you know any of this (I’ve heard those same claims of special knowledge, but haven’t heard anything from you to back it up)?

    Not to mention one fact you’re not facing; while the bible is compliation of stories derived from oral tradition, it was not written with that intent of another plane in mind; it was written as history for here, which it very clearly fails at doing. Not once in the bible is that little bit about this being a different dimension mentioned, and you’d think such a non-trivial detail wouldn’t be omitted by every single version of it.

  • goyo

    Dutch: Answer the question!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Eric

    Okay,

    That is IT. Dutch, don’t you EVER tell me I am going to be “in god” or anything else of your stupid and PERSONAL beliefs. I am insulted you are forcing your crap on me. And you having the stones to even PRESUME I am going to end up there is horribly insulting.

    Dutch, I have a life you would never in your small little world have dreamed of. I have done great things for myself, my community, my family and this world. ANd you know what Dutch? I did it ALL without “god” or any supernatural idiocy. And if there is ANYTHING that will get in my craw it is believers such as yourself who CRAM THEIR IDIOCY DOWN MY THROAT AND ANNOUNCE WITH CONDESCENSION I WILL BE WITH GOD SOMEDAY.

    Do not EVER say that to me again. Do not think it, don’t whisper it, don’t even dream to think to breath a hint of a whisper of anything like that to me again.

    I have not once crammed my beliefs down your throat, even though this is an ATHEIST BLOG. I present you with EVIDENCE, logical arguments, and conclusions.

    You are now preaching, which is against the policies here.

    Dutch, if you cannot follow this, please leave.

    Eric

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Your Chosen group is those you consider human, yet none of the factors you cite–reciprocal altruism, mirror neurons, sentience, pain avoidance–are unique to human beings. In spite of this complete lack of support for your position, you still insist on limiting inherent rights to a specific ingroup, defined by you: just exactly what the ‘arbitrary and capricious’ (your words) moral systems of the bible do.

    Lyssad,

    You again misstate my position. The moral position of animals is precisely what it would be if humans did not exist. Which is to say absolutely none. They have no moral standing. We grant them perceived moral standing for our own satisfaction. As I stated earlier, without humans in the picture, animals slaughter each other, compete for territory, have no regard for their environment (often overbreed and overshoot the environment’s carrying capacity), etc. They cannot reflect on their situation, by and large (with a few exceptions) cannot use tools. They do not have written language or nuanced verbal skills. Therefore, they are incapable of developing, holding, or transmitting any kind of complex moral system. They act on immediate instinctual drives. If humans were not around, perhaps another species would eventually evolve which could display more than the rudiments of moral behavior seen in animal societies.

    Human-level morality is a product of advanced intelligence, and as such does not exist in the animal kingdom. Something differentiates human brains from those of animals. Chimps can outdo humans on memory tests, but still something is missing.

    Maybe it’s spindle cells, which are present in humans to a much greater degree than other species. Something gives us self-reflective thinking not present in other animals. I don’t know the reason for the vast difference in human cognitive skill, and you clearly don’t either. But to say that there is no qualitative moral difference between other species and humans is patently absurd. Sure, we can study animal behaviors. But to even begin to address the question of what is moral vs. what is instinct, you would have to develop a way to communicate with multiple animal species and assess their “moral views.” I’m not saying this can never happen–it might when brain-machine interfaces are sufficiently advanced. We might find the rudiments of universal morality in some animals. Some of it has to be there, after all, since we evolved from them. But nature has shown the ability to make sudden leaps by repurposing existing structures that result in dramatically new functions because they are combined differently. Answer the question as to why we are capable of advanced cognition and self-reflection while animals are not, and you will answer the question about morality.

    The words “arbitrary and capricious” are yours, from an earlier comment, to which you added “self-serving.”

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Lyssad,

    I should probably address the apparent contradiction between saying animals have absolutely no moral standing, and then later saying a rudimentary form might be discovered:

    When I say “no moral standing” I mean that in the sense that nature is amoral and places no value on the survival or extinction of any species, including humans. Nature doesn’t care if a meteor were to hit earth tomorrow, or for that matter if the Sun were to suddenly go nova. It’s all in a day’s work for nature.

    In that sense, humans have no moral standing either, except to each other. In other words, morality is based on the ability to both communicate and reflect, and those abilities are what largely separate us from animals. It is, in the end, a matter of degree. Hope that resolves the contradiction.

  • spaceman spif

    Ahhhhh…as a former Christian, I remember the mental squirming and logical gymnastics I’m seeing from some of the apologists on here. As a believer, it’s an extremely difficult place to put yourself, in terms of using logical arguments. Believers first draw a conclusion, *then* they confront the data and evidence. Atheists/agnostics do the opposite…confront the data and evidence, and draw their conclusion based upon that.

    As a result, believers are often left trying to take conflicting evidence and make it fit what they already believe. And the mental gymnastics begin! I spent almost 30 years of my life as a believer, and those gymnastics wore me out.

    I remember one time as a Sunday School teacher going over the lesson of Lot with a group of teens. When they read the verses where Lot offers his daughters up to the mob to be raped, a number of the teens looked up with some very bewildered and disgusted looks. The teachers had to try to explain how Lot being willing to offer his own daughters to be raped by a mob of people was “righteous”. At the time, I had a newborn daughter of my own, and for a brief instant I pictured myself in Lot’s position…offering my own daughter to be raped by a mob to please God. There was no amount of gymnastics or twisting that could prevent me from being disgusted with the whole concept, and I sat silent.

    I find it so much easier now, as an agnostic, to look upon verses like the one in this blog, and not feel forced to view them as “good” when my brain is telling me otherwise.

  • Christopher

    BlackSun,

    “Correct. Biologically, we are little different.

    But the enhanced level of cognitive thought is what gives us the ability to not only dominate animals and each other, it gives us the ability to think about what we’re doing, and empathize with how other organisms feel about it.”

    I won’t deny that the empathy you allude to does give us advantages, but wih every trait that has effects that can be seen as positive are effects that can be seen as drawbacks: in this case, the aforementioned apathy allows for us to create irrational attatchments to things outside outselves – causing us to value them more than ourselves. I take the opposite point of view: I value myself first and (through myself) grant value to all other things around me – thus negating the side effects of empathy

    “That’s the essential difference, and that’s what allows us to develop a human-centric morality. Animals have their own version of that within their limited capabilities, which is what leads to hierarchies in animal societies. Their empathy also runs deep in many cases–deep enough that animals will often help humans in distress.”

    In other words, species tend to make value systems that are centered towards their own species. I rise above this limitation and value the individual more than the collective of any species.

    “But since we are the big kid on the evolutionary block, we control much about the animals’ environment–including whether many species survive or go extinct. This is why I say that for all practical purposes, animal rights are only those granted by humans. Without us, they would otherwise be at the whims of nature and each other.”

    You may not realise it, but we too are at the whim of nature: one good celetial collision, drug-resistant plague or supernova will spell the end of our entire species. AS long as we are bound to this planet, we are at its mercy – just like all the other animals…

  • dutch

    Mrnaglfar,

    Now those are real questions. Very good. Please give me a day or so to answer, and I am sorry that I misssed those questions earlier. I need time to search The Scriptures as my “proof,” if you will, of this “other plane of existence.” The “proof” would be very long for it is based upon precept. However there are some direct Bible verses that may help. I will try to be as brief as possible. Some have said, I must not use the Bible as evidence, but as the Bible is being used to attack Christianity, I find that a bit ludicrous. If you ask for scientific proof of this other “plane of existence,” then I am afraid you have me. Will science one day come to understand at least “intelligent design,” I believe so, but that is another matter. In the meantime, I will attempt to answer those very valid questions.

    Have a great day, Dutch

  • spaceman spif

    This is not meant as a slam on Dutch in any manner, but I’m going to make a prediction right now on Dutch’s upcoming answer.

    He will present his view, and then provide some verses that seem to support his view.

    Others will respond by presenting verses that seem to oppose Dutch’s view.

    Dutch will respond by twisting the meaning of those verses or taking certain words in those verses in some rather stretching directions.

    Again, I’m not posting this as an attack on Dutch in any way. It’s just that it seems that’s how these type of debates play out almost every single time.

  • dutch

    Christopher,

    What makes us different is speech. Without speech, what are we? Language is made of words. We think in a language.(sometimes I think in dutch). This is obvious, but nevertheless I find it interesting. Just a thought.

    Later, Dutch

  • Christopher

    Dutch,

    “What makes us different is speech. Without speech, what are we? Language is made of words. We think in a language.(sometimes I think in dutch). This is obvious, but nevertheless I find it interesting.”

    But said language is merely the result an entity with an enhanced cranium attempting to communicate with another: an ability that other species possess as well. Granted, it’s not quite as well developed as our own – but I see no reason why a geologic era or two of natural selection can’t fix that…

  • Judy

    I had this thought when he first began commenting on another post a few weeks ago, and now it’s confirmed: Dutch is certifiable, y’all.

  • Serafina

    OK, Christopher, so what I’m hearing you say is that treating people with dignity is to your advantage.

    If that’s what he’s saying, it’s utter bullshit. Most of the time it’s not to your advantage. At most, *appearing* to treat people with dignity is to your advantage.

    It is quite accurate to call Christopher’s view sociopathy. We are herd animals with the capacity for empathy. This is no shame, it’s something to be proud of. If Christopher truly believes in what he’s saying, he is anti-us in the same way that cancers and plagues are anti-us, and we should not feel particularly compelled to try and reason him out of his sociopathic perspective. We should simply stop people like him–and laugh at his pathetic wannabe-manly-man boasting about how he goes around armed to the teeth.

  • Lyssad

    Dutch:

    “What makes us different is speech. Without speech, what are we? Language is made of words. We think in a language.(sometimes I think in dutch). This is obvious, but nevertheless I find it interesting. Just a thought.”

    Maybe we’re Ted Supalla, PhD, Director, Program in American Sign Language and the Sign Language Research Center University of Rochester, New York; Associate Professor, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Linguistics, and American Sign Language; Author, dozens of books, films and research papers.

    You don’t think in Dutch, if you think at all. Try joining the 21st century.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    I won’t deny that the empathy you allude to does give us advantages, but wih every trait that has effects that can be seen as positive are effects that can be seen as drawbacks: in this case, the aforementioned apathy allows for us to create irrational attatchments to things outside outselves – causing us to value them more than ourselves.

    Interesting definition of ‘rational’. Care to justify it? Because whilst I can understand the viewpoint that says that there is no reason to have any sort of morality — i.e. no reason to take one set of values over another — you seem here to be taking the viewpoint that we should all share values that align in part with the way yours work. You’ve ascribed the (somewhat normative) term ‘rational’ to those viewpoints that do not value anything more than themselves.

  • Lyssad

    February 5, BlackSun: ‘The words “arbitrary and capricious” are yours’—Really? My first post was on February 2, in which I quoted: “(the Bible) is a book of arbitrary and capricious authority”–BlackSun| January 30. Since you can’t remember what you said yourself, let me remind you:

    Our discussion started when you agreed with the blog post, calling the bible “arbitrary and capricious” (you, January 30, 2008, 1:00 pm) Three days later, Febuary 2, I pointed out that your “ ‘objective morality’ is just as arbitrary, capricious and self-serving a sham as theirs” (Lyssad | February 2, 2008, 3:53 pm) because, by your own reasoning, self-interest is balanced by societal prohibitions (you, January 30, 2008, 7:26 pm, January 31, 2008, 1:10 pm) and any social animal has their own version of morality within their societies (you, February 4, 2008, 11:15 am), there is “moral behavior seen in animal societies (you, February 5, 2008, 11:13 am) and in fact, animal’s “empathy also runs deep in many cases–deep enough that animals will often help humans in distress (you, February 4, 2008, 11:15 am).

    Nevertheless, and in spite of your purported quest for an “objective morality” (you, January 30, 2008, 1:00 pm that is “universal” (you, February 4, 2008, 11:15 am), you proclaim that all these non-human animals “have no moral standing” (you, February 5, 2008, 11:13 am) and “have no inherent rights” (you, February 2, 2008, 5:13 pm).

    The blog post challenged the claim that a certain group, X, “display some kind of unique, superlative moral virtue, unmatched by any other” (blog post,first sentence), that grants inherent rights to them and them only. Saying that {social animals who follow Jesus}=X is an arbitrary restriction, just as saying X.= {social animals with lots of cognitive power} And now it’s {animals with spindle cells} = X! (you again, February 5, 2008, 11:13 am).

    Whatever, dude.

  • Lyssad

    Oops. I left out that Ted Supalla is deaf and doesn’t have speech; that’s why its relevant.

    Sorry that i got a little cranky in my last posts.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    Lyssad,

    You can take anyone’s statements out of context, rearrange them and make them say anything you want. You started in your first comment by saying that you could substitute “Christian” for “human” in my definition of morality, and have a “fundy” statement of morality. Which ignores the gaping difference between a religion and a species.

    Doh.

    As far as the words “arbitrary and capricious” are concerned, since you quoted them without attribution (use quote marks or blockquote tag) they could have been yours. Either way, the question is not who said them, but are they true? Is the bible a book of arbitrary and capricious authority? I would argue yes. That is what Ebonmuse’ post was about. Are anthropology, behavioral and evolutionary science “arbitrary and capricious?” I would argue no. To the extent they speak on morality, I would argue we should listen.

    You seem to start from the a priori (and might I say emotional) notion that animals should be morally equal to humans and proceed from there.

    As if.

    So here’s my final statement which hopefully makes sense for you both in and out of context: You play fast and loose with words, you take liberties with meaning, and you don’t know how to discuss, debate, or how or when to concede a point.

    Bye.

  • Eric

    Judy wrote:

    I had this thought when he first began commenting on another post a few weeks ago, and now it’s confirmed: Dutch is certifiable, y’all.

    Not only is he certifiable, but he thinks of himself as an intellectual equal here. He is very wrong and very outgunned in the intellectual and logical levels here. Hell, I am a dwarf compared to the brilliant minds that post here! Dutch has a very high regard for himself. Something I believe “god” said not to have…

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    It is quite accurate to call Christopher’s view sociopathy. We are herd animals with the capacity for empathy. This is no shame, it’s something to be proud of. If Christopher truly believes in what he’s saying, he is anti-us in the same way that cancers and plagues are anti-us, and we should not feel particularly compelled to try and reason him out of his sociopathic perspective. We should simply stop people like him–and laugh at his pathetic wannabe-manly-man boasting about how he goes around armed to the teeth.

    Excellent point, Serafina; I like your analogy. Camus used the same analogy in his book The Plague – the most influential work of literature in my life.

    To take a view similar to Scanlon in What We Owe To Each Other, morality is what is most rational to do. If someone doesn’t want to be rational, there isn’t much we can do to convince them. The amoralist doesn’t really pose a threat to the existence of morality, since he or she is acting irrationally. As I said in an earlier post, there is no possibility of discussion and persuasion with an irrationalist.

    Although, it does seem that Christopher seems to be placing his moral views above other views of morality, but this is curious. Is there a standard by which views should or could be judged? Doesn’t that undermine his stated beliefs? He could try arguing that his own views of morality are the most rational, but I don’t see what reasons the vast majority of people (certainly the vast majority of thinkers) would have to accept his definition of rationality rather than their own.

  • Serafina

    In addition to your last sentence, Mathew, there’s no rational reason why we should be rational at all. There’s no purely rational reason to do anything at all–taking any sort of action of necessity involves non-rational motives. So someone who calls himself a moral nihilist because there’s no rational reason to be moral is, in fact, adopting a moral code (although a stunted one): one in which rationality (as defined by him) is the highest value.

    Moral nihilists often talk as if it’s morally better to be a moral nihilist than otherwise. Nietzsche definitely did. Even if they don’t come right out and say so, the language they use is often highly moralistic.

    Thanks for the Camus mention, by the way–it sounds interesting and I’ll have to check it out.

  • hereigns

    Jim Speiser,
    I know if I were an atheist on this site and saw what was happening on this one blog it would be very easy for me to make the same exact comments you just made. But you gotta admit the topic is tough enough on its own without Dutch throwing everone a 10 foot curveball. After all this I’m just plain dog tired, no pun intended.

  • Jim Speiser

    Hereigns,

    The funny thing is, its not exactly a curveball to us; or perhaps we see it from our side as a change-up. The idea that the Pauline letters refer to a wholly-unearthly JC is well supported by guys like Doherty, and how much of a stretch would it be to extend that milieu to the entire Bible? Ironically, I think you find the idea more confounding than we do.

    In fact, I remember when I was a toddler first hearing the “Good News” about God, Jesus, and all the miracles, I of course didn’t understand it, but was able somehow to embrace it as all having happened on some spiritual or non-earthly plane, or that it was somehow a bunch of parables much like Aesop’s Fables. That is really how I came to terms with it. The whole time I was being raised as a good catholic, I was able to think of myself as “religious” and still not actually believe that someone could walk on water, simply by telling myself that, “Oh, they’re talking about stuff that happened up there in heaven somewhere.” I think it was when I realized that, no, I was expected to believe that these incredible things really occurred on this planet, on this earthly plane, that my atheism began to take hold.

    So Dutch’s scenario is really no skin off our noses. If I understand him correctly. If ANYONE does. He wants it all to be on some non-earthly plane? Fine with us. Saves us a lot of archaeology. All we have to do now is disbelieve in that particular numinous realm, and our job is done. Wraps up the whole enchilada. (Unless of course, Dutch wants to take a crack at proving its existence ).

    ==JJS==

  • Christopher

    Serafina,

    “It is quite accurate to call Christopher’s view sociopathy.”

    You’re not the first to say such things. Then again, there was a time when thinking you knew better than the village chief or high priest carried a similar label…

    “We are herd animals with the capacity for empathy. This is no shame, it’s something to be proud of.”

    1. I don’t see being a herd animal as something positive – if anything its a status I loathe.

    2. I already admitted that empathy does have it’s advantages, but also its disadvantages (if you’ve been reading my posts you would have seen that).

    “If Christopher truly believes in what he’s saying, he is anti-us in the same way that cancers and plagues are anti-us, and we should not feel particularly compelled to try and reason him out of his sociopathic perspective. We should simply stop people like him–and laugh at his pathetic wannabe-manly-man boasting about how he goes around armed to the teeth.”

    So if I’m not infavor of your style of group-think I’m automatically the enemy? Besides, from where I stand this herd mentallity you seem to adore so highly is the cancer – not me.

    By th way, I only brought up the fact that I’m armed at all times in response to a hypothetical scenario in which some one would attempt to use force against me – I thought it was appropriate to point out that the task proposed would be a difficult feat.

  • Christopher

    BlackSun,

    “Interesting definition of ‘rational’. Care to justify it?”

    To me, being rational is the ability to make clear judgements concerning that which is in one’s own best interests – I use it because I place my own being at the center of my reality; not because I’m “better” or possess a more objective view of reality than anyone else (as no man’s viewpoint is totally objective), but because I value myself as an individual first and foremost. As the consequesnse, all other things are evaluated upon how they affect me and thus my value system has little (if anything) in common with those of the herd.

    “Because whilst I can understand the viewpoint that says that there is no reason to have any sort of morality — i.e. no reason to take one set of values over another — you seem here to be taking the viewpoint that we should all share values that align in part with the way yours work.”

    I’m not saying you “should” do anything – I’m merely pointing out that the values of the herd aren’t necissarily the ones that will contribute to the well-being of the individual (thus the reason I reject them). I admit that the basis of my value system is subjective (there’s no objective reason for seeing to the “good” of myself), but so is the basis of all other value systems ever formed; on what objective grounds “should” I care for the “good” of the collective or of the human species or anything else? There really isn’t one, so in the end we are left with mere subjectivity to form a basis for values.

    My goal was simply to point out that there is another way to think about what we call “morality” – one that’s seldom ever even mentioned because its considered taboo.

  • Serafina

    So if I’m not infavor of your style of group-think I’m automatically the enemy?

    If valuing other people is group-think? Yes, you are.

    And of course, from your point of view we “herd animals” are the cancer. And from a cancer cell’s point of view, radiation therapy is as evil and dangerous as cancer is to us. I just don’t care about what a cancer cell thinks.

    there was a time when thinking you knew better than the village chief or high priest carried a similar label…

    There was a time when thinking you knew better than the village chief got you labeled “stupid” as well. This doesn’t mean that the label “stupid” is not useful.

    My goal was simply to point out that there is another way to think about what we call “morality” – one that’s seldom ever even mentioned because its considered taboo.

    It’s mentioned all the time, actually: in mental asylums and maximum-security prisons, as well as in the very highest echelons of the U.S. government. There’s nothing rebellious or original about it.

    I thought it was appropriate to point out that the task proposed would be a difficult feat.

    You didn’t think it was appropriate, unless you’re very stupid, because it was not appropriate. You thought it was *satisfying* because it made you feel better about your insecure little self. It was very funny.

  • Serafina

    If valuing other people is group-think?

    Or, more accurately, valuing people as something other than a means to an end. If somebody can’t or won’t do that, then yes, they are my enemy.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Christopher, you continue to use moralized language – why? If morality is just anyone’s personal opinion, and nothing more, why bother telling us what you think? Why should we care what you think? You’re not right – you’re not even wrong, since according to your views there is no right or wrong! What leads you to believe that herd morality is bad? Do you have a story like Nietzsche to tell about how it diminishes the flourishing of the higher men? Well, then, tell us that story, and try to convince us that it is true.

    There is a problem with your metaethical views, however – how to account for the fact that at least some people have been persuaded that there views are immoral through rational discourse.

    Two more relevant posts from Richard, perhaps my favorite philosopher (and he’s still a grad student!):

    Coherence and Rational Desires

    Coherent Persuasion

    I would still like to read your response to Richard’s positions, which are also my positions. Until you have bested these arguments, we moralists are justified, I think, in continuing to believe in the truth of morality. I think we have the arguments on our side.

  • Christopher

    Seraphina,

    “If valuing other people is group-think? Yes, you are.”

    Who says that I don’t? Of course, my concept of value is probably different from yours as most people tend to hold human life as an intrinsic value – I see it as an instrumental value.

    “And of course, from your point of view we “herd animals” are the cancer. And from a cancer cell’s point of view, radiation therapy is as evil and dangerous as cancer is to us. I just don’t care about what a cancer cell thinks.”

    I didn’t say the animal itself was the cancer, I said it was the herd *mentality* – please read that post again before firning another blank…

    “There was a time when thinking you knew better than the village chief got you labeled “stupid” as well. This doesn’t mean that the label “stupid” is not useful.”

    And yet none here have pointed out why my value system is “stupid:” they simply operate under the assumption that it is (because it conflicts with theirs), which makes the label wholly subjective.

    “It’s mentioned all the time, actually: in mental asylums”

    No, most mental patients do have a sense of “right” and “wrong” – different from the one that society attempted to inculcate into them, of course; but there nonetheless…

    “and maximum-security prisons,”

    Prisons have incredibly high religios populations, and the morals (or at least their interpretations thereof) that accompany said faith – not a total lack thereof (such as is my case).

    “as well as in the very highest echelons of the U.S. government.”

    This must be some kind of joke, right?

    “You didn’t think it was appropriate, unless you’re very stupid, because it was not appropriate. You thought it was *satisfying* because it made you feel better about your insecure little self. It was very funny.”

    Satisfying? You think it’s satisfying to respond to a hypothetical threat of violence with a viable alternate outcome to said threat?

    I must say this is a new one…

  • Christopher

    Matt Wilder,

    “Christopher, you continue to use moralized language – why?”

    How is my language moralized? I haven’t told anybody what is/isn’t appropriate, nor have I insisted that my values are superior to anyone elses, nor implied that there even is a “morality” outside of the mind that conceptualizes it.

    “If morality is just anyone’s personal opinion, and nothing more, why bother telling us what you think? Why should we care what you think?”

    Because it’s nearly always beneficial to consider one’s worldview from another perspective – you never know what you may learn from those who see things from a different angle (thus the reason I converse with people like you in this setting); expanding one’s mind is a strong motivation to consider things that you may not agree with whether you believe in “morality” or not.

    “You’re not right – you’re not even wrong, since according to your views there is no right or wrong! What leads you to believe that herd morality is bad?”

    When did I say it was “bad?” I simply said that I loathe it because it underminds the individual by submitting his will to the group (which goes against my highly-individualistic values), not that it is somehow instrincally “bad.”

    “Do you have a story like Nietzsche to tell about how it diminishes the flourishing of the higher men? Well, then, tell us that story, and try to convince us that it is true.”

    Unlike Nietzsche, I don’t think of the Ubermensch as a “higher man” so much as an individual that is capable of being very flexible in his values: never clinging so strongly to any of them that it impares his ability to look out for his own best interests – this way, he can change to survive in social climates that “moral” men would perish in do to their steadfastness of conviction.

    So no, can’t can’t tell you stories of “higher men” because I don’t believe in them as my primary influence did – nor do I have to as I’m very much an unfaithful disciple.

    BTW: those links just gave me a “cannot find server” page when I activated them – so I apologize for being unable to respond to the arguments they may have contained (can’t refute an argument you haven’t read, you know…).

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    The second link (Coherent Persuasion) works. The first I must’ve forgotten to close the tag, because it isn’t an actual link. Here is the first again: Coherence and Rational Desires

    Your tone seems condescending, Christopher. You seem to be speaking from as if you’re standing above us. Perhaps I’m reading into your posts, but “herd morality” is usually a term of disdain. If you feel that way, though, how do you justify your feelings? It doesn’t seem you can justify such feelings rationally, for you would have to appeal to some scale of value to say that your feelings about herd morality are better than those which don’t see herd morality as something to be criticized.

    What, exactly, is the point of expanding your mind? Are you attempting to get closer to the truth? We who believe that there are objective values believe that getting closer to the truth is a good thing. Do you think it is a good thing? Why?

    You also seem to conflate different types of “going with the herd.” You need to provide an argument why “going with the herd” is always wrong. Sometimes it is quite rational to do so – i.e. when doing so is supported by reasons. Who would do something irrational, simply to be different from others? Just because the group says so doesn’t make the group right, but groups are not always wrong simply because they are groups.

    What reasons can you give me for loathing the undermining of the individual? Why is the individual the measure? Of course, I agree that individuals matter far more than groups, but the reasons I have for thinking so, also lead me to believe certain things about the way people should be treated. You seem to want to argue that groups shouldn’t trample individuals, but where does that “shouldn’t” come from?

  • OMGF

    Along comes a group that says you simply don’t understand, it didn’t happen here and is written in parable. Kind of blows apart your lame attacks on The Bible.

    It does no such thing, considering that I’ve yet to see evidence/proof that your take on the Bible is any more authoritative than anyone else’s.

  • Serafina

    I didn’t say the animal itself was the cancer, I said it was the herd *mentality* – please read that post again before firning another blank…

    I didn’t “firn” any blanks; some amount of “herd mentality” is necessary to the survival of any group of herd animals, so your attempt to make a clear-cut distinction between the mentality and the animal is specious.

    And if you define the criminally insane and the just plain criminal as “moral,” then your definition of morality is so broad as to be useless: by that kind of broad definition, everyone has a morality. As for high-ranking U.S. government officials, if you think George Bush actually believes in any kind of morality then you’ve misread the psychology of him and those like him (i.e., power-hungry dictators) completely.

    I simply said that I loathe it because it underminds the individual by submitting his will to the group (which goes against my highly-individualistic values), not that it is somehow instrincally “bad.”

    This is a purely semantic distinction. In real life, for all practical purposes, there’s no actual distinction between “This goes against my values” and “I think this is intrinsically bad.” As far as actions go, both of those statements suggest the same thing.

    Satisfying? You think it’s satisfying to respond to a hypothetical threat of violence with a viable alternate outcome to said threat?

    No. I think you think it’s satisfying. I think it’s silly.

  • Serafina

    “If valuing other people is group-think? Yes, you are.”

    Who says that I don’t? Of course, my concept of value is probably different from yours as most people tend to hold human life as an intrinsic value – I see it as an instrumental value.

    Precisely what makes you an enemy–as I said above.

  • Serafina

    Oh, and one last point: it’s contradictory and meaningless to say that there is no moral objectivity, because then you’re basically saying “It’s wrong to believe that there is moral objectivity,” and you can’t say that without a belief in the objective value of truth. Even if you just mean that there is no factual/rational basis for moral objectivity, saying it implies that you think people should reject moral objectivity because of this–otherwise why would you bother to say it? There’s no reason to point out factual/rational errors unless you think people should change their opinions if they are found to be in error, and that’s a value-based moral notion.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Even if you just mean that there is no factual/rational basis for moral objectivity, saying it implies that you think people should reject moral objectivity because of this–otherwise why would you bother to say it? There’s no reason to point out factual/rational errors unless you think people should change their opinions if they are found to be in error, and that’s a value-based moral notion.

    Thank you, that is what I have been trying to say when I said that Christopher’s language is moralized. Presumably he wouldn’t tell us we’re wrong about the existence of objective morality if he didn’t want us to change out minds. But if that is true, then why should we change our minds?

  • Christopher

    Serafina,

    “I didn’t “firn” any blanks; some amount of “herd mentality” is necessary to the survival of any group of herd animals, so your attempt to make a clear-cut distinction between the mentality and the animal is specious.”

    You operate under the assumption that all we can be is a herd animal, I don’t.

    “And if you define the criminally insane and the just plain criminal as “moral,” then your definition of morality is so broad as to be useless: by that kind of broad definition, everyone has a morality.”

    I define “morality” as being any doctrine or system of beliefs base on the ideas of “right” or “wrong” – and just about everybody in our society has some concept of “right” or “wrong” that they use to make judgements (thus indicating some brand of “morality” – even if it’s one you wouldn’t recognize as being “moral” by your standards).

    So for you, this definition is useless as you use a “moral” system to guide your actions. I, on the other hand, have no doctrines or beliefs (plenty of doubts though) – and certainly no concept of “right” or “wrong to call my own – thus I have no “morality.”

    “As for high-ranking U.S. government officials, if you think George Bush actually believes in any kind of morality then you’ve misread the psychology of him and those like him (i.e., power-hungry dictators) completely.”

    Who says that a power-hungry politician doesn’t have “morality?” Many people in those positions of power were drawn to it because they can make their “morality” (i.e. their doctrine or system of beliefs based on “right” and “wrong”) the dominant one.

    I get the feeling that you and I are talking about totally different things when we say “morality…”

    “This is a purely semantic distinction.”

    For some one wityh a fixed value system, yes it is. But my value system is constantly in flux, thus that which I do not value now a may come to value later – I go through values like you go through waste paper.

  • Christopher

    Mathew Wilder,

    “Presumably he wouldn’t tell us we’re wrong about the existence of objective morality if he didn’t want us to change out minds. But if that is true, then why should we change our minds?”

    Who says I’m trying to change your minds and make you all discard “morality” (I wouldn’t mind if more people did that, though…) – I’m merely giving a third perspective for consideration, what you do with it (discard it, adopt it, use parts of it and ignore the rest; makes no real difference to me) is all up to your own predispositions. My primary motivation for even posting it in the first place was to submit it for criticism anyway – just to see how it would preform in an environment where “morality” is hottly, yet rationally, debated.

    So far, I’m pleased with it’s overall prefomance.

  • dutch

    Mrnaglfar,

    Sorry for not replying sooner, I have been very busy lately. When I looked at what I wrote concerning your many questions, I realized that most of the things I wrote, I have written before. What I write now, I know, but will sound very bizarre to most, it did to me when I first heard of this church.
    I will be brief and tell you the other plane(s) of existence are within us. God did not create humans in “another dimension,” He created Adam a forerunner of Christ. Eve is Adam’s soul. Adam’s body is us, Christ’s body is us. Adam’s soul went to the grave.
    Dreams and visions are the communication we receive through the Holy Spirit. Don’t ask me why, but perhaps, it is the only time we are actually uninvolved with the world. His communication to us(dream) is usually done in parable. I say usually, because, for the rare individual, God’s communication can be “mouth to mouth,” no parable. I have not received it this way, yet. When you dream in parable, things you know about on earth represent things in heaven. My daughter told me in a dream she had recently, that I pulled her out from under water. By the way, she is an agnostic. I have never taken my kids to church, there is too much bullshit. In this dream, I told her, I represent Jesus(God) and He is pulling her out of her own thoughts. This is her parable, not for me. Not all things you dream about are in heaven, but are used in parable. For example, Pharaoh is Satan, and Egypt is Hell(grave, hades, sheol, pit) – this, of course is not literal, but parable.
    Why bother with all this? Basically, it will increase one’s faith, for if you have a dream or vision, that leaves you awestruck, your faith increases. If you google search “vision of christ,” you will find many people who have claimed this vision. To be sure, many might be false, but I believe some are sincere, especially where a Muslim converts, rather suddenly, to Christianity.
    The Bible is not derived from “oral tradition,” but written dreams and visions. The other planes are mentioned in The Bible are the levels of heaven, and hell. The Bible doesn’t use the word “dimension.” The other dimension is the spiritual world.

    I have been wondering recently as to why the ancient Egyptians were so obsessed with the grave. Was their parable manifest into this plane(grave)? What about other manifestations like Islam or Europe leaving Christianity? These are only musings, so take them with “a grain of salt.”

    As I said, some will call me a lunatic, and some will use worse language. I have been honest with you. To attempt and explain what I know to be true in an atheist site is difficult at best. More attempts to explain what The Bible really is saying will probably prove futile. It would be easier for those so inclined to visit the Reveal2.org website.

    Speiser,

    “So Dutch’s scenario is really no skin off our noses”

    Oh, Mr. Speiser, it really is skin off your noses. Maybe you can’t see it but others here can.

    OMGF,

    You have been most kind, and I submit the “evidence” you are looking for is not there yet. I suppose it boils down to faith, which oddly enough, is the “evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hope for.” I have my evidence and substance, but it is not enough for a group such as yours, indeed it is very personal. It is my belief that we are in the Resurrection, and the manifestations of this will become more apparent as time progresses. As I have said before, this will take nearly 1,000 years. Atheism is doomed, but it may be a usefull tool to help searching Christians, and others understand The Bible as never before.

    There are many good and decent people in here, but a few are stuck in their superior intellect – Sort of like Khan in the The Star trek movie “The Wrath of Khan.”

    I haven’t said this before, like Ebonmuse, I am working on a book. It is a murder mystery involving a Christian conspiracy. I have titled it “The Dome,” after The Dome of The Rock in Israel. It takes place in Israel and the Chicago area. Lots of research is involved. I have completed 150 pages and will take about a year to finish. My agent may make me change the title, but I will think about adding “dutch” to my name.

    Anyway, I will not be here as much(don’t cry)

    wishing everybody the best, Dutch

  • Nurse Ingrid

    “God did not create humans in “another dimension,” He created Adam a forerunner of Christ. Eve is Adam’s soul. Adam’s body is us, Christ’s body is us. Adam’s soul went to the grave.”

    I have read this about a dozen times and I still have no clue what it means. Surely an almighty being who actually MADE our minds would send a message that was comprehensible to those minds?

  • Eric

    If we all decide to just not respond to the weirdness and bizarreness coming from the above, perhaps it will just get tured of being here not getting any attention and leave.

    Just a thought.

  • Serafina

    You operate under the assumption that all we can be is a herd animal, I don’t.

    No. But I operate under the assumption that we are always herd animals, even if we are also other things.

    Who says that a power-hungry politician doesn’t have “morality?”

    Oh, I think many do (as well as many criminals and lunatics). But historical and sociological evidence indicates that power-hungry politicians are disproportionately more likely to identify with moral nihilism, as well as certain types of criminals.

    As for morality, I consider any system of values to be a morality–whether the possessor of the values chooses to use the terms “right” or “wrong” or not. Which is why I would say that virtually all self-described moral nihilists do have a morality, they just don’t like admitting it.

    My primary motivation for even posting it in the first place was to submit it for criticism anyway – just to see how it would preform in an environment where “morality” is hottly, yet rationally, debated.

    Why? Why would you care about that?

  • Jenyfer

    Sort of like Khan in the The Star trek movie “The Wrath of Khan.”

    Seriously? You think THAT was his flaw?

  • hereigns

    Dutch,

    I hope you will answer my questions from a prior posting in which I asked these same questions.

    I and a few others do have “special knowledge” on Biblical interpretation.

    How did you acquire this “special knowledge” regarding Biblical interpretation?

    All of the Bible is written in parable.

    I don’t see how Matthew 9:36 helps solidify your parable point. How does 2 Peter 1:20 help you? This verse makes it crystal clear no prophecy is given for private interpertation. Isn’t that what you are claiming?

    Jesus’s geneology is well described in The Gospels; He is traced back to Adam. Obviously, Adam was created in The Garden of Eden(Paradise; Heaven) not on our earth.

    If Adam was not the first man to be created as stated in Genesis then who was? If we are not decendants of Adam then from whence did we come?

  • OMGF

    Dutch,

    You have been most kind, and I submit the “evidence” you are looking for is not there yet.

    Where is it then? And, are you willing to go take back your proclamations about our “lame attacks on the Bible?”

    I suppose it boils down to faith, which oddly enough, is the “evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hope for.” I have my evidence and substance, but it is not enough for a group such as yours, indeed it is very personal.

    How does your “personal” evidence constitute actual evidence?

  • spaceman spif

    Dutch,

    Two things stand out for me in your reply:

    “To attempt and explain what I know to be true…”

    Then later on:

    …I submit the “evidence” you are looking for is not there yet. I suppose it boils down to faith…

    You can see why skeptics won’t be swayed by this.

    As for your “dream” argument, all people dream. Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, Pastafarians, etc. If we are to accept your argument, than all religious texts and beliefs must be true.

  • Dutch

    Nurse Ingrid said,
    “I have read this about a dozen times and I still have no clue what it means. Surely an almighty being who actually MADE our minds would send a message that was comprehensible to those minds?”
    He does Ingrid. It’s there in the Bible, and if you will, in your dreams. Most dreams are “reproofs,” some are for revelation, especially for those that study The Bible.
    Job 33:15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
    Job 33:16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

    As someone above said, all people dream, I agree, and if you google search “vision of Jesus,” you will find more than one Muslim or other faith that converted to Christianity.
    It is difficult for anyone, let alone an atheist, to understand just who and what Jesus Christ is. We like to envision Him as a single human being that walked around Israel 2000 years ago. Ingrid, you will not look into The bible for proof and evidence, you are an atheist – I get that. I said before, Christ’s body is in the grave(earth as we know it), and more accurately, in us, and more accurately, Jesus Christ’s soul; in us.
    Act 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    Hereigns
    Mat 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
    2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

    I don’t understand what problem you see in Mathew above, but the multitudes are basically you and I.(I say I, because I have only had parables sent to me.)
    Second Peter above is an oft quoted verse in our church. It is saying, lean not into thine own understanding, let God, through The Word(the written and living Word), give you understanding – this is one of the primary pillars of our faith. This is where Christianity fails; I think it means this or means that – it’s why we have so many different versions of Christianity. The founding minister of our church, from the very beginning has always said, do not ever take my word as truth, it is truth, but everybody has to study and find out for him/her self – build your own house.

    hereigns, this “special knowledge” is freely available to everybody. All it requires is that people study, not just read, The Bible. If you came to God in prayer with a “pure heart,” and study The Bible, all things that are written in The Book, will be revealed to you, albeit a little at a time. I believe that like Christians, there are at least a few atheists with doubts about atheism, perhaps many. In essence, this is the “proof,” so many crave, theist and atheist. You will not think, well it’s probably because I wanted to dream – there will be no mistaking it for your own thought.

    Adam is the first being God created. This should offer a little clue about what kind of being Adam was/is – read it carefully
    Gen 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

    OMGF,
    They are lame attacks, for they are attacks based on your interpretations of The Bible.
    The “actual evidence” is actual for the person experiencing it, but personal because he is the only one experiencing it. (the only shared evidence(experience) is where some in our church have shared dreams, even with a distance greater than 1,000 miles separating them)
    Not all beliefs are true, but all dream. In fact animals dream. (I had a dog that whined in her sleep). A lot of people dream of being naked in a public place.

    2Co 5:3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

    I know this is preachy, but how can I argue Ebon’s comments in this article. He does after all, quote The Bible. He just doesn’t know The Bible, and he mas a lot of company in that regard. It would amuse me very much if one night Ebon was visited by Jesus, and he converted. It can and has happened. Had a nightmare recently, you will probably find it in The Bible.

    Later, Dutch

    Dutch

  • OMGF

    Dutch,

    They are lame attacks, for they are attacks based on your interpretations of The Bible.

    Yet, you can’t give me evidence that proves that your interpretation is any more valid than mine, hereigns’s, Ebonmuse’s, or anyone else’s. So, therefore, you have no standing to say my attacks or anyone else’s are “lame”.

    The “actual evidence” is actual for the person experiencing it, but personal because he is the only one experiencing it.

    You are aware of the powers of the human (and other animals) mind to produce patterns where none exist and other such tricks, right? What assurance do you have that your “evidence” actually constitutes any truth about the objective world – and may I remind you that your wanting it to be so doesn’t actually make it so.

    He just doesn’t know The Bible, and he mas a lot of company in that regard.

    Actually, he’s shown that he knows the Bible very well, as do many other people who don’t agree with you.

    For Dutch and hereigns,
    Dutch said:

    hereigns, this “special knowledge” is freely available to everybody. All it requires is that people study, not just read, The Bible. If you came to God in prayer with a “pure heart,” and study The Bible, all things that are written in The Book, will be revealed to you, albeit a little at a time.

    It’s amazing to me how many theists think that their interpretation is right because they erroneously believe that they are the only ones that actually study the Bible and not just “read” it. Yet, I’d be willing to bet that both of you hold that you have “studied” the Bible, and I know that many atheists have “studied” it as well (including some that studied it at university). Why can Xians not come to the same conclusions about god’s holy word? Why would god make it so hard to figure out what he’s saying and what he wants?

  • spaceman spif

    Joseph Smith had lots of dreams too.

  • Dutch

    OMGF,

    It’s late, I didn’t think dreams and visions would set well with you, it was more of an endeavor to see if anyone musing about this website might well come back in a day or two and experience a dream or vision that will leave him or her somewhat awed.

    I will come back and give you the correct interpretation of one of the Bible verses Ebon used in this article. Yes, it will be my interpretation, but I will nevertheless use the Bible, and not what I think it should mean. I will use only one verse because the study and interpretation could be lengthy, and if I show how wrong Ebon is on one verse, it can be surmised that he could be wrong on others.

    A question.
    Do atheists claim to know that God doesn’t exist?

    Anyway, it’s late, and I grow weary

    Good night

  • spaceman spif

    Dutch,

    It’s next to impossible to disprove a negative, especially when that negative is believed to have all sorts of super powers that can keep him hidden from those who don’t believe. I have all sorts of great reasons to tell my kids why they can never actually see Santa Claus putting the presents under the tree, no matter how hard they try.

    The second problem with your position is that it is no different than that of believers of other religions who also claim special knowledge and visions that support their faith. Who’s right?

    It is late. Go to bed, dude, and we can all continue later. And sweet dreams! ;)

  • Friday

    I had a dream about Catherine Zeta-Jones the other night…I was certainly awed by it I can tell you!

  • OMGF

    Dutch,

    It’s late, I didn’t think dreams and visions would set well with you, it was more of an endeavor to see if anyone musing about this website might well come back in a day or two and experience a dream or vision that will leave him or her somewhat awed.

    Everyone dreams, and sometimes those dreams are intense. That doesn’t mean squat though, considering that we understand how the brain works. Dreams are just our unconscious working through things, not messages from god.

    I will come back and give you the correct interpretation of one of the Bible verses Ebon used in this article.

    What will it be based on? Where is the “rosetta stone” that one uses to get the “correct” interpretation? How will you show that it is more authoritative than Ebon’s interpretation?

    Do atheists claim to know that God doesn’t exist?

    Most atheists claim that theists have not shown that any god exists – there is no evidence for god – so there is no reason to believe in any sort of god. Furthermore, the world operates quite well, thank you very much, without this god so far as we can tell, so there is no need to insert god into our thinking in violation of Occam’s Razor. I do not – nor do most atheists – presume that I can prove a negative however.

  • Dutch

    Oh well, I tried.

    The “Rosetta Stone” is The Bible, I know, “circular reasoning.” You’re right, no matter how much Biblical proof I show, it will not convince anybody. If you saw a bearded fellow walking on water, you’d probably start looking for David Copperfield. For atheists, a literal, carnal interpretation works in attacking His Word. For Christianity, a literal, carnal interpretation causes confusion and strife, but Christianity is the closest to the real thing – it is only a matter of time when we grow in The Word.

    Atheists really like “Occam’s Razor;” so do I. Maybe it’s the words, they have a nice ring to them – kind of rolls of your tongue. Physics is currently trying to engulf, the weak nuclear force, the strong nuclear force, gravitation, and the electromagnetic force into a “unified field theory,” thus applying Occam’s Razor(which is basically KISS). God is “the all in all.” Very simple isn’t it; “Occam’s Razor.” :)
    Apparently, the universe does not follow occam’s razor as it created itself from a finite point of total simplicity, and since the moment of the big bang, has become increasingly more complex. It may well be that the “double-helix” is the most complex thing in the universe.

    I would suppose that when an atheist dies and comes into the presence of God, he will probably say, “there must be a logical reason for this phenomenon, a natural explanation for what is going on.” More of David Copperfield’s tricks perhaps.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Dutch, I fail to see the relevance of your comments to this thread. Please stay on-topic. As far as I can tell, your religion is believed in only by yourself, and Daylight Atheism is not the place for you to tell the world about it.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Dutch,

    God is “the all in all.” Very simple isn’t it; “Occam’s Razor.” :)

    Well that makes it easy. Every answer on physics tests can now be “god” or “god did it and he works in mysterious ways”, even if it’s slightly more wordy.

    What predictions about the world do you think “goddidit” should give us that is useful for understanding the world?

    How would you propose the theory be falisible? Remember, if it’s not falisifible, it’s approximately 0% useful.

  • OMGF

    Dutch,

    The “Rosetta Stone” is The Bible, I know, “circular reasoning.” You’re right, no matter how much Biblical proof I show, it will not convince anybody. If you saw a bearded fellow walking on water, you’d probably start looking for David Copperfield.

    This is an evasion. We are talking about interpretation of the Bible. How do you know that your interpretation is correct? The “rosetta stone” comment was in regards to how you can know that your interpretation of the Bible is correct, not whether it is correct in some interpretation.

    God is “the all in all.” Very simple isn’t it; “Occam’s Razor.”

    Except that invoking god violates Occam’s Razor because what you’ve essentially done is added on the most complex layer possible to a problem that simply does not need it.

    Apparently, the universe does not follow occam’s razor as it created itself from a finite point of total simplicity, and since the moment of the big bang, has become increasingly more complex. It may well be that the “double-helix” is the most complex thing in the universe.

    I’m sorry, but has it been shown that the singularity was a point of total simplicity? Also, the progression of natural law to create complex structures is NOT a violation of Occam’s Razor. Additionally, I’d like to ask what your definition of “complexity” is.

    I would suppose that when an atheist dies and comes into the presence of God, he will probably say, “there must be a logical reason for this phenomenon, a natural explanation for what is going on.” More of David Copperfield’s tricks perhaps.

    I’d like to say that I’d question god’s actions and motives for killing people, being cruel, his capriciousness, etc. Realistically, I’d just be scared at having to face a genocidal lunatic.

  • Dutch

    OK Ebon,

    I did get a bit off-topic, sorry.

    I am about to leave, and I didn’t want to leave on a sour note. I initially came here and other atheist sites for some book research. I will include some of what I have learned about atheists and how they think in dialogue among the characters within my book. With very few exceptions, you and most people on your site have been decent. I understand what I have written is unusual, but I am not alone. Our church is called Reveal2, and there are many others at the fringes of truth. A while back, I google searched 2 words, “earth and hell” just to see if anyone out there understands. Lo and behold, there are many which are beginning to understand.

    This atheist site, in fact, all atheist sites, as well as most Christian sites use a carnal, literal interpretation of The Bible. The verses you quote above are a literal interpretation. I have vainly tried to show you otherwise; to no avail.

    To Mrnaglfar,

    “What predictions about the world do you think “goddidit” should give us that is useful for understanding the world”

    I am not into predictions about “the world,” at least not specifically. Generally I will say that Christianity will supplant all religions now existing, even atheism. This will take one thousand years. As much as Christianity misunderstands The Bible, they are closer to the truth, indeed all you have to look at is Christian based society – generally they are more advanced societies. You might want to take a look at Europe. As Islam supplants Christianity, Europe will decay into chaos, if not outright war. Anyway, everything in its season.

    It has been a great, albeit at times frustrating dialogue.

    I bid you adieu, Dutch

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    Generally I will say that Christianity will supplant all religions now existing, even atheism. This will take one thousand years.

    Perhaps Dutch fancies himself the next Obadiah?

  • Dutch

    OMGF,

    I forgot to say good bye to you.

    You are, I am sure, a good guy. So let’s leave it at that.

    Have a good day, Dutch

  • Rick

    I would like to make an observation and suggest this for you all to ponder. Think for a moment of religion as being most reflective of the culture which invents it. (Kind of like we do nowadays with sci-fi or revisionist history).
    Thin now about the conditions of the peasantry and the elitists of the Roman Empire. Keep this in context when you look over the Bible passages quoted.
    The Bible was, more or less, a Roman Document. Roman citizenry wanted a consistancy, a verification of which, for example, the 100 or so versions of Luke’s Gospel floating around was the most accurate one. Roman citizens offered literacy, something not needed for the illiterate Jews. Consider the culture of the time and whether the supposed teachings of Jesus (which were all written on here-say story decades after his death) as reflections of life in a primitive (by today’s standards) society. (Although Rome could be considered an “Advanced” society for the time. )
    Add to that an overly superstitious lifestyle; wrought with astrology, Mirthaism and belief that illness was punishment from God (Yes there is a verse in the New Testament to support that as well!), and we see in that context that Jesus was just a better teacher than anyone so far. But like this article states, in the 2000 years or so since then, we as humanity have become MORE civilized. We no longer stage gladatorial games for the pleasure of the citizens. (Well, ok maybe we do)
    We understand medical science and the disease process (Well, many in Christianity still believe HIV was invented by God to punish homosexuals)
    We understand physics; we can know and predict for example weather patterns (of course, Pat Robertson claims that Hurricane Katrina was caused by God to punish the wicked of New Orleans).
    I guess the point is, we as humans are Capable of more than Christian morals. We are capable of offering a better life and a better way of thinking that was limited by first century middle eastern life. We have the means to live better in the hear and now, and fear and hatred (caused by religions) seem to be the overwhelming factor.

  • http://feralboy12.com feralboy12

    Obviously Jesus is moral by definition.
    “When the president does it, it’s not illegal.”
    –Richard M. Nixon