Don’t Practice Your Faith at the Interfaith Event

A story that teaches you about tolerance and intolerance all at once:

Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, the city’s largest interfaith organization, announced Thursday that its annual Thanksgiving celebration Sunday had to be moved…

Can you guess why it had to be moved?

If you guessed, “Because Christians didn’t want Muslims praying on their property,” you win!

The group learned Wednesday that the rental space at the [Hyde Park Baptist Church]-owned Quarries property in North Austin was no longer available because Hyde Park leaders had discovered that non-Christians, Muslims in particular, would be practicing their faith there.

How dare they practice their faith at an interfaith event!

The organizers of the event said they had booked the property over the summer and had “made the interfaith aspect clear” to church leaders.

The money quotation, from the church’s statement:

“Although individuals from all faiths are welcome to worship with us at Hyde Park Baptist Church, the church cannot provide space for the practice of these non-Christian religions on church property,” the statement said. “Hyde Park Baptist Church hopes that the AAIM and the community of faith will understand and be tolerant of our church’s beliefs that have resulted in this decision.”

With little time to find a new venue, the event was close to being canceled, but the city’s largest synagogue offered to host the event instead.

“Symbolically, that’s a very good thing,” [Muslim organizer Shams] Siddiqi said of the joint Jewish-Muslim endeavor.

“They said, ‘It’s an honor to be able to provide the space, especially knowing our co-hosts are Muslims,’” [Interreligious Ministries' interim director Simone Talma] Flowers said.

Synagogue leaders said they would arrange space for Muslims to make their evening prayers, Flowers said. “What a great testimony of inclusion.”

You already figured this out, but the evangelical megachurch’s leaders are not participating in the event whatsoever.

(Thanks to Maria for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, interfaith, dialogue, Islam, Christian, Jesus[/tags]

  • Steve Craperson

    Another example that prayer does not work:
    Christian group prays for celebuwrecks

    A Hope and a Prayer for Troubled Hollywood

    The group of more than 5,000 Christians prays for stars instead of thinking of them as lost causes, and co-hosted a prayer breakfast in Beverly Hills Friday to stir a larger movement to get Christians to help celebrities.

    It also picks up-and-coming child stars for its monthly kids prayer calendar and pairs hundreds of mentors with struggling actors, the kind more likely to take your order in a restaurant than appear on your television, according to the Associated Press.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    “Hyde Park Baptist Church hopes that the AAIM and the community of faith will understand and be tolerant of our church’s beliefs that have resulted in this decision.”

    Why the hell should anyone be tolerant of intolerance? These people are nuts.

  • Karen

    That’s really cool that the Jewish temple stepped up to host, and welcomes the Muslims to their facility. A nice gesture that the evangelicals would do well to note.

  • ESVA

    “Interfaith” is usually Christian-speak for “interdenominational.”

  • Daniel Hoffman

    If these Christians, Muslims, and Jews, are random collections of atoms, to soon die and be dispersed again through the universe without the watchful care of anyone or anything higher – then what in the world is “wrong” with intolerance? What is “wrong” anyway?

  • Mriana

    Oh brother. :roll: This crap is getting old. I still say we’d all be better off without religion. It would definitely end Crusades and religious intolerance.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Mriana, what is your basis for thinking that the Crusades and religious intolerance are bad?
    Why shouldn’t people kill each other? Animals do it all the time.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    Daniel Hoffman, people shouldn’t kill each other because it results in displeasure. It’s just not worth it for anyone involved. Life is better for everyone if you act “good” — that’s what is good.

    There is no absolute good or evil, but there are things that have overall good results and overall bad results. You should do good things because it’s good for you and good for others.

    Also, the fact that these people are all made of collections of atoms from the same universe means that there is nothing absolute separating them from each other (atheists do not believe in a soul, generally). There is only their perception. Maybe people can learn to see things in terms of net value for the universe (net pleasure), and overcome their solipsism. Then we could live in a universe where we are concerned with the quality of everyone’s lives, instead of just our own.

    Furthermore, as atheists we are good people because we think it is the right thing to do. You seem to think that without rewards or punishments in the afterlife (I think there’s a good chance you are religious) there is no reason to be good. If this is what you believe, it is quite revealing. That’s an incredibly selfish outlook for someone to take. Would you kill and rape and steal if there was no god to reward you or punish you?

    I would like to hear your reply. If you could email me at johnpritzlaff@gmail.com if you reply to this, that would be great (so I know to look).

    John

  • JeffN

    You know where killers go. Heh Heh Heh.
    For what ever reason i think most people would agree with you.

  • Gary Charbonneau

    If these Christians, Muslims, and Jews, are random collections of atoms, to soon die and be dispersed again through the universe without the watchful care of anyone or anything higher – then what in the world is “wrong” with intolerance? What is “wrong” anyway?

    Daniel, let’s modify your questions ever so slightly: If Christians, Muslims, and Jews are not “random collections of atoms,” if they are not “soon to die … without the watchful care of anyone or anything higher” — then what in the world is wrong with intolerance? What is “wrong” anyway?

    How would you answer these questions?

  • JeffN

    Speaking of intolerance where did the doctrine of tolerance come from any way. Who birthed and propagated it.

  • Darryl

    Speaking of intolerance where did the doctrine of tolerance come from any way. Who birthed and propagated it.

    Long labor; many midwives. The baby was not delivered until modern times. Any country like ours will depend upon tolerance to subsist. Since we cannot resolve our moral disagreements, we have no choice but to tolerate one another. To do otherwise is to go to war.

  • Daniel Hoffman
    If these Christians, Muslims, and Jews, are random collections of atoms, to soon die and be dispersed again through the universe without the watchful care of anyone or anything higher – then what in the world is “wrong” with intolerance? What is “wrong” anyway?

    Daniel, let’s modify your questions ever so slightly: If Christians, Muslims, and Jews are not “random collections of atoms,” if they are not “soon to die … without the watchful care of anyone or anything higher” — then what in the world is wrong with intolerance? What is “wrong” anyway?

    How would you answer these questions?

    I didn’t say whether intolerance was wrong or not, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I’m just asking about the basis of morality. I make moral judgments based on the word of God. I’m just wondering what your basis is, because we can argue all day about toleration and oppression, etc… but we need to first determine our authority for deciding what’s right.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Dahhh, everything except the last paragraph was supposed to be in quotes – sorry if that confused anyone.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “I’m just asking about the basis of morality. I make moral judgments based on the word of God. I’m just wondering what your basis is…”

    Oh, for the love of Mike.

    You want the 50 words or less version?

    Creating joy and alleviating suffering — good.

    Causing unnecessary suffering, or failing to alleviate suffering when you can easily do so, or diminishing joy for no good reason — bad.

    Why? Because we have empathy for other people. Because we recognize that other people are people like us.

    And people who make their moral judgments based on the supposed word of God terrify me. They are all too apt to focus on what their doctrine says is good or bad… at the cost of ignoring or even flat-out denying the reality of what does and does not help or hurt people in the actual world around them.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    And now bringing it back to the actual topic:

    “Although individuals from all faiths are welcome to worship with us at Hyde Park Baptist Church, the church cannot provide space for the practice of these non-Christian religions on church property,” the statement said.”

    Does this make some sort of sense that I’m not seeing? It seems like they’re saying, “People of all faiths are welcome to worship at our church, as long as they set that faith aside at the door and worship the way we think they should.”

    In other words, “People of all faiths are welcome to worship at our church, as long as they abandon their faith and practice ours instead.”

    Or, “People of all faiths are welcome to worship at our church, as long as they’re really people of our faith.”

    I keep trying to parse it in a way that doesn’t make my head hurt. I think I should give up and try to write another limerick instead.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Creating joy and alleviating suffering — good.

    Causing unnecessary suffering, or failing to alleviate suffering when you can easily do so, or diminishing joy for no good reason — bad.

    Why? Because we have empathy for other people. Because we recognize that other people are people like us.

    On who’s authority? Majority opinion? What about people who find joy in making others suffer? How can you say with any real conviction that they are wrong?

  • Darryl

    Daniel, your questions are sophomoric. Why don’t you read a few books on morals and ethics besides the Bible and its commentaries, then come back and pitch some decent questions. You’re like the kid who keeps asking “Why?” to every answer.

  • Gary Charbonneau

    I didn’t say whether intolerance was wrong or not, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, I’m just asking about the basis of morality. I make moral judgments based on the word of God. I’m just wondering what your basis is, because we can argue all day about toleration and oppression, etc… but we need to first determine our authority for deciding what’s right.

    This seems to presume that any ethical controversy should and must be settled by an appeal to an “authority” that one of us does not acknowledge to be authoritative. We might not even be able to agree what is or is not a moral violation. For example, considering the following:

    While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    What is the offense against morality described in this passage? Since you make moral judgments on the basis of the word of God — believng it to be precisely that — I would guess that you would argue that the offense was that allegedly committed by the man who gathered wood on the Sabbath. I, on the other hand, would argue that it was the stoning of that man by the assembly.

    If we cannot agree that God exists, we would certainly not be able to come to an agreement on the what the actual moral offense was in the passage quoted. But even if we did agree that God exists, and that he indeed gave the command attributed to him in the passage above, it would still be possible for us to disagree what the moral offense was. I could certainly argue, for example, that, not only did the assembly commit a moral offense by stoning the man to death, but also that God committed a moral offense by ordering the stoning.

    So in the end we would be unable to agree, because I would dispute, not only any claim on your part that the “word of God” is actually the word of God, but also any claim on your part that God, even if he existed, must necessarily and without question be recognized as an “authority” in matters of morality.

  • JeffN

    Gary Charbonneau said,

    While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

    What book and chapter is that in.

  • Richard Wade

    Getting back on topic,

    There’s no way around it, the Hyde Park Baptist Church showed themselves to be bigoted hypocrites, without love or hospitality. There’s a delicious irony in the fact that Muslims and Jews were brought together in a positive way by the backward prejudice of a group of Fundies. I hope other Christian groups support and attend the event. By the way, any Buddhists or Hindus allowed in?

    The folks at Hyde Park Baptist Church
    Left the interfaith group in the lurch.
    “We don’t want Muslims praying
    In our building,” they’re saying.
    So the Jews offered their place to perch.

  • Gary Charbonneau

    What book and chapter is that in?

    Numbers 15:32-36.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    It seems that Hyde Park Baptist Church is alot like my favorite church: Landover Baptist

  • chancelikely

    Jeff: and more than a little like Westboro Baptist.

    Incidentally, did anyone else think that Westboro was the parody and Landover was serious at the first glances at their websites?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “On who’s authority? Majority opinion? What about people who find joy in making others suffer? How can you say with any real conviction that they are wrong?”

    Okay, Daniel. Again, Ethics 101, the 25 words or less version: Through a combination of community consensus and our own internal moral guide.

    (If you want to know where that comes from, research in neuropsychology is increasingly pointing to the idea that our basic human ethics, and our basic human empathy, are hard-wired into our brains genetically.)

    If your point is that this makes ethics complicated and messy and not always clear… well, yes. Ethics are complicated and messy and not always clear. This is not news.

    But as Gary Charbonneau pointed out, belief in God and the Bible doesn’t make ethics any less messy or complicated or unclear. You still have to use your own community standards, and your own internal moral guide, to decide how to interpret the moral teachings of the Bible. This is clearly the case, since different sects, and different people within those different sects, interpret the Bible’s moral teachings so radically differently. Including the choices they make about which Biblical teachings to accept and which ones to reject.

    In other words, you still have to use your own moral compass, and pay attention to the moral compasses of others, to know what the right thing to do is. Atheists just advocate eliminating the middleman of the Bible, and setting our moral compasses based on the world that’s around us now, as opposed to the one that was around in the Bronze Age.

  • JeffN

    Gary Charbonneau said,

    November 19, 2007 at 6:06 am

    That could lead to a debate in itself but it would be rather off topic so i will leave it for another forum.

  • JeffN

    Yes we do have a built in moral guide which many refer to as a conscience. and yes we are taught proper behavior (to include morality) which we learn through are upbringing and through our society. The Bible takes that to and demands a higher level of conscience and morality by those who would chose to live by it’s teachings.

    I believe the question of Hyde Park Baptist Church being wright or wrong would depend on ones own sense of morality in such issues. Look at it as atheists turning away Christians and ask yourself if you would be as harsh.
    For me the real question is; in view of the Bible they believe were they right or wrong. Though i respect there right to deny the Muslims a place to meet i am bothered by the fact that they went back on a previous agreement which i believe they should have honored. I think the Jews made a bold political statement in there acceptance of the Muslims. or maybe they just paid them a lot of money i don’t know. Either way i thought it was a good move on there part.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “The Bible takes that to and demands a higher level of conscience and morality by those who would chose to live by it’s teachings.”

    Really.

    Read A Book of Blood. The Great Sage’s Visit. Infinite Punishment for Finite Sins. All from the Ebon Musings website; all about the legions of profoundly repugnant moral teachings to be found all over the Bible.

    And then come here and tell us that the Bible demands a higher level of conscience and morality fom its followers.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    If your point is that this makes ethics complicated and messy and not always clear… well, yes. Ethics are complicated and messy and not always clear. This is not news.

    My point is not that it makes ethics complicated and messy and unclear – my point is that it makes them utterly meaningless. I’m assuming you believe in nothing more than the material universe of atoms and energy (correct me if I’m wrong) – such a universe/conception of reality cannot account for the existence of “ought” and “should”. 300 years ago people’s internal moral compass and community consensus said that slavery was ok. Was it? Was it ok then, but not now? What if we change our minds and decide 100 years from now that it’s ok again?

    Through a combination of community consensus and our own internal moral guide.

    Is this a binding authority on others, who might disagree with the community consensus?

    To tell me that murder is wrong because of your internal moral guide and my community’s consensus, is only to tell me that you and my community don’t like it.

    My point is that in an atheistic/materialistic system, you have no ground on which to condemn people for things like intolerance, except that you and others have a feeling (based in molecules and energy) of aversion towards it, and have concluded that results follow which you are displeased with. If you want to lablel it as “wrong”, fine, but your “wrong” is not one that someone with 1 life in which to “eat drink, and be merry” should care about. Survival of the fittest, tomorrow we’ll all be dirt again.

  • Richard Wade

    To JeffN,

    Look at it as atheists turning away Christians and ask yourself if you would be as harsh.

    I’d come down on them like a ton of bricks if I had the power to do so. It doesn’t matter which group it is. If one is not prepared to keep an agreement one should not enter into the agreement. Honorable people keep their agreements whether they like it or not. Hyde Park Baptist Church wanted the good publicity of participating in an “interfaith” event, but later realized that word would include, eewwww, those Muslims whose praying would put evil magic into their building. They didn’t know what “interfaith” means? Are they illiterate idiots? Are they country bumpkins? No, they’re bigoted hypocrites who don’t have the courage of their convictions.

  • JeffN

    Daniel Hoffman said,

    I’m assuming you believe in nothing more than the material universe of atoms and energy (correct me if I’m wrong).

    No Daniel. I am a Christian and make no apologies for it.

    The point i was trying to make is that we should be held accountable for the knowledge and sense of morality that we know and understand. That’s not to say that if someone goes on a killing spree that they should not be put out of there misery or at least dealt with according to his or her specific society’s morals and laws for even the animal kingdom by it’s own understanding of morality which is survival of the fittest would deal with such a one harshly in order to preserve the well being and integrity of the herd or pack. There are some things that even nature understands as cut and dry (Thou shalt not do) such as murder not for foods sake but just for the sake of killing as being wrong. but in the gray areas which would spawn debate I think a person or society should be held accountable for what they know and understand.

    I’m sorry if the meaning in my last post wasn’t real clear I hope this one clears things up a little.

    Richard Wade said

    I’d come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    November 19, 2007 at 6:00 pm
    Look at it as atheists turning away Christians and ask yourself if you would be as harsh.

    I appreciate your honesty.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    JeffN,
    I was actually responding to Greta about the material universe – thanks for the reply anyway though.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    chancelikely said,

    “Incidentally, did anyone else think that Westboro was the parody and Landover was serious at the first glances at their websites?”

    The one thing I respect about extreme fundamentalists is that they actually say what they believe. Although, thats the only thing I respect about them. They do a better job of spoofing fundamentalism than Landover.

    If you want another chuckle, check out the spoof at godhatesshrimp

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I’ll rephrase what I said before, Daniel, since I think you may have overlooked it:

    When it comes to making moral decisions, believers do exactly the same thing as non-believers. They still use their own community standards, and their own internal moral guide, to decide how to interpret the moral teachings of the Bible.

    How do we know this? Because different sects — and different people within those different sects — interpret the Bible’s moral teachings so radically differently. Including the choices they make about which Biblical teachings to accept and which ones to reject. And the interpretation of the Bible has changed dramatically through history.

    Example: There are any number of moral teachings in the Bible that almost all Christians today reject; either because they’re morally repugnant (such as genocide, infanticide, the stoning to death of adulterers), or simply irrelevant and silly (such as not wearing mixed fabrics, or not charging interest on loans). I’m actually a little surprised that you used slavery as an example of a moral absolute — since the Bible explicitly condones it in several places.

    And, of course, different Christian sects today take radically different positions on homosexuality, divorce, abortion, war, etc. And they all claim that their position is the one God agrees with, the ones that’s supported by scripture. The idea that religion somehow provides clear moral absolutes is flatly absurd.

    You seem to think that without the final moral authority of God, morals are meaningless. But how do you know that God is good? On what basis are you deciding that God is good? Is God good just by definition? Then how is that any different from saying that creating joy and alleviating suffering are good just by definition?

  • Darryl

    My point is not that it makes ethics complicated and messy and unclear – my point is that it makes them utterly meaningless. I’m assuming you believe in nothing more than the material universe of atoms and energy (correct me if I’m wrong) – such a universe/conception of reality cannot account for the existence of “ought” and “should”.

    Daniel, your “point” is dull and passé. Hello–news flash: the latest research has shown “ought” and “should” to be human inventions. I’ll let you in on a little secret: humans are very imaginative. We have the capacity to imagine things that have no existence. We can even construct systems of thought around imaginary things. That’s our genius. That’s also our flaw.

    300 years ago people’s internal moral compass and community consensus said that slavery was ok. Was it? Was it ok then, but not now? What if we change our minds and decide 100 years from now that it’s ok again?

    Daniel, slavery was justified by Christians in the southern states at one time. Preachers there taught that the Bible condoned slavery. Other Christians elsewhere understood the Bible to condemn slavery. Which side was correct? From my point of view both sides were in error when they looked to the Bible for direction. But, as to the question of slavery, like any other question of ethics, only people can decide what is right and what is wrong. I like the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. I don’t want to be a slave, so I won’t enslave anyone. Jesus didn’t originate that idea–it’s a human idea with a distant genesis.

    My point is that in an atheistic/materialistic system, you have no ground on which to condemn people for things like intolerance, except that you and others have a feeling (based in molecules and energy) of aversion towards it, and have concluded that results follow which you are displeased with.

    You denigrate “molecules and energy.” That’s an ignorant and arrogant thing to do. You owe your existence to “molecules and energy.” If you’re a Christian, you’re disparaging God’s creation, which he called “good.”

    You make this argument, I guess, not because you really care about morals or ethics, but just to argue for your faith. Your attempt to pose a cosmic problem of morals is simply a way to justify the need for God. From my perspective, you’re a coward–a quivering, sniveling, coward. Rather than face the fact that you are the master of your destiny, you hide behind silly myths that comfort you with a heavenly father-figure that has your best interests in his mind. I don’t condemn you for being a coward–not everyone is strong–but please, don’t try to disguise your cowardice with religious double-talk. That is contemptible.

  • Gary Charbonneau

    My point is not that it makes ethics complicated and messy and unclear – my point is that it makes them utterly meaningless. I’m assuming you believe in nothing more than the material universe of atoms and energy (correct me if I’m wrong) – such a universe/conception of reality cannot account for the existence of “ought” and “should”. 300 years ago people’s internal moral compass and community consensus said that slavery was ok. Was it? Was it ok then, but not now? What if we change our minds and decide 100 years from now that it’s ok again?

    Slavery is the one example that you should not have brought up in your effort to make your point. 300 years ago? Try 150. In 1857, throughout the American South, people’s internal moral compasses and community consensus said that slavery was OK. For the purposes of the present discussion, however, the important thing to note is that the vast majority of those people were Bible-thumping fundamentalists who found nothing in the Bibles they thumped to convince them that slavery was not OK — and it was that that was instrumental in shaping both personal moral compasses and community standards. There was a vast outpouring of controversial literature on both sides of the slavery issue, most of it written by committed Christians, but when it came to citing scripture in defense of their positions, the pro-slavery Christians were able to give at least as good as they got. How could there have been pro-slavery Christians according to the “word of God” theory of morality?

    A while back, in an online discussion, I asked a fundamentalist Lutheran minister flat out whether holding another person in slavery was a sin. He dodged around the question as best he could, but in the end conceded that, while (for some reason he never explained) he was personally glad that slavery no longer existed, he could find nothing in the Bible to convince him that slavery was sinful. That was not 300 years ago. It was not 150 years ago. It was less than two years ago.

    Now, I tend to agree with the general thrust of your argument against moral relativism. I merely wish to point out here that reliance on “the word of God” by both sides scarcely settled the debate over the morality of slavery. I would also ask whether moral relativism doesn’t lie at the very heart of certain doctrines of certain Christian sects. Why (to refer to my earlier example) if it was not wrong to stone a man to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath in Moses’ day, would it be wrong to do so today?

    My point is that in an atheistic/materialistic system, you have no ground on which to condemn people for things like intolerance, except that you and others have a feeling (based in molecules and energy) of aversion towards it, and have concluded that results follow which you are displeased with

    In a moral system based on the so-called word of God, have you any ground to condemn people for doing something other than an indication, often rather ambiguous and contradictory, that God has commanded them not to do it? Why has he commanded them not to do it? Divine personal preference? It seems to me that your entire argument is built on quicksand here.

  • txatheist

    Sorry for the hit and run post Hemant but I did make a couple videos about this event. Hope you are well.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJcrepS2Kg

  • JeffN

    Daniel Hoffman said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    JeffN,
    I was actually responding to Greta about the material universe – thanks for the reply anyway though.

    Oops. Sorry.

  • JeffN

    Greta Christina said,

    November 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    In reference to your reply refer to.

    JeffN said,

    November 19, 2007 at 5:09 pm.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    One more thing that’s been bugging me about this thread.

    It’s not just that the “without God, morality is meaningless” trope is illogical.

    It’s that it contradicts the evidence.

    Regardless of whether you think atheists should be moral, or have any reason to be moral, the fact remains that we are moral. As moral as believers, anyway. There is no evidence that atheists lie, steal, kill, rape, or commit any other ethical violations any more often than theists.

    In fact, countries with high levels of atheism and agnosticism (such as Norway and Holland) often have a heightened sense of social responsibility, a greater-than-usual belief that people in a society have an obligation to take care of each other.

    I’m not saying that atheism is what causes this sense of social responsibility. But the “eat, drink, and be merry/ lie, steal, and kill” picture that theists often paint of what an atheist world would be like is in sharp contrast to reality. Any theist who thinks morality must be rooted in religion to be meaningful needs to come up with an explanation for that reality.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    I think my point about slavery was missed. I wasn’t talking about whether slavery is ok or not according to Christians/the Bible. Christians defending it back in the day is beside the point. Greta said that morality is based on the moral compass and community standards. I’m just saying that by this foundation of morality, slaveowners back in the day were perfectly right to do what they did. It was their moral compass and their community’s standard. Now, you all think slavery is wrong. Are you right simply because you live now and they lived in the past? Does morality change with the times?

    You make this argument, I guess, not because you really care about morals or ethics, but just to argue for your faith. Your attempt to pose a cosmic problem of morals is simply a way to justify the need for God. From my perspective, you’re a coward–a quivering, sniveling, coward. Rather than face the fact that you are the master of your destiny, you hide behind silly myths that comfort you with a heavenly father-figure that has your best interests in his mind. I don’t condemn you for being a coward–not everyone is strong–but please, don’t try to disguise your cowardice with religious double-talk. That is contemptible.

    Well, I do care about morals. And there’s nothing strong about pretending to be “master of my destiny”. How could anyone be? I didn’t control the time and place I was born, who my parents were, what my upbringing was, and I can’t control a thousand external circumstances or the time and place of my death. I would suggest that your desire to be master of your destiny is blinding you to reason. You aren’t master of your destiny, whether you want to be or not – because again, there are a thousand external circumstances you meet every day that you can’t control. Perhaps the cowardly thing is to hold on to the fantasy that you are in control. Incidentally, if atheism/materialism is true, why should I ascribe any more significance to “your perspective” than to a block of wood (and I’m asking sincerely, not sarcastically)?

    Regardless of whether you think atheists should be moral, or have any reason to be moral, the fact remains that we are moral. As moral as believers, anyway. There is no evidence that atheists lie, steal, kill, rape, or commit any other ethical violations any more often than theists.

    Again, beside the point.

    You denigrate “molecules and energy.” That’s an ignorant and arrogant thing to do. You owe your existence to “molecules and energy.” If you’re a Christian, you’re disparaging God’s creation, which he called “good.”

    I just said that if atheism/materialism is true, morals have no significance beyond molecules and energy. That’s not denigrating.

  • matt

    to daniel hoffman:

    I stumbled over this site doing some research so I won’t be able to read a response if one is posted but yes of course morality changes with time. Some theists have this horrible tendency to belittle humanity and its progressiveness. I don’t find it at all useful to be blindly submissive and so the ‘good’ lord is not my moral guide. Terrible acts have been permitted in the name of every leading religion and who are you to say you have the right interpretation?
    I know what is bad because i know what is harmful to others. that i avoid. Like I instinctively know a lot of things. This is not great conundrum but a predictable consequence of productive symbiotic social evolution. I take it you aren’t militantly carrying out everything the bible commands since you aren’t behind bars. Don’t worry, I’m sure you make your invisible slave master very proud.