Is It Child Abuse?

I think it’s silly that the woman in the video below is proselytizing at the mall.

I think it’s absurd to think her questions are actually going to get people to convert (or even think about it).

I don’t care that someone is videotaping the conversations.

But I stopped rolling my eyes when I saw there was a child involved. I would have to presume the woman (her mom?) taught her to say these things.

I know it’s tough to hear the audio, but it’s pretty clear what’s going on.

Reader Larry wonders whether or not it’s right to involve the child in this charade. On one hand, what else are Christian parents going to teach their children if not their personal beliefs? Is it wrong for them to do that?

On the other hand, we have the Richard Dawkins argument, that this child is being taught to accept certain religious beliefs that she probably doesn’t understand — the woman is effectively labeling her as a “Christian” before the girl is mature enough to decide that for herself. So isn’t this a form of mental child abuse (or brainwashing or whatever you want to call it)?

What do you think? I know the poll question is simplistic, but the idea is a broad one: What do you think about the use of the child in the video?


Feel free to elaborate on your answer in the comments.

(Thanks to Larry for the link!)

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    To us, it’s child abuse. But to people like the mother, it’s their God-given duty and responsibility to brainwash– er, I mean, indoctrinate… no, that’s not right… “educate”? Yeah, to “educate” their children in the teachings of the lord and friends. Because to them (and trust me on this, I’m getting it from my own parents), to not know God is to not know a damn thing, like they’re missing out on something great.

    And they wonder why we call it a cult?

  • Trace

    I may not like it and I it may make me cringe, but no, it is not a form of (mental) child abuse.

    Happy Fourth of July!

  • Trace

    oh, is she the girl’s mother or the aunt? Not that it really matters…

  • William

    It is a parent’s right to teach their children their religion. But in this situation, taking your child into public to proselytize is wrong. Not only is she putting the child in the way of possible physical danger (since some people are crazy) she is putting her child in the position to be ridiculed and ostracized. Ridicule can be damaging to the social skills and mental health of any child of that age, but especially so to a girl who is already under social pressure to look and act a certain way. In this case, this religious behavior is child abuse.

  • evilspud

    Is telling a child that their bad behavior will make Santa skip their house for Christmas child abuse?

    Personally, I don’t see how a child being taught to believe in God is any less absorbent.

    The child here is certainly learning how to become comfortable talking to others (knowing that she should only do so when she is with someone she trusts), and will probably hang onto the communication skills as a bonus.

    It’s crushing for me to see a parent encourage and praise their child, and at the same time realize that it’s an effective and productive form of parenting. And at the same time feel like the threat of hell is needed.

    That is abusive, and at the very least threatening to her mental health.

  • http://www.redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    I think if you threaten children with eternal torture in hell, that’s child abuse. But while I disagree that there is a Jesus who loves everybody, I don’t think that teaching them about that is abuse. So some denominations would fit and some wouldn’t. Sharing your opinion with willing listeners at the mall is hardly abuse. Again, I don’t agree with it, but the girl is learning to stand up for her beliefs. As she gets older and encounters different people with different arguments, it will teach her to think for herself, something she is probably not getting at home.

    I think it’s dangerous to label general religious teachings “abuse”, because it’s part of one’s family and culture. They think what atheists do in NOT teaching children about religion is abuse as well. Then it just gets into a finger pointing match that leads to nowhere.

  • http://heathenfamilyrevival.blogspot.com Kelly

    I agree with Laura. Calling this child abuse opens up a can of worms. I don’t want to provoke a movement calling atheism child abuse. I’m sure there are plenty of people who already believe that atheism is a form of neglectful parenting.

  • defiantnonbeliever

    Parents need to teach their children all sorts of things to make it in the world, from how to stay clean and use a toilet, to how to make a living(in joint responsibility with government and or society at large). To decide what is irresponsible educating and what is needed depends on the accurate appreciation of what reality really is. Determining that in a world rife with propaganda and nonsense is a big challenge.

    I do think myth educating is abuse, as is political indoctrination, but wonder how any of us can be sure we know enough to know the real from the mistaken and harmful. My brother and his wife seem to have ‘educated’ their sons in the ‘science of creation’ and the beliefs of their church. I think that was abuse and condemn them for it, but what am I to do about such abuse, make it illegal? Outlawing beliefs is what religious and political totalists do with horrific results.

  • http://www.redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    Ah, here is an example of the flip side of the coin, where the AFA accuses the adults in Will Phillips’ life of child abuse. And really, both families are teaching their children to stand up for their beliefs. The difference is that we agree with one child, but not the other.

  • Joseph R

    Teaching your child about your personal philosophy/beliefs in life is hardly child abuse. Religious people do it just as I, an atheist/humanist, do it. True life lessons are taught through our actions and what our children observe.

  • Puzzled

    What do you teach your children? If they tell their friends at school that there is no god, are you guilty of child abuse?

  • TruFru

    I see it as a silly little trick. The fact is adults are kinder towards children than towards adults (on the average, I believe). If an adult stranger approaches me to talk, I’ll be on my guard. If it’s a kid, my reaction would be like “Oh, the little one wants to say something to me. I wonder what it is…”

    Stupid little trick!

  • Claudia

    Hmm I’ve voted yes, but I now wish I could recant my vote. I think that indoctrinating your children in such a fashion is immoral, but that’s different from it being abusive. Now, given the content that this girl has been trained to parrot, I do worry that actual mental abuse is taking place in a different sense. The whole thing is about who gets to go to heaven. Presumably this girl is being taught that only people who believe like her go to heaven and everyone else goes to hell. I DO think that inmersing children in the concept of hell IS emotionally abusive. Lots of now liberated adults describe the anguish that they felt fearing hell and worrying that their friends/neighbors/relatives who weren’t of their faith would be going to hell.

  • JD

    Abuse is a very strong word, and care must be done to make sure it’s not being watered down to suit your agenda.

    A parent teaching their children is one thing, but a parent making their children follow the parent’s beliefs to the point of making them do proselytization work is pretty awkward.

  • Ben

    I have to agree with others that teaching children your beliefs is not chid abuse. Unlike many atheists, if this pathetic government of mine allowed me to have children I would teach them rationality and logic and why religion is wrong. Having said that it’s a bit hard to judge a religious parent teaching their child to follow their religion when they are just sure they’re just as right as I am.

    But the poll you’ve posted is misleading — it is immediately following a statement about labelling them as religious, not about involving them in proselytising. I would not call the former a form of abuse, but I would the latter, on par with parents who drag their children to protest rallies and get them to chant slogans and hold up placards for the camera.

  • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com WhatPaleBlueDot

    I really disagree with this idea that teaching your child what you believe is abusive just because someone else disagrees with it. Christians would have just as much justification (if not more) to suggest that not teaching children of atheists about Jesus is abusive. And forget existential philosophy, what about political beliefs? Is it abusive for me to teach my kids Democratic ideals? Republican ideals?

    No. Thought and education are not criminal unless that education specifically assaults the child’s sense of self worth and results in emotional harm. Religious guilt, however misplaced, is not psychological harm in and of itself. There is enough real abuse in the world. We don’t need to invent it because something makes us uncomfortable.

  • Greg

    (Note: when I am talking about indoctrination, I mean actual indoctrination in a religion, rather than, say, being told the vague outlines of a parent’s beliefs, or a child copying the things a parent says on their own. Obviously there is a difference between a child asking questions, and someone shoving scripture down their throat and this post doesn’t really apply to the former!)

    I think the important question is whether or not the beliefs are the child’s beliefs.

    Superficially, I suppose they are. She ‘believes’ these things to be true.

    But does she even understand what these beliefs entail? Did she come to believe these things based on anything other than indoctrination? Has she made the decision to believe them, or has the decision been made for her? Is it even possible to come to a definitive conclusion on a subject like this – which is hotly contested by adults – when you are a child?

    If this were not religion, but rather, say, a political agenda, what then? If it were a liberal ideology, or a conservative one, would we consider it child abuse? What if it were racist beliefs? If a kid was going around making arguments in a mall with a family member from the point of view of a white supremacist, is that child abuse?

    And I don’t think this is just a matter of atheism versus theism, either. I would have thought the religious should be just as worried, if not more so. Indeed, for those theists amongst you, what if the religion she is professing belief in is wrong (for argument’s sake a religion other than your own), but another religion is right? What if as a direct result of this indoctrination she gets sent to hell and tortured for eternity?

    Obviously, some people leave their religion regardless of the indoctrination, but that doesn’t mean it is not child abuse.

    To those that are saying it is a parent’s right to indoctrinate their children, where does the parent’s rights end and the children’s begin? We don’t believe that parents have the right to physically abuse a child, after all, do we? Nor mental abuse: would we not all consider a parent emotionally abusing their child, stripping them of any self worth, and causing them to commit suicide, to be child abuse? When exactly do these things become abusive?

    Although some of the above questions may have been rhetorical, I’m not completely sure as to what I believe on the subject (especially as to when something becomes abusive)… But given just how much religious views can affect a person, I certainly lean towards it being a form of child abuse. I am a big proponent of the right of self determination, and the matter seems just too important to me not to allow the person to come to their own conclusions – whether a god exists or not.

    (As an aside, it seems to me that child indoctrination is a clear sign of the absurdity of the beliefs – otherwise they wouldn’t need to get them while they’re young…)

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    What does Richard Wade think, as the resident family counselor?

    I have to put myself in the position of the child. Imagine you’re that child, and 20 years from now, when you’re an adult, you view this footage for the first time. Would you feel that you’d been exploited? Would you feel that you had been made an instrument in advocacy of beliefs that you were too young to understand? And would you wish your parents would have let you just be a kid and not a propaganda tool? For me, the answer to all three questions is a resounding “YES.” So, yeah, in that sense, I’d feel that I’d been abused.

    Abuse comes in many guises. This is a far cry from putting cigarettes out on the kid, or locking her in the basement—but it’s still exploitation.

  • Alex

    Hemant references the “Richard Dawkins argument” but I think he has it slightly wrong. I think Dawkins has said that it’s wrong to label children as having a certain religion before they can make an educated decision about it, but I don’t think he referred to that as child abuse. I think when he talks of religious child abuse, he’s mostly talking about instilling fear about hell.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    Love the use of a Sinner’s Prayer. I thought works and rituals didn’t get you into heaven. Glad I was wrong. I’m saying the? magic words right now!

  • J. J. Ramsey

    There is something that blogger John Pieret said a while back:

    Worse, from my perspective as a lawyer, is the devaluation of the term “child abuse.” Child abuse is a crime, for which the state has the right to punish parents, and others in loco parentis, most severely and for which the state can, and should, remove children from parental custody.

    If, in fact, teaching children about a concept of hell (while also teaching them there is a way to escape such a fate) is “worse than physical child abuse,” then where is the campaign to remove children from such an environment and punish the parents? If Dawkins is not willing to start such a campaign, then the use of the term is mere rhetoric.

    I think he has a point.

  • Toocoolforschool

    Atheists can say whatever they want at the mall too. Lighten up!

  • defiantnonbeliever

    As I recall, Dawkins referred to religious indoctrination as a mild form of abuse, or it might have been Dennet.

    I would like to hear from Richard as well on the abuse issue, plus the issue of religion being a mental illness. I’ve read one and seen another book by psychiatrists who maintain that religion is a form of induced mental illness, I wish I could provide links to them but the one I had was from a free ebook service that has been discontinued. RELIGION: THE ETIOLOGY OF MENTAL ILLNESS, by Henry E. Jones, M.D.
    and another I think who’s title and author I can’t find on a quick search. I read the one in hard copy from an inter library loan, and found the other online that I thought was the same book but skimming it I decided it must be a different book, and I have yet to really read it.

    This whole issue reminds me of yet another book I read, called something like, ‘The lies your teacher taught you’.

  • Baconsbud

    I might get jumped on this but what if the difference between this and the people pushing an atheist world view? Lying to children doesn’t make it abuse and what would you expect from the children? They are doing what pleases the adult they are with. If we use this as an example of child abuse,, can I sue my parents for it? Quit worrying about what parents teach their kids, unless the kids are shut off from real life, instead work with those that are willing to work with others for what is best for all. I am really tired of hearing how teaching and pushing religion is child abuse. I think religion is an easy area to hide from life but it isn’t child abuse. What is the difference from you calling it child abuse and christians calling atheist evil?

    I like reading this blog but it seems that many forget that their view isn’t the only one that matters. Even when something harms others it doesn’t make it abuse. Hell I got my ass beat several times by my father and my principle neither do I see as abuse. It was their attempt at guiding me to a life that was correct. Did those ass beating really effect my life? I don’t think that they did. Hell many times I had a choice between an ass beating to a suspension and guess which I took? What we need to focus on is education from outside the family and church.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    When you teach a child that the world works in an entirely different way than it actually does… and teach them social skills with the intent of getting them to make friends in order to get people saved… and teach them to fear and be repulsed by their human nature… and teach them that their body is shameful and can lead then to eternal damnation… and teach them that it’s a virtue to believe in fantastic things on little to no evidence… and set them up for a future where they’ll either never really think for themselves or spend many painful years getting over the various mental blocks their indoctrination put in place… yes, I would call that child abuse.

    I indoctrinated myself into fundamentalism, and I’m still digging the poisonous nonsense I learned out of my brain. I can only imagine with horror just how much more difficult that would be if you spent your entire life being told it was true and being encouraged to constantly express your belief in it.

    It does not compare with telling kids about Santa Claus, because eventually you tell them it was a myth. It also doesn’t compare with raising them as atheists, because you don’t have to lie to them to do that. Some atheists do tell their kids things that aren’t true about what other people believe, but you won’t find them telling their kids that they’ll suffer an eternity of burning torture if they dare disbelieve their parents.

  • Alex

    Quit worrying about what parents teach their kids, unless the kids are shut off from real life

    Baconsbud, the fact is that many of these children are shut off from real life. There are many that are home schooled or attend religious private schools. Even those that attend public school have their social lives extremely restricted by their parents. Plus, by the time they reach the material in class, they are already indoctrinated to reject anything that disagrees with their parents’ worldview.

  • 3D

    “Reader Larry wonders whether or not it’s right to involve the child in this charade. On one hand, what else are Christian parents going to teach their children if not their personal beliefs? Is it wrong for them to do that?”

    What?! YES! Of course it’s wrong for them to teach their kids Christianity. How is this even up for debate?

    If a white power skinhead Nazi was teaching her kids that black people are “niggers” and should be lynched, and having their child stand in the mall happily telling others about how blacks should be attached to car bumpers by a rope, would we be debating whether that is wrong? Of course not, we would call child services.

    But Christianity enjoys an insanity exemption. We’re not allowed to question it, even those beliefs are just as harmful as other kooky things in society like racism.

    No child should have a belief system implanted in his brain by his parents before the age of 18, and told never to question it. It’s a form of child abuse.

  • 3D

    If, in fact, teaching children about a concept of hell (while also teaching them there is a way to escape such a fate) is “worse than physical child abuse,” then where is the campaign to remove children from such an environment and punish the parents? If Dawkins is not willing to start such a campaign, then the use of the term is mere rhetoric.

    Not for me, I am all for removing children from those parents. If it can be proven that they really earnestly believe in Hell and the Devil, and aren’t just coffee table Christians, then they are delusional and incapable of making rational decisions in child-rearing.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    By the way, baconsbud, what is an “atheist worldview?” This is as vague and meaningless as “gay agenda.” Atheists have different worldviews. They’re only definitely united on one subject – disbelief in gods.

  • 3D

    Baconsbud Says:

    I might get jumped on this but what if the difference between this and the people pushing an atheist world view?

    An atheist world view makes sense and fosters critical thinking. Indoctrinating a child into a cult before he has the ability to make important life decisions is a moral crime, and should be a legal one.

    Lying to children doesn’t make it abuse and what would you expect from the children? They are doing what pleases the adult they are with. If we use this as an example of child abuse,, can I sue my parents for it? Quit worrying about what parents teach their kids, unless the kids are shut off from real life, instead work with those that are willing to work with others for what is best for all. I am really tired of hearing how teaching and pushing religion is child abuse. I think religion is an easy area to hide from life but it isn’t child abuse. What is the difference from you calling it child abuse and christians calling atheist evil?

    Because one is true and the other isn’t.

    I like reading this blog but it seems that many forget that their view isn’t the only one that matters.

    I think you’re forgetting that the actual point has to have merit, before we can take it seriously. It’s like global warming proponents vs. global warming deniers. Both sides attack the other, but the global warming deniers don’t have a case, so fuck them.

    Even when something harms others it doesn’t make it abuse. Hell I got my ass beat several times by my father and my principle neither do I see as abuse. It was their attempt at guiding me to a life that was correct. Did those ass beating really effect my life? I don’t think that they did.

    You’re lucky.

  • Hitch

    It’s a really tricky topic. I’m stuck with the question. I cannot really answer no. But answering yes is tricky. I don’t envy people who work in the field of child protection because they are faced with this dilemma all the time.

    Anyone remember the story of Adolf Hitler Campbell and Aryan Nation Campbell. Is is child abuse to name children after Nazi propaganda?

    As for religious indoctrination, I still find this one one of the most stunning ones I know. A two year old, the parents uploaded it in pride. Basically proves that at this age she has learned to consider two other world religions as inferior. Is that child abuse, or if not, it probably is one of the banes of our global society:

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

    (to understand, Muslims understand Christianity to be polytheism due to the trinity)

    Mental abuse is real, but so is indoctrination, and the insidious impact of dehumanizing ideologies.

    For example it seems to me Dawkins wouldn’t be worried about child abuse if the indoctrination was about loving everybody equally, independent of their religion.

    But who wants to be the judge to decide one against the other… it’s a mess.

  • Jude

    For all you know, it was the kid’s idea to take the parent. Did you see Jesus Camp? When I was a kid, I was the one who got my parents to return to church. You have to be trained in dogma so that you can take your place in the church. Thus, as kids, we were encouraged to take turns leading prayers. I could have been Marjoe Gortner. Without overt indoctrination, you have nothing to rebel against. Unfortunately, it frequently sticks, but if you count the number of former church-goers in a roomful of atheists, you’ll find a lot.

  • Shanti

    It is every parent’s right to teach a child what they believe is correct…that is oral history, and every tribe has always done it. Most here in my neighborhood would feel that teaching my child atheism is wrong…perhaps using the term “abuse”.

    As a patron of a mall, I would be beyond annoyed if this happened to me. I should not have to be subjected to ANY sort of panhandling. I would call security and the managing office and draw A LOT of attention to the incident.

  • Aj

    Many commenters are saying it’s not wrong to teach kids their parents beliefs, but that’s not what’s going on here. No one is saying that parents should tell children what they believe. Indoctrination isn’t education, they’re not teaching their kids. It’s child abuse to label your children Christian (or whatever), as if that’s an inherent trait, and then force and pressure them to take on irrational beliefs. I doubt many people would defend the same people acting like this about political allegiance or ideology. Children should be free to grow up and decide for themselves.

    I have no idea how people can defend indoctrination but then turn around and say involving children in chanting at a protest is some sort of child abuse. Getting children to say things is a form of child abuse? You cannot be serious. Obviously I think proselytizing is wrong because it includes indoctrination, and some protests are wrong in sentiment, but that doesn’t make it child abuse.

    Legal terms are borrowed from common language, and vice versa, are used differently. “Fraud” is a term often used in a different way than the more precise legal definition. It only seems to be a problem when Richard Dawkins uses these words, e.g. “delusion”, do people who irrationally hate him whine about it being a medical term even though they know full well it’s had a long history before the official medical definition existed. Religious indoctrination, labelling of children, is abuse of children, a.k.a child abuse.

  • Aj

    note: An error in my above comment, the first instance of “should” should read “shouldn’t”.

    Richard Dawkins point about child abuse:

    Brian Lehrer interview
    Lehrer: Are you trying to shock your readers into thought, rather than hand-holding them? The examples you use, some of them like equating parents who send their children off to religious instruction with child abusers seem to be so provocative…

    Dawkins: No, yes that’s not quite right actually. I use the phrase child-abuse not for religious education, but for religious labelling. I think that actually labelling a child as a Catholic child, or a Protestant child, or a Muslim child – that I think is child-abuse. But I don’t think religious instruction is child-abuse, far from it. I actually am in favour in instructing children in comparative religion, because religion is such an immense part of our world, you can’t begin to understand history without it; you can’t understand literature without it…

    Lehrer: That would be an intellectual pursue rather than religious training, learning about different religions.

    Dawkins: Exactly, yeah exactly.

    Lehrer: But if you are a Jewish or Christian or Muslim family living in a community of, you know, people within your religion, to raise a child in the religion, and identify them as such, until they are old enough to decide otherwise – that’s comparable to child-abuse to you?

    Dawkins: Well, it’s a difficult one. In most forms it is mild enough that it doesn’t really matter that much. I often use a comparison, you would never dream calling a child a Marxist child, or secular humanist child, or monetarist child; um, so we are already quite used to the idea that children are too young to know where they stand on political or economical matters. Religion does seem to be the one exception; it is not clear to me why we should allow it to be the one exception. So, um, I think what’s right is to tell a child there are all these religions and these people believe this, those people believe that, and they’re historically important and so on. What is wrong is to say “You are a Catholic child.” And therefore because Catholics believe this, you believe this. That I think is wicked.

    Is Science a Religion? by Richard Dawkins
    Which brings me to my point about mental child abuse. In a 1995 issue of the Independent, one of London’s leading newspapers, there was a photograph of a rather sweet and touching scene. It was Christmas time, and the picture showed three children dressed up as the three wise men for a nativity play. The accompanying story described one child as a Muslim, one as a Hindu, and one as a Christian. The supposedly sweet and touching point of the story was that they were all taking part in this Nativity play.

    What is not sweet and touching is that these children were all four years old. How can you possibly describe a child of four as a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu or a Jew? Would you talk about a four-year-old economic monetarist? Would you talk about a four-year-old neo-isolationist or a four-year-old liberal Republican? There are opinions about the cosmos and the world that children, once grown, will presumably be in a position to evaluate for themselves. Religion is the one field in our culture about which it is absolutely accepted, without question — without even noticing how bizarre it is — that parents have a total and absolute say in what their children are going to be, how their children are going to be raised, what opinions their children are going to have about the cosmos, about life, about existence. Do you see what I mean about mental child abuse?

    The Atheism FAQ with Richard Dawkins
    Why do you link religion with ‘Child-abuse’?

    I link the marking of children as ‘Jewish boy’ or ‘Muslim child’ as a child abuse, since, in childhood they are yet to choose their religious views. Not only that, they are brought up in a way that he gets separated from other religious groups and views so that he follows the religious faith of his parents. Obstructing the view of children clearly comes under child abuse.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeFunIce Mike

    For better or for worse, I feel a parent has the right to raise their own child how they see fit. In principle, it is the same as our personal freedom to make mistakes, poor decisions, and commit crimes. We just need to be prepared to accept the consequences of those decisions.
    I actually wonder that should my 3 year old son be orphaned and then adopted by a Christian family, would he display the same degree of stubornness as his biological parents?

  • Fundie Troll

    3D

    Not for me, I am all for removing children from those parents. If it can be proven that they really earnestly believe in Hell and the Devil, and aren’t just coffee table Christians, then they are delusional and incapable of making rational decisions in child-rearing

    Why do I even waste time reading stupid comments like these?? Don’t you even see what you are saying??? What you are advocating is essentially this – taking children away from their parents because YOU DON’T AGREE WITH THEIR BELIEFS. If that isn’t tyranny I don’t know what is…

  • my.totally.original.name

    I voted yes. Any belief that tells you you will be be tortured for all of eternity is mental child abuse. Even if the child brought the parent out, the child would have to have it from somewhere, no? In the end the child is still driven by the “fact” that everyone will be tortured for all of eternity if the child doesn’t go out and do this.

    Also, I remember very clearly all the nightmares I had as a child since I “knew” the whole world was going to hell.

    For everyone saying it isn’t child abuse, lets make this different. The parents love bacon. The child doesn’t. The parents tell the kid if they don’t eat the bacon, the kid’s skin will boil off and his insides will spill out. It will do this again, and again, and again, till the end of time. So the child eats the bacon. Then the kid learns that his friend doesn’t eat bacon, and he is horrified because he knows his friend’s skin is going to boil off and her insides are going to fall out – forever.

    Would you call that child abuse? Or do you think there is no mental pain from it?

    For me, the answer is clear. Child abuse? You bet your ass it is.

  • Jmyke

    I have known dozens of atheists in my life, and to my knowledge, all but one were raised in religious households, and believed in their parents’ views until they became adults. This certainly includes me.

    It strikes me that it may be necessary to be raised with religion to understand that you ARE an atheist. And why.

  • VXbinaca

    Child: “Where do you die?”

    Me: “You don’t, you stay where you expired”

  • http://www.fineartlampscapes.com Crodley

    I think the real bad part is not parents raising their children to believe one way or another, but raising them to “push” those views on random people in public. That’s the offensive part for me.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    I think the real bad part is not parents raising their children to believe one way or another, but raising them to “push” those views on random people in public. That’s the offensive part for me.

    Bingo.

    In the video, we have a child interrogating an adult about that adult’s mortality. I mean, wow. The child (following the script given to her) asks the adult “Do you know where you’ll go when you die?” Are you kidding me? You don’t even know where babies come from, and you’re asking me about my mortality? Puh-leese.

  • http://www.thinkingmeat.com Mary

    I think telling a child untruths (or unprovable conjectures about the supernatural, if you prefer) as if they were not only demonstrably factual but the only possible facts that can be believed on pain of eternal punishment is indeed child abuse. Every child deserves as accurate and truthful a picture of the real world as possible.

    Dragging a child through an embarrassing public display of piety is unkind, but whether it’s also abuse, I don’t know. If parents feel they absolutely must do such things, they could at least take their kids to a soup kitchen to help out or something like that, which at least does someone some good without teaching the child that it’s good to hector strangers about their religious beliefs.

  • ABinMN

    A four year old once informed me that we (kids and husband and I) weren’t going to heaven. The whole thing was offensive and disturbing, precisely because the mother had no problem with her child relaying this message and had clearly coached her child in the matter. Stuff like this may not be take-the-children-away type of child abuse, but I completely agree that it IS abuse, and I feel immeasurably sorry for a child who is a)put through something like this and b)has such distorted views planted in their brains in the first place.

  • blueridgelady

    I wouldn’t stand there and force and/or manipulate my kid. I think that’s a really low tactic. I would tell a parent (child there) that I think it’s disgusting to use your kid as a religious pawn.
    To me, that’s an invasion of personal space and when you ask me a question like that, I am not obligated to be gracious. They are using their children as a buffer because they know most people won’t reject kids the same way.

    Aside from how messed up the whole thing is, it is illegal to do that on mall property, since it is private and kiosk/store tenants pay rent.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    I am reluctant to label this as child abuse, even if I vehemently disagree. This woman truly believes in what she is teaching her child and while we know better and disagree, I don’t think it is appropriate to say it’s abuse. If the child is loved, clothed and fed, we can only hope that in the future she discovers religion is a hoax.

    I always say that atheism is the new enlightenment and just like past enlightenments, some people are born to the already enlightened, some figure it out despite their upraising, and some never get it. Eventually, the archaic notions die out with the unenlightened.

  • Dan W

    I voted that this sort of shit is child abuse, because you’re indoctrinating your kid with bullshit before the kid is old enough to figure out that it’s bullshit. You’re teaching your kid what to think, not how to think.

    I couldn’t stand to watch more than half of this video, even though it’s pretty short. Then again, I just got done playing an online video game against a fundie who kept insulting me and telling me I was going to hell and other lovely things. So my tolerance for fundie idiocy is very low right now.

  • muggle

    I went against my usual stance and voted yes but hesitated only because you linked it with Dawkins’ bullshit when they are two entirely different things.

    We can’t have it two ways. We can either have religious freedom or charge parents with child abuse for teaching the wrong religious belief. Let me give you a clue, people (are you listening, Mr. Dawkins) if you do away with religious freedom so you can be sick enough to remove children from a loving home due not believing the right thing, the right thing ain’t gonna be the opinion of the minority.

    Let me repeat that loud and clear because it truly astounds that so many members of a religious minority who claim they deal with reality instead of pie in the sky do not get an obvious fact of life:

    IF CHILDREN ARE REMOVED FOR BEING TAUGHT THE “WRONG” RELIGIOUS BELIEF, IT AIN’T GONNA BE THE BELIEFS OF ONLY 15% OF THE POPULATION THAT IS ACCEPTABLE IN CHILD REARING AND IT AIN’T GONNA BE THE KIDS RAISED WITH HELL FIRE AND BRIMSTONE THAT ARE STOLEN FROM THEIR LOVING PARENTS!!!

    Did you get that bit of common sense through your thick skulls?

    Why in hell are a religous minority so hell bent against religous freedom? Please explain that one to me. It’s pretty fucking stupid.

    Now, as to why I voted, yes: In this case, the mother has gone beyond teaching Buybull stories and Jesus loves you but will burn you in hell if you don’t do as he says to actually exploiting her child and doing the direct opposite of normal families. Instead of teaching her child to not talk to strangers, she’s not only forcing (or at least coercing) her child to talk to strangers, she’s actually making her do so in a confrontational manner. In other words, she is endangering her child.

    I have never seen this happen before. The closest I’ve come is having two teenagers knock on my door to spread the word of god while their lazy-assed parents sat parked in their van outside the apartment complex. (And, yes, that too was child abuse very definitely endangering the kids; I called the cops.)

    I think I’d have lost my cool if I had been that young woman in the video who you could tell was humoring them because she was thrown by it. So thanks for the heads up that this is happening. Forewarned is forearmed. I think I’d smile sweetly at the child and say something like why, honey child, it’s nice of you to be worried about me but you needn’t be. Those things aren’t real you know. They’re fairy tales just like Cinderella and Snow White. So thank you, darling, but I’m fine.

    At least this would have departed radically from prepared script (you can bet there are things she’s taught to say if person approached grows angry) and the kid would have nowhere to go until next time when they’d know of the possibility from me but at least the kid would see a better side and her mother probably would have grown angry. Let her look bad in her kid’s eyes. The asshole exploiting her child this way.

  • Aj

    Muggle,

    You seem to suggest that Richard Dawkins and others want the authorities to remove children. That’s insane, paranoid, and more importantly not true. Don’t be stupid.

    Does Richard Dawkins want to make it illegal to indoctrinate children? Richard Dawkins:

    Of course I don’t think it would be a good idea. I am horrified by the thought. My entire campaign against the labelling of children (what the petition called ‘defining’ children) by the religion of their parents has been a campaign of CONSCIOUSNESS-RAISING. I want to educate people so that they flinch when they hear a phrase like ‘Catholic child’ or ‘Muslim child’ – just as feminists have taught us to wince when we hear ‘one man one vote’. But that is consciousness-raising, not legislation. No feminist that I would wish to know ever suggested a legal ban on masculine pronouns. And of course I don’t want to make it illegal to use religious labels for children. I want to raise consciousness, so that the phrase ‘Christian child’ sounds like a fingernail scraping on a blackboard. But if I dislike the use of religious words to label children, I dislike even more the idea that governments should police the words that anybody uses about anything. I don’t want a legal ban on the use of words like nigger and yid. I want people to feel ashamed of using them. Similarly, I want people to feel ashamed of using the phrase ‘Christian child’, but I don’t want to make it illegal to use it.

  • JulietEcho

    I chose “other” because the issue is too complicated for a “yes” or “no” answer from me. In some ways, I think it’s moot, because whether we involve the loaded term “abuse” or not, there’s no way we will (or could) stop religious parents from indoctrinating their children, even if we tried to limit it in a few ways.

    I think it’s cruel to put children in a situation where, by the time they reach an age where they’re able to reason for themselves, they might be so psychologically conditioned that they have little/no choice in their adult beliefs. I think people who haven’t seen such scenarios up-close and personal over a long period routinely underestimate the power of such intense indoctrination. I wish it didn’t happen. But I don’t have any easy answers. More thoughts on the whole thing here, on the forums.

  • Mutation

    Religious instruction is not only abuse of the child but it actively perpetuates a dangerous anachronistic cultish belief system and in doing so not only constitutes the abuse of the child but the society and children yet to be born.
    Yes people have the right to believe what they like and practice their religion conditionally upon a guarantee that their poisonous filth does not adversely effect those around them. I suggest there is ample evidence to demonstrate that they are neither capable or intending for that to be the case and on those grounds It needs to be gotten rid of in the most efficient and timely manner possible!

  • Drew M

    @Muggle

    I have never seen this happen before. The closest I’ve come is having two teenagers knock on my door to spread the word of god while their lazy-assed parents sat parked in their van outside the apartment complex. (And, yes, that too was child abuse very definitely endangering the kids; I called the cops.)

    How, pray tell, is going door-to-door endangering the kids? How the hell is this child abuse?

    As a child and teen, I’ve gone door-to-door for various school fundraisers alone or with school friends (no adults). I was also raped by an older cousin when I was eight. To quote Jules, “[This] ain’t the same fuckin’ ballpark, it ain’t the same league, it ain’t even the same fuckin’ sport.”

    It pisses me off to no end when over-protective types label everything as, “abuse.”

  • http://journeytodisbelief.blogspot.com Tom

    It stifles free thought and ability to be objective. It may be abusive because this girl will be unable to rationalise, appreciate or even understand different world views. It’s toxic and therefore becomes abusive. She won’t be allowed to explore other ways of life without condemnation, so it is moving towards abusive.

  • darknomad

    Wow…that’s a little over the top. I’m not an atheist but I’m not a devout Christian either As for this being child abuse I would have to flatly say “no.” The child’s welfare isn’t be jeopardized by what she’s doing. However, cornering people in the mall and basically trying to guilt them into religion by using a little girl as the mouthpiece is rather unorthodox…and I’m toning that down. I’ve always hated being approached by individuals asking me if I’ve been “saved” and whatever other rhetoric they choose to use. But this…the little girl “interviewing” people…Okay that’s just wrong. Religion is a personal choice and should be a decision made on a personal level…not peddled to you at the mall. Not to mention the patronizing tone that always comes with the message….GRRRRR

  • Daniel

    I’m pretty surprised(and a little scared) at the amount of people who think this is child abuse. The biggest issue people seem to take is that the mother is teaching the child her religious beliefs.

    I don’t have children, but when/if I do, I’m going to make damn well sure that they know God isn’t real so that they don’t fall into the self-esteem destroying faiths that are so aggressively pushed today.

    This mother probably feels like I do.

    She wants to make damn well sure that her child knows God is real, so that they don’t fall into the hell-bound pits of atheism that are so aggressively pushed today.

    Do I feel bad for the mother? Yes. Do I feel bad for the child? Yes.

    I don’t think she’s abusing her child though, at least not by passing down her beliefs. Its really abuse NOT to pass down one’s beliefs.

    Pretty much all beliefs, religious or political, have serious consequences for not following them.

    If you are a Communist, you probably believe Capitalism results in people getting taken advantage of and abused(therefore Capitalism is wrong)

    If you are a Capitalist, you probably believe Communism results in a larger than necessary government(more opportunities for oppression and abuse of power), as well as less incentives to work hard and excel in life.(therefore, Communism is wrong)

    Most atheists believe religion is harmful

    Most Christians believe that people will go to hell if they don’t accept Jesus as their personal savior.

    What I see here is someone who is doing what they think is best for their child.

    Of course I’m sad, but what can be done about it?

    Militant atheism doesn’t work for de-conversion.

    Do we really want to lose religious freedom over people like this?

  • pmsrhino

    She’s also just straight up using her child. I think it would be much harder for some people, like this mom in the video, to tell the women to fuck off when the religious woman’s child is right there. And even harder to tell them to fuck off when it’s the child herself giving the religious talk.

    Such a load of crap. I say it’s child abuse because, yeah, children are sponges and you can teach them anything at that age and they’ll go with it. But it’s one thing to teach them math and grammar and another completely to teach them something that puts everyone in a neat “us” and “them” category and to teach them something that will more than likely cause them alot of emotional grief in their life, whether they sty religious throughout it or not.

    But you’d never be able to get parents to stop doing this. Nor do people see the extent the childhood brainwashing into religion hurts a person throughout their whole lives since most people in America were taken to Sunday school as children. But Sunday school every Sunday is one thing, this is something COMPLETELY different. I feel for that child. :\

  • Citizen Z

    I think it’s more accurate to call it “brainwashing”, and that’s not only because of the legal implications of describing it as child abuse.

  • Aj

    darknomad,

    Religion is a personal choice and should be a decision made on a personal level…not peddled to you at the mall.

    I think people whining about “religious freedom” should read this. Religion should be a personal choice, made on a personal level. That’s religious freedom, and children deserve religious freedom as much as their parents.

    Daniel,

    I don’t think she’s abusing her child though, at least not by passing down her beliefs. Its really abuse NOT to pass down one’s beliefs.

    Pretty much all beliefs, religious or political, have serious consequences for not following them.

    I was apparently abused because my parents didn’t dictate what I believe, there was no punishment or coercion for not believing what they did.

    They believe those beliefs have serious consequences for not following them. Back in reality it matters whether things are true.

    Citizen Z,

    think it’s more accurate to call it “brainwashing”, and that’s not only because of the legal implications of describing it as child abuse.

    I’m interested in your perspective on how “brainwashing” is not a form of mistreatment.

  • defiantnonbeliever

    People used to worship Zeus, Thor, and hundreds of others, and teach same. Times change, societies change and grow up, if they don’t fall back into superstition, or other propaganda. Religion is used to manipulate dupes, the hopeless, the ignorant, the desperate, the sick, captive audiences, and children. New con-men and con-women will come along, mature societies with good education systems will laugh at their lies instead of perpetuating them, and nurture their victims.

    It’s not a forgone conclusion that what has been will continue. Cultures evolve, when they don’t collapse, and replacements evolve when they do.

  • Citizen Z

    I’m interested in your perspective on how “brainwashing” is not a form of mistreatment.

    It is a form of mistreatment, that’s why I think “brainwashing” should be used. I you say “child abuse”, all of a sudden people are talking about having kids being taken from their families because the parents take them to church.

    That’s what we do when children get abused, we call the police. But what about brainwashing? I’d think everyone would agree that brainwashing is bad, but there’s not much the police can do about it. Describing it as brainwashing has two particular advantages: 1) it’s more accurate. Abuse can cover a wider variety of mistreatment. We all have a general sense of what brainwashing is, and it would be harder to muddle the issue with comparisons to beatings, etc. 2) How are they going to deny it?

  • Fundie Troll

    I’m pretty surprised(and a little scared) at the amount of people who think this is child abuse.

    Daniel I absolutely agree. How long before kids are being forcibly removed from their homes because of their parent’s beliefs? It’s already happening in the UK, and before long it will be happening in the U.S. as well.

    May God have mercy on us all…

  • Aj

    Citizen Z,

    I thought you were saying it wasn’t a form of abuse, but I see what you meant now, I agree that brainwashing is more accurate. It seems people are ignorant, and don’t understand what “abuse” means, they only associate it with news media that only reports the worst forms of abuse. I think the term “brainwashing” could have the same problem, as people will associate it with The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, or Nineteen Eight Four. I don’t think religious societies sees what it does as brainwashing, Christians often claim they chose to be Christian. Society is in denial, there needs to be some consciousness raising.

  • Robert

    At first I was pleasantly surprised that these comments were fairly consistent saying “I don’t like it but its not child abuse for a parent to teach their child their beliefs”. Then by 3D’s first comment that teaching your children about Christianity should be illegal, they took a turn for the worse.

    I clearly don’t think this is child abuse and I agree with the comments that it minimizes real abuse to label it as such.

    Labeling teaching your child Christianity should not in itself ever be confused with real abuse. If teaching Christianity ever became abuse and against the law, there goes the separation of church and state.

    I am certain that Atheist parents do the same thing everytime the subject of God comes up- “There is no God child, now eat your vegetables”. I think such a comment is wrong but I would not call it abuse. If the state ever came in and said it was abuse, Atheists would rightfully be up in arms.

    And for those of you who believe that teaching about Hell is abuse, then you only have half of the story of Christianity.

  • Enrys

    Give me your fucking Bible and I’ll destroy everything you believe, little girl.

  • Denis Robert

    The mother is having the child work for her, using the child to attempt to be more effective in her trade (converting people). This is child labor, and it is a legally recognized form of child abuse.

    The mother should be arrested, and the child put in foster care.

  • Denis Robert

    @Robert: Are you kidding me? An atheist saying “There’s no god child, now eat your vegetables???”. Has to be a joke, right?

    The mother didn’t simply pass her beliefs down to her child; she’s using the child to proselytize. THAT is what constitutes child abuse in my book.

  • Denis Robert

    @Robert: Sorry, I stopped reading your post. It gets even worse.

    Hell is *eternal* punishment for a non-eternal crime. It’s thus completely arbitrary and utterly evil. Even the worst criminals and madmen in human history can’t reach that level of utter depravity as to be able to imagine *eternal* torture.

    So yes, if you teach your child that Hell exists, and hence that it’s not mentally ill to imagine such a place as Hell and BELIEVE IT ACTUALLY EXISTS, then you should be put in a mental institution for the rest of your life.

    I don’t care that it’s “half” of Christianity (it’s more like 80%). In and of itself, it is insane. The only reason Christians can be so glib about the concept of hell is that they have NEVER ACTUALLY THOUGHT THROUGH THE IMPLICATIONS OF THEIR BELIEFS.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I am certain that Atheist parents do the same thing everytime the subject of God comes up- “There is no God child, now eat your vegetables”.

    You are certain when you are ignorant, you must be a Christian. Most atheists, “weak” atheists, I have met do not claim to know there is no God, or gods, they simply claim they do not believe, that doesn’t mean they claim to believe there is not. You probably don’t know any atheist parents. Atheism is not a belief system, it’s not a belief, it’s not a tradition, it has no doctrine, no prophets, no authorities. Atheism is a lack of belief.

    Anyway, that’s not even the issue, how can you think that. Telling children there is or isn’t a God is not the issue, it’s wrong, but not child abuse. Parents telling children what the parent believe is fine. Parents telling children what they the children believe is not fine. If atheists raised children in the same way it would be child abuse. Telling their children they are “strong” atheists, therefore they believe that there are no gods, deciding for them who they are and what they believe long before they can evaluate for themselves. Punishing and threatening them for believing there are gods.

    Telling children that non-believers will be tortured for eternity is child abuse for the same reason, and another reason, because on top of the attempt to control others actions with fairy tales that they have no evidence or reason to believe, is the fact that telling children that their non-believing friends will be tortured for eternity is emotionally traumatic and unpleasant. Well we’re on the subject telling a teenager that if they masturbate they’ll turn blind or become mentally ill is also cruel, although I think these myths have become unpopular.

  • Hitch

    Tihi, of course the way it really should have to go:

    “Child, there is no Yahweh, Zeus, Krishna, Flying Spateggi Monster, Santa Clause, Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, Sasquash, Darth Vader, Aonga Aonga, Bonga Bonga, Conga Conga, Donga Donga, …”

    Child dies of starvation because atheist parent cannot stop listing all the things that do not exist but can be invented.

    Yep that’s exactly why atheists sit their kids down to tell them that one specific deity of all the thinkable ones does not exist! Not.

    In reality there simply is no reason to discuss imaginary deities if they don’t exist.

    So it goes like this:

    Parent: “Eat your vegetables”
    Child: “Children in school told me about god. What is that?”
    Parent: “Remember the imaginary friend you had a few years ago?”
    Child: “Yes, I made him up!”
    Parent: “Some people keep them forever and call them god. There are many different gods just like there are many different imaginary friends. But they take it very seriously. Now be good and eat your vegetables.”

    For an atheist “god” is a concept that others force upon her. And it could be any god really. But we indeed have to explain it to our kids. Not because we want to but because we need to when society constantly impresses the concept on our children.

    But having grown up this way I can tell you that the discussion is minimal. There is nothing to discuss, unless something external happens that raises the topic.

    But there is lots of discussion of positive values and that sort of thing. Just without the extra hypothesis.

    One can spot certain believers simply by them assuming that atheism is the rejection of one specific deity, not knowing that of course there are infinitely many one could reject.

  • Robert

    We obviously have a different belief system and understanding about what it means to teach a child about the Christian faith. Your misconceptions about that are as bad as you say mine are with the “eat your vegetables” comment.

    The Christian faith is far more then Hell. And growing up in a Christian household I can tell you that the overall theme was love, grace and forgiveness. Not fire and brimstone.

    All of you are are arrogantly saying that that belief is just wrong- If your child came to you and said he or she was a Christian, would you try to change their mind or would you accept that as their belief system?

  • Hitch

    The kid is free to choose its own belief system.

    That’s exactly the right my parents extended for me.

    And this is the exact difference between free thought and dogmatism.

  • Liz

    It is silly to call this child abuse. I wonder how many people in this thread have actually encountered or experienced abuse. This is only a very small picture of what is going on in this families life. I think it is beyond judgmental to make the assumptions that are being cast here about a family none of us know anything about.

  • Tamara

    Not child abuse.
    But coming from a Christian, this makes me cringe. The child is reciting lines as if they’re from a script. She’s not being taught anything – she’s memorising lines and wont know how to have real conversations about faith and religion with people who are against it or curious about it.
    All she will be able to say is “If you died today, where do you think you would go and what would get you there?”
    I repeat:
    Cringe.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    All of you are are arrogantly saying that that belief is just wrong- If your child came to you and said he or she was a Christian, would you try to change their mind or would you accept that as their belief system?

    It’s not arrogant, it’s reality, deal with it.

    If someone disagrees with you, it’s reasonable to try to persuade them with reasoned argument. Give children the information, and tools such as language and logic, and let them decide when they’re capable of comprehending these questions. It’s not about raising atheists, it’s about raising freethinkers who decide for themselves.

    We hear of religious parents reacting with anger, shaming, coercion, and manipulation to children who do not believe. They label them from birth, with expectations of belief. Christian parents raise their children to be Christians. Telling them what doctrine they should and have to believe.

  • http://postittheology.wordpress.com Tamara

    It’s not about raising atheists, it’s about raising freethinkers who decide for themselves.

    My parents raised an athiest, and thus, my biggest act of rebellion, whether I meant it that way or not, was to become a Christian. Pastor’s kids tend to rebel. Athiests kids… Well, I only know my case. But maybe a child’s instinct is to rebel against their parents beliefs as they grow. We all want to find the truth and more often than not, the way our parents force their version of truth on us pushes us to believe that they’re full of crap.

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Its not my reality. So i have nothing to “deal with”. But when you profess to allow “free thinking” then to say all other thoughts but your own are wrong, it is arrogance or hypocrisy pure and simple.

    Frankly, I think you are incorrect and would hope that you believed, but that is your free will and your right.

    But you didn’t answer the question. If your child grew up to be a Christian would you consider it a mental illness or would you be open to allow your child to think for him or herself.

    Certain parents behaving badly when their child takes a different path is not a condemnation of the Christian belief. I wonder if you would feel the same way about an Atheist parent who manipulates, degrades, abuses or otherwise mistreats one of their children who become Christian. Or are they just trying to show them the truth as you see it?

  • GSW

    What a terrible waste of an opportunity, when the child asks: “where do you think you will go when you die” answer her:
    To the next teaching hospital where I have donated my body and my organs, because it is very important that young doctors get a chance to practise and to learn about anatomy and genetics so that if you ever get ill, they are able to help you get better because they will understand the real causes of your illness.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    Its not my reality. So i have nothing to “deal with”. But when you profess to allow “free thinking” then to say all other thoughts but your own are wrong, it is arrogance or hypocrisy pure and simple.

    Freethinking is using reason and evidence, science and logic, and rejecting tradition, authority, or dogma. Again, you are completely ignorant of what freethinking is, yet you decide to tell me what it is. I don’t say all other thoughts are wrong, I say beliefs that are based on authority and not based on science or logic are wrong. You don’t have your own independent reality to the rest of us.

    But you didn’t answer the question. If your child grew up to be a Christian would you consider it a mental illness or would you be open to allow your child to think for him or herself.

    I clearly did answer your question. Of course I would allow my hypothetical child to think for themselves, as was afforded to me, as I hope they will afford to their children.

    Certain parents behaving badly when their child takes a different path is not a condemnation of the Christian belief. I wonder if you would feel the same way about an Atheist parent who manipulates, degrades, abuses or otherwise mistreats one of their children who become Christian. Or are they just trying to show them the truth as you see it?

    Earlier in these very comments I did say if an atheist did the same it would be child abuse. Labelling children, deciding for them, expecting them to subscribe to the parent’s beliefs is child abuse. The bad behaviour flows naturally from thinking you can do this.

    I think it is a condemnation of Christian belief. This is exactly how God treats humans in the Bible. What is the first commandment? What does God do to people who disagree? Where does Jesus say people will go who disagree? What happens to people on judgement day? What crime does Jesus say will not be forgiven?

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Your “condemnation” the Christian faith is only half the story. God in his grace gave all of his children the path to avoid eternal damnation. If they choose to not believe and refuse to take that gift of grace then there are consequences. Knowing the outcome of non belief ahead of time and choosing not to do so, then facing the consequences is not unfair or unjust.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    Your “condemnation” the Christian faith is only half the story. God in his grace gave all of his children the path to avoid eternal damnation. If they choose to not believe and refuse to take that gift of grace then there are consequences. Knowing the outcome of non belief ahead of time and choosing not to do so, then facing the consequences is not unfair or unjust.

    How do you know? What evidence or reason can you give me to believe your nonsense? By what logic should I believe your religious text over anyone else’s? If God decided to impart this knowledge to people the way you suggest, then its a cruel and perverted god. For any reasonable person, using their natural wits, would justifiably not believe. Your God has exactly the same attitude as the parents we’re talking about.

  • Robert

    Aj you are free to believe whatever you wish. My only point is when you try to talk about Christianity, please depict the faith correctly.

    If you really sincerely want to get into a discussion about the authority for the Bible, how clear God’s plan for salvation is in the Bible and how that can be determined to anyone who is open to believe it, then I will gladly get into that discussion. Sadly, from your posts I do not believe that discussion would be fruitful.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    If you really sincerely want to get into a discussion about the authority for the Bible

    Go on…

  • http://postittheology.wordpress.com Tamara

    I wonder why it is that a lot of conversations between Christians and atheists turns very quickly to an ugly one. Where’d mutual respect go? I don’t need to agree with someone to respect them.

  • muggle

    Drew, I should probably mention that this was just after some kid doing just that — going door to door selling candy to raise funds for school — got yanked inside an apartment door (not in my complex but locally) and raped and murdered. Still wondering how it’s endangering the child?

    And they had these girls really dolled up all ’50’s style, “chantilly lace and a pretty face and a ponytail hanging down.” Cops couldn’t do anything but talk to them and warn them but they did. Doubt it mattered because the kids obviously didn’t to the fucktards.

  • Dylan

    Coming from a teen, I wouldn’t consider it to be child abuse unless there are threats or veiled threats. Personally, I just don’t talk to people if they threaten me (or make veiled threats) with anything. If they say “I’m going to hell,” I would most likely say something random like,”Sorry, must watch this VERY interesting Lady Gaga video.”

  • Robert

    Aj,

    I will take you on your word that you are open to a sincere discussion of beliefs and Bible authority. You start however with the assumption that only non reasonable people believe in god and the bible so i am hopeful that that bias doesn’t taint our conversation.

    I would venture to say that the bible has been the most debated and studied ancient text over the last several thousand years. it has stood the test of time and the more discoveries we make the more its truth is revealed.

    Please understand that I do not believe that the Bible is a scientific text, nor was it intended to be. for example, I do not believe that the creation narrative is to be taken literally. But it is an explanation of God’s involvement in creation for the people to whom it is written in a language they could understand.

    Have you ever read or studied the Bible? It has a remarkable history. It was written over thousands of years, by various authors. At its core it is the story of a people and God’s involvement in their life while at the same time it explains and describes our human nature, God’s nature and his plan for our salvation.

    The authenticity of the bible as far as its accuracy as a historical text has been proven over the years in most respects through archeology. For example, just recently, a stone fragment was found confirming that King David, who for a time was thought to be a legend, actually existed. It was from a non biblical source written by an Armenian king.

    There are also non biblical accounts of Jesus’ life and death contemporary with his time. Ancient historians and even Roman documents mention him.

    Further, discoveries of ancient documents reveal that the version of the Bible we have today is remarkably accurate to that which existed thousands of years ago.

    This is just a little bit of info. This could go on and on. If you have specific questions let me know.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I hope you understand that criticism of your arguments and beliefs, are not criticism of you personally, and that it is a necessary exercise.

    Do you understand that I can’t just take your word that Genesis is not meant to be taken literally? I know why Christians who also believe in geology, astronomy, and evolution but are committed to the inspired nature and truth of the Bible would believe it wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Augustine admitted as much in his writings on the subject. I cannot say I know whether the authors meant it to be taken literally or not, I have no commitment to the truth of the Bible, so it’s a possibility that they are wrong. It’s plausible that they thought it true, because I could tell many similar stories people actually believed, and many people still believe the Jewish creation story as fact.

    I have read the Bible, I’m not an expert on it, I’ve also read many opinions of the Bible from Christians and atheists. How do you know it was written over thousands of years? I’m thinking that this itself comes from the Bible, although if there are any external sources for this claim, I would like to know.

    Minor mentions of people in the Bible do not impress me. The Iliad, the Qur’an, and The Da Vinci Code also contain elements of history backed up by archaeology. It doesn’t really say anything about their authenticity overall, it’s only evidence for a historical man called Jesus that had followers, and a historical king of Jews called David. I have to take issue with your claim that the accuracy of the Bible has been proven as a historical text. Non-historical events like the Flood and the Exodus aren’t accepted as evidence against the authenticity of the Bible. If they do not count as the Bible being proven as not a historical then, the same standard has to be applied for finds that confirm it.

    Why would the consistency of the Bible through history concern the veracity of its contents?

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Time right now will only allow me to answer some of your questions. One is your question about the time of the writing of the Bible. The historical facts depicted in the Bible show that it was written over thousands of years. The early battles and enslavement in Egypt, some of which have been verified through archeology, have been dated. These together with early manuscripts can tell us when some of the early books were written. The New Testament began to be written in around 50 CE, many years after the last of the Old Testament. It is believed that the last portion of the New Testament was written about 100 CE or maybe a little later. So the span from the new to old testament is thousands of years.

    I will also answer your last question- One of the common complaints against the bible is the idea of how do we know that the bible we have now is even accurate to the ancient writings that it purports to be. I was anticipating that argument with my comment. But more importantly, i think that it is a safe assumption that if a person writes that he was an eyewitness to an event, then spreads that story around to the people of his day when they can test his claims and after that is done those claims survive the inquiry and remain intact thousands of years later after they have had multiple opportunities to be revised and changed, that lends to the credibility of the original story. As far as the New Testament is concerned the Gospels and Acts and the letters from Paul were written fairly close to contemporaneous with the events they depict. The people of the day determined they were accurate and others that were not were discarded so that a consensus was built for their accuracy.

    Unfortunately, most of the time the Bible is put to a much more critical analysis by skeptics then they do other ancient writings. So what is accepted for secular writings as to their veracity is not accepted for Biblical writings. when the same standards are used, the Bible stands up very well.

    And no i don’t take challenges and respectful analysis personally.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I haven’t heard of any verified archaeological evidence for the enslavement in Egypt. Whenever it’s mentioned, it’s noted for its absence of evidence and implausibility as told in the Bible.

    Historical events in the Bible can only tell you how early the Bible possibly could have been written, not when it was written, and actual documents can tell you the latest it could have been written.

    How could someone test an eyewitness account in a satisfactory way to confirm their claims? Throughout history their have been many eyewitness accounts claiming all manner of things. There are claims made to this day of extraordinary events that eyewitnesses claim they have witnessed, in support of every religion you care to think of.

    How does it logically follow that a story remaining intact lends credibility to it? I don’t understand why you think that a story is true if it isn’t revised. I contend that even if a story was true, it can be just as easily revised, and a false story just as easily not revised.
    The Bible contains extraordinary claims, and they require extraordinary evidence. If your friend told you he came to your location via flying saucer you would require more evidence than if he said he had come by train. If he added that he stopped for a while, between flying in a saucer, and met a man called dave, and a dog that could talk, would his claim that he met a man called dave give you pause? I don’t think skeptics would treat the Iliad differently in terms of its historicity, would you?

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    If a white power skinhead Nazi was teaching her kids that black people are “niggers” and should be lynched, and having their child stand in the mall happily telling others about how blacks should be attached to car bumpers by a rope, would we be debating whether that is wrong? Of course not, we would call child services.

    We would? Last I checked, white power skinhead Nazis have rights, too. The state can’t come in and take their children away simply because they have unpopular beliefs. I’m sure all of us find the brainwashing repugnant, but the government has no right to interfere. Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” fame involves little children in his protests. Their families haven’t lost custody of them. Sad, yes, but once you start going after the unpopular people, it’s a slippery slope. You should realize that we’re also on the unpopular list.

    How long before kids are being forcibly removed from their homes because of their parent’s beliefs? It’s already happening in the UK, and before long it will be happening in the U.S. as well.

    It’s already happening in the UK? Perhaps you could link to the case or cases you’re talking about. Not doubting your story, but I have never heard of anything like this.

  • Bianca

    you are over reacting. i was raised catholic church and all and now that im mature enough to decide i decided i dont believe in organized religion. her raising her child christian is just enforcing morals

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Actually there is growing evidence of the enslavement in Egypt. there is even evidence of Joesph being in Egypt and mentions of Yahweh in Egyptian artifacts.

    Not only are places mentioned the Bible being confirmed through secular sources, but also events that take place.

    But to the idea of eyewitnesses, here is my point. The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to what they saw. They were circulated at a time when others who were there could confirm them. The fact that they were confirmed as being accurate by those at the time does lend to its credibility. Especially since there is evidence of other documents that were rejected.

    Let me give you another thought- There is ample evidence that some of the early church leaders, including those who claimed they were eyewitnesses to the events in Jesus’ life were martyred. They were not killed for something they simply believed, they were killed for what they saw. Do you think that they would have done that for what they knew to be a lie?
    That is different from those today who kill themselves for their faith. These were contemporaries who were preaching what they saw. I doubt they would have done that if they were preaching what they knew was a lie.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I’m not going to take your word for it that there is evidence, or events and places being confirmed. Even if there was such evidence of Jewish slaves in Egypt, and their escape, that doesn’t support any of the other claims in the Bible, or of miracles. As I have written, the Iliad, the Qur’an, and The Da Vinci code contain historical events and places.

    What you are saying is there were multiple eyewitnesses who could confirm the story. Eyewitnesses are a very low quality form of evidence, there are many people who claim to witness miraculous events from other religions. The Qur’an has miracles, there were claimed eyewitnesses to miracles, and there were assassination attempts on Muhammad himself. Being willing to be martyred is evidence that they believe it, not that what they believed is true. I think they believed what they were saying.

    Is it not unacceptable to you that such “evidence”, that can be matched by other religions, is apparantly enough evidence to convince people so that a god feels justified, if they do not accept it, to punish them with eternal torment?

  • Robert

    Aj,

    There are multiple sources for the confirmation of the jewish people in Egypt and their escape. Its really not just my word for it. A good source for this is a book, Is the Bible True, by Jeffery Sheler.

    But regardless, if you do ever agree that the events as depicted in the Bible occurred and have been verified, would simply disregard God’s involvement on those events as described by the writers? If so, then you would be saying, yes the Bible is true, but I refuse to believe it.

    My point on eyewitnesses is simply that the Bible and the Gospels are some of the most investigated books and writings in History. Not only recently, but at the time they were written. What we have now is the books and writings of eyewitnesses that stood up to the test at the time they were written and since then. You may discount that evidence, but I believe that it is compelling.

    As for your last question, no I don’t find it unacceptable. Because that same evidence shows me that through the love and Grace of that same God, he has provided a path, through faith alone, to not only avoid eternal separation from him, but to becomes heirs with him in his kingdom. Even though we have done nothing to warrant it. It is being saved by grace through faith that is the beautiful promise of the gospel. That is something that no other religion can offer.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I don’t think you understand the point. Even if there was evidence, which I do not believe, that the Jews were slaves in Egypt, that only supports that the Jews were slaves in Egypt, it does not support anything else. It says nothing of the implausible claims about miracles or 600,000 fighting men, or how early Israelite settlements show no signs of Egyptian culture, but are clearly Canaanite. Many intentionally fictional books, as well as religious texts, and legends contain real events and people, that doesn’t make them true. If you were to use this as the level of evidence you were willing to accept, you would have to believe in many religions.

    Lack of ability to disprove claims, many not falsifiable, is not evidence of their veracity. I don’t have to discount evidence that isn’t there. What I am looking for is evidence to believe the claims, not the lack of evidence to disbelief them. I don’t have any evidence to disbelief that there’s a teapot orbiting Saturn, but I don’t believe it.

    It alarms me that you feel that it’s fair to those, given the lack of evidence, should be treated in such a way. I’d call it amoral and highly sadistic. Were your parents Christian? Were you ever taught the alternatives? Did you choose to be a Christian? Did you look for evidence to confirm your beliefs, or did you wait for the evidence before becoming a Christian? Is there anything that could happen or be discovered that would make you change your mind?

  • Robert

    Aj,

    i do understand. When evidence outside the Bible confirms the events described in the Bible, the Bible is confirmed. That has happened countless times. To me this is evidence that the Bible is accurate. The evidence stacks up for the Old and the New Testament. You can choose not to believe it, but i would venture to say that there is nothing that would make you believe.

    If you don’t believe in God then you certainly don’t believe in eternity, in Heaven or Hell, so why do you consider my belief sadistic. I am very satisfied and convinced that the evidence of God is more then enough for people to believe if they choose to do so. You have apparently studied and come to conclusion that you don’t believe, so if I am correct and you spend eternity in hell, would you think that was fair?

    As for my history, yes i was raised a Christian, fell away for a number of years and came back on my own after much study and research.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    If you do understand then you are wilfully irrational. To claim that references to people’s names, and places being confirmed, is confirmation of other claims in the Bible, or the Bible as a whole is a converse accident logical fallacy. Why do you not believe the Iliad is true? Why do you not believe the Qur’an is true? Why do you not believe the countless fictional stories that reference real people, places, and events? They have names and places confirmed.

    Failing to convince me with the slimmest of evidence for people having the same names as in the Bible, and vague references to a Jewish god by Egyptians (I already believe that people believed in Yahweh back then anyway), you attack me with completely unfounded accusations. In ignorance is when you are most certain. Are you that delusional that you think your case is that strong? Review the “evidence” and the logic you have brought.

    How could it not be unfair to torment me for eternity? It’s not like I have a choice whether I believe or not, I can’t choose to believe in anything. If the universe were planned, I was planned, planned to require evidence for my beliefs, evidence that is not forthcoming. If you think that the evidence is more than enough to convince people then you must think people are incredibly gullible wish-thinkers. No reasonable person thinks that’s evidence to justify belief in miracles. No reasonable god would expect me to believe, and punish me for eternity for not believing. It’s a sick joke, cruel, and completely unfair.

    Do you think that if you were born an Arab you would be raised a Christian or a Muslim? If you fell away from Islam do you think you would have studied and researched Christianity or Islam? Would you be able to come up with the same arguments and “evidence” to convince people?

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Please excuse the delay in responding. I was out of town.

    We have only scratched the surface of why I believe the Bible is true. The Bible was not intended to simply be a history text, although it is that. It is clearly the description of God’s work with his people, his plan for how we should live our lives, a testament to him and his glory and his plan for salvation. I bring up the archeological evidence to show that the events and history of the Bible is proving to be accurate. I understand that this can only take you so far. But it does show that the biblical writers, long taken as inaccurate and wrong by skeptics, are being proven to be correct in their description of events and history. That is clearly a starting point to understand and confirm the other non strictly historical claims made in the Bible.

    It cannot be compared to the or the Koran Iliad. The Iliad, who we don’t even really know who wrote it was never intended to be an accurate description of the history of a people. It was and has always been known to simply be a poem. As for the Koran, the archeological evidence simply doesn’t add up as it does for the Bible.

    I understand that at some point it comes down to faith. And that is where the choice to believe plays a part. The Bible says that God has revealed himself to all. You have stated that you have read the Bible, but not studied it in depth. You are clearly educated and very bright. We simply see the same evidence and reach a different conclusion. But I do disagree with your assumption that you can’t choose what you belief in. Let me give you an example- everytime you get on a plane you choose to believe that it is properly maintained, properly fueled, and being flown by a trained pilot. You don’t have any direct evidence of any of those facts, yet, by boarding the plane you are choosing to believe that they are true. That is faith.

    You are looking at the evidence of God, not only what you and i have discussed but what you have lived and studied over your lifetime and have reached the conclusion that for you the evidence just isn’t enough. That is your choice. That is your free will. I’m not judging you for that but I do find it insulting that you dismiss the belief of millions of people and claim that none of them are reasonable simply because you disagree with them.

    And again, I wonder why you are worried about eternity. I see alot of people on this board who talk about how horrible or unfair it that we believe their is a Hell. If you have no belief in God, you can’t believe in a soul and you must believe that you simply die and that is it, there is no more. If that is so, then why worry about eternity or how unfair it seems that because you do not believe that you will not go to Heaven?

  • Aj

    Robert,

    That’s an assertion, but there’s you give no reasons why you think the legends in the Iliads are differen’t to the legends in the Bible. You also claim of archaeological evidence against the Qur’an but give none. Also, there’s the remaining matter of the history that the Bible gets wrong. You say that in those cases, such as the Genesis myths of Adam and Noah are not meant to be historical, but why can’t parts of the Iliad and the Qur’an also contain parts that are not meant to be historical. Details in the Bible are also wrong, over a million people did not escape from Egypt, those numbers are absurd, and they apparently took no Egyptian culture with them to their settlements that have been found. Scholars have abandoned the Exodus as non-historical, just as they have abandoned the once believed Genesis myth.

    I do not have faith in planes or pilots. I suspect that companies have an interest in plane safety. I can review the records of flight accidents. I can be comfortable with the risks. There’s also the difference between not knowing and claiming to know. Even if I didn’t have reasonable evidence, I wouldn’t claim to know or believe in details as you state. I could choose to trust my fellow human beings, which is an act not completely outside the realm of my knowledge, since I claim to know something about human beings. However this does not involve belief or knowledge. I cannot choose to believe. I have never chosen to believe anything. Could you choose to believe in Allah, unicorns, or leprechauns right now? Please try, your failure should be enough to convince you belief is not a choice.

    You claim there is evidence, but you provide no evidence. As I have written, no reasonable person could be expected to believe something so extraordinary with no evidence for it. How could I not dismiss the belief of in fact billions of people on this basis? It’s not about disagreeing with people, it’s about irrational belief, or as religious people call it “faith”.

    I think I have already answered this question. I am not worried about eternity. I am concerned that those that believe it would think it fair and just. I cannot accept that. The only way for them to believe it is just would for them to be cruel sadists, no empathy, no humanity. Thankfully I think even Christians who believe in hell are troubled by it, and many Christians don’t believe in it.

  • Robert

    Aj,

    This post is getting on to find on the page so we will have to continue this discussion elsewhere.
    But I will ask you- do you think Einstein was a reasonable person? How about Sir Issac Newton? Or Sir Francis Bacon? All of these gentlemen believed in God. All of them had faith.

    Like I have said, I have presented what I believe to be evidence of the authenticity of the Bible. I have provided you a glimpse of the archeological evidence. And provided a book for you to study more if you would like. There is another one called “The Evidence calls for a Verdict” by McDowell.

    But in the end, it does came down to faith. And what you call trust I call faith. And i stand by my position that you can choose to believe or not You can choose to accept that some parts of the Bible are true and others are not. You can choose to reject the notion that your conscience and an innate sense of right and wrong comes from something other then yourself. I can look at the universe just like Einstein and know that it was created and just didn’t happen by random acts of chemistry. I see God in the creation. You can choose not to.

    Aj, I would venture to say that you have faith in some things, just not in God. You can call it what you like, but the end result is you believe things you don’t know and that is faith.

    As for eternity, Christians are not content in the notion that non believers are going to hell. That is why we have the great commission to spread the Gospel.

    I have enjoyed our conversation. God bless you and yours.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    It’s regrettable that you have not read my comments. I said it was not reasonable evidence, and no reasonable person would suggest that it was reasonable evidence. Einstein was an atheist, he used the word god as a metaphor, or to mean that the universe was rational, that’s not what a god is. Sir Isaac Newton was not a reasonable person, he believed in alchemy, astrology, and numerology. He was also a genius, especially in mathematics. Sir Francis Bacon did not think that there was reasonable evidence to believe, but he did so anyway, he called belief without evidence a virtue. I think you will find that Christian scholars concede that their beliefs are based on faith, and are not foolish enough to suggest they’re based on evidence.

    If it does come down to faith, you have conceded that there is not enough evidence to believe. You have clearly misunderstand what I meant when I wrote about “trust”, as I made it clear it was not a claim of belief or knowledge. You must accept that your belief that the Bible is true is based on faith. Your claims about conscience, also based on faith, and contrary to evidence as conscience has an evolutionary explanation. Einstein was not a theist, he did not believe in a personal god. The universe is not random.

    You believe things because it makes you feel better. Religion is wish-thinking. You cannot contemplate a person not like you. You are completely ignorant of my beliefs, but you are sure that I must believe like you. My existence creates difficulty for your beliefs, therefore you must try to resolve the cognitive dissonance by denying my existence. I do not have faith, you are mistaken.

    You displayed understanding of my point before, but now you are misrepresenting it. Your example demonstrates that Christians have a problem with others not being Christian. It does not suggest that Christians have a problem with God sending non-Christians to hell, even if it’s unreasonable for them to be expected to believe.

    I hope at the very least you will after conceding the point after so long grasping at straws, not again suggest that there’s reasonable evidence to believe in God.

  • Robert

    Aj,

    “For any reasonable person, using their natural wits, would justifiably not believe.”

    That is your quote from several posts above. It tells me that you contend that reasonable people would not believe. when I say that it comes down to faith, I am saying that there are some things we don’t know for sure, but that there is enough evidence to accept the unknown. Not unlike those who believe that most of the universe is made up of antimatter- we don’t know what it is yet, but we know its there. that takes a leap of faith based upon the evidence at hand.

    If you contend that you don’t have faith, what would be your definition of faith?

    Finally, Let me quote from Einstein-

    “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”5

    “I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.”6

  • Aj

    Robert,

    No, it says that people who do not believe, justifiably do so, and that those that do, do so unjustifiably. That particular quote was no about reasonable people that believe in gods at all. My other comments made it clearer, but you seem to have kept misinterpreting earlier comments.

    Enough evidence to accept the unknown is clearly a contradiction of terms. For what there is enough evidence to accept is what we call “known”. I contend that we do not know anything “for sure”. I’d also contend that there’s no evidence to justify your beliefs in God and miracles, something you have demonstrated through your failure to present any in lengthy discourse.

    You’re actually referring to dark matter not anti-matter, a common mistake for those ignorant of astronomy. Dark matter is either a place-holder name for unexplained mass, requiring no faith to believe (because we observe it, there’s evidence for it), or a hypothesis of said mass involving an explanation of mass made of elements that emit no radiation we can detect therefore they are “dark”. A hypothesis is speculation, in science they’re not believed, they’re proposals that need to be investigated. You need to understand the scientific method, scientists don’t believe on faith their hypotheses.

    Faith is irrational belief, unjustified belief, belief without reason or evidence. I do not want to get into a huge philosophical debate, but there’s a fundamental different between the belief systems that depend on faith and an empirical view of knowledge, using methodological naturalism. Other justifiable explanations for the universe can be rejected through Occam’s razor. Our current topic is on how it is fair for me to be tortured for an eternity for believing things that you yourself cannot justify.

    Eistein:

    I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings

    Spinoza’s God was a pantheistic god equivalent to nature.

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

    Einstein adamantly denies being a theist.

    I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.

    Einstein is not amused with the lies that people spread, apparently even to this day, about him.

  • Aj

    Einstein on God and the Bible:

    The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

    Einstein on Judaism:

    For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.

  • Robert

    Aj,

    Einstein’s quote about being an atheist from the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest does not contradict his previous statement that he is not an atheist. He was a diest who believed in God, but not necessarily the God of the Bible. By your definition he did so based upon a lack of evidence to justify that belief and was being unreasonable. By my definition of faith, that was entirely reasonable. He had enough evidence to know that there were things he did not know, but which to conclude that the order of the universe was a created event.

    The idea of the Big Bang with its starting point also being the beginning of time, is supported in the Bible as well. Einstein was well aware that the universe had a starting point, later confirmed through Hubble. For him based upon the quote i showed you, that was evidence of a creator.

    And no i don’t believe that it is immoral for people who chose not to believe to face damnation. For example, let’s say a father tells a child not to stick his hand in fire because he will get burned. The father then goes onto to tell the child all of the scientific reasons how fire burns and the effect it will have on his skin. Despite this evidence the child refuses to believe the father and sticks his hand in the fire and gets burned. Is that immoral? Can the child turn to the father and say, if only you would have given me more evidence I would have believed you and because you didn’t give me enough evidence its your fault for me not believing you? Or is the Father rightfully able to say, I gave you the evidence, you chose not to believe me and the result I told you would happen has happened.

    Earlier in our discussion i asked you what evidence it would take for you to change your belief. If you answered that I am sorry I missed it.

  • Aj

    Robert,

    I do not want to continue with the question of Einstein’s beliefs. I think his quote admiring Spinoza’s philosophy is as clear a view you will get to his idea of the universe, as a naturalistic pantheistic. He certainly did not claim to believe or know of a any sort of god, deistic or otherwise. He used the word “God” as a metaphor often, as does the atheist Stephen Hawking. One last quote:

    I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.

    The Big Bang does not propose a starting point for “the universe” in a philosophical sense, which covers more than time. The Big Bang is concerned with the beginning of time, the explosion of matter, and the expansion of space. Not much is known about the early universe, and there are many competing theories. The Big Bang is often mistaken for being a starting point for the universe, but this is not true. At the very beginning of the proposed Big Bang, there is matter, and the Big Bang is not about where that matter comes from.

    There’s far too many problems with your analogy. Firstly, and most importantly, you have given no evidence. Secondly we are led to believe God created hell, or at least allows it to exist. Thirdly, we non-believers don’t freely go to hell in the scenario in the Bible, we are forced to go there by God. For your analogy to be honest you would have to change it to: An invisible man tells a child to tell another child that if they don’t believe in him at some later date he’ll grab his hand and stick it in a fire. The child doesn’t believe the other child, and at some later date the invisible man grabs his hand and sticks it in the fire.

    I do not know what evidence it would take. I cannot propose evidence that may appear for something I do not understand. I do not know whether or how dark matter will be explained through observation, let alone gods. We have no experience of anything related to a creator god. An unambiguous message in the laws that govern would be suitable I guess, to support that an intelligence created the universe. I think this is what Einstein was getting at about the library, he was saying even if there was a god we don’t know enough yet to say whether one exists or not, that’s why he was comfortable with the “agnostic” label.