‘Smut for Smut’ Campaign is Back

It was less than a year ago when I lamented that the Smut for Smut campaign run by the Atheist Agenda group at the University of Texas at San Antonio was a bad idea:

… I get the point. The Bible has smut and violence and that needs to be pointed out. It’s not all rainbows, flowers, and Jesus.

But if the group’s goal is to get people to consider atheism as a reasonable way of looking at the world, it’s the wrong way to go about it.

I can’t imagine anyone changing their mind over such a campaign. If anything, they’ll just push atheists (and their ideas) further away.

Who’s joining the group over stunts like this? Probably people I wouldn’t want to be in a group with in the first place — the type that get off on pushing religious people down instead of doing something meaningful and productive.

One of the group’s officers issued a rebuttal to that posting the next day.

The turnout of people from our Smut for Smut campaign only proves it’s working. Never have we had a response from the student body like this before. While it may seem like a lot of negative flack, sitting at the table I have talked to TONS of open minded people who are willing to listen if I’m ready to listen. And I’ve had EXTREMELY intelligent conversations with some. Now of course you get those people that first start off like they’re gonna be intelligent about it and then end up bible thumping you in the face. But it’s through Smut for Smut that we have had the opportunity to have our voices HEARD.

Too often are we as the minority overshadowed and undermined by the religious majority. Too often are we subjected to just listen to what the religious try to tell us is right without having a word to say back. Too often are we judged as immoral people because we don’t have faith in some God.

I say to those against the campaign, you try finding a way to get HUNDREDS, possibly THOUSANDS of students to be willing to actually DISCUSS with you, in a way that isn’t going to offend someone.

This year, Atheist Agenda is running the same campaign and, once again, the media is covering it:

“It is to send a message that the stuff in the bible, and the Quran, and the Torah, and all that sort of thing is, in our case worse, in our opinion worse, than pornography,” explained UTSA student Kyle Bush.

This is the second year in a row for the event. Christian students were also out talking to fellow students about their beliefs. It’s not known how many students actually turned in their bibles for the pornographic material.

For some reason, this time around, this event doesn’t strike me as all that provocative.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more “controversial” statements on atheist billboards. Or maybe it’s because the reasons for supporting it a lot of you gave in the past has finally sunk in. I’m just not in opposition to this event as much as I used to be.

I still don’t think it’s the type of campaign I would’ve run if I were still leading a college atheist group. I think it invites a lot of negative publicity — and not in the any-coverage-is-good-coverage sort of way.

One reason I liked the “You KNOW it’s a myth” billboard was that it was aimed at atheists who are in the closet. It encouraged them to come out.

I still wonder who the “Smut for Smut” campaign is directed at…

Out atheists? They probably know about the group’s existence already.

In-the-closet atheists? Why would they be drawn to a group like this…?

Christians? They’d probably just get offended and avoid conversation… or have a conversation for the sake of conversion.

So who is the target audience for the porn?

If the goal is simply to get attention, I guess the group wins. But what have they sacrificed in return?

  • ALEXA

    I go to the University of Texas at San Antonio, and I think this is a great event. Like the rebuttal stated, a lot of people of all faiths come out and start discussions with atheists. Of course, some of the religious people are belligerent, but a lot of times, you find open minded people willing to converse.

    I witnessed the dynamics myself, being a student and atheist at UTSA. It’s not what you think it might be! The people at Atheist Agenda are always very open to discussion and treat people with respect. It’s a provocative way to encourage dialogue, and I like it. Even for the people who didn’t turn in a religious text for smut, it was an good event because it was often discussed amongst the student and opened many dialogues about religion.

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    Gotta keep the porn industry afloat somehow. Tough times… tough times…

    I demand equality between porn and the bible. It’s about time we realize that Christians don’t have a monopoly on objectifying women.

  • ursulamajor

    One of the audiences is people that haven’t really thought about it all much. The ones that go through vague motions of being religious. The “I guess I believe. Haven’t thought about it much.” types. People that might be provoked into paying attention if a campaign provocative enough catches their eye.

  • http://www.jaytheatheist.blogspot.com/ Jay

    Moving from theism to non-theism is a non trivial undertaking and requires deep consideration. I can’t imagine that such a campaign, clearly symbolic in nature, would be helpful in this regard. However, as a campaign to annoy the faithful, it is priceless – though it does work against them being judged as immoral creatures. They do themselves no favors with such antics.

  • Lauren

    you know how you had the post about treating women as real human beings? This campaign isn’t that.

    there is real hostility towards women. example: promoting objectification of women as a publicity stunt to get attention.

  • Inferno

    Getting people to trade religious texts for porn isn’t the point. It’s making the association itself and the idea of offering it to begin with which is meant to provoke people into discussion. Most people don’t care enough to discuss their beliefs out of the blue and this offers a pretty powerful impetus to stop and question atheists on why they’re out there.

    I’ve actually had similar arguments with other people in my university atheist group about techniques to compel people to stop and chat. While “Ask an Atheist” signs would be a fairly harmless way to present ourselves, given the fact that it’s at a university the attempts to initiate discussion should be appropriately calibrated to what would get the attention of that age group, based at least on the hot-button issues or current zeitgeist of that population.

  • Marty

    I’m all for pushing back and pushing back hard. Mainstream religious leaders have no qualms about castigating non-believers and their inflammatory messages are everywhere and nearly unquestioned by the media. Cardinal RATzinger has no problem accusing all of us as “aggressive and angry secularists.” Many of them wish we would go away and wish us an infinity of torment.

  • Daniel Miles

    I actually think there’s something exetemely important here. The “smutty” things in the Christian bible are there for everyone to read. I don’t think that’s in doubt. However, modern Christian Americans find themselves either glossing over those sections or bending over backwards to interpret them to mean something other than what they say.

    It’s tempting to take this opportunity to score the cheap, “hypocrisy” points but if we pause and look deeper, there’s something very important going on. Christians aren’t getting their morality *FROM* the text, they’re applying it *TO* the text. So where does the morality come from? I’m not sure, but I’ll bet it’s the same place Atheists get it.

  • http://atheist-nurse.blogspot.com Loki

    The target demographic is porn lovers who have bibles they don’t want anymore, duh.

  • Donna

    As a member of the alumni of UTSA, I can unequivocally say that just by forming an atheist group on campus, they were already seen as a pariah on campus. San Antonio is a strange animal- close enough to Austin to get some of the liberal vibe but still close enough to the Rio Grande Valley to attract the staunch bible conservatives.

    When I attended UTSA, the Atheist Agenda’s posters announcing meetings were often destroyed within hours of placement. They were also consistently given slow traffic areas during the “See what campus groups are available”.

  • littlejohn

    Who’s the target audience for porn? What?
    Let’s start with me.

  • Lisa

    I think this targets people brought up in households where religion is present, but not overly so, who just haven’t really thought about it much. It targets atheists who are in the closet even to themselves. It gets them thinking about the religion that they follow by default, to see whether or not it really makes any sense. I think that demographic is actually a pretty big one, making this a very worthwhile event.

    In terms of being degrading to women, are there reports of what kind of porn is being given out? Feminist and gay porn exist.

  • Celeste

    I’d have to agree with ursulamajor on the target audience. Also, the porn they distribute is always soft-porn, and while it still objectifies women, I find it far less offensive than hardcore porn. (Do we know if they also hand out PlayGirls?)
    Also, as a woman who fully embraces my own sexuality, I hope it will encourage people to examine the way religion treats sex and specifically the sexuality of women. Porn may treat us like objects but at least we’re seen. Most religions would have us hide away from the world, keep our voices quiet and treat us as complete non-entities. Porn is, by far, the lesser of two evils.

  • Jeff Mifflin

    If we think economically, and consider the idea of atheism as a commodity, it naturally follows to ask who is the target audience (i.e. who are we selling our product to). Economics (the study of human action) is the correct approach, but this is the wrong question to ask.

    First, we are not selling our product and profit is not our objective. There is no unsuccessful attempt at selling our commodity; atheism won’t go bankrupt because of bad publicity. We need to flood the market with our commodity, it costs us nothing. Religion teaches us that there is a demand for ideas, not necessarily good ideas.

    Second, targeting an audience requires that we know who our audience is. We can identify certain groups and we should make attempts to supply our commodity in a manner they find palatable. Unfortunately, many groups could exist that have not been identified. It seems hubristic to think you, or anybody, can identify all the target audiences. A confrontational and inflammatory approach works for some religions (i.e. it successfully targets a certain audience of individuals), why shouldn’t it work for atheism?

    Third, it assumes that our potential customers can be lumped into an identifiable and understandable group. Even religious groups are made up of individuals who have different reasons for identifying with their group. If we want to say our target audience is religious people, it doesn’t tell us what approach to use. Every individual in that group has different temperaments, experiences, beliefs, and so on.

    Competition, not central planning is what is necessary. Flood the market with our idea. Religion, intentionally or not, has mastered this economic approach at delivering their commodity. There is a religion that appeals to every individual. Some are peaceful and respectful, some are angry and mean, and there all kinds of religions that fall between the two stereotypes just mentioned.

    I do understand the concern that we risk alienating certain individuals or groups. But this is why we need to flood the market with our commodity, not restrict its supply. If ‘smut for smut’ is all people hear or see of atheism it is probably not good on the whole. But if ‘smut for smut’ is just one seller of our commodity in a virtual mall of atheist sellers, then people can move on to the next seller if they don’t like that version of the product.

    We shouldn’t try to design the perfect pair of jeans that will fit everybody. It is better to allow a plethora of competing jeans for the individual consumer; even if those jeans are very offensive to us and we can’t imagine what audience they appeal to (I’m looking at you Ed Hardy).

    I’ve always respected your friendly approach to selling our commodity (I think it is the most effective). But I disagree with the collectivist mentality that there is a right (good) or wrong (bad) approach. As long as no laws are being broken, we should encourage every individual to sell their own product.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I like the fiction for fiction campaign better. It drives home the point that the bible is fiction without the negative connotations of porn.

  • Anna

    Most christians don’t read the bible and therefore are unaware just how smutty it really is. Getting them to open up the book and see what’s really in it is useful.

  • Blacksheep

    I guess this campaign makes sense on some levels, because anyone who would literally trade their Bible for a porn magazine is a good candidate to explore non-theism. So if their goal is to weed out the most likely converts, it probably works.
    (And as Inferno said, it will definitely work to start a discussion).

    Jeff P’s suggestion is a smarter approach. I personally don’t think the Bible is fiction, but that approach would make me stop and think instead of laughing and shaking my head.

    (I do wonder, however, if the students would have the balls to ask for copies of the Koran in exchange for porn).

  • Robert W.

    So where in the bible is the smut condoned as appropriate behavior? It isn’t.

    The Bible is consistent that moral sexual relations are between a man and a woman during marriage. I doubt the porn makes that same claim. So the comparison is wrong and illogical for the group that claims to be on the side of truth. Not to mention simply offensive.

  • http://politicsandpucks.blogspot.com Mike Brownstein

    Jeff P, this is what we’re going to get compared to when we do fiction for fiction.

    When I gave an interview for “Ask an Atheist” back in October. One question I was asked by our campus “conservative tabloid” was “why do you support smut for smut?” It’s not a question I wanted to answer for this program. The fact that this event exists makes it harder for communities in areas with small atheist populations get noticed, because this is what we’re compared to.

  • Villa

    So where in the bible is the smut condoned as appropriate behavior? It isn’t.
    @Robert W.
    The Song of Solomon is a decent place to start. Beginning of chapter 1.

    Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you! Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.

    And, I think the target audience is people who haven’t thought much about the issue. There are probably a lot of people who are Christian by inertia.

    A bit of light-hearted prodding could sway them a bit, or at least, make them think about if they’re really Christian.

    Plus, I think there are a bunch of Christian-identified people who haven’t read the Bible. They seem to just assume that it agrees with their personal positions. This could make them do a bit of a double-take.

  • Seth

    Hemant, I believe ursulamajor is largely correct in his assessment of the target audience. It is not the blatantly religious or openly/closeted atheist individual that the campaign seeks to influence. It may, in fact, not even target those who express any inclination whatsoever.

    It seems that the religious views of most college students are… well, nonexistent. This campaign does an excellent job of rousing students from their apathy, as it appeals to their curiosity with the porn (let’s face it, most students won’t be overly off-put by erotica) and makes them aware of the wildly cruel and licentious content found in the bible.

    It is true that this campaign will have little or negative impact on most people, but I think it rather apparent that most of those who would find the campaign insignificant or offensive are unlikely to alter their stance much anyway. So what makes more sense: preserving the delicate sensibilities of those who are unlikely to make any contribution to the rise of reason or beginning a dialogue with huge numbers of young, bright students who have never given religion much thought, but who very well may come to oppose it?

    It also should be noted that a bit of light erotica hardly compares to the rape and murder found in the bible. Silly depictions of consensual sex can’t offend anywhere near as much as, for example, a father giving up (read: forcing) his children to the whims of a vicious crowd.

    Finally, weren’t there a number of studies that suggested religious individuals consume hardcore pornography in copious amounts?

  • Blacksheep

    Villa,

    That verse inspired a (Cheesy) but good 80′s song from the UK, too, “Kiss me” by Stephen Duffy.

    The couple in the Song of Solomon, as the story progresses, are engaged and then finally married. And they refer to each other as “My betrothed.”

    What about The Song Of Solomon is smut, though, compared to a porn magazine? It’s sexual, but I always thought it was very romantic!

  • Seth

    @Blacksheep

    You may disagree with this, but I find the rape and murder either tacitly or explicitly condoned in the bible far more objectionable than descriptions or images of sex itself.

  • mj

    I love this event. It illustrates that there are some horrible things in the bible and gives away something that college kids like – porn.

    It also allows for conversation with those people who think porn is somehow negative.

  • Rich Wilson

    The Bible is consistent that moral sexual relations are between a man and a woman during marriage.

    I’m sure there are lots of other examples, but the story of Lot, so often used to condemn homosexuality, also seems to condone gang rape and incest.

  • http://happyatheists.com SlickNinja

    I love offensive but it just needs more direction. The campaign ultimately fails at getting moderates on board, besides I’m not sure if I’d really want to be associated with those involved. It lacks the nuance that comes with atheism.

  • wakikat

    There are better ways to go about raising awareness about the inappropriate content in the bible than to spread more anti feminist degrading material (how many female students attended this event?) A better campaign would be to get an age-gate ruling federally mandated on the bible and the qur’an that gives it an NC-17 or XX rating. It certainly has all the content (like Lott raping his daughters, or the dissection of the gang-raped concubine) to warrant such, and its well over due. If the bible was suddenly strapped with those appropriate restrictions, I guarantee everyone would FINALLY read it instead of just throwing their closed bible at us Atheists. It still disgusts me that this book is permitted to be taught to children as young as two with such horrendous material.

  • Peter Mahoney

    The target audience could be everyone who has not yet shed the undeserved respect that people give to religion, “holy” books, etc.

    Giving that undue reverence a public poke in the eye can help “break the spell” of religion.

    Kinda like the first time you watch a YouTube video by Pat Condell. Whether you agree with him or not, he is so blatant in his public disrespect for religion that it makes it more comfortable for those of us who are more timid (myself included) feel ok about making milder challenges to religions. Break the spell.

  • Kamaka

    @ Robert W

    So where in the bible is the smut condoned as appropriate behavior?

    There’s so much smut in the bible, I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Where in the bible is it condoned as appropriate behavior? Along with genocide, the rape of virgin girls is encouraged. War booty and all…

    Not to mention simply offensive.

    Genocide and systematic rape are indeed “offensive”; porn, not so much.

  • Pseudonym

    So much porn is available online for free these days that it’s not even worth handing over perfectly good paper. Moreover, storing your smut on dead trees is highly irresponsible, environmentally speaking. I bet it’s not even locally-produced!

    Oh, who’s it aimed at? Clearly, people without an Internet connection.

  • Robert W.

    The actions of Lot are not condoned. He acted horribly.

    As for the verses from Numbers, read the verses in context to get the overall meaning. The adult women who would have slept with men were the ones who deceived and were subject to judgment. The younger ones were not guilty of that.

    And the song of Solomon is a love poem for goodness sakes. Hardly smut. That would be like calling Emily Dickinson poems smut. As far as romantic, parts of it are part are not so much. For example he compares his lovers teeth to be as white as sheep. I don’t think that would be viewed to highly be women today.

  • Richard P.

    I still wonder who the “Smut for Smut” campaign is directed at…

    Isn’t it obvious. It’s directed at the poor shy college student who can afford to buy his own smut and whose mother stuffed in his bible without knowing.

    Maybe it’s donors of the sperm bank interested in updating their libraries.

    Possibly it is the young college girl looking for pinups for her dorm walls.

    Muslims are generally repressed and I don’t doubt you would find a few to shamed into buy a porn mag, but trade up a koran, why not?

    Do you put the mags in plane paper bags? It would probably be a good idea to advertise that if you do.

  • Kamaka

    @ Robert W

    As for the verses from Numbers, read the verses in context to get the overall meaning.

    The meaning is quite plain. There is no ambiguity in the verse “but save for yourselves”.

    Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    You asked “So where in the bible is the smut condoned as appropriate behavior?”

    Kill everybody but the virginal girls “but save them for yourselves” condones, even glorifies the rape of female children.

    So your god approves of genocide and rape as appropriate behavior.

    It says so in the bible. Plainly. In context.

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com/ krissthesexyatheist

    On one hand, I’m anti ‘smut’, on the other hand “there is not such thingy as bad publicity.”

    Kriss

  • Pureone

    “The actions of Lot are not condoned.”

    Where does it mention his punishment?

    how about this goody from Judges?

    19:22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

    19:23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.

    19:24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
    19:25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
    19:26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
    19:27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
    19:28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
    19:29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

    Hmm, sounds like the story of Lot, with a different twist.

    that bit about abusing her until *maybe* she died and then cutting her up? wow.

  • Rich Wilson

    The actions of Lot are not condoned.

    Are you kidding? AFTER that, Lot and his family were considered the only ones worth saving in the entire city. Saving him from fire = ‘not condoned’? And yet his wife is turned to a pillar of salt for the transgression of looking back? Oh ya, ‘disobeying God’s word’.

  • ScottDogg

    Robert W:

    And the song of Solomon is a love poem for goodness sakes. Hardly smut.

    What about this?

    Song of Solomon 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

    Translation: My beloved fisted me and I did a crap for him.

    <sarcasm>Hey, you’re right, that’s not smutty at all!</sarcasm>

  • Tom

    Talking of filth and depravity in the bible, let’s not forget the “immaculate conception” itself. Nowhere, as far as I can recall from my reading of the text, does Mary give her consent to this, and nowhere is she asked for it. God’s henchman just tells her that this is how it’s going to be. Put bluntly, god rapes her.

  • ACN

    Tom,

    Be careful when you make this claim around believers, although the substance of what you’re saying is spot on, there is a good chance they will just ignore and it and jump on you for calling the conception of Jesus “the immaculate conception” when that phrase actually refers to particular catholic dogma regarding the conception of mary.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    The irony in all of this “back and forth” over “smut” seems to have escaped most of us.
    Sex and sexual acts are only smutty if you make them smutty.
    I thought that this was one of the things we were getting on theists collective case over.
    “Smut for smut” just implies that we view porn and sex in general as something to be offended by, “tee hee” over or turn up our noses at.
    Pointing out the hypocrisy of theists is one thing, but this goes a step further. I don’t recognize porn or obscenity as defined by theists in general, much less sex-obsessed fundies.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    you know how you had the post about treating women as real human beings? This campaign isn’t that.

    Since when is having sex with women ‘hostility toward women’? If there’s no harm in having sex, there’s no harm in watching videos of having sex.

    I think feminists might really be objecting to the creep factor. This is the idea that someone you would never have sex with might want to have sex with you. It only becomes a problem because its a person you would never have sex with. The same exact desire in one person makes him a creep, in a more attractive person makes him a date.

  • Blacksheep

    Pureone,

    It’s a crazy story, no doubt, but you need to read further to see how the story ends. The father who gives up his daughter and concubine to the crowd not only explains himself, but seeks revenge for the horrible act. Nothing is being condoned here at all:

    So the Levite, the husband of the murdered woman, said, “I and my concubine came to Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. 5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They raped my concubine, and she died. 6 I took my concubine, cut her into pieces and sent one piece to each region of Israel’s inheritance, because they committed this lewd and outrageous act in Israel. 7 Now, all you Israelites, speak up and tell me what you have decided to do.”

    8 All the men rose up together as one, saying, “None of us will go home. No, not one of us will return to his house…
    Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah[a] in Benjamin, it can give them what they deserve for this outrageous act done in Israel.”

    In the story of Lot, he is rescued by angels who blind the crowd. Much nicer ending.

  • wakikat

    Actually that isn’t the ending of Lot – he then gets drunk and commits incest with his own daughters – that’s the final ending! Just like the end of Noah isn’t just when their ship hits dry land, it’s when he sells his own grandson (who did absolutely nothing wrong) into slavery out of his own embarrassment from being passed out drunk naked. Again, these two were the men God thought were the most upstanding citizens we should all emulate? I suppose coming from a god that slit the bellies open of pregnant women and killed all first born children, one shouldn’t be surprised.

    Oh, and the man killed his own concubine after he’s the one that threw her out to be raped to save his own skin, just like Lot offered his two daughters (instead of himself) to be raped by an entire town.

    Oh, and don’t forget father Abraham that raped his own slave, forced her to have a child then took the child from her and made her live all her days watching the child call Sarah his “mom” instead – that’s got to make a woman feel really good (and god told the slave she had to suffer this)

    At least Playboy is a little more respectful than this.

  • Pureone

    Wait, he gives them the concubine (and offers his daughter), then tells them they were bad for what they did? He certainly cannot lay all the blame on everyone else. He condoned them raping her. They told him that was what they were gonna do.

    I was wondering where Lot’s punishment for incestuous relations was.

  • Pureone

    “In the story of Lot, he is rescued by angels who blind the crowd. Much nicer ending.”

    Too bad that’s not the ending. The girls get their dad drunk and then have sex with him.

    19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

  • Robert W.

    WakiKat,

    Actually that isn’t the ending of Lot – he then gets drunk and commits incest with his own daughters – that’s the final ending! Just like the end of Noah isn’t just when their ship hits dry land, it’s when he sells his own grandson (who did absolutely nothing wrong) into slavery out of his own embarrassment from being passed out drunk naked. Again, these two were the men God thought were the most upstanding citizens we should all emulate?

    Actually the passage is the daughters got him drunk and he didn’t know what he was doing. But regardless, where is it that God condones this behavior or says it is the way people should act?

  • wakikat

    Fact – he got drunk.
    Fact – he commits incest with his daughters.
    Fact – if a male is too drunk to know his daughter from another woman enough to not have sex with her, then there is a higher chance for erectile dysfunction if he was truly that drunk.
    Fact – this story is entirely written by men.
    Fact – today Lot would be investigated by Child Protective Services and tried before a jury of his peers who would hopefully see through a bogus story like, “my daughters (who just yesterday I offered to have gang-raped) wanted me so badly they got me drunk and forced me to have sex with them.”

    All the more reason to maintain separation of Church and State, since the courts today have a higher moral code than the bible seems to have.

  • wakikat

    Robert, I’m not sure what children’s propaganda bible you are reading from but the bible and god explicitly tell parents to stone their own children (which today is defined as murder in the first degree, thanks to the age of reason).

    Your moral compass is way off if you defend Lot for offering to have his daughters gang-raped. What is frightening is that you are not condemning any of these acts.

    I hope you are not a parent yourself – if so, someone might want to send an alert out to CPS on your children’s behalf.

    Do you think it is “just” for Lot’s wife to be turned to a pillar of salt for simply looking over her shoulder, but Lot gets to inherit new land after pimping out his daughters?

  • Robert W.

    wakikat,

    Way to not answer the question. Again, where in the story does it say that God condoned that behavior? It doesn’t. The story also goes on the say that God blinded the mob to protect the girls, so apparently he didn’t condone it.

    As for Lot’s wife, she violated a direct order from God so that was the outcome. I am not one to make a judgment call on God’s judgment.

    There is no need to worry about my children. I don’t condone Lot’s behavior or that of his girls having sex with him.

  • Robert W.

    WakiKat,

    Another thing about Lot’s wife, she was the one who disobeyed custom and lied which led the mob to the house in the first place. So some think that her judgment was not just for turning around, but also for this act.

  • Seth

    @Robert W.

    Rich Wilson correctly pointed out that “AFTER that [proposed rape], Lot and his family were considered the only ones worth saving in the entire city.” It seems rather evident that the act of offering his daughters up to the crowd in place of the angels was in fact a major factor in his salvation. That’s well beyond even simple tacit approval.

    Also, your statement that “I am not one to make a judgment call on God’s judgment.” is simply begging the question.

  • ACN

    God is supposed to be omnipotent/omniscient. His angels were allegedly at Lot’s door, and for some inexplicable reason he wants Lot to commit to letting his daughters be raped before he disperses the crowd instead of just saving his angels in the first place?

    Classy. Clearly necessary.

  • Pureone

    And i’m saying, no-where does state Lot’s punishment for all these horrible acts. Silence is assent?

    I’ve heard the assertion before from preachers that Lot was punished, but when I ask for verses/confirmation, all I get is silence.

  • Robert W.

    It is true that the judgment of Lot is not stated in the Bible. It is also true that even good and decent men make bad decisions and mistakes. It is also true that when God finds favor in someone’s actions as described in the Bible it is normally specifically stated. So I don’t think that the silence about Lot or his later description as being righteous is evidence that god condones his behavior. Additionally, if you will really look at the timeline, god had decided to save Lot before he engaged in these behaviors, so that was not a reward for his bad acts.

    There are other instances in the Bible of good people doing bad things and God showing mercy as well as judgment. For example, David. He was described as a man after God’s heart, yet being human he made some horrible mistakes for which he was judged and punished.

  • ACN

    Oh, you must be referring to that time when David had Uriah killed, and stole his wife? Then god dethrones David for his horrific behavior, and resurrects Uriah to become the new king…

    Oh wait that isn’t at all what happened. Instead of punishing David for David’s crimes, or trying to undo the horrible thing David has done, what does your god do? He kills the baby, the baby of David and Bathsheba’s copulation. Yeah, I’ll bet that David felt terrible about it, but justice is not in punishing the innocent for the debts of the guilty.

    Some kind of judgement. Some kind of punishment. Some kind of god.

  • Blacksheep

    Some kind of judgement. Some kind of punishment. Some kind of god

    There’s an argument often used here that says, “Since God does things that seem terrible at times, I don’t like him. And since i don’t like him, he must not exist.”

    To me, that reasoning makes no sense. lots of things that I don’t like are still true.

  • Steve

    That’s not what people are saying. They say because god is clearly either uncaring or malevolent, they don’t believe in him.
    Even if I knew with absolute certainty that your god existed, I couldn’t in good conscience worship that being.

    Saying that god doesn’t exist is a logical impossibility. We merely think it’s so extremely unlikely, that there is no reason at all to believe in it. It’s just that for practical purposes god might as well not exist.

    Atheism isn’t about disproving god. The burden of proof is on the believers. What we do is dismantle the alleged “proofs” brought forth. That’s not the same as disproving god’s existence.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    There’s an argument often used here that says, “Since God does things that seem terrible at times, I don’t like him. And since i don’t like him, he must not exist.”

    No, the character of the biblical deity has nothing to do with atheism. In fact, the existence of the biblical deity itself has nothing to do with atheism. I’m equally atheist about all gods and goddesses; the only reason I would have to critique the character of Yahweh rather than Zeus or Thor is because there are still people who actually believe in Yahweh, base their lives around it, and claim that all of its actions are moral and good. I disagree, and disagree strongly. I find genocide, slavery, hell, homophobia, and sexism to be extremely immoral.

    That doesn’t mean we think your deity is real. It just means that we find the being described in the text to be loathsome. In all fairness, though, your deity is not necessarily worse than deities from other traditions. The Zoroastrians have a pretty nasty hell, too. Christianity hasn’t cornered the market on barbaric beliefs. It’s merely the most popular religion in the society in which we all happen to reside, so it comes under fire more than others. If I lived in a predominantly Zoroastrian society, I’d be critiquing the characters and actions of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu instead.

  • ACN

    Anna took the words out of my mouth:

    That doesn’t mean we think your deity is real. It just means that we find the being described in the text to be loathsome.

    And we don’t understand why you would want to worship such a loathsome creature, when you are, in all likelyhood, a more moral/thoughtful/kind being than the one described in your texts.

  • Seth

    @Robert W.

    No “good and decent” man would ever offer up his own daughters to be gang-raped. And if God is meant to be omniscient and omnipotent, I don’t think your statement regarding the timeline has any relevance.

  • Blacksheep

    No, the character of the biblical deity has nothing to do with atheism. In fact, the existence of the biblical deity itself has nothing to do with atheism. I’m equally atheist about all gods and goddesses; the only reason I would have to critique the character of Yahweh rather than Zeus or Thor is because there are still people who actually believe in Yahweh, base their lives around it, and claim that all of its actions are moral and good. I disagree, and disagree strongly. I find genocide, slavery, hell, homophobia, and sexism to be extremely immoral.

    Would you believe in God if the description of him in the Bible was satisfactory to you?

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    So is it that you don’t believe in any God or just not in the ones described in the religions you mentioned? Is there a religon that has described a God that you do believe in? I’m curious only because it still seems that your belief is predicated by whether or not you like the description of the character of a given god.

    Atheists don’t believe in any gods or goddesses. That’s what atheism is in the most basic sense: it’s a lack of belief in any and all deities. The characters of those deities are completely irrelevant. Even if millions of people revered a super-nice, warm-fuzzy Goddess of Rainbows and Unicorns, I wouldn’t believe in it because I see absolutely no evidence that such a being exists.

  • Blacksheep

    Even if I knew with absolute certainty that your god existed, I couldn’t in good conscience worship that being.

    This is a new twist on atheism for me – the idea of the “likeabilty” of God as the basis for whether or not one believes in Him or would follow Him.

    I would submit that if you indeed knew that our God existed with “absolute certainty” you would worship Him fully.

    In fact iIf you showed me with “absolute certainty” that the flying spaghetti monster was the one true god, I would worship him instead!

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Blacksheep,

    Oh, I see you edited your previous comment. To answer your second question:

    Would you believe in God if the description of him in the Bible was satisfactory to you?

    No, absolutely not. My atheism has nothing to do with the god of the Bible. For me, atheism stems from lack of belief in the supernatural. It’s not limited to deities; it also includes ghosts, souls, devils, angels, and so on. I’m a lifelong atheist, and I don’t come from a Christian background, so it’s not like I once believed in your god and then stopped believing in it. I never started in the first place, and I’ve never seen any sort of reason to assume the existence of deities, let alone one deity, let alone your particular deity, etc.

  • Blacksheep

    Atheists don’t believe in any gods or goddesses. That’s what atheism is in the most basic sense: it’s a lack of belief in any and all deities. The characters of those deities are completely irrelevant. Even if millions of people revered a super-nice, warm-fuzzy Goddess of Rainbows and Unicorns, I wouldn’t believe in it because I see absolutely no evidence that such a being exists.

    That’s what I thought. Sorry, It seemed earlier like you were using the character and description of the Christian God and other things that you don’t like in the Bible as reasons not to believe.

  • Blacksheep

    No, absolutely not. My atheism has nothing to do with the god of the Bible. For me, atheism stems from lack of belief in the supernatural. It’s not limited to deities; it also includes ghosts, souls, devils, angels, and so on. I’m a lifelong atheist, and I don’t come from a Christian background, so it’s not like I once believed in your god and then stopped believing in it. I never started in the first place, and I’ve never seen any sort of reason to assume the existence of deities, let alone one deity, let alone your particular deity, etc.

    I understand.

  • Steve

    I would submit that if you indeed knew that our God existed with “absolute certainty” you would worship Him fully.

    No, I wouldn’t. I find both your god and the entire belief system vile and abhorrent. And if that lack of belief lands me in hell, I’m sure the company there would be much more pleasant. Eternal torture notwithstanding. Bravado aside, I simply couldn’t fake my belief in order to somehow cheat myself into heaven (the reason why Pascal’s Wager is nonsensical btw).

    That also raises (not begs) the question why an omniscient and omnipotent being would feel the need to be worshiped. I can only come to the conclusion that it is narcissistic, insecure and selfish. Which again severely decreases my willingness for obedience.

    In addition to what Anna said:
    She is right in that general atheistic arguments refer to any gods (such as arguments about creation). When you find atheists attacking the Judeo-Christian god specifically, that’s because we live in countries where that’s the dominant belief system and we are constantly confronted with it, its believers and the unfortunate consequences of that belief. So often criticism tends to focus directly on Christianity.

  • Blacksheep

    No, I wouldn’t. I find both your god and the entire belief system vile and abhorrent.

    Jesus never struck me as vile or abhorrent, and he’s the one we follow. That’s why we’re called Christians.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Blacksheep,

    That’s what I thought. Sorry, It seemed earlier like you were using the character and description of the Christian God and other things that you don’t like in the Bible as reasons not to believe.

    Gotcha. I guess it doesn’t always come across in discussions, but when atheists talk about biblical morality, we’re not saying anything about the existence of the deity in question. It’s all hypothetical, ie: if this god existed and performed a particular action, then we find it to be immoral. And we only talk about your deity for cultural reasons. I have no reason to spend time thinking about other gods and goddesses because no one goes around touting their existence or their moral superiority.

    That’s simply how life is for atheists in America. Atheists in Indonesia, India and Tibet have entirely different sets of theological ideas to critique. For example, I find Zeus killing Salmoneus to be every bit as immoral as Yahweh turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. But I have no reason to talk about that because no one goes around trying to justify Zeus’s actions. No one proclaims that action to be moral. If they did, I would have plenty to say about Zeus’s character. As it stands now, such criticisms are completely unnecessary.

  • acn

    The doctrines of christianity are vile an abhorrent. At least with the old testament god you could die to escape him. There is no talk, again to borrow a phrase from hitch, of punishment after tne ground has closed over the amalekites. It is only with the new testament and jesus do we find that if we dont accept the message and worship that we will depart into everlasting torment.

  • Seth

    *High fives Steve for proper understanding of “begs the question”*

  • Blacksheep

    The doctrines of christianity are vile an abhorrent. At least with the old testament god you could die to escape him. There is no talk, again to borrow a phrase from hitch, of punishment after tne ground has closed over the amalekites. It is only with the new testament and jesus do we find that if we dont accept the message and worship that we will depart into everlasting torment.

    Same God in the Old and New Testament…

    Sorry you feel that way. Christians believe that the doctrines of Christianity are true, whether or not we like them.

  • ACN

    I understand what you say you believe about them Blacksheep, I was responding to your claim that:

    Jesus never struck me as vile or abhorrent, and he’s the one we follow. That’s why we’re called Christians.

    He, and his associated doctrines, strike me as extraordinarily vile.

  • Blacksheep

    He, and his associated doctrines, strike me as extraordinarily vile.

    We could not disagree more!

    Christ healed the sick, taught love and forgiveness, told us not to judge, to care for the poor, do unto others, etc. and offered salvation based on faith.

  • Seth

    @Blacksheep

    Why is salvation based on unquestioning obedience (faith) something to be desired?

    I am curious whether your love and lack of judgment extend to homosexuals. If so, I applaud you, but would like to point out that you are then picking and choosing amongst the tenets of your religion. And, consequently, I don’t think you can then make claim to true faith, as you are clearly engaging in a process of ethical determination based on your own beliefs, not simply accepting those values prescribed by Christianity (i.e. exhibiting faith).

  • Blacksheep

    Why is salvation based on unquestioning obedience (faith) something to be desired?

    It’s definitely not based on unquestioning obedience. Faith is a journey of belief, doubt, and sometimes wrestling with tough questions. A durable faith can stand up to all that.

    I never said I desired it – I said I believed it! Since I think it’s true, whether or not I desire it is of no consequence.

    I am curious whether your love and lack of judgment extend to homosexuals. If so, I applaud you, but would like to point out that you are then picking and choosing amongst the tenets of your religion. And, consequently, I don’t think you can then make claim to true faith, as you are clearly engaging in a process of ethical determination based on your own beliefs, not simply accepting those values prescribed by Christianity (i.e. exhibiting faith)

    My love and lack of judgement most certainly extends to homosexuals, including some who are good friends. I don’t consider it picking and choosing the tenets of my religion. I’m instructed to love everyone, and to “…not judge lest I be judged…” Furthermore, the Bible has much more to say about heterosexual relationship, and some of it is quite demanding, like from the sermon on the mount where Christ tells us that not only is it wrong to cheat on our spouses, we’re not even supposed to lust after others. If I chose my friends or judged others based on how closely they followed the word of the Bible, I would be very lonely!

    I also believe that (according to the Bible) we are all lumped together as “falling short of the glory of God…”
    and that nobody is better than anyone else.

    That’s why I love the concept of Christianity: I want to be part of a faith in which forgiveness is the central tenet.

  • Robert W.

    ACN,

    I agree with Blacksheep about the tenets of Christianity and the teachings of Christ. Frankly from what you have indicated in the past I don’t take you as being opposed to helping the poor, taking care of widows and orphans, not judging people, not being a hypocrite, being faithful to your spouse, or doing unto others as you would want then to do to you. I think that the teaching you actually find “vile” is the idea that because you don’t believe you will face eternal judgment. Unfortunately in Christianity that is the consequences of non belief.

    As for your comments about David, he was punished for his sins. You need to read the rest of his story. He also repented of them and was forgiven. It is a true story of sinful behavior, consequences and repentance.

    I believe that we have had discussions on abortions in the past. If you support this “right” then aren’t you saying that the innocent is paying the price for the guilty and it is okay? But its okay because you are the one making the moral judgment call

    Seth,

    Even good and decent men make huge mistakes, a mistake that God prevent from happening. It was horrible what Lot tried to do no doubt about it. One of the beauties of the Bible is that it shows the good and the bad of people that it talks about. It shows their failures and their triumphs. True good, bad and ugly of humanity.

    Finally for all those making comments on their sense of morality judging the actions of God, you are only doing it from your human perspective. God being eternal and having the benefit of knowing the past present and future is in a better place to make those calls and what we may find as offensive may have a better and more moral purpose that we are simply unaware of from our perspective. But if you don’t believe in the eternal or God, then you will never take that point into consideration.

  • Blacksheep

    Finally for all those making comments on their sense of morality judging the actions of God, you are only doing it from your human perspective

    Robert,

    It gets stickier even than that… If we have evolved from lower life forms, then even our intellect is called into question, making us unfit judges of anything. This was a concept that secretly bothered Darwin:

    “The horrid doubt always arises whether the conviction of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or are trustworthy.”

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Blacksheep says:

    If we have evolved from lower life forms, then even our intellect is called into question, making us unfit judges of anything.

    I have two comments:

    1. Animals can actually be pretty good judges of a lot of things.

    2. Just because we may not be perfect judges because we evolved from animals, doesn’t mean that we can be pretty good judges of a lot of things.

    Personally I don’t think the human mind is capable of mastering all of reality. We also probably cant always distinguish between those things that we can’t discern from those things that we just haven’t yet discerned. But in any case, I prefer to just say “I don’t know” verses saying “God did it”. Once you start saying “God did it” you start down the slippery slope of attributing all sorts of things (and human attitudes) to God… some good, some bad. I think the entirety of the bible (Old and New Testaments) are examples of such attributions.

  • Seth

    Blacksheep,

    You say,

    It’s definitely not based on unquestioning obedience. Faith is a journey of belief, doubt, and sometimes wrestling with tough questions. A durable faith can stand up to all that.

    Why is it that in questions of religion your doubt is not subject to the same rigorous process of investigation? If I claimed the president had a twin who had died at birth you would doubt my claim. In order to determine the truth of my statement you wouldn’t just sit around musing on the subject, you would seek evidence. When you have doubts about your religion how do you resolve them? Presumably you seek evidence of some kind, as dispelling doubt through any other means is clearly an artificial process.

    I mean no disrespect, but I am honestly baffled by the faith I have heard the religious invoke. In doubting my claim about the president you wouldn’t then turn to me to dispel your doubt. At least, you would demand I provide concrete evidence and not simply make empty verbal reassurances before you would believe me.

    So again, when you have doubts about your religion where do you turn? Your answer cannot be the bible, as that is what you are doubting, and putting “faith” in its answers would be the same as accepting my empty reassurances about the President’s twin.

    I don’t mean to say that all faith is bad. I have faith in my friends and family, but this is based on a demonstrable history of their support. I have “faith” in them because they have earned my trust time after time. You’re right, faith is a journey, but it’s one based on empirical evidence.

  • Blacksheep

    Why is it that in questions of religion your doubt is not subject to the same rigorous process of investigation? If I claimed the president had a twin who had died at birth you would doubt my claim. In order to determine the truth of my statement you wouldn’t just sit around musing on the subject, you would seek evidence. When you have doubts about your religion how do you resolve them? Presumably you seek evidence of some kind, as dispelling doubt through any other means is clearly an artificial process.I mean no disrespect, but I am honestly baffled by the faith I have heard the religious invoke. In doubting my claim about the president you wouldn’t then turn to me to dispel your doubt. At least, you would demand I provide concrete evidence and not simply make empty verbal reassurances before you would believe me.

    I wouldn’t feel disrespect, in this forum I sort of feel like a “guest in your house” if that makes sense.

    I don’t totally disagree with your point. For me it’s more about putting a bunch of clues together and then going in the direction that looks and feels the best for me.

    So the story for me is more like: You claim that the president had a twin that died. You have no concrete evidence to support that, but it turns out that there was an ancient text that predicted that this particular president would have a twin, and that twin would die. You also produce a book that says that thousands of people saw the twin born, and some of them wrote stories about it. But none of them are around to verify their stories. However, there are also tales of those same people putting their lives on the line when asked to say that they never saw the twin. Furthermore, millions of people all the world over have put their faith in believing that the twin existed, and whenever I meet those people they seem (fanatics and rednecks aside) to be some of the best people whom I have encountered.

    Then there are people who try to force others to believe that there was a twin. I don’t like that at all, but eventually I realize that those occasional bullies have nothing to do with whether or not a twin existed… and so on.

    Then, on top of that, when I decide to take the stance that there never was a twin, I don’t feel at peace, I don’t feel like myself. However, when I decide to consider that there really was a twin, I feel happier, more at peace, and an uncanny feeling of certainty.

    It’s not that I don’t hold things to the same scrutiny, it’s that all together the reasons for my faith make more sense than the reasons not to have faith.

  • Blacksheep

    . Just because we may not be perfect judges because we evolved from animals, doesn’t mean that we can be pretty good judges of a lot of things.

    There is some truth to that, but I still thought the quote from Darwin was pretty interesting.

  • Seth

    Blacksheep,

    That was a well-expressed explanation, but it leaves me wondering how you determine which stories to believe. Nearly all major religions, past and present, seem to meet your criteria (e.g. ancient predictions, storied texts, numerous devoted followers, etc.). On what basis do you choose one over another?

  • Blacksheep

    Seth,

    Great questions… I’m going out… will respond tomorrow.

  • Blacksheep

    Seth,

    (the short answer, by the way, is that I chose the one that had Jesus. The other major ones don’t come close to offering what I would consider to be an actual solution to anything).

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Blacksheep,

    The religion “that had Jesus” does offer a solution to the problem of wanting life after death but with the following caveats.

    1. There is no evidence of a life after death. Wanting something to be true (like life after death) does not make it true.

    2. Not having a life after death doesn’t need to be a problem. For example, I would like to be able to fly like a bird but the laws of physics don’t allow it. I just accept it so it isn’t a problem for me.

    3. If you are in the choosing business, why choose a religion that offers infinite reward and punishment. It seems “cruel and unusual”. I guess that says something about the person “doing the choosing”.

    4. Then there is the question of whether or not you (or anyone) has really made a choice and not just an after-the-fact rationalization of why you believe something. If you were born in an Islamic country, you would probably have said the same thing about Islam (about it being the best solution to “the problem”). It makes it somewhat problematic that a God would infinitely punish or reward someone based on a belief that is largely a factor of what religion you were born into.

  • Blacksheep

    jeff P,

    The religion “that had Jesus” does offer a solution to the problem of wanting life after death but with the following caveats.

    I didn’t mean to say that life after death was the solution that I was looking for. From a purely logical standpoint, I would be equally happy with nothing after death, because if I ceased to exist it really wouldn’t matter.

    When I said that Jesus offered a ‘solution” I meant that in my viewpoint and from my experience, the strangest thing about human beings is the amount of pain present in our lives, which ranges from the horrifying to the everyday. Mental depression, which I have been close to with friends, is especially disconcerting because it’s not just a disfunction or a quirk, it’s so deeply painful that to me it is evidence of something broken or inherrently wrong with us as a species. I do not buy the argument that emotional pain is only a misfiring of a synapse or only a chemical imbalance. I believe it points to something much deeper. (I can’t prove it, but I believe it to be true – especially when I’ve witnessed the cures, which are definitely helpful, simply mask the pain).

    From my exposure to other religions, Christianity is the only one that says flat out, “This world is broken” and here is the solution, part of which is abiding in the knowledge that life on earth is only a small part of existence. Other religions do that too – but Christianity bases it all on faith, which also makes sense to me bacause I don’t believe that God would condemn people for making one too many mistakes.

    1. There is no evidence of a life after death. Wanting something to be true (like life after death) does not make it true.

    I totally agree. Wanting it to be true is not my reason for believing it.

    2. Not having a life after death doesn’t need to be a problem. For example, I would like to be able to fly like a bird but the laws of physics don’t allow it. I just accept it so it isn’t a problem for me.

    I totally agree as well – my first point I touched on that.

    3. If you are in the choosing business, why choose a religion that offers infinite reward and punishment. It seems “cruel and unusual”. I guess that says something about the person “doing the choosing”.

    I never set out to choose a religon based on its likeability, only on whether or not it seemed true to me. My biggest issues with Christianity, that I would change if it were in my power, are the punishment parts. And I agree – I think it might reflect on the chooser – in my experience, the most forgiving people that I know are committed Christians. (When you see in the news a mother forgiving a drunk driver for killing her child, you can be sure it’s a Christian.)

    4. Then there is the question of whether or not you (or anyone) has really made a choice and not just an after-the-fact rationalization of why you believe something. If you were born in an Islamic country, you would probably have said the same thing about Islam (about it being the best solution to “the problem”). It makes it somewhat problematic that a God would infinitely punish or reward someone based on a belief that is largely a factor of what religion you were born into.

    For me, this is your toughest question, and one that I have often considered. I don’t know that I have a great answer. I do believe in a fair and just God, so I believe that ultimately the way things pan out will be just from God’s perspective. I believe that I have made a choice, even though I am practicing the religion into which I was born. The reason I say that is because at a certain point in my life I wanted little to do with religion, and for years ignored it and was happy to not be considering it. I later embraced Christianity because it had a deep impact on me, both emotionally and intellectually.

    It’s also not that strange for knowledge to spread from family to family, friend to friend. You wouldn’t find it strange to learn that the Chinese invented sanitary waste disposal (making it up) and that for a thousand years they had no sewage – related diseases. Eventually, the word got out and people who were exposed to it adopted practices that helped them more. You wouldn’t say, “no fair, you were born into that!” You would decide for yourself if that system worked for you.

    (I have made a sincere effort to explore other religions, too, like Islam and eastern religions).

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    Blacksheep,

    I appreciate your thoughtful responses to my questions. Have you ever looked into Universalism… They believe in heaven but not so much in hell. That at least gets around the infinite punishment problem.


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