How I Lost My Christian Faith While Writing a Book on Evolution

This is a guest post by Ed Suominen.

As an engineer who spent forty years as a fundamentalist Christian, I pretty much ignored the problem of human origins and evolution.

The science of radio waves and electronics was very real for me, but so was Genesis: My wife and I had eleven children as a result of following God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. So whenever I came across some article about a million-year-old fossil or the dreaded word “evolution,” I would hastily skip over it.

My upbringing had put up defenses against Darwin, but he managed to sneak into my life anyhow, through my engineering work. It started when I was trying to find an exact combination of values to make things work optimally for a particular engineering problem. Little did I know that the new software tool I came across would put me on the road to rejecting Creationism, walking away from fundamentalism, and finally losing my Christian faith entirely while writing a book about “theistic evolution.”

What I saw working right there on the screen in front of me was evolution by simulated natural selection. You set up an artificial chromosome with each digital “gene” determining a parameter for some widget you want to design. Then you created a population of individual widgets by running simulations with different sets of randomly chosen parameters, and had the widgets “mate” with each other. You repeated this process over many successive generations, throwing in some mutations along the way. Those widgets that worked best in your simulation had the best shot at having “children” in the next generation.

At this point, I couldn’t deny that evolution had some truth to it. That set off a cascade of questions about my beliefs, ultimately leading me to research and write Evolving out of Eden (Tellectual Press, March 2013) with Robert M. Price, a biblical scholar and now-atheist theologian. Dr. Price’s podcasts and books helped me deal with the realization that my church was wrong about Adam and Eve, Original Sin, and all the dogma based on it. He agreed with my proposal to write a book about evolution and the ways that science-savvy theologians have been trying to patch things up.

Disproving Christianity was not our original plan. Bob has long been happy to engage with Christian theology despite not believing in it. I was clinging to the last shreds of belief, no longer in my odd little sect of Lutheranism, but perhaps some form of Christianity or at least theism. If we found a plausible way of reconciling things, then we would have been happy to say so.

But that’s not how it worked out.

As we say right up front in the book, “It appears that the whole apologetical enterprise has once again run aground and that it is not going to be easy, probably not even possible, to secure a safety zone for one’s faith or one’s God.” Despite making light of some heavy topics and amply criticizing “the dead end at which attempts to reconcile faith and science seem to have arrived” (p. 12), ours is not another gleeful atheist book. We know how much comfort people obtain from the transcendent promises of their religion, as well as its accompanying social benefits.

We also understand the motivation to find a way of dealing with genetics without losing Genesis in the process, or Jesus for that matter. “We’ve both done our time in evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, warding off the cognitive dissonance that arises with the realization of so much error in the founding text of one’s cherished faith. As the yawning abyss of apostasy looms closer, one desperately alternates between stomping on the intellectual brakes and searching for an as-yet hidden way out” (p. 129).

But, after examining all of the issues (all the ones we’ve heard or thought of, anyhow) in 340 pages, we have concluded there is no way out. “There is no getting around it; the idyll and innocence of Eden are gone forever from Christian theology” (p. 310). I saw this when peering outside the safety of church society and “healthy” reading materials to glean some awareness of the many theological problems lurking in the tall grass of science. That’s the fate of any fundamentalist who dares to look that way for long:

He may recognize himself (and Jesus!) as an evolved primate, and Original Sin as an absurd doctrine built on unscientific sand. The very rationale of the atonement collapses, along with all those “sins” his pastor carries on about, which come to look like natural, even healthy traits that allowed his ancestors to replicate and eventually produce him. The God of all Creation he once praised while musing over every tree and sunset goes quiet and cold, fading into an impersonal set of laws and forces that forms life out of randomness shaped by countless acts of suffering and death. (p. 311)

The view outside Eden is quite different from what I was used to! Yes, the reality of our evolutionary origins and the randomness of it all seems a bit harsh after a lifetime of sweet doctrinal offerings plucked from low-hanging Bible passages. But it is amazing and inspiring in its own way, too:

Think of it! Undirected, random variation rises upward from the mindless froth at the floor of an indeterminate universe and percolates through the screen of selection. That filter — natural and sexual selection — is a roulette wheel of replication probability whose numbers are determined by physical constraints and the products of previous evolution. It’s all chance and necessity, as far back as we can see. No deity compatible with evolutionary science is triggering the mutations, spinning the wheel, or determining the odds. (pp. 315-16)

This isn’t something I wanted to accept when I first started furtively peeking at evolution books in the Natural Sciences section of the bookstore, looking over my shoulder to see if anybody from church was around. I was raised a fundamentalist and spent four decades living as one; I’m still not ready to call myself an atheist. But after co-authoring this book, I just can’t see where there’s any room for a god.

***

Edwin Suominen is the co-author of Evolving out of Eden: Christian Responses to Evolution (Tellectual Press, March 2013), available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington (1995), where his senior project wound up being the subject of fourteen U.S. patents, among several others he holds. He has retired from practice as a registered patent agent to write books rather than patents.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Beth

    Ken Ham’s nightmare: learn about evolution and the church has lost another soul

    • icecreamassassin

      Slight correction:
      Learn and the church has lost another soul.

  • Art_Vandelay

    I’m still not ready to call myself an atheist.

    Sorry…but you’re an atheist. Don’t worry…the self-loathing only lasts about a week. Then it’s all rainbows and orgies.

    • Matt

      Shit, I got carried away on the rainbows … am I too late for the orgies?

      • Art_Vandelay

        That’s the great thing…they’re not at all mutually exclusive.

      • Willy Occam

        Atheism: come for the reasoning; stay for the rainbows and orgies.

      • Mark W.

        You had an orgy of rainbows…close enough, right?

    • Kengi

      Don’t forget orgies with Skittles for days when the humidity is low.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      And baby eating, Jesus, how could you neglect to mention the baby eating!

      • jondrake

        Would the abortions satisfy you?

        • 3lemenope

          Not just the abortions, but the abortion parties!

          Cake, and grief counseling, will be available at the conclusion of the party.

          Of course, such parties call for a dry red. You can’t drink chardonnay at a baby killing.

        • tsara

          No, because we don’t want to find out what Cthulhu will do to anyone who has not been strengthened by ingesting the blood and potential of an infant.
          Seriously.

        • Travis Myers

          No amount of fetuses can satisfy me.

        • Carmelita Spats

          Abortions? Too messy. I prefer to sneak birth control pills into the cupcakes because, you know, the pill kills babies! Oh noes! Won’t somebody please think about the fertilized children who cannot implant themselves in the uterine lining because Momma stuffed her mouth with birth control pills instead of opening wide for a mouthful of Savior on Sunday!!!

          http://www.thepillkills.com/

          I also eat live puppies, whole baby seals and I’m coming for your cat. Meow!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Which looks better?

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          Not fair! You need to put cheese on both before we can make a good comparison.

          • John (not McCain)

            And sour cream. Have you ever tried to eat a baby without sour cream? YUCK!

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          *eyes and licks lips* …is this a trick question?

    • jondrake

      In his fourth paragraph he says he “set up an arificial chromosome” to determine the parameters for what you want to designs.

      Artificial selection is not natural selection. He is smuggling in purpose and design and saying it leads to atheism.

      Fail.

      • jondrake

        I might add that his remark that he and “Bob” did not “plan” on disproving Christianity.

        Nonsense.

        Price was an outspoken anti theist long before this.

        • jondrake

          And thats a fact, even if some of you don’t like it being pointed out. Suominen is thus being disingenous …at best…about what Bob planned.

          • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

            Did you just reply to your own reply to your own comment? Disqus usually has a edit button available, unless it’s derping again. If you don’t use it, it just looks like you’re talking to yourself. (Of course, we think theists spend a lot of time doing that, anyway.)
            As a matter of etiquette, just add “edit:” before the new portion of your comment, for clarity.

        • TCC

          That doesn’t make what Suominen said a lie.

      • Dad

        Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. He’s talking about his own experience with his own doubts. I don’t think he’s advocating that his experiment is the definitive repudiation of theism. Just that for him, it was just one more experience that caused him to re-evaluate a world-view he had taken for granted for his entire life.

      • Jasper

        Artificial and natural selections are both valid selectors within evolutionary theory. Sexual and group selection are two others.

        HOW things are selected is a complementary topic to the mechanism of descent with modification.

        But I agree, it doesn’t lead to atheism.

        • Stev84

          A computer simulation is not artificial selection though. It’s still a simulation of the natural selection mechanisms. It contains random elements. Artificial selection is when you pick plants or animals with desirable traits and mate them to produce offspring that shares these traits.

          • Jasper

            I agree

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Artificial selection is not natural selection.

        Perhaps you could spell out the difference for us. Is “artificial selection” supernatural? If not, then why do you insist that it is not “natural”? The environment in which an organism operates includes activities of other species and even members of its own species (sexual selection, anyone?). Why would the activities of one particular species of primate be excepted?
        Give us some examples. Is dog breeding by humans fundamentally different than examples of “natural” selection you might choose?

        • Jasper

          Artificial is not supernatural. My computer is not supernatural. “Natural” in “natural selection” is using a slightly different definition than “natural” versus “supernatural”… it’s more like, “on its own without interference from an intelligence”.

          Artificial selection is when humans (or aliens, if you wish) select which subset of the generation will produce the next. This is called “breeding”.

          Natural selection is when a subset of the next generation dies before reproduction due to a probabilistic elimination that’s based on how well adapted it’s current form is to the current environment.

          Brown rabbits dying more frequently in a tundra area, than white rabbits, is an example of natural selection.

          People breeding wolves into bloodhounds, is an example of artificial selection.

          Both are utilizing the descent-with-modification mechanism, but merely placing different filters on the second step.

          • Jasper

            This appears to have been a reply fail.. sorry. I’ve been in such a haste to keep up with the comments.

        • jondrake

          Certainly. Artificial selection entails purpose and design…Natural Selection is Mindless.

          So, yes, dogbreeding is different from what goes on in nature without any intelligence involved.

          • 3lemenope

            But not in a way relevant to what is being demonstrated. In order for your point to decisively weigh against what is being presented, you have to show how the directedness of the initial conditions is relevant to whether such a simulation suffices to demonstrate that environmental pressures cause selection and selection over time leads to species differentiation.

            I can’t see how it does.

          • RobMcCune

            The only difference is where the selection criteria come from, unless the breeders thoughts magically influence the process.

          • baal

            Reginald Selkirk did not say that natural selection is not constrained.

          • Geoff Boulton

            So there is no ‘intelligence’ involved in mate selection in humans? Women just randomly select a partner without regard to his intelligence, health, ability to provide resources for her children, etc.? Whatever can be applied to humans can also be applied to other species, the only difference being in their level of ‘intelligence’. Of course, you’ve also got to define ‘intelligence’ and that can come in many guises.

          • Michael W Busch

            So, yes, dogbreeding is different from what goes on in nature without any intelligence involved.

            No, it’s just another form of selection. The same mechanisms operate regardless of what is changing the environment.

            If I impose a selective pressure on dogs for being better able to hunt small animals, that’s little different from the selection that the coyotes went through when they and the ancestors of the wolf and dog split apart a few million years ago – but evolution is chaotic and constrained by history, so you don’t get coyotes the second time through. And humans change the environment without “purpose or design” all the time – moth colors shifting due to smog; cockroaches not tasting sugar; microbial resistance.

            Evolution never stops, and there is no qualitative difference between “natural selection” and “unnatural selection”.

          • http://loathsomehuman.wordpress.com/ Keane

            Nowhere does it say “artificial selection.” The chromosome was artificial; the selection was natural.

      • DavidMHart

        The only salient difference is that ‘artificial’ means
        consciously guided by beings intelligent enough to have an end product
        in mind, whereas ‘natural’ just means not guided by anything other than
        the mindless laws of nature. But the point is that both processes produce change over time, and can, if they continue long enough, result in wholly new species. The fact that you can see evolutionary change happening in response to selection pressures that you are imposing must inevitably open you to the possibility of of evolutionary change happening in response to selection pressures that just happen to arise in the environment – and that in turn leads you to the realisation that a supernatural creator is not the only option for explaining the diversity and complexity of life. Sure, it doesn’t single-handedly lead to atheism, but it kind of points away from the direction of creationist theism.

      • Stev84

        The full name of Darwin’s theory is “evolution by natural selection”. There are other mechanisms – like genetic drift – that cause evolution.

        What is described with the computer simulation is clearly not artificial selection either. That’s selecting who gets to breed with whom by yourself and is done when breeding plants or animals.

      • Tel

        He is saying that, in his case, the demonstration of artificial selection prompted him to think and learn about natural selection, after which his belief system began to fall apart.

        We all have different triggers for becoming atheists (not even starting on the long-term and short-term causes). That was his. It’s not smuggling in something unrelated and saying it leads to atheism; it’s just him sharing part of his story.

        • Bryan Richards

          Mine was lightspeed and an astronomy 101 book.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Another fine picture brought to you by Google.

    • WallofSleep

      “Then it’s all rainbows and orgies.”

      The fuck?!? I gotta get out more. I thought it was all alcoholism and masturbation. Clearly, I’m doin’ it wrong.

  • Jasper

    Just so we’re clear, atheism is not contingent on evolution or the Big Bang… nor are theists restricted from accepting them.

    It’d be more accurate to say that I’m not an atheist because I believe the theory of evolution, but rather that because I’m an atheist, I don’t have any religious doctrine interfering with my ability to accept that it’s true.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      Please provide a description of an atheistic worldview which does not involve evolution.

      • Beth
      • Jasper

        This should be pretty easy.

        A person doesn’t believe in any gods. A person has no notion or belief about evolution.

        There you go.

        Do you really think there weren’t any people, anywhere on the planet, who didn’t believe in a god before Darwin’s time?

      • Sven2547

        How about “I don’t know”?
        You can reject the existence of deities without having any flipping idea where modern species came from, and it’s still atheism.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        How could we do that when natural selection is the best explanation we have to explain the development of life on the planet? Is there another explanation that can be demonstrated using the scientific method? A lot of religious people, including Christians, accept Evolution. Atheism and Evolution are only the same thing to fundamentalist Christians who want to hang on to their young earth mythology.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Please go read Classical Greek writings. Or, hell, read anything really, other than what you were handed growing up.

      • meekinheritance

        I know many have downvoted you, but it is a valid question. And it looks like the friendly people here have given several suitable descriptions.

        • http://www.facebook.com/anonomouse.fred Anonomouse Fred

          I’d wager he wasn’t down voted because it was an invalid question.

      • seanvwolf

        Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy argued that God cannot be proven to exist and hence cannot be admitted to exist.
        The school stopped practicing in the tenth century.
        Long before talk of evolution came about.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      *adds to quotes file*

    • Reginald Selkirk

      Just so we’re clear, atheism is not contingent on evolution or the Big Bang… nor are theists restricted from accepting them.

      Theists in general, perhaps. But every particular brand of theism will have details of its implementation. Christians, for example, generally believe in original sin, and salvation, and other such details. Accepting evolution means giving up on the whole talking snake story in the Garden of Eden. This really complicates acceptance of original sin, souls, salvation, etc.

      • Spuddie

        Or just learning to take something at allegorical literary value rather than simplistic literalism.

        • Arawhon

          Whats the point of basing ones world view on allegory? Without Eden there can be no reason for a resurrection, thus no reason to believe in an afterlife, thus no point in subscribing to a book full of hate and murder and incest and destruction.

          • Spuddie

            Honest appraisal of the value of scripture comes to mind.

            The Bible is not a science textbook, cookbook or even a history book. It is religious scripture. Whatever truths contained therein are purely of a spiritual allegorical variety. Understanding the nature of the spiritual is not the same as observation or using myth to explain the universe.

            Eden need not be a literal place and plenty of Christian sects don’t require it to be such to accept an afterlife, resurrection or even the validity of their faith. It is only the most dogmatic and least intelligent forms of religious faith which require literalism.

            It is a very childish thing to base one’s faith on a literal interpretation of the Bible. It depends largely on people not really reading and understanding the text as given. Those who prefer their interpretations predigested by whichever clergyman you chose to follow.

            The Bible is an inconsistent mess. Demanding literal translation creates a house of cards where some deviation from the text (which would be natural by simple observation and study) destroys the belief. It is simply the most immature way for one to believe and requires a shitload of dishonesty, self-senial and spurious logic spinning to work.

            • Pseudonym

              But you have to admit, biblical literalism makes for an extremely convenient strawman.

              Fundamentalists are almost trivially easy to counter, and Christians who are not fundamentalists can simply be defined out of existence as “hypocrites”, “cultural Christians”, “cherry-pickers”, or some other kind of inauthentic Scotsmen. It’s never been so easy to argue internet-style.

              • Spuddie

                If you are going to use the Bible as support for a position, you have already opened the door to literalism.

                The problem with arguing with fundamentalists are that they are seldom honest or consistent in their approach. If one thread of discussion doesn’t go their way, they will shift gears. Ends being more important than means. Goalposts get shifted, burdens of proof get shifted, subjects go down the rabbit hole of analogies and digressions.

                • Pseudonym

                  If you are going to use the Bible as support for a position, you have already opened the door to literalism.

                  I see where you’re coming from, but that doesn’t really make any sense to me. Most adults, when they read a book which features a talking snake, use that as a clue to what genre they’re reading.

            • Kodie

              It is simply the most immature way for one to believe and requires a
              shitload of dishonesty, self-senial and spurious logic spinning to work.

              I think the whole thing is immature. I think making as much of it “allegorical” while still maintaining faith is immature. It’s just a different kind of immature.

            • Arawhon

              Let me spell it out. Without the literal idea of Adam and Eve partaking of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, there would be no Original Sin. Without Original Sin there is no reason for the Crucifixion and Resurrection, they become utterly pointless. You are arguing for staying Christian even though the single most important event described has no basis in reality and is fiction. Spiritual is the last refuge of those with nothing left but blind tradition.

              You are advocating for people to take whatever book pleases them and to base their worldviews on them. This is a recipe for all kinds of atrocities to happen. I’m guessing you would be perfectly ok for someone to take the allegorical nature of Harry Potter for their spiritual tradition? If not then why is the bible an exception?

              • Spuddie

                That little logical contortion is nice but entirely unnecessary. Nor does it act as an actual reason for biblical literalism. Its exactly the kind of spurious logic and immature approach which I was describing.

                The concept of Original sin does not require an actual Adam, Eve or Garden of Eden. It is a construct by theologians. The term appears nowhere in the Bible. It certainly had no place in Genesis as originally written. At best an after the fact concept which is rooted in allegory. To the more honest literary approach to the text, it is a story representing all mankind and its flaws. Si

                It need not be literally true to have power from a mythical standpoint. One does not need a literal garden of Eden to understand the concept of flawed humanity. Crucifixion and resurrection do not become pointless because the story is about purging humanity’s flaws. Those which are plainly obvious to any observer of humanity, Adam & Eve or not.

                “You are advocating for people to take whatever book pleases them and to base their worldviews on them.”

                Which is what people do anyway, whether you want to admit to or not.

                Its an honest approach to the book. It means many different things to many different people. Its certainly better than taking whatever someone tells you the book means without bothering to reflect on it personally. That’s a recipe for blind stupid ignorance.

          • Pseudonym

            Whats the point of basing ones world view on allegory?

            Mythology is one of the best tools that humans have developed for working through difficult problems that confront us as a species. It’s so good that mythology that’s thousands of years old still resonates with us today.

            If it helps, consider that mythology plays the same role in philosophy that science fiction plays in science.

            • tsara

              “If it helps, consider that mythology plays the same role in philosophy that science fiction plays in science.”
              That’s an awesome way of putting it, and is exactly why I love playing with mythology.
              Is that yours? May I steal it?

              • Pseudonym

                It’s an original quote, but it’s not an original thought. I think I stole it from Joseph Campbell. It also has its roots in the modern position that literature can be thought of as Gedankenexperiment.

                Either way, consider it yours.

                • tsara

                  Thanks! I will attempt to credit.

                • Pseudonym

                  Heh, good luck crediting “Pseudonym”. :-)

            • shiva

              Unfortunately, for a Hindu like me and other non-Christians, there are millions of Christians who are bent on imposing their set of metaphors and allegories on us in the name of evangelism. Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent to propagate the religion through ‘church-planting’ and ‘soul-harvesting’ missions in majority non-Christian nations like India. Take a look at the website of Project Joshua, which accumulates data on every local community and district in India to determine which groups can be targeted most easily for conversion. Why expend all that money and resources for the sake of promoting one particular set of metaphors and other literary devices? It’s rather easy for liberal religious people in the West to ask us to ignore their conservative counterparts, to claim that these conservative Christians do not represent genuine faith and religion. But, these are the people who are spending their lives on ‘missions’ decimating indigenous, non-Christian religions around the world. Most of those religious traditions, in South America, in Africa, and a few parts of Asia, have already been destroyed forever during the centuries of European colonialism, when missionaries were backed by the authority of the imperialist powers. I don’t understand why they can’t allow us to experience the mysteries of existence through own mythologies and spiritual symbolism, which are far older and at the very least are no worse than the myths of Christianity. Cultural and religious diversity is important. Why should the myths of one religion be privileged over another?

              • Pseudonym

                One of the problems with Chrisitanity is that there’s a critical mass of anything. “Millions” of Christians is still a fairly small minority of 2 billion people.

                But I do agree with you. You’re absolutely right that that minority of Christianity shouldn’t be doing that.

                In our defence, Christianity was arguably an improvement on some of those indigenous religious traditions, and the locals knew it, which is why Christianity was often adopted willingly. That’s true in the case of Mesoamerica, for example, where a deity which only required one sacrifice which was done a long time ago was considered to be a huge improvement over deities which required regular human sacrifices.

                I think it’s a shame that those indigenous religions didn’t have a chance to undergo an enlightenment reform instead of disappearing, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight.

                Mind you, Hinduism also supplanted quite a few indigenous religions in its day. It arguably did it in a nicer way by embracing them under a common umbrella rather than trying to extinguish them.

                • shiva

                  Those few indigenous tradition, aspects of which conflicted with modern notions of morality, deserved the opportunity for self-reflection and reformation, just as Christianity managed to shed over centuries immoral precepts regarding slavery and the treatment of women among others. Of course, it is still undergoing that process with respect to other issues such as homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and so on. You made a similar point, so we’re in agreement there. What I would like to stress is that there are many, many non-Christian religious traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, to name but a few of the major ones, which contain incredibly rich and valuable ethical frameworks, which are at least the equal of what Christianity has to offer.

                  As you say, Hinduism functions as an umbrella term to refer to a staggeringly vast and diverse range of religious traditions. These traditions are very different, espousing philosophies ranging from agnosticism, atheism, and non-theism generally, to devotional monotheism, traditional polytheism and animism, monism, dualism, and so on. I find this diversity to be one of the most appealing and inspiring features of the religion, although it too has its shortcomings like other religions. At the foundation of Hinduism lies the belief that there are innumerable paths and ways of perceiving the beauty, the wonder, the horrors, the dilemmas, and the complexities of existence. No one religion, no one conception of God(s), no one set of teachings of self-proclaimed prophets and messiahs can do justice to the diverse and creative faculties of human beings, to the richness of the human experience.

                  Therefore, it is of utmost concern and importance to us that religious and cultural diversity is preserved, not only within Hinduism, but also extending to other religions and societies. One of the greatest threats to that diversity and richness of human existence today is Christian evangelism. It is true that only a minority of Christians care to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of eradicating other religions and inculcating non-believers into their own belief system, but they still number in the millions and are backed by vast sums of money received primarily from congregations in the US and Europe. I wish dearly that liberal Christians would confront and try to deter their conservative counterparts from engaging in evangelistic projects, but I doubt that will ever occur on a meaningful scale. While Christians can be content to pontificate on the superlative quality of the literary devices exemplified in their religious texts, we of non-Christian religions, and especially those of us in the developing word, are left to fend for the survival and sustenance of our traditions against proselytism and evangelism organized in a targeted, massive, and almost industrial manner (embodied in endeavors like Project Joshua), without engaging in such practices ourselves,

                • Pseudonym

                  What I would like to stress is that there are many, many non-Christian religious traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, to name but a few of the major ones, which contain incredibly rich and valuable ethical frameworks, which are at least the equal of what Christianity has to offer.

                  I agree with you 100% on this, too. The top dozen or so major world religions have either made it through modernity (or in the case of traditions like Bahai were developed with modernity in mind) and are well-suited to the modern world, at least in principal.

                  I wish dearly that liberal Christians would confront and try to deter their conservative counterparts from engaging in evangelistic projects, but I doubt that will ever occur on a meaningful scale.

                  We try, but that is also a form of evangelism, and hence somewhat taboo. One of the dirty secrets of liberal Christianity is that we avoid sectarian conflict to the point of neurosis. We know our history and know exactly where that can lead. We’re happy to stand up for an issue, but the thought of standing up against a group scares the hell out of us.

                  That’s why we tend to prefer interfaith dialogue (because that’s a positive message rather than a negative one) and mission work which concentrates on self-empowering local communities to combat poverty and injustice and nothing else.

                • Hypocrisy

                  To think Amerindians converted ”willingly” is utterly absurd. After all the killing and massacre, they had to accept it out of self preservation.

                  In fact, the majority of Latin-American even when they call themselves Catholics-Christians are pretty detached from it and are even against several POV of the Church. Also syncretism is present in every culture, they keep their own beliefs masked as the imposed religion, the fake saviors. Because they think they have made us a huge favor.

                  Christianity is full of hypocrisy. Tagging human sacrifices to their gods as brutal, primitive and barbaric but how is that any different from the incalculable ”sacrifices” they offered their ”only” God (because apparently one god, when ”he” is supposed to be immaterial thus incalculable, is acceptable and reasonable and various gods -different manifestations of an intangible energy-is ridiculous and absurd) just because they thought different, to subjugate them and even for fun.

                  Don’t kid yourself… Christianity has a very blood stained robe. If they were to count and compare those sacrifices to the deaths in the name of evangelization, it wouldn’t be funny.

                  And I’m not talking by merely assumption just to justify attrociousnes. I’m talking from the place where all began in this continent. With true knowledge of the this story.

                  NO religion is the ”correct” one, NONE. They are just human interpretations of the perception of definite time in history which are undoubtedly reflected on its content and imposed as an absolute truth. Some farther away from what we know from science.

                  Just as you can’t comprehend other religions or atheism, remember those can’t wrap around their heads yours.

                • Pseudonym

                  To think Amerindians converted ”willingly” is utterly absurd. After all the killing and massacre, they had to accept it out of self preservation.

                  My point is that many of them turned against their own leadership because of the killing and massacre perpetrated for centuries by their own indigenous society.

                  Conversion was forced in some cases, there’s no doubt of that. In some other cases, the locals were quite eager.

  • The Inconsistent Atheist

    So let me get this straight. You created a simulation which led you to believe there is no Creator? You designed a widget which led you to believe there is no Designer?

    I guess if you believe everything is random, atheism makes perfect sense. Or wait, if everything is random, then nothing makes sense. Atheism is so confusing. It requires way too much blind faith for me. I’ll stick with Christianity–a logically consistent worldview.

    • Dad

      So, because you don’t understand how everything works –> Christianity?

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        No, actually:

        Christianity –> provides a basis to explain how everything works
        Atheism –> contradicts itself

        • Brian Westley

          “Magic man done it” explains anything. It isn’t a useful explanation, though.

          • jondrake

            The Big Bang did it! It explains everything.

        • Dad

          Or,

          Lord of the Rings –> provides a basis to explain how everything works.

          Atheism –> requires us to ask questions, deal with new information, and follow where that leads us.

          • jondrake

            Atheism requires no such thing. It is simply “lack of belief.”

            • Dad

              That’s absolutely correct, jondrake. But I wanted to point out that a lack of a ready-made world-view/belief system therefore requires an inquisitive person to approach life with an open mind.

        • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

          No it provides idiots with an easy to understand fairytale.

        • trj

          “Goddidit” is not an explanation but a lack of one.

          It is as useless an explanation as “God’s ways are mysterious”, “God is unfathomable”, “God has a plan we don’t know”, and all the other variations of equivocation Christians come up with whenever they can’t explain the obvious inconsistencies between reality and their god.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            I wasn’t attempting to provide an explanation of everything. I was simply pointing out that Christianity does provide a basis for explaining everything, while atheism does not.

            For example, Christianity provides a consistent basis for logic and morality, while atheism does not. Atheistic explanations contradict themselves.

            • Kengi

              Atheism isn’t a philosophy of life. It’s merely the rejection of the silly notion of supernatural gods. I believe your argument needs to be with humanism.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Atheism is indeed a philosophy of life. Can someone be an atheist an also believe that morality comes from God (which is what many people believe about morality)?

                Atheism necessarily has implications beyond “merely the rejection of the silly notion of supernatural gods”.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Atheism necessarily has implications beyond “merely the rejection of the silly notion of supernatural gods”.

                  That is actually true. But that has nothing to do if any god exists or not.

            • trj

              As for morality, the natural sciences (which is not the same as atheism) provide a perfectly reasonable explanation for how and why it developed. No God is needed to explain its origin.

              As for the actual moral content, it’s pretty easy to show by example that the Bible’s moral commands, while sometimes sensible, are often awful and immoral (slavery, misogyny, genocide, xenophobia, homophobia, etc). Fortunately we’ve progressed morally since the Bronze Age, and we can do a lot better than what the Bible commands.

              As for logic, it works just fine without invoking a god, and its existence is easily explained. I’m guessing your argument is something like “God created everything, ergo he created logic” or something similarly inane.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                How do you know morality is better now than in the Bronze Age? Is that a fact or just your opinion? What is your standard to judge “better”?

                My point about logic is that atheism has no basis for believing that logic works. It seems to work, but how can you be certain it works without using circular reasoning?

                • Travis Myers

                  How can you be certain it works without using circular reasoning? How can you put forth an argument that God is the basis of logic without using logic in your argument?

                • tsara

                  “My point about logic is that atheism has no basis for believing that logic works. It seems to work, but how can you be certain it works without using circular reasoning?”

                  Ooh! Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem! I love the incompleteness theorem!

                  (Again: we don’t know. Spend some time poking around on the website lesswrong. It’s awesome.)

                • trj

                  How do you know morality is better now than in the Bronze Age? Is that a fact or just your opinion? What is your standard to judge “better”?

                  I’m not necessarily saying that we behave more morally nowadays. What I’m saying is that we have a better basis for being moral than the Bible. Whether we actually put this basis to use is another issue. However, the Bible is touted as a superior moral basis but is in reality rife with commandments which introduce a lot of needless suffering and antagonism.

                  There are several reasonable standards for determining moral merit (the golden rule, assessment of own bias, and others), but one of the most basic standards is simply looking at whether a law or act introduces needless hurt, and the Bible has that in full – condonement of slavery, homophobia, killing of witches, killing of disobedient children, killing of non-believers, killing of pretty much everyone for any reason, including if they happen to have valuable land. We can do a hell of a lot better than this barbaric travesty of morality given to us in the Bible; we don’t need objective morality or divine insight to figure out this obvious fact.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Needless hurt” means nothing and anything. It is completely subjective. Do you decide what needless hurt is? Does society decide? What about Nazi Germany? That society decided that killing a bunch of people was okay. Other nations said, “No.” Who ultimately decides? Do you think that maybe Hitler was right? There is no way you can definitively say he wasn’t. Apart from God, there is no morality. He sets the standard.

                • trj

                  atheism has no basis for believing that logic works. It seems to work, but how can you be certain it works without using circular reasoning?

                  I’ll be happy to answer that as soon as you present your completely non-circular argument for the existence of logic created by a god which defies logic.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Logic is an expression of the character of God. God did not create logic. Logic exist because God exists.

                  God is the ultimate reality. Everything else is dependent on His existence.

                • Kodie

                  Anthropomorphizing inanimate abstract thought is not denying you rely on circular reasoning to support your argument. You just avoid the question by repeating it. Way to go, you’re such a winner at things!

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              Atheist is only a position of the question of “do any gods exist?” I fail to find any convincing evidence that they do, so I am an atheist. That has nothing to do with “how everything works”. That’s for science. They are two different things. But really the Bible not only doesn’t explain how everything works, it gives very wrong explanations of how many things work. That’s why most intelligent Christians stopped taking those parts literally a long time ago.

              • Jasper

                I’d love to know how Black Holes work. Is that in there, I wonder?

                • 3lemenope

                  Forget black holes. The Bible isn’t even an effective maintenance manual for the copy machine in my office!

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  I find that my Bible does contain theoretically useful wank material, but the fact that it contains wank material is too offputting for it to really work out.

                • 3lemenope

                  Take Judges 4, for example.

                  Or better yet, don’t. It was going really well right up till the spike through the head. Yech.

                • Dad

                  3lemenope-

                  Try Ezekiel 23:20.

                  If that’s your sort of thing . . .

                • 3lemenope

                  Reminds me of Genesis 19:30-38.

                  Really, they should have warning stickers on Bibles.

                  For the children.

                • Dad

                  Bibles should have those black and white PARENTAL ADVISORY stickers that Tipper Gore put on the Ice Cube tapes I bought back in the day.

                • Jasper

                  No no no.. you just don’t understand.
                  You can’t fix it, because you’re not understanding the copy machine through the framework and lens of accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Only then, will you know that you must jiggle the cables.

                • 3lemenope

                  One must always remember to straighten the cables, else the ones get stuck in the bends!

            • TiltedHorizon

              “Christianity provides a consistent basis for logic and morality”

              Step 1: Find a stone
              Step 2: Throw stone at someone you don’t like
              Step 3: Repeat

              • baal

                Empiricism for morality basics!

            • tsara

              “Christianity provides a consistent basis for logic and morality, while atheism does not.”
              ‘Thou shalt not kill unless your name starts with a Y, ends with an H, and has something like an AWE in between. Or unless the aforementioned letters tell you to kill. Or unless there’s a witch or some other abomination, like a gay person or a disobedient child. Or unless somebody doesn’t like the aforementioned letter set, or likes a different letter set better. And torture’s okay, too, as long as there’s no killing.’
              I like it.

            • Reginald Selkirk

              For example, Christianity provides a consistent basis for logic and
              morality, while atheism does not. Atheistic explanations contradict
              themselves.

              You should take a course in the philosophy of ethics. The theist has no advantage in the matter of morality. And no moral system proposed is immune to criticism, regardless of the existence of nonexistence of God. Someone needs to go all Euthyphro on your ass.

              • 3lemenope

                I’d love to, except it would place me in a worrying proximity to his ass.

            • baal

              You are not argUing, Inconsistent. yOu’re mAking assertions without even exAmples (random caps to improve readability for Inconsistent).

            • Cafeeine

              ‘Christianity does provide a basis for explaining everything, while atheism does not.’

              Except that Christianity doesn’t provide such a basis. It provides a system whereas two very powerful and opposing forces (God and the devil) can interfere with the world in supernatural, unverifiable, untestable, unobervable ways, through a supernatural unverifiable, untestable, unobervable manner in order to achieve their supernatural, unverifiable, vague , self-contradictory and all-around mysterious personal goals.

              It doesn’t provide evidence for that system, and indeed has set it up in such a way that anything that might happen can fit into the narrative, attributed to either one of the forces, limited only by the biases and imagination of the believer. It makes willful ignorance a virtue and makes a blasphemy out of curiosity if it starts fraying the fabric of belief.

              So, no Christianity doesn’t provide a consistent basis for explaining anything, never mind everything.

            • rx7ward

              ” Atheistic explanations contradict themselves.”

              Examples? No?

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Many atheists have said that murder and slavery are wrong, but they also say that we determine morality. If we determine morality, doesn’t that mean we can determine that murder and slavery are okay? If “we determine morality” then nothing can be right or wrong. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.

                • 3lemenope

                  Why do you insist that the only way something can have meaning is if it has objective meaning? That something can have value only if it has absolute value? This logic runs to this end: I like vanilla ice cream, but some other people don’t like ice cream, therefore if I were eating dog shit it would have the same material entailments as if I were eating vanilla ice cream.

                  I think you need to rigorously justify this leap, which runs against pretty much all human experience, before your objection to non-theistic morality can be picked up in earnest.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Many things have subjective meaning, and I’m fine with that.

                  What I’m not fine with is subjective morality. Are you? Do you really believe that maybe what Hitler did is okay? Do you believe that killing all the atheists might be okay? Or how about homosexuals? Or what about people whose last name starts with “S”?

                  If morality is subjective, that means anything goes. You may not personally condone those things, but you’re just one person. What about other people? Other times? Other places? How do you know that what Hitler did wasn’t right for him? How do you know that in the future, people might not look back and praise Hitler as a man ahead of his time?

                • 3lemenope

                  What I’m not fine with is subjective morality.

                  …so? There are many features of the universe that I’m “not fine with”, and yet they keep right on going without my permission. Frustrating, I’ll admit.

                  If morality is subjective, that means anything goes.

                  That would only make sense if one ignores many things.

                  First, that morality is at its essence about the intersection of two or more subjective beings, so it is not properly regarded as subjective so much as intersubjective. The nature of an act, and its moral entailments, are determined not just by the actor or the acted-upon but by all observers of the act. To the extent that they converge, there exists a moral judgment. So, in order for something to “go” under an intersubjective moral system, it needs to be suasive. Many potential acts are likely to be unpersuasive in any context, and so would not secure approval.

                  Second, that human nature is not infinitely flexible; there is a baseline hardwired “nature” bequeathed by our genetic and epigenetic inheritances. This makes moral agreement (which on some matters approaches universality) neither particularly surprising nor trivial. If different cultures at different times, without mutual contact, derive similar moral conclusions (as they very often do), this can be explained as being responsive to such a universal nature, and hence not arbitrary.

                  Third, that not all acts placed under the rubric of morality have the same responsiveness to moral categories. It is clear that certain moral judgments are responding to salient moral categories that do work in the explanations of why an act is morally praiseworthy or deserving of censure, while others appeal to categories that do not provide a cognizable connection between an act and its value. Hence, some codified moral rules are actually morality, while some are peripheral cultural idiosyncrasies passed off as moral rules. The distinction becomes obvious when moral rule-sets are placed in serial juxtaposition. The “anything goes” you seem to worry over only applies to this periphery, if it applies anywhere at all.

                  Your complaint seems to boil down to the rather obvious observation that it is damned inconvenient to not have a black-and-white moral universe. I agree, it is inconvenient. It means you actually have to put some thought and effort into one’s interactions, to be actively concerned for the needs and dignity of others, in order to strive for goodness. There is no book that will effectively, programmatically indicate which things are good and which are bad so you don’t have to think about it. There is no ultimate parental authority you can run to when the arguments become too subtle or complicated to unburden you of the duty to be mindful.

                  And strangely enough, societies the world over have managed to thrive and prosper with all sorts of different moral systems. The world population, from the poorest to the richest, is by every measure available wealthier, healthier, safer, and happier than they’ve been at any point in the prior hundred years, and what’s more that’s generally true for any century you pick about the century immediately prior. The texture of that history is littered with missteps, errors, and crimes, necessary as they were to indicate wrong paths. Moral progress proceeds from moral experience, which includes mistakes.

                  An interesting distinction between secular and religiously based morality is that when errors are made, only one of them is suited to adapting to the lessons of those errors. You use the example of Hitler and the Shoah. It’s an interesting example, because the moral effects of that horrible event are difficult to understate; it even gave birth to a vocabulary so we could effectively talk about crimes of that scale. Words like “genocide”. The name of a crime that might have done the Ancient Israelites some good, for example, when they were busy genociding their way around the Levant at the command of God for Lebensraum.

                  The vocabularies and testimonies of those who experienced the Shoah lend suasive weight to the moral opinion that the crime was more, and more complicated, than merely the result of bad people doing bad things, a simplistic uncomprehending response that is a hallmark of religious analyses of such crimes. Since understanding how a thing comes about is important to predicting and preventing it, one moral approach is superior to the other.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I appreciate your thoughtful response. However, it is based on a number of unproven assumptions.

                  I agree that most people and cultures have similar moral conclusions. This is exactly what the Bible tells us is the case (see Romans 2:14-15).

                  “Your complaint seems to boil down to the rather obvious observation that it is damned inconvenient to not have a black-and-white moral universe.”

                  No, my point is that God has given a perfect moral law, and there is no need to correct any errors.

                  You mention “striving for goodness”. What is that? If there is no standard, we’re just moving along aimlessly. There can be no such thing as “better”. I understand that empirical measurements can be taken of such things as wealth, health, violent crime rates, etc., but how do you know that those measurements indicate anything one way or another? Is less violent crime better? How do you know? Maybe more violent crime would help humanity evolve into something better. You have no way to know.

                  Is more happiness better (however you would even measure that)? How do you know? You may want more happiness, but maybe that’s just selfish. What if your happiness comes at someone else’s expense? Maybe you would say that what matters is overall happiness. But that would justify Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. They were simply trying to increase overall happiness. Why is their perception of happiness wrong and yours right?

                • Kodie

                  I know if I killed all the homosexuals, there is no ultimate punishment from the cosmic universe. So you might say, why not do it???? If there’s no punishment or hell for doing whatever bad things there are, why not just do it all?

                  For the main part, I would feel that is just not the right way to treat my fellow humans. How do I know? Because I am a human, and I know what it would be like if someone like me were rounded up to be killed. I wouldn’t like it. But there’s no hell. You know what there is? There are other humans who would determine I was bad. I have to answer to (a) myself, (b) potential victims, and (c) other humans. That determines morality. Isn’t that enough for you? That should be enough for anyone. Hitler has no hell to be punished in. His name is synonymous now with hate and genocide, but this doesn’t punish the man in death. He is effectively in the clear now.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Some people believe that what Hitler did was right. Who are you to say he was wrong? Are you “god”?

                  Hitler did what he did for the betterment of mankind. Aren’t you for positive change? Why is what is what Hitler did wrong but what Martin Luther King Jr. did right? They were both trying to change the world for the better.

                  How is “bad” determined? All the atheists keep giving wishy-washy answers. It’s all about “suffering” and “feelings”. I thought atheists prided themselves on being objective and only believing empirical evidence. Instead, they are arrogant, hypocritical, and inconsistent.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  We all know that morals and ethics are hard. So we look at the world around us and go “what world do I want to live in? If I were the most disadvantaged of people, what set of ethics and values would ensure I would have at least a decent life?”. We can do empirical studies on this, and have. And yes, there are first premises that are based on gut feelings and innate empathy- the difference between you and I is that you claim Goddidit, while I know it’s a product of evolution and societal conditioning and private intellect. Morality is clearly not universal, though we can learn a lot by studying the things that are universal or nearly so.

                  Hurting people for no reason is always bad. Always. Murder, theft, and other crimes that inherently decrease social trust and social ties are always condemned. Even things like wife-beating and other domestic violence, which may be socially and/or religiously accepted, are not seen as positive character traits and are only accepted when women are seen as lesser people instead of full people. That tells us that A) people generally treat other people they recognize as people reasonably well and B) movements against bigotry will lead to a better world because people who are seen as full people are treated as full people.

                  We also know that places with strong institutions and rule of law are better places to live than chaotic places with power vacuums and strongman rule. Bureaucracy can be slow, but it also treats every claim the same, and fairness seems to be an innate part of human justice. Even little kids constantly point to “fairness” as something they really, really care about; we actually have to train them out of it by constantly telling them “life isn’t fair” in order to decrease their strong innate sense of justice. So call that objective, evolved morality in humans- Fairness isn’t a bad place to start from when building an ethical structure.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Hitler believed Jews weren’t human. Do you believe abortion is wrong because that is murder of a human? Pre-born babies are the most disadvantaged of people. What about animals? Is it okay to kill them? Why or why not?

                  Who gets to decide what “hurting people for no reason” is? You? The government? Is “majority rules” the determining factor for morality? Did homosexuality used to be wrong, but now it’s okay? Assuming homosexuality is okay now, could it be wrong in the future?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Well, you start with “people are people” and Fairness and work from there. It doesn’t matter what Hitler believed- he was wrong. Factually wrong. Just like Christianity is factually wrong, no matter what you believe.

                  I don’t believe abortion is wrong; it is justifiable homicide at worst. Stealing organs from people hurts them. As I am not obligated to donate my organs to a born person, I’m not obligated to donate them to an unborn person either. That’s not fair. (see how a fairly advanced ethical construct is developing from the basic precepts of universal humanity and fairness?)

                  As for animals, they’re clearly not people, but hurting anything for no reason is wrong. So killing animals for food isn’t wrong, but torturing them or causing them to suffer or killing them for no reason is. It’s a basic extension of fairness- it’s not fair to the animal to hurt it.

                  And so on and so forth. And yes, there are always corner cases in which basic principles fall before difficult situations, but that’s also part of what our internal intellect and empathy are for: to decide when to break the rules.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Why do you start with “people are people” and fairness. That is arbitrary. Why not start with “dark-skinned people are superior and get to make the rules for everybody else”? Why do you get to pick the starting point of morality? Are you “god”?

                  So Hitler killing people after they were born is wrong, but a woman killing a person before they are born is okay because she is not obligated to donate her organs? That’s a new one for me. She isn’t obligated to have sex either. If she doesn’t want the obligation of the baby, she shouldn’t have sex. By having sex, she has already committed her organs to someone else.

                  Why do you make a distinction between animals and humans? Are you a specist? (that’s the equivalent of racist, but for species instead of race).

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Well, I start with objectively observed reality; ie, people are people. There’s no evidence that any color of skin makes people better than any other, so why would I believe that? Fairness must be an evolved, innate ethical mandate because small children everywhere care about it and it is how they structure their world. As a universal human ethical constant, it’s up there.

                  I’m not a god. I’m just a person. That makes me the ideal subject to build a moral structure, because I have to live in the world I built. Sex and fertility can be decoupled very successfully, and remember that consent to sex is not consent to pregnancy. I also have a whole stock answer I’ve written out for people like you who think that women are actually just walking incubators, because it’s so damned common.

                  What most people forget is that we value bodily autonomy more than we value life. They are applying different standards to women and fetuses than they do to anyone else. Under no circumstances is anyone legally or morally obligated to donate blood, tissue, or organs to another person, even if that other person will die without said donation. What a fetus does is “borrow” the woman’s uterus and literally build itself out of her blood and nutrients. If a woman decides she does not wish to donate her blood, nutrients, and organ to the fetus, she can ethically remove it from her person. The fact that the fetus dies is not a killing qua killing, but rather a removal of donations the fetus was never morally entitled to.

                  Does abortion count as killing another human being? Only as much as refusing to donate a liver lobe or bone marrow counts as killing another human being. Remember that we don’t even require corpses to donate tissue, preferring to respect the once-living person’s wishes over the current needs of living (but soon dead) persons. Any philosophical position that puts women’s rights to their own bodies below corpses’ rights is, um, ethically flawed to say the least.

                  And yes, I am very much species-ist. Given the choice between saving a human and saving an animal, I will save the human. I do not wish harm on animals, mind, and I think humans have a responsibility to minimize any harm they cause to animals. That goes back to basic fairness- it’s not fair to the animal to hurt it.

                • baal

                  TIA, you’re repeating yourself. We’ve already explained both ‘godwin’, Hitler did a very big harm that out weighs any good he may have done, morality isn’t that hard to sort out from a humanist (not atheist) perspective, and that god isn’t needed for morality.

                  How about something new, insightful or actually responsive?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m repeating myself because no one has answered my questions. You say what Hitler did is wrong. How do you know that? Isn’t it possible that in the future evidence will be discovered that shows he was right? You may say that’s unlikely, but you really don’t know.

                  Also, no one has explained why “harm” or “suffering” (which are subjective, personal, and changing) are the standards for determining right and wrong. You say you don’t believe in God, but you want to be “god” and set the standards yourself. You are “The Inconsistent Atheist”.

                  I know that what he did is wrong, but it has nothing to do with “harm” or “suffering”. What he did is wrong because he broke God’s law.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Atheists want everyone to bow to their standard of morality. They use all kinds of fancy language to hide the fact that they are simply selfish and want everyone else to submit to their standard (whatever that may be).

                • tsara

                  The best evidence we have now tells us that Hitler was wrong. We can’t be absolutely sure, but we’re sure enough that the difference is only barely distinguishable with a scanning electron microscope.

                  Harm and suffering are bad, because when I’ve experienced them, I didn’t like them. The best evidence we have indicates that other people feel the same way. (And, in fact, this is built into the definition. Masochism is not an argument against this point.)

                  And you’re being annoying; I’m going to ignore you now.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Now you’re getting all scientific. But “harm” and “suffering” are subjective. They can’t be empirically measured. They can change from one moment to the next. They can change from one person, place, or time to another. You’re trying to sneak in scientific terminology because your argument is so weak.

                  So if you and other people don’t like something, that makes it bad? You believe in majority rules? If the majority believe that the existence of atheists causes harm and suffering, that means they should all be put to death, right? That’s a logical conclusion from the view of morality you have described.

                • Kodie

                  Is there a reason? Or are they just being shallow fucking shitheads like you? I mean if atheism entailed some harmful behavior like Christianity does, wouldn’t the best tool to get ourselves out of harm be education, you fool? You don’t understand anything and are arguing against a straw man.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Well, you definitely aren’t “The Friendly Atheist”.

                  Your comment is simply a string of unproven assumptions.

                • baal

                  No, Hitler is a bad person regardless of religion or not. If your god is the only thing stopping you from hurting others, then there is something wrong with you. Again, you were answered many times and seem incapable of learning.

                • Kodie

                  Suffering and feelings are wishy-washy? You portray morality not as humanitarian but to spare god’s suffering and feelings. Doesn’t sound omnipotent to me.

                  Edit: People are real and you can see the consequences. God is imaginary until proven otherwise, and any effort spent to acquiesce to his feelings and suffering is also imaginary and futile, especially when done at the expense of fellow human beings, you dick.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  What is mean by wishy-washy is that they can mean anything. One person’s “suffering” could be another person’s pleasure. Some people enjoy public speaking, others are terrified of it. Basing morality on something subjective like “suffering” is no basis at all. It ends up coming down to, “Morality is what I say it is,” either personally or collectively. That means morality changes. Not simply people’s opinions about morality, but what is actually right and wrong. By the atheist responses I have received, it could be possible in the future that Martin Luther King Jr. was wrong and Hitler was right.

                  God’s standard of morality is what is best for people. He knows, because He made us.

                • Kodie

                  God’s standard of morality is whatever people say it is. Don’t kid yourself that that never changes. And it’s ok if it changes. It’s ok if humans get a say in what’s good for us, and each generation gets more globally conscious and not remain so tribally exclusive. It’s not ok to take it on faith that what’s good for your invisible friend observably affects humanity in a negative way and call that “moral.”

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  God’s morality doesn’t change.

                  How do you know something affects humanity in a negative way? Are you “god”?

                  Someone getting their teeth drilled is “harmful” and causes “suffering”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right and good.

                • Kodie

                  Looks like you ate the straw man and are now pooping it out to invent scenarios, but let’s go ahead. I would say that it’s wrong to drill someone’s teeth without reason for doing so and especially without asking them. Why would someone have to be god to know that would be frightening and painful, among other unwanted things? Most people get their teeth drilled voluntarily on the recommendation that it will be better for them in the long run, with the goal of fixing their teeth, by people who study dentistry, and offered to be anesthetized during the procedure so it doesn’t fucking hurt.

                  Morality necessarily uses reasoning to determine the best action and the better outcome. Not everyone agrees. Why would you think it is ok to disown a gay child from your home and family, for instance? Why do you think parents own their children in the first place? If you don’t know how to fucking parent your kid, you shouldn’t be sealing them off from society. It is not your damn right to allow them to make everyone else sick – that’s negligent homicide, you asshole. It’s not your damn right to make them your property and allow them to grow up to be dumb as fuck. You believe you are the smart one here, but that’s sad for any of your children because they will be misguided. If god is consistent and god is moral, what could you possibly fear from letting their ears hear things you don’t filter out for their own damage. You have a lot of half-assed and unstudied thoughts, and you inflict these on innocent minors? You have learned to hate and fear things by not understanding them, and preach lies. Every post you wrote contains lies and if you didn’t think them up yourself, you cribbed them from another liar for Jesus. You can hitch yourself to that post if you want, but don’t pretend you have half a wit in your stone solid brain.

                  Morality comes from knowing how it feels to be in someone’s place, empathy. It’s not a list of rules to follow without question. It’s not “right” to stop at the stop sign just because it’s telling you what to do. It’s right because you understand the consequence of driving straight into traffic without looking to see if someone’s coming, and you should have figured that out without a big red sign. If you don’t think humans’ feelings matter more than god’s, sorry, but you are not moral, you’re just obedient.

                • allein

                  Or what about people whose last name starts with “S”?

                  Hey! What did I ever do to you?!

                • 3lemenope

                  You made it hard to be made possessive without a nagging discomfort that we’re all doing it wrong and cloning you instead. Such a crime can never be forgiven, and its horror will be visited upon your children and your children’s children…

                • Spuddie

                  Actually you are very much in favor of subjective morality. Much of what your religion deems immoral has little to do with morality and more to do with enforcing cultural norms?

                  Prohibitions on murder, theft and lying are universal because such behavior undermines basic interaction with others. Plus nobody wants to be a victim of such things. But religion always tries to find end runs around such things. If doing so in furtherance of faith, all is given an out. Very subjective.

                  The sexual mores, adherence to blanket authority, the arbitrary rules set up in a religion, those are not really moral codes. Their acceptance has no rational basis, and therefore have no value beyond what one feels like imputing to them.

                • Travis Myers

                  We determine mathematics too, but it’s still possible to be wrong about math. The part of mathematics that is “arbitrary”, so to speak, is the axioms on which it is built. We chose the axioms that make the most sense to us for describing things in our world. Similarly, the part of morality that is “arbitrary” (not determined by empirical evidence) are the basic things that nearly everyone values like wanting ourselves and others to be happy and free of pain. Once you accept certain basic values, you can be empirically right or wrong about whether certain actions are consistent with those values. So if you accept that the lack of suffering is something to be valued, then murder and slavery are wrong because they cause suffering. If you don’t think that we should value the lack of suffering, then you are hardly human and don’t really have any place in a conversation about morality, which is a human endeavor.

                • rx7ward

                  You are operating under the assumption that:

                  “we determine morality” = “anything goes”.

                  That’s not how it works!

                • Spuddie

                  Its funny how you claim your morality is based on religious ideas, but when explained, it hardly constitutes morality at all.

                  Acting out of fear of divine punishment or reward in the thereafter is not making a moral decision. Self-interest is not moral behavior. That is simply sociopathy being kept artificially in check.

                  Without divine retribution/rewards would you intentionally act immorally? You evidently will. Because you have no actual internal moral agency. Moral behavior is going beyond self-interest towards things like empathy and understanding of the human condition.

                  One does not require religion to define such things. In fact religion is rather poor at doing so. Tending to get mired down in calling blatant sectarianism and demographic preservation morality despite lacking any rational basis for such a definition.

                  We determine morality because we are human beings and understand and expect how we want to be treated, so we do the same in return. “The Golden Rule” is universal to all cultures and never needs religion to support it.

        • Kengi

          How obtuse can you be? We all know it is the Invisible Pink Unicorn that explains how everything works! Who needs empirical evidence when a supernatural being is around?

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            What’s the empirical evidence for logic?

            • Kengi

              You are confusing philosophy with science.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Are you saying that atheism is science?

                I’d like to see the proof of that!

            • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

              Cellphones.

            • 3lemenope

              John Locke does a triple lutz in his grave.

        • Jasper

          Did I miss the part where the supposed contradiction of atheism was revealed?… as opposed to the poor thought process of this one guy?

        • JA

          Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

          Galatians 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

          Wow, a contradiction that’s only a couple verses apart. It takes a special kind of stupid to do that.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            There are two different words for “burden”. The apostle Paul is using a play on those words to make his point.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              Please explain the play on words referencing the original Greek text.

              • 3lemenope

                Yeah, he’s actually right about this one. βάρος [baros] is the word being translated as “burden” in the first quoted passage, φορτίον [phortion] is “burden” in the second.

                They do indeed have different implications. Hence, it is not a direct contradiction, but more of an artifact of translation.

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Thank you. See, I can be convinced by evidence and reason.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Thanks. The basic idea is that we should help each other out, but we also need to be responsible for ourselves.

                • Kodie

                  Thanks. The basic idea is that we should help each other out, but we also need to be responsible for ourselves.

                  Do you really need the bible to tell you that? I guess when you think morality comes from god, you depend on the bible to tell you how to behave.

            • Reginald Selkirk

              It was a stupid point, and Paul was stupid to make it.

            • JA

              Looks like Paul used the same word in both verses. Not sure how that constitutes a play on words.

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Christianity –> provides a basis to explain how everything works

          A basis which is inconsistent with itself and with a great deal of empirical evidence.

          Atheism –> contradicts itself

          You need to show your work here.

          • RobMcCune

            He’s a presuppositionalist his work consists of demanding you make him believe, then saying “You can’t make me believe, I will defy you to the bitter end!!!”

    • Thackerie

      I guess if you believe atheists believe “everything is random,” you really have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Kengi

      The simulation, like evolution, was not random. It introduced random mutations and employed non-random selection to keep or reject those changes in future generations. It’s a pity you don’t understand the power of such a system despite the empirical evidence.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        Exactly, the simulation was not random. It was designed. Just like our universe.

        • Kengi

          The simulation was designed to emulate the natural process of evolution. There is no empirical evidence, nor need, for a creator of that natural process. If you want to introduce a creator into that process, you need to provide empirical evidence for such.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            So he created a simulation to emulate evolution and it showed that evolution happened. Isn’t that circular reasoning?

            • Jasper

              No. He simulated the mechanism, and saw that the results are consistent with what happens with nature.

              If you don’t understand the difference between process and results, it’s no wonder why you’re having difficulties here.

            • baal

              The Inconsistent Atheist, have you considered proving god by rolling a six sided die? Roll a 6 six sided die a large number of times; add up the pips and divide by the number of rolls. The number will be 3.5 or very close to it. God? I think so, else why would the average value (expected) come out to 3.5? Isn’t it amazing that each individual roll has an equal chance of being any value 1-6 (randomly!) and yet the expected value of a large number of rolls is the same, 3.5. You can’t explain that so it must be god!*

              *folks with education in math call this ‘math’, or ‘probability’.

        • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

          You failed science didnt you.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            No, did you fail logic?

            • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

              ha. this is just laughable. Anyone who thinks they can apply logic and still believe in a supreme being has no idea how to actually apply logic.

        • Jasper

          Right, so if I create a simulation that creates gods, that means God was designed. Got it.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            Great point. Anyone can create a simulation to show whatever they want it to show if they set it up a certain way.

            His simulation proves nothing.

            • Jasper

              Computer models are used every day in things like engineering bridges, airplanes, how sky scrapers respond in hurricanes or earthquakes.

              … and here’s the funny part… they work… and, well.

              No objection you’ve raised as been even remotely coherent. Computer simulations, if they’re NOT programmed to come to a pre-determined conclusion, can accurately determine reality. Additionally, just because one can simulate something that occurs in nature does not mean it’s necessarily designed.

              Your gasp of epidemiological epistemological concepts has failed in every conceivable way it could fail.

            • Reginald Selkirk

              Great point. Anyone can create a simulation to show whatever they want it to show if they set it up a certain way.

              Set up a simulation of four-sided triangles for us please.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Explaining several times, not that you don’t agree with the argument, but that you don’t even understand it, is not helping your case.

    • Cincinatheist

      The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

      You mean that logically consistent world view?

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        No, I was talking about Christianity.

        • Dad

          I’m afraid you have to leave the grown-ups’ table.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            I’ve tried having meaningful discussions with atheists. A few will engage in intelligent debate, but most resort to name calling. The evidence is all over these comments.

            Anyone who wants to explain the atheistic basis for morality or logic is welcome to do so. Otherwise, you are as I say, “The Inconsistent Atheist”.

            • Dad

              You waltz in here, asking to have a rational discussion. Rational discussion has rules. You don’t get to avoid adhering to the rules and then complain that people are not taking you seriously.

              In other words, your desire to have it both ways (i.e., pretend to be reasonable while using faith as a shield against all questions) is not anyone’s problem but yours. If you want to discuss things rationally, you have to obey the rules.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                I didn’t really expect to be given a fair shot on an atheist website. I was simply hoping to point out some of the inconsistencies in the atheistic worldview.

                BTW, how can we even have rational discussion if atheism is true? If atheism is true, there is no basis for rationality.

                • tsara

                  Here’s an essay I enjoy on the subject of truth: http://yudkowsky.net/rational/the-simple-truth

                • Dad

                  So theism is required for rationality?

                  To the kids’ table with you. Now.

                • Michael W Busch

                  To the kids’ table with you. Now.

                  Don’t insult the kids.

                • Travis Myers

                  If you believe in monotheism, then you have to believe that God is an atheist. Is God irrational? Well, actually, maybe he is, if the Bible is any indicator of his behavior.

                • Plutosdad

                  you are not trying to give or get a fair shot. you are just trolling. If you were not, you’d be at the bookstore reading up on these issues. You think you are “bringing up” or “pointing out” things. First of all you display your own ignorance, these things have been pointed out over and over, and vast amounts of philosophy devoted to them. Secondly, you don’t seem to realize many of us deconverted from Christianity, or other religions, and we spent decades reading and struggling with these issues. Do you honestly think that can be summed up in a few paragraphs? Or that a few snarky, insulting posts by you will change our minds?

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Entering a discussion with preconceived notions of your opponents’ is the surest way to fail at discussion.

            • 3lemenope

              If the only consistent feature of your many and varied attempts to communicate productively with atheists is you, perhaps the problem does not lay with atheism.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Oh snap.

            • The Goddamn Batman

              Your badly reasoned justifications lack any semblance of an intelligent debate and simply are declarations of ‘God, because.’

              Point out the ‘contradictions’ of atheism. I dare you. Do it.

              You can’t. Because it doesn’t work that way.

              “Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.”

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Atheists say they believe in logic and morality but have no consistent basis on which to do so.

                • tsara

                  Aside from the fact that logic combined with empirical evidence tends to, you know, work.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So logic works because logic works, no other justification needed? Will logic work in the future? How do you know?

                • tsara

                  1+1=2 is true because that is how we have defined the symbols.

                  A triangle has three sides because that is how we have defined the word ‘triangle’.

                  The sun has risen in the east and set in the west every day I’ve seen (all words meaning what we define them to mean). Not being an astronomer of any kind, this past evidence is the only evidence I have that this state of affairs will continue as it has. However, past behaviour is a pretty good predictor of future behaviour. Furthermore, Science.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “past behaviour is a pretty good predictor of future behaviour”

                  Are you British or Canadian?

                  God created the universe with order, so yes, we do see that. But since you don’t believe in God, you are making a huge assumption that things have always behaved (and will in the future behave) the same as what we observe.

                • tsara

                  “you are making a huge assumption that things have always behaved (and will in the future behave) the same as what we observe.”

                  Obviously. But it’s the best method we have for figuring out what’s going on. I’m perfectly comfortable operating in an uncertain universe.

                  “Are you British or Canadian?”

                  Was that about my spelling? (And I’m Canadian.)

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  How do you know that is “the best method we have for figuring out what’s going on”?

                  As the comments regarding morality show, atheism can be downright scary!

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Well, if we make predictions based on our experiments and observations, and those predictions are right, we have probably learned something about how the world works. It’s the best method we have for figuring out what’s going on because it works better than any other method yet conceived. Why does empirical evidence frighten you so much?

                  Addendum: I’m totally comfortable with the idea that what I think I know about the world might be wrong. A lot of it is pretty unlikely to be wrong- heliocentrism, germ theory of disease, evolution, anthropogenic climate change, atomic theory of matter, etc are all so backed up by observations that it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever be disproven. But a lot of other stuff? Yeah, I know that I don’t know and that we humans don’t know. I still prefer the honesty of “I don’t know” to “Goddidit”.

                • tsara

                  I find theism scary, and I see nothing in the comments that makes atheism look scary.

                  But all available evidence indicates that your morality comes from the exact same place as mine.

                  I look at the world. I see things happening. I build models of how the world works based on the things I see happening. If the things that happen after I’ve made my models confirm the predictions of my models (eg: I predict that the sky will be darker when more of the clocks in my house say 01:45 than when they say 11:35. You can assume 24 hour clocks.), I nod and go about my day. If things don’t go as predicted, I examine my models and make alterations.

                  http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Science

                  Poke around on there.

                  Empiricism, science, Bayesianism, etc. are the best methods we have for figuring out what’s going on, because the predictions they make are falsifiable, yet they most accurately predict future events. If a new system comes up that predicts future events better, I’ll switch systems.

                  EDIT: Can you give some examples of things you’ve found scary here?

                • RobMcCune

                  I think what you’re doing is called projection. You believe logic and morality are arbitrary whims of someone more powerful than you.

                • Jasper

                  I “believe in” logic, because the logical absolutes are observable in action. It’s pretty easy to observe that the apple is the apple, and the apple is not not the apple, etc.

                  As to the question as to why they exist in the first place, I’m happy to say that I don’t know, and whatever I accept for an explanation in the future, it should be sufficiently justified with evidence.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So you use logic because it works in observed cases. But that doesn’t mean it works for cases which are not empirically verifiable. You are stuck with making assumptions or using circular reasoning.

                • Michael W Busch

                  But that doesn’t mean it works for cases which are not empirically verifiable.

                  Actually, logic does work here. You make a claim about the universe (e.g. “the Catholic God exists”). Without any empirical evidence in support of a claim, we can say that it is almost certainly false. This is a probabilistic argument: there are far more false claims than true ones – infinitely more, if you allow arbitrarily detailed claims. So logic says that there is probably no god.

                  This is not circular reasoning, nor is it an assumption. It is a conclusion based on a Bayesian probability analysis, that is subject to alteration if new evidence is made available.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  How do you know Bayesian probability analysis works? You’re begging the question.

                • Michael W Busch

                  We know Bayesian probability analysis works because it is a method of reasoning that has been tested and verified repeatedly. Probabilistic reasoning is a very well-understood and tested technique.

                  Nor is this begging the question, since the validity of Bayesian analysis is not in question – you can look it up.

                  And since you continue to spout presuppositionalist nonsense without acknowledging your mistakes when they have been repeatedly explained to you, I am not inclined to respond to you further.

                • Plutosdad

                  if you’d like you can spend a decade studying Set Theory. I studied it for one year when getting my math degree, that was quite enough. But set theory may be where you want to go to discover the basis of logic.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’ve studied Set Theory. It does not provide the basis for logic. There are always assumptions/axioms.

                • tsara

                  Go read some Hume.

                • Michael W Busch

                  There are always assumptions/axioms.

                  Yes, there are. Which is why I explained above what a logical system is. A logical system is determined by the assumptions you made when you set it up. It just happens that certain logical systems are good for making models of the universe.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  But how do you know the logical system we currently have constructed is correct? Are you admitting that you don’t? That it might change in the future?

                  What about morality? Does it change? Is it possible that in the future murder and rape will be perfectly okay?

                • tsara

                  “But how do you know the logical system we currently have constructed is correct?”
                  We don’t. The system we have is excellent, but it’s a work in progress.

                  “What about morality? Does it change?”
                  Yes. Actions that are morally wrong at one point can be morally right at different points.

                  “Is it possible that in the future murder and rape will be perfectly okay?”

                  Lack of mitigating factors is built into the definition of murder. Murder will never be ‘perfectly okay’. We have different words for when killing a person is less bad than the alternative; ‘self-defense’ is one of those words.
                  Lack of consent is built into the word ‘rape’. There may be a situation in which nonconsensual sexual contact is less bad than the alternative, but none of them are very common or plausible.

                • Michael W Busch

                  The logical system is correct, by definition – it’s just a set of assumptions including rules for deriving new statements from them. The models of the universe that we have made are quite good by now, but subject to revision as we get more information. This is a feature, not a bug – a hundred years ago, medical ethics were far different than they are now, because the medics had far less knowledge and far fewer tools available.

                  What about morality? Does it change?

                  Yes. Morality is context-dependent.

                  Is it possible that in the future murder and rape will be perfectly okay?

                  All available evidence says no, and as tsara has said, that is in large part included in the meanings of the words.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  If morality changes, that means that in the future (and in the past) murder and rape might be okay, even if you believe they are not okay currently. That is exactly my point. Atheists have no basis for morality.

                  What do you mean by “all available evidence says no”? What does evidence have to do with determining if murder and rape are right or wrong?

                • Travis Myers

                  In the future, the axioms upon which we base our mathematics might change. That doesn’t mean that in the present we have no basis for believing mathematical statements. Similarly, it is “possible” that in the future our values will change so drastically that we will consider murder and rape to be okay, although in order for this to happen we would have to evolve into a species that could not be considered human in any reasonable sense of the term, so the whole concept of human morality will be null and void. In the present, though (and as far back in history as we can reach), we recognize that empathy is an important part of who we are and thus we deduce that murder and rape are wrong.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Atheists have no basis for morality.

                  As you are using the phrase, no one has a “basis for morality”.

                  Atheistic moral systems have sets of rules that we have decided are useful guidelines for assessing the value of actions. Those rules are developed based on our accumulated knowledge about people’s past actions.

                  Theistic moral systems have sets of rules too, based on the unsupported assumption of the existence of a god. The rules themselves may be good, but that’s because they are actually based on knowledge about people, not because they are divinely ordained.

                  What do you mean by “all available evidence says no”? What does evidence have to do with determining if murder and rape are right or wrong?

                  Everything. We judge the ethics of an action based on its likely outcomes. We define murder, approximately, as “willfully choosing to kill someone when there was no justifiable reason to do so” and know that it is a bad thing because the consequences of murder are bad. Likewise, people being forced to have sex is bad.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  Morality changes, if it did not slavery (as in people as property) would still be acceptable. Your argument about “murder and rape might be okay” is just stupidity as its finest. For the record, I am not calling you stupid, your argument does because you are saying, “Without god” you would be so incredibly dense, so idiotically crippled , so fantastically moronic, that you would not have sense enough to know murder and/or rape are wrong.

                • tsara

                  …um. I’d argue that slavery (in the people-as-property sense) was never morally okay, even when it was socially okay. I’d say our understanding of things was and is a work in progress.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  If you are willing to argue it, I’m willing to listen.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Of course morality changes. One day, we get the whole village together to burn us some witches and have a cookout. The next, we chase people out of the village for suggesting that burning witches is a necessary part of a cookout.

                  Anything is possible. But is it likely? It’s funny, though, that the only countries that currently countenance rape are all religiously-minded.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Logic works because we designed it to work. If the model of the universe we have constructed doesn’t work, we change it until it does.

                  Morality is a human construct. There are many different possible consistent bases for morality. This is a common and pretty good one: “people suffering is bad”.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  How do you know logic works? If you have to keep changing it, that means that it didn’t work before.

                  Who defines “people suffering”? Are all the negative comments toward me on this blog which have caused me suffering “bad”?

                  Your definition of morality means that everything is bad and nothing is bad. It is completely subjective.

                • Michael W Busch

                  How do you know logic works? If you have to keep changing it, that means that it didn’t work before.

                  We know logic works because we invented it. We design a logical system that meets particular requirements for completeness. We use that system to made a model of the universe. That model is necessarily approximate. When we find something that the model gets wrong, we fix the model. You continue to confuse formal logical systems with the models of the universe that we describe using them. They are not the same thing.

                  Your definition of morality means that everything is bad and nothing is bad. It is completely subjective.

                  The first part is wrong. The second part is technically correct, but misleading.

                  For example: You may find it uncomfortable to have people explain to you that and why you are wrong. That is your subjective experience, but still counts as suffering. But it is far more important that people have an accurate understanding of the universe than the momentary discomfort they get from being told they are wrong, because lack of accurate knowledge leads to far more serious problems.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Sorry for the misunderstanding. When I mentioned logic, I wasn’t referring to a model of the universe. I was referring to logic as used in argumentation and debate.

                  For example, how do you know that “God exists” and “God does not exist” are not both true?

                  I really don’t mind people telling me I am wrong. But the issue is, how do you know what is more important? You seem to think an accurate understanding of the universe is more important. Someone else may think differently. Who decides who is right?

                  If “what causes suffering = bad”, that opens up a whole can of worms that I don’t think you’re prepared to deal with.

                • Michael W Busch

                  I was referring to logic as used in argumentation and debate.

                  Then you refer to the logical system. And in the usual logical systems we have designed, the statements A and NOT A cannot simultaneously be true – by definition.

                  You seem to think an accurate understanding of the universe is more important. Someone else may think differently. Who decides who is right?

                  The universe does. If people don’t understand the universe, then there are negative consequences. In the worst cases, lack of understanding leads to people dying (e.g. if you have a Y. pestis infection and pray to be healed rather than taking your antibiotics, you will not have a good outcome).

                  If “what causes suffering = bad”, that opens up a whole can of worms that I don’t think you’re prepared to deal with.

                  Whether you or I are “prepared to deal with” ethical conflicts is irrelevant. We get to deal with them anyway.

            • Reginald Selkirk

              Anyone who wants to explain the atheistic basis for morality or logic is
              welcome to do so. Otherwise, you are as I say, “The Inconsistent
              Atheist”.

              Please explain the theistic basis for morality. Please keep in mind the Euthyphro dilemma and the “is vs. ought” distinction.

              • Jasper

                Pfffft… you think he knows either of those things?

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dichotomy. Morality is determined by the character of God.

                • tsara

                  “Morality is determined by the character of God.”
                  This looks like word salad to me. What does it mean?

                • RobMcCune

                  It means morality is determined by God, just not in the way commonly meant. Still has the same problem though.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Of course morality is determined by God. There isn’t any dilemma.

                • RobMcCune

                  And what makes God’s character moral?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  God’s character is moral because He is God.

                  Someone may choose to believe in an immoral “god”, but I wouldn’t.

                • tsara

                  So… What makes you think that the God that actually exists (assuming there is one) is the one that you believe in, with the nice morality?

                • Michael W Busch

                  No, morality is not “determined by God”. That would require evidence of a god’s existence to be a true statement.

                • islandbrewer

                  Morality is determined by leprechauns. Now, prove me wrong, Inconsistent Atheist.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Please tell me more about these leprechauns.

                • islandbrewer

                  These leprechauns determine morality, it says so in this holy bible I just scribbled on some goatskin. According to them, using specious arguments and not responding to responses to any idiotic arguments you make is considered a sin, as is using the word “inconsistent” without knowing what it actually means.

                  So, are you going to apologize and admit the leprechauns are the source of all morality, or are you going to be … what’s that word when you accept a rationale in one instance and totally disregard it in the next?

                • islandbrewer

                  Oh yeah, a christian troll!

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Things are not right or wrong because God says so. Things are right or wrong because of who God is. He graciously tells us so that we can know right and wrong.

                • Dad

                  You were raised in a Christian context. You are now working your tail off to fit everything into it. You’re twisting yourself into semantic knots.

                  I know you think you’re on to something, but if it were all so obvious, wouldn’t someone far smarter or eloquent, like Origen or Augustine or Aquinas, have proven it by now?

                • tsara

                  I thought that we were supposed to only know the difference because of the serpent and that God wasn’t really happy about the whole thing.

                  But anyway, that’s a definite argument from authority.

                • RobMcCune

                  Of course this still has the same problem, namely any character whatsoever could be moral, so long as it’s God’s character. Furthermore you’re now arguing that God has no agency in determining morality, he’s merely the product of his character.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Any character whatsoever could NOT be moral, but God’s character is unchanging.

                  I agree that God cannot “choose” morality. He couldn’t, for example, decide that rape is okay.

                • RobMcCune

                  But, if that were consistent with his character it would be.

                • tsara

                  “Any character whatsoever could NOT be moral, but God’s character is unchanging.”
                  …I don’t see any connection between those sentences.

                  “I agree that God cannot “choose” morality. He couldn’t, for example, decide that rape is okay.”

                  …then what kind of an omnipotent being is he?

                • WallofSleep

                  “He couldn’t, for example, decide that rape is okay.”

                  Oh, that’s fuckin’ hilarious.

                  http://www.evilbible.com/Rape.htm

                • Carol Lynn

                  But, but …. god does say rape is OK. At best it’s a property crime forgivable with a fine if it’s inside the group of believers. Otherwise, he commands his victorious warriors to go out and indiscriminately rape the remaining girls after they’ve killed everyone else. Or are you really so deluded that you think the injunction to “take the virgin girls as wives” means they were willing and eager to have hott sex with the guy who just burned their towns, dragged them off into slavery, and slew all their kin? The God you adore thinks rape is not just OK, but a dandy and appropriate reward for his followers. Judges 21:10-24, Numbers 31:7-18, Deuteronomy 20:10-14, Deuteronomy 21:10-14….

                  Oh, and feel free to sell your daughter as sex slave – I’m sure you’d never consider that rape, either. After all if she does not please her new master, she can’t be sold to a foreigner, so that must make it all OK. Exodus 21:7-11

                • Travis Myers

                  That is precisely the Euthyphro dilemma. If you say that Morality is determined by the character of God, then you’re stuck in the position of saying that if God’s character were such that he thought rape is okay, then rape would be okay. You are saying that there is no reason to not rape someone except that it goes against the character of God. And if you’re not saying that, then you agree that it’s possible to provide reasons to behave morally without bringing God into the picture.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  God’s character is not such that rape is okay.

                  Consistent atheists argue that rape is okay for that very reason. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Natural_History_of_Rape

                • tsara

                  Rape is not okay, because rape hurts people. A thing being ‘natural’ does not make that thing good*.

                  *unless you’re Catholic.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So things are “not okay” because they “hurt people”? How are those terms defined? Who decides?

                  If an atheist commenter hurts my feelings, does that mean what they did is not okay?

                • tsara

                  “So things are “not okay” because they “hurt people”?”
                  Yup. See here: http://xkcd.com/1216/

                  “How are those terms defined? Who decides?”
                  Things are a bit fluid, in my world. In my world, I decide (based on a combination of observational evidence from my own eyes, ideas I’ve absorbed and read, and similar things). In your world, you decide. Collectively, we all decide.

                  “If an atheist commenter hurts my feelings, does that mean what they did is not okay?”
                  Depends. I like to use the ‘reasonable person’ standard.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So if “we all decide” that killing all the homosexuals is right, that makes it right?

                  Who gets to decide who the ‘reasonable person’ is? Are you reasonable? George W. Bush? Obama? Hitler?

                  What about the legalization of marijuana? There are “reasonable” people on both sides of the debate. Who gets the final say? Is it simply majority vote? Could it change in the future?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  There are, of course, two sides to morality/ethics. One should strive not to cause suffering to others, but one should also strive not to take harm where none is offered nor intended.

                  EDIT: Dammit Tsara, why must you put things so much more elegantly than I?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I agree. That’s what the Bible says.

                  But so far no atheist has been able to explain why if atheism is true.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  The Bible says to do what God tells you to, no matter how awful it might be. That’s not morality, that’s blind obedience. Hitler would approve (Godwin only because TIA started it).

                • trj

                  Like Feminerd says there’s only one unbreakable command in the Bible: do what God tells you to do, or else! Every other command is subject to this and therefore disposable.

                  You love to claim the Bible provides absolute moral laws. However, at a single word from God every one of these moral laws are out the window. Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t rape, don’t abort. Sure thing – except when God tells you otherwise. When God gets his murder rage on you better be prepared to murder your own children, murder your neighbors and steal their land and take their women by force, rip open women with child, eradicate entire peoples – in fact God will get positively angry and punish you if you fail to be sufficiently murderous.

                  Your “absolute moral foundation” can be changed from one instant to the next by the whim of God – and has been, many, many times, according to the Bible. Ironic, isn’t it?

                • Travis Myers

                  If a commenter wrote something solely for the purpose of hurting your feelings, that would not be right. But the truth is so important and does so much more good than harm that it is wise for people to let others express their sincere arguments and opinions without being offended.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Okay, so if someone raped or murdered someone else and it did more good than harm (whatever that means), that would make it right?

                • Dad

                  No we don’t, liar.

                  Go fuck yourself.

                • tsara

                  Also, I have to side with Susan Brownmiller on this one (by which I mean, I don’t think the evidence supports the hypothesis that rape is primarily sexually motivated).

                • Michael W Busch

                  God’s character is not such that rape is okay.

                  The Bible disagrees with you ( http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/dt/22.html#28 ).

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  What are you referring to?

                  I know the Bible records instances of rape, but that does not mean it is okay any more than the New York Times recording instances of murder means they think murder is okay.

                • Michael W Busch

                  The Bible says that the victim of rape should be forced to marry her rapist. That’s not “recording an instance of rape”. That’s punishing victims.

                  See also Numbers 31, where the Israelites are given specific instructions by God about which people they are to kill and which people they are to keep prisoner and rape.

                • WallofSleep
            • TiltedHorizon

              “atheistic basis for morality”
              It is very similar to theist morality, except it is grounded in accountability and not motivated by a promise of an afterlife reward or penalty.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                All you’re saying is that atheists stole Christian morality and left out the parts they don’t like.

                But what is it based on? How is right and wrong determined in the atheistic worldview?

                • Dad

                  Empathy. We’re all born with it. We should cultivate it.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Says who? Not to beat a dead horse, but what about Hitler?
                  Maybe Hitler was right and killing off certain groups of people would help evolution along. I don’t believe that or advocate that, but you haven’t provided an atheistic explanation to refute it.

                  How do you know empathy is a good thing? I am supposed to just take your word for it? Atheists say they just want to be left alone, but they always seem to want to boss everyone else around and tell them what’s right and wrong.

                • Dad

                  You *need* there to be a cosmic rule book. I agree, to some small extent, it would be comforting.

                  But there is simply no evidence such a rule book exists. So, yes, *we*, as people, make the rules. It’s scary, but it’s true. And we can decide what is good. Empathy is a natural characteristic born in us all, and is so ubiquitous that its rare total absence is terrifying (see: Hitler, sociopaths, etc.).

                  So there is no god/gods. It’s up to us to determine good. Are you up for the task?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  The Bible is the “rule book” to which you refer.

                  If you believe we can decide what is good, that means that Hitler might have been right. Are you willing to admit that?

                • tsara

                  Can you tell me exactly what you’re referring to? Is this a factual or a moral right/wrong thing? Once you clear that up, I can give you an answer.

                • Travis Myers

                  Hitler doesn’t decide what is good; we do. “We” means all rational people with a basic sense of empathy. Hitler “might” have been right that killing six million Jews is the best way to maximize happiness and minimize suffering, but somehow I doubt that.

                • Dad

                  There is no evidence of any cosmic, divine opposition to Hitler. Clearly, some people thought (and still do think) he was ‘right’. Moral people think he was wrong because we have a sense of empathy. And we would stop him because we have a sense of justice.

                  But if the world disappeared tomorrow, if higher life disappeared tomorrow, empathy and justice would disappear as well. Because we’ve made those ideas.

                  Again, its up to us. Its scary, but its still real. Are you up to it?

                • tsara

                  And the Catholic church didn’t even excommunicate him.

                  EDIT: By ‘him’ I mean Hitler.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Right, shame on them.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  If you believe your bible, then only God can decide what is good. The bible says that you are to “judge not” and that god is the only judge. Hitler thought he was doing god’s will, so if a god exists, it’s possible that Hitler was correct. You don’t get to decide. Are you willing to admit that?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  God’s Word (the Bible) says that what Hitler did is wrong. “You shall not murder.”

                • tsara

                  But if you rape a virgin, just pay her father fifty shekels and we’re all good.

                • islandbrewer

                  Depends on whether (1) she screamed and (2) whether anyone heard her. Oh, and the rapist gets to marry her.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  The modern view is to kill the innocent baby that is the product of rape. Brilliant!

                • Michael W Busch

                  No. There is no “killing the innocent baby”. There is emergency contraception by preference and termination of a small clump of cells called a zygote in a certain number of cases by necessity.

                  There is also trying to prevent future rapes, which includes identifying, prosecuting, and sentencing rapists.

                • Mogg

                  The Biblical view was to induce abortion at the behest of a suspicious husband and carried out by the priests, and punish the woman with a “miscarrying womb” for the rest of her life – in other words, induced abortion both for a current pregnancy and for all future pregnancies, in a time where the worth and future security of a woman was bound up in whether or not she could produce sons. Nice.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  That Bible passage has nothing to do with rape. It has to do with a woman falsely claiming to be a virgin when she wasn’t. You may not consider that a big deal, but many people do, both then and now.

                • Mogg

                  Somewhat correct – it didn’t matter what the circumstances of the woman were, all it needed was her husband’s suspicion. She may have been entirely innocent, she may have been raped, and been trying to avoid the stigma of being quite literally damaged goods and thereby having no future. There is no exception given, and no such expectation is on the man. And just in case you’re interested, I do not think it a big deal that a woman (or man) is not a virgin when (or if) she gets married, I think lying about it is unethical but the level varies depending on circumstance, and I think it utterly deplorable that even today there are people who consider virginity so important that lying about it would be thought necessary. I could certainly see why it might be the case under the OT law, given how severe the penalty was for women – but not men.

                • trj

                  That Bible passage has nothing to do with rape. It has to do with a woman falsely claiming to be a virgin when she wasn’t.

                  Incorrect on both counts. It has nothing to do with rape or virginity. It has to do with the husband suspecting his wife of infidelity. In case the woman was innocent the test (in the form of drinking dirty water) would supposedly have no effect on her. But if not, it would cause her belly to rot, her womb to swell and discharge, and she’d become barren.

                  So in other words, if she happened to be pregnant as a result of her infidelity then the fetus would be aborted.

                  It seems God has little compunction about abortion or punishing the innocent.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Not true. That is not what the Bible says.

                • tsara

                  Also, the Crusades? The Inquisition? Executing criminals?

                  EDIT:
                  Stonings are a good Christian pastime, I think. Is that not murder?

                  And how do you know that the Bible is actually God’s Word?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m not defending the Crusades or the Inquisition. Are you defending Stalin and Mao Zedong?

                  Yes, the Bible clarifies circumstances in which a person can be rightfully put to death (ie. a murderer can be put to death).

                • tsara

                  They were terrible things done in the name of the Christian God, and explicitly condoned by those who claimed to know the most about the will of said God. The atheism of the Russian revolution (and the French revolution) (not so sure about Mao) was partly a reaction against the divine sanction the rulers against which they were rebelling claimed (i.e., politics) and partly for more ideological reasons.

                  At any rate, I’m not the one claiming that I have a line to the Supreme Arbiter of Good And Evil.

                  “Yes, the Bible clarifies circumstances in which a person can be rightfully put to death (ie. a murderer can be put to death).”

                  And this doesn’t strike you as a direct contradiction to the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill? If God is so perfect, why do the rules he carved into stone have so many addenda?

                  (And I saw your response to TiltedHorizon:
                  “Some of those aren’t correct. Actually, they’re mostly incorrect. The Bible clarifies various cases in which a person can be put to death in order to provide justice.

                  All you’re really pointing out is that you don’t agree with God. That’s exactly what the Bible says. You are a sinner.”

                  1. I don’t find the concept of ‘justice’ to be a particularly useful one.
                  2. Can you clarify that second paragraph? What is exactly what the Bible says? And what does sin have to do with it?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  God had earlier told Noah of the requirement to put a murderer to death. Because man is created in the image of God, human life is something precious (animals are to be treated well also, but they are not in the same category as humans). Modern man who has rejected God is flippant about the value of life, leading to war, abortion, mass shootings, etc.

                  By my second paragraph, I was pointing out that disagreeing with God is rebellion/sin, and the Bible says we are all sinners. The fact that “TiltedHorizon” disagrees with the standard of morality God has set is simply an indication that he is a sinner. To say that his standard of morality is better than God’s is laughable.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “You shall not murder.” – Unless it is approved by god. Just for the record here is a short list of “approved” murder.

                  Kill People Who Don’t Listen to Priests
                  Kill Witches
                  Kill Homosexuals
                  Kill Fortunetellers
                  Kill children who Hit their father
                  Kill children who curse their Parents
                  Kill Adultery
                  Kill Fornicators
                  Kill Nonbelievers
                  Kill False Prophets
                  Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night
                  Kill Followers of Other Religions.
                  Kill Blasphemers
                  Kill Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle
                  Kill People for Working on the Sabbath
                  Kill Brats
                  Kill the Curious
                  Kill Sons of Sinners

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Some of those aren’t correct. Actually, they’re mostly incorrect. The Bible clarifies various cases in which a person can be put to death in order to provide justice.

                  All you’re really pointing out is that you don’t agree with God. That’s exactly what the Bible says. You are a sinner.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  I suggest you remove your bible from nightstand and read it. That IS what the bible says.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’ve read through the entire Bible a number of times. I’m aware of what it says.

                  The Bible does not say:
                  “Kill Brats”
                  “Kills the Curious”
                  etc.
                  Your list is an oversimplification.

                  I understand that you do not like some of the sins and punishments listed in the Bible. But you are not God, say you don’t get to decide.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  It is not an “oversimplification”, it’s a summary. But if you insist:

                  “Kill Brats” = 2 Kings 2:23-24 (KJV)

                  “23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

                  24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

                  Spare me the explanation that god punished these children for wishing harm on his messenger. As 2 Kings 24 shows, the she bears came after the curse, hence the 42 little children were “killed” not for there action but because the messenger called for it. i.e. Kill brats

                  “Kills the Curious” = 1 Samuel 6:19 (KJV)

                  “19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.”

                  In context smote means killed. God killed “fifty” thousand + threescore (60) + ten men. Which in context means 57 thousand for having “looked” into the ark. i.e. kill the curious.

                  If a human had these kills associated with them no one would have a problem calling it savage, barbaric, disgusting, or just plain evil. But if you add a pinch of the supernatural it is all justifiable and worthy of worship. Jesus was right, you are a sheep.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Who said God punished those children for wishing harm on his messenger? The Bible doesn’t say that. It just says that some bears killed some kids. End of story.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “Who said God punished those children for wishing harm on his messenger?”

                  For starters? (I have too many to list)

                  Here: “In light of the historical context, GOD’s JUDGEMENT upon these young men was very fair.”

                  Taken from:
                  http://ronyan.org/aaronk1994/aaronsblog/20100717is-2-kings-223-24-immoral/

                  Here:”Given the challenge of the youths, their intimidating number which could constitute a mob, their veiled threat, the contemptuous attitude, and the fact that Elisha was the prophet of God, THE LORD allowed the youths to be destroyed.”

                  Taken from:
                  http://carm.org/why-did-god-kill-42-lads-merely-saying-elisha-was-bald

                  Here: “This story probably was told to warn children of the importance of respect for prophets.”

                  Taken from:
                  http://www.usccb.org/bible/2kings/2/

                  Here: “Had the curse come from any bad principle GOD WOULD NOT HAVE SAID AMEN TO IT.”

                  Taken from:
                  http://apatheticagnostic.org/articles/meds/med14/med277a.html

                  Perhaps a name change to “The Inconsistent Theist” is required. Oh what will the next rebuttal be? “They misinterpreted scripture” Baaaaaaaah.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Those are all from the Bible. Do you not know that?

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Murder is killing without cause. If that’s your basis for morality, then what Hitler did was perfectly justifiable in his mind since he believed he had cause.

                  Luther, too, the great reformer, was not exactly one to hold off on bloodshed. Hitler was nothing more than the ultimate conclusion of 1700 of Christian European thought.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  Then why was it OK that Joshua and Gideon and all those others murdered so many people in the OT? Oh right, because god ordered it. How can you tell who has orders from god and who doesn’t? W. thought he had orders from god to invade Iraq. Hitler thought he was doing god’s will. Andrea Yates thought she was obeying god when she murdered her five children. If you think god actually tells people to do things, then how can you know that god wasn’t talking to them?

                • The Other Weirdo

                  What about Hitler? Even if we were to grant that he was an atheist–a claim I do not support–he was surrounded by tens of millions of faithful Christians who–must it be said?–did not have to try and exterminate entire groupings of humanity. Where was their God-granted morality that was so far superior to anything atheists might come up with?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I never claimed Hitler was an atheist. That is irrelevant to the point I was making.

                  As for the Christians in Germany at that time, they are rightly condemned for their complicity in what took place (although there were many exceptions). The Bible condemns them. Atheism cannot.

                • Mogg

                  Atheism can’t condemn anything, strictly speaking, but an atheistic morality which can is perfectly capable of doing so, and does all the time. Amazingly, atheism doesn’t necessarily *have* to say anything about morality. Who says it should? It only says something about whether or not it is reasonable to believe in a god or gods.

                  Incidentally, you do realise that most of what we think of as “Christian” morality is far older than Christianity?

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “All you’re saying is that atheists stole Christian morality and left out the parts they don’t like.”

                  First off. Christianity is Judaism 2.0, which came from Paganism 1.0, which in turn came from something before that and something before that, etc ad nauseum. The DNA of your Christian “morality” exists in code of hammurabi which is argued to predate the bible. It would seem your “morality”, much like your argument and your faith, is just another in a long line of recycled “Truths” looking for purchase.

                  Secondly, atheism is not a philosophy. There is no “atheistic worldview”. Morality is a social evolutionary byproduct of living in a society.

                  So how is right & wrong determined in your faith? (Bible?)

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Your view of history is incorrect.

                  If there is no “atheistic worldview”, then do you believe it is possible to be an atheist and also believe that morality comes from God (which is what many people believe about morality)? Atheism has necessary implications in areas other than simply the existence of God. If you are denying a “god” that doesn’t have any implications for anything, I agree with you. But denying the existence of the true God is indeed a worldview, because it affects your whole view of reality.

                • TiltedHorizon

                  “But denying the existence of the true God is indeed a worldview, because it affects your whole view of reality.”

                  I was a practicing Catholic for about 20 years. As a Catholic I accepted evolution as a fact, it was the mechanics by which god created life. The sun came up every morning, the moon every evening. The world turned, seasons changed, and ‘reality’ was great.

                  I’ve been without god about 20 years now. I still accept evolution as a fact, it is the mechanics by which life advances. The sun still comes up every morning and the moon still comes every evening. The world still turns, seasons still change, and “reality”, which is still as real as it ever was, is still great.

                  My “reality” is unaffected.

                • Theory_of_I

                  >You: claim:

                  >”All you’re saying is that atheists stole Christian morality and left out the parts they don’t like.”

                  No, you don’t get to assert that lie here. Christians do not own the patent on morality. In fact, history is rife with examples demonstrating that Christians have committed some of the most vile and inhumane atrocities ever recorded — which they claim were justified by what they believed and still believe.

                  If and when you own up to that fact, we can talk of morality. Until then, you are disqualified.

                • tsara

                  I predict a No True Scotsman.

                • Theory_of_I

                  Yeah, no doubt 700 years of historical horrors will be instantly redacted with that ridiculous but typical dodge.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Let’s talk Stalin and Mao.

                • Theory_of_I

                  >”Let’s talk Stalin and Mao.”

                  OK. Your attempt to conflate the inhumanity of Stalin, Mao and other malicious pigs with the atrocities committed by Christians is nothing but 1) fabricated propaganda invented and used by the industry of Christianity in an effort to falsely implicate and associate non-belief with immoral acts, and 2) to distract and divert attention from the responsibility Christians directly bear for the centuries of murder, torture and inhumane treatment of millions of innocent victims. Responsibility they still refuse to acknowledge and accept.

                  Stalin, et al. were the products of power mad, politically motivated personality cults, but none ever commited their crimes against humanity in the name of non-belief in some god. If they attacked religion, it was the industry of religion that represented an obstacle to their gaining and securing political power that served as motivation, not the beliefs of individuals.

                  The 700 years of horrendous brutality and persecution, ordered, supervised, aided, encouraged and condoned by more than 20 generations of the highest levels of Christian leadership are the very examples that Stalin, Mao and others learned from.

                  That is your Christian heritage and your legacy, and the only reason Christianity does not continue their despicable practices now is because secular law has relegated religion to it’s proper status with no political or legal standing. The separation of church and state is there to prevent anyone from being burned at the stake ever again.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I predict a No True Atheist.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I won’t deny that Christians have done horrible things. So have atheists. That just confirms what the Bible says. We are all sinners who need to be saved. God has graciously provided salvation in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you receive Him?

                • Theory_of_I

                  >”I won’t deny that Christians have done horrible things. So have atheists.”

                  Yes, we as a species of animals, as ordinary humans and as individuals do many undesirable and disagreeable things to each other and to the planet, but only people who believe in an invisible god and hold a superstitious worldview, such as Christians, do a variety of undesirable things BECAUSE of those beliefs. Atheists cannot claim god made them do anything!

                  >”That just confirms what the Bible says.”

                  If you mean that for those who believe it, the bible gives unreasoned and illegitimate license to commit unacceptable acts, I agree! But I think educated 21st century humans are foolish if they choose to follow the barbaric ramblings of a tribe of largely unknowing and intensely superstitious people who lived thousands of years ago.

                  >”We are all sinners who need to be saved.”

                  Speak for yourself! Who gave you permission to include me or anyone else in your phantasm?

                  >”God has graciously provided salvation in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you receive Him?”

                  Nope, sorry, I don’t do goofy superstitious crap.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  By humans. Because that’s the only possible source. We create rules for living together in communities, try them out, and keep the ones that work the best.

                  Your rules came from the same place, except that you are using a set people made up a long time ago, and wrote down, claiming they were from god. Now you are stuck on that outdated set of rules, and can’t change your position on them, even when we have developed new rules that work better than the old ones.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  What do you mean “better”? What is the standard you are comparing the “new rules” to? How do you know the new rules are not worse?

                  Are you saying that in the future maybe we’ll discover that killing off all the homosexuals is better? You have no basis on which to say that couldn’t be better.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  We currently do not think that killing witches is a good thing. Centuries ago, Christian Europe went on an orgy of witch-hunting, torturing and killing. Homosexuals, too, were not exactly treated with kid gloves back in the day when Church-derived morality held sway. So what’s your point, really? That as time goes on, our morality improves as we leave the church behind?

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  My basis is empathy, compassion, and the wish for my descendants and those of my loved ones to be able to live in a world where they will be able to prosper and thrive. And since I don’t know what social situation those descendants will find themselves in, I want fair treatment and justice for everybody, as far as is possible. In other words, Humanism.

                  Your standard is a bunch of arbitrary rules set thousands of years ago by a small patriarchal tribe of mideastern bronze-age goatherders who thought it was OK to stone people for picking up sticks on the wrong day (Num 15:32-35). Who destroyed cities and claimed it was on the orders of a god, who owned slaves, beat their children and treated women as property. And if you don’t see our modern rules as being “better” than that, then I hope you never run for office.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So what you’re saying is that you’re really just selfish. You just want your descendants and loved ones to prosper and thrive. How noble of you!

                  How do you know what conditions will allow them to prosper and thrive? How do you know what “fair treatment” and “justice” are? Do you define them yourself? Why should anyone care what you want? Are you “god”?

                  Misrepresenting the Bible doesn’t help your case.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  And you are following your religious idea of “morality” because? Usually the Xian answer has something to do with hope of heaven or desire to avoid hell. Or at least the desire to “get in good” with god by being obedient. How is this not also selfish? At least my standards are based on the welfare of people other than just myself.

                  All of the things I mentioned are actually in your bible, I haven’t misrepresented anything. (I’ve read the bible twice in two different translations. It’s all in there, and worse.) If you think that those parts don’t count, and only the parts that you think are “nice” or “relevant” count, then what “objective standard” do you use to sort that out? Almost any moral standard can be justified using some bible verse or other, so how can you work out which ones are to be followed?

                  Unless you’re still in favor of stoning adulterers, or selling your daughters, or allowing a king to have 700 wives (and 300 concubines!) you are cherry-picking rules from your book. And doing that is relying on the human mind to figure out what rules to follow. If you can do that, why do you need an ancient rulebook?

                • Mogg

                  Using that standard of selfishness, the Christian god is supremely selfish. He did everything, including non-permanent death, to present himself with a “bride” made up of people who have totally accepted him as complete lord and master of their lives. Ubi Dubium’s plan seems much less selfish in comparison.

                  And in any case, why is selfishness which incorporates the well-being of those around us such a mysterious and abhorrent concept to you? It is essentially how our morality works, biologically and psychologically.

                • Michael W Busch

                  All you’re saying is that atheists stole Christian morality and left out the parts they don’t like.

                  No. The causality goes the other way around: moral systems existed long before Christianity, and so did atheists.

                  How is right and wrong determined n the atheistic worldview?

                  By assigning value to the welfare of all people and by using past experience to assess the likely outcomes of actions. The basic principal is not that complicated.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “No. The causality goes the other way around: moral systems existed long before Christianity, and so did atheists.”

                  Yes, moral system existed eternally in the character of God. All morality comes from Him.

                  “By assigning value to the welfare of all people and by using past experience to assess the likely outcomes of actions. The basic principal is not that complicated.”

                  That view of morality is completely subjective. You’re just making it up as you go along. Who assigns the values? If they decide that killing off all the atheists would be best, you’re saying that would make it right?

            • Michael W Busch

              Anyone who wants to explain the atheistic basis for morality or logic is welcome to do so.

              You do not appear to understand what the words “logic” and “morality” mean.

              “Logic” has no “atheistic basis” and no “theistic basis”. Logical systems are simply a set of premises, including rules for deriving new true statements from the premises. It happens that certain logical systems are convenient for constructing models of the universe. But logic is a human construct – it has no independent existence.

              “Morality” describes a variety of systems humans have designed for assessing the value of actions. Atheistic moral systems are often based on the likely consequences of an action. Again, morality is a human construct – a set of rules/guidelines we make to guide our future actions, based on our past experience.

            • WallofSleep
        • Art_Vandelay

          Is that the one where the designer fucked up his creation so badly that he was forced to drown all of them only to have them repopulate the world again through crazy amounts of incest and then he decided to forgive them for the way he created them because the drowning didn’t work and the way to do that was to send a human manifestation of himself to a remote desert in stone age Palestine so that he could sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself in order so that he could forgive them?

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            No, that’s not it either.

            BTW, thanks for showing your true colors. There is no such thing as “The Friendly Atheist”. Hemant Mehta certainly isn’t. He just can’t mind his own business. He keeps telling other people how they should think and live. I’d hate to be his neighbor.

            The rest of the commenters on this site aren’t any better. They are “The Inconsistent Atheists”.

            • griffox

              Your actions have been completely consistent with Christian apologists trolling Atheist blogs, so I guess that’s fair.

            • Willy Occam

              ***Troll alert***

              • Jasper

                Yeah, I was about to say. He’s coming across as a person who’s just spouting off the most idiotic things he can think of, off the top of his head.

                • Willy Occam

                  And as a person who loves a good discussion/argument with an intelligent person who disagrees with me, I find idiots like this guy very trying on my patience. Unlike “Inconsistent Atheist,” I believe most of us on this forum would change our opinions in a heartbeat if we were presented with compelling arguments to the contrary; but when everything comes down to “the Bible says so,” that’s the end of that conversation, as far as I’m concerned.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I enjoy a good discussion as well. I’ve even put up with a lot of “the scientist says so”. I have been able to have meaningful discussions in the past (see http://dvdbach.blogspot.com/2013/02/morality-recap.html and http://dvdbach.blogspot.com/2013/02/morality-update.html).

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Yep, he’s responding to rebuttals by repeating himself and making random insults. Might as well just report for trolling so the little angrums can get his persecution chubby going.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              LOL. People are always telling me how I should live and what I should think. It’s only when they pass laws that limit my freedom when that’s a problem.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              And again, when presented with evidence that refutes you, you ignore it and just act pissy about people being irreverent. So much for your search for truth, Liar for Jesus.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                No evidence has been presented which refutes me.

                I never said I was searching for truth. I’ve already found it.

                • tsara

                  But how do you know you’ve found the truth? Christianity is subject to the same limitations as every other system.

                  (I’m reeeeeally bored right now.)

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Not true. Christianity has an infinite God.

                • tsara

                  But how do you know that?

                  EDIT: Also, I meant Christianity as a system for understanding the world. God is not directly part of Christianity. God (and Jesus, I guess) is the thing that Christianity is trying to understand, not Christianity itself.

                • Dad

                  He doesn’t. He was told it as a child, and now he can’t let go of it or his whole world will come crashing down.

                • tsara

                  That is the impression I’m getting, but I was trying to give hir the benefit of the doubt. Also, I’m bored and epistemology is fun.

                • Dad

                  He’s no troll, I’ll give him that. He really believes this stuff. And he’s desperate for it to be true.

                  All the twists and turns and supposed interest in logic makes me think he’s a Catholic. Catholics LOVE reasoning from a starting point in fantasy land.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  Some of what he’s said has been straight from the “Creation Museum” displays. So I’m guessing he’s more likely a Ken Ham follower (Hamist?) than a Catholic.

                • Willy Occam

                  I agree, Ubi. I don’t think he’s a Catholic either. In my experience (as a former Catholic), there are relatively few who will demonstrate the degree of mental gymnastics as IA has throughout this thread in order to maintain their worldview. Plus he has made a few comments that seem critical of the RCC. I’d agree that a Ken Hamm fundie is closer to the mark.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m not defending the Roman Catholic Church or Ken Ham.

                  I’m only defending the true and living God and His Word.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Why does the True and Living God™ and His Word™ need defending?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  He doesn’t. He laughs at foolish atheists.

                  I was simply saying that I am not defending any religious system outside of the Bible itself. Where the Roman Catholic Church, Ken Ham, or anyone else differs from the Bible, I’m going with the Bible. That even applies to myself. If I say something that doesn’t agree with the Bible, I’m willing to be corrected (by the Bible).

                • dorcheat

                  Ad hominen attack on atheists calling them foolish. Also since when does your chosen deity “laugh”. Produce credible evidence for this laughter.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Calling atheists foolish was not an attack or argument. It was simply a factual declaration.

                  As for God laughing, that’s in Psalm 2:4

                  Psalm 2
                  1Why do the nations rage,
                  And the people plot a vain thing?
                  2The kings of the earth set themselves,
                  And the rulers take counsel together,
                  Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
                  3“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
                  And cast away Their cords from us.”
                  4He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
                  The Lord shall hold them in derision.
                  5Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
                  And distress them in His deep displeasure:
                  6“Yet I have set My King
                  On My holy hill of Zion.”
                  7“I will declare the decree:
                  The Lord has said to Me,
                  ‘You are My Son,
                  Today I have begotten You.
                  8Ask of Me, and I will give You
                  The nations for Your inheritance,
                  And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
                  9You shall break them with a rod of iron;
                  You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
                  10Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
                  Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
                  11Serve the Lord with fear,
                  And rejoice with trembling.
                  12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
                  And you perish in the way,
                  When His wrath is kindled but a little.
                  Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

                • Kodie

                  simply a factual declaration.

                  The bible is not a source of fact, and you are not a source of fact, and you quoting the bible is not a source of fact.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  How do you know?

                • Kodie

                  I think you were asked for evidence to support your assertions and you quoted the bible again, saying it was not an attack but a factual declaration. Just because it’s written in the bible doesn’t mean it’s factual and it also doesn’t mean it’s not an attack. Mostly it’s a technique to persuade the gullible. All they have to do is threaten you with a poor judgment of their character and suddenly you be their pawn. Advertisements use this technique all the time, and it does sell product. Basically, I don’t care what an idiot like you thinks of me, so your “factual” opinion of me washes right off.

                • 3lemenope

                  It describes a God that is powerful enough to stop the sun’s progress across the sky (as much sense as that makes) but whose will is constantly thwarted by things like pesky employees, iron chariots, and stubborn bipeds.

                  It describes an Earth that is, variously, a round disk covered by a dome, a flat object with corners, and either way resting on pillars, all of which visible from the summit of a medium-sized mountain. Sort of like Discworld, but without the funny.

                  It describes stars as the manifestations of spiritual messengers, and genetic expression as being affected by what a breeding mammal happens to be looking at at the time of conception. It describes a flood that would have required more water than probably is present in the solar system, never mind the amount available on Earth, with the actual falling of that amount and rate of rain through the atmosphere causing the atmosphere to overheat and the water boil to steam due to friction.

                  It contains detailed step-by-step instructions for a nifty magical spell that will rot the genitals of women who are pregnant and unfaithful, complete with ingredients and everything, but is rather more cagey about the proper procedure for the magical spell that cures ailments or lifts burdens. It describes a world where female bears are the rather prickly and overprotective Secret Service for God’s messengers who nonetheless die with depressing speed. Maybe the bears can only handle children.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Misrepresenting the Bible doesn’t help your case.

                  For example, the Bible never says the Earth is a flat object with corners in the sense you are implying. Haven’t you ever heard of these cool things called “maps”? I have a number of world maps. They all have four corners.

                  Regarding the Flood, the Bible specifically says that the mountains now in existence rose up after the Flood. They could easily fit in the oceans if we were able to move them.

                  Most of the so-called “contradictions” in the Bible are such trivial cases. All they really show is the ignorance of the person making the claim.

                  I will admit that there are some things in the Bible that are difficult to understand. But no one has ever shown an actual error or contradiction.

                • Kodie

                  Regarding the Flood, the Bible specifically says that the mountains now
                  in existence rose up after the Flood. They could easily fit in the
                  oceans if we were able to move them.

                  …..
                  But no one has ever shown an actual error or contradiction.

                  How do they rise up so quick?

                • dorcheat

                  Of course you and/or chosen deity calling atheists fools is an ad hominem argument.
                  Also kindly produce evidence of your deity laughter without resorting to lame copy and paste preaching. We are waiting.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  You have taken it upon yourself to defend the true and living God(your words) and His Word? I am pretty sure there’s something Old Testamenty about that sort of thing.

            • Michael W Busch

              There is no such thing as “The Friendly Atheist”. Hemant Mehta certainly isn’t. He just can’t mind his own business”

              “Friendly” does not mean “not expressing disagreement”.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                I understand. I don’t have a problem with discussion. Some of the commenters have been friendly, and I appreciate that. Many have been rude.

                Hemant Mehta, who calls himself “The Friendly Atheist” is extremely rude and arrogant. Every day he posts new articles telling people how they should think and how they should live. He wants to control the minutest detail of everyone’s lives. He is an incredibly nosy busybody.

                • 3lemenope

                  Offering an opinion can’t be all that bad a sin. After all, you offer yours pretty freely, including how you think we all should live.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I don’t have a problem with people offering their opinions.

                  Hemant Mehta thinks he has the right to force people to educate their children a certain way and that they must be vaccinated.

                • Michael W Busch

                  He wants to control the minutest detail of everyone’s lives.

                  No, he doesn’t. If you think he does, you haven’t been paying attention – a lot of Hemant’s pieces focus on calling people on their trying to control other people’s lives. Objecting to authoritarian behavior is not the same as being an authoritarian.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  He just had a recent article about homeschooling saying that parents should not be able to educate their children without interference from the government and another article praising the government for forcing parents to read literature about vaccinations before declining. He is a control freak!

                • Michael W Busch

                  No. Hemant is a man who cares about the education and health of children – and on both of those, he is entirely correct. Parents do not have a right to harm their children.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “He is entirely correct.”

                  According to whom? Obviously there are many people who disagree. If his view is correct, why doesn’t he just teach it freely to whoever will listen instead of using the coercive apparatus of the State to impose his beliefs on others? Would he support the government taking all the children and teaching them that the worldview of Islam is correct? Not the religion of Islam, mind you, just the worldview.

                  Does Hemant aspire to outdo our other overlords like Nanny Bloomberg, etc.? Should the government tell us what we can and can’t eat? What we can and can’t think?

                  Is there anything Hemant doesn’t think the government should do? He claims to be an atheist, but from what I’ve seen, he very clearly has a god–the State.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I did think of one thing Hemant doesn’t think the government should do. He doesn’t think it should subsidize “religious” hospitals. I completely agree.

                • Michael W Busch

                  According to whom?

                  For the vaccinations: According to the evidence and to every single reputable medical authority. Anti-vaxxers endanger people’s health and lives. They should not be given any excuse for their behavior. Ensuring that they understand the consequences of their actions is a good thing.

                  For the home-schooling: According to the evidence and all qualified educators (including Hemant himself). It is important for people to have accurate and comprehensive educations. That means regulating the curriculum of public schools, private schools, and home-schoolers to ensure that they mean basic standards.

                  Is there anything Hemant doesn’t think the government should do?

                  Restrict private speech. Promote religion or irreligion. And many other things. As I said, you clearly have not been paying attention.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “According to the evidence and to every single reputable medical authority”
                  “According to the evidence and all qualified educators”

                  I know many reputable medical authorities and qualified educators who disagree.

                  All you’re saying is that everyone who agrees, agrees (except for the people who don’t). No True Scotsman fallacy.

                  They used that same ruse with Jesus Christ. They said that all the religious leaders condemned Him. Except, of course, for those who didn’t.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  A large percentage of the homeschoolers I know were teachers. They homeschool precisely because they know exactly what the public schools are like.

                  Regarding the “evidence” for homeschooing, homeschoolers are better academically, socially, etc. than their public schooled peers. You can check out the research yourself at the National Home Education Research Institute (http://www.nheri.com/).

                • Michael W Busch

                  Even if that were true (which it isn’t in general. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has a good discussion of how the studies you reference are biased: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/06/stop-saying-homeschoolers-are-brilliant.html ); that is not a reason to not have educational standards for home-schooling. The home-schoolers who are doing a good job will meet or exceed the standards, the ones who aren’t will need to improve – the same as for a public or private school.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  It’s not the State’s job to make sure that everyone meets a certain educational standard, period. Besides, the State has clearly failed with the public school system. Maybe they should work on that first (by completely abolishing it). Public schooling has never been about education. It is about control. It is about forcing people to think a certain way.

                  Do you believe that the State should set standards for sexual relations? Surely that is of public interest for the future of society.

                • Michael W Busch

                  No. I am saying that the objective evidence says that anti-vaxxers endanger people’s health and lives. This is not disputable and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant of or deliberately ignoring the data. I am also saying that educational standards are essential to avoid artificially limiting people’s opportunities in life. This also is not disputable.

                  I know many reputable medical authorities and qualified educators who disagree.

                  You are wrong. Go learn epidemiology for the first and about education standards for the second.

                  And I find myself disinclined to reply to you further, on any topic, until you actually go and honestly do the research.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Even if mass vaccinations are better for the population as a whole (I’m not admitting that, but simply stating it for the sake of the argument), that doesn’t mean that they should be forced on everyone. Even if there are few (statistically speaking) side effects, including death, no one should be forced to accept that risk.

                  If vaccination really works, why do the people who get vaccinated worry about those who don’t? Don’t the vaccinations make them safe? Shouldn’t they be thrilled that the anti-vaccine people will die off leaving only the pro-vaccine people? Or do they know that the vaccines don’t really work?

                  Ironically, people who reject vaccinations are the ones who actually chose to educate themselves on the topic. It is the blind herd who simply go along with vaccinations because that is what everybody else is doing and what the “experts” say. Maybe the “experts” have their own agenda.

                  Banning soda pop would be better for the population as a whole. That doesn’t justify the State doing so.

                  Public education is a racket.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh for fuck’s sake. Vaccinations help- they give partial immunity most of the time. They prevent the spread of disease by making it statistically less likely everyone will catch it, but they’re not 100% protection. Go read about immunology, virology, and the concept of herd immunity and then come back here.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  They also produce side effects including death. If you want to take that risk yourself, go ahead, but don’t try to force it on others.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  It doesn’t work if everyone doesn’t do it. That’s the whole point. Again- virology, immunology, and herd immunity.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So people should be forced against their will to do something which includes the risk of death for what other people say is the “public good”?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  People should be forced to take a very tiny risk of death to prevent a much higher risk of death to both themselves and others.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  What else do you want to force people to do?

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  Pay their taxes, make sure their kids have food, clothing shelter, healthcare and a basic education, and use their frikkin’ turn signals for a change!

                  And don’t try that anti-vax nonsense on us here. We’ve seen the evidence, and it says that vaccines are far less dangerous than actually catching those diseases. The fact that you run zero risk of dying from smallpox is only possible due to the massive vaccine campaign that eradicated it. Your scare tactics on that won’t work on us any better than the scare tactics of religion. The people who are the most likely to die from those preventable diseases are infants, who are too young for the vaccine, and the immune-compromised who can’t build the necessary immunity. So every time a healthy person gets a booster shot, they are helping to save the lives of tiny babies. Babies like these: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/20/california.whooping.cough/index.html

                  You do care about babies, yes?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  What you’re really saying is that you want to be “god”. You even want to control what people think, although you use the euphemism of “basic education”.

                  Yes, I do care about babies. Very much so. That does not justify stealing from some people to pay for food and healthcare for everyone.

                  I never said that there are no risks to not getting vaccinated. There are risks (disability or death) on both sides of the argument. The issue is, “Who gets to decide?”

                  There is a risk of parts of California falling into the ocean due to an earthquake. Does that justify forcing everyone to move “for their own good”? What about hurricanes in Florida? Maybe you think no one should be allowed to live there.

                  Or an even better example is cars. They are one of the leading causes of death in America. Should cars be outlawed to remove that risk?

                  We all face risks and must make decisions every day. You seem to think that some people should make those decisions for everyone. I think everyone should be able to make their own decisions.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  The risk of earthquakes and hurricanes justifies having building codes. The risk of cars justifies having laws that your children must ride in safety seats. The enormous harm that was once caused by multiple childhood diseases justifies making you get your child his shots before he enters kindergarten. Herd immunity protects us all. Once you’re an adult, if you want to skip your flu shot and your shingles vaccine and your tetanus booster, fine. Just keep away from babies, because they don’t need your germs.

                  You said “That does not justify stealing from some people to pay for food and healthcare for everyone.”

                  In your bible Jesus says “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” about taxes. He also says if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well, and that you should give everything you have to the poor. And don’t forget the part about being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven. If you actually followed that book of yours, you wouldn’t be concerned about taxes at all. The people that talk the most about Jesus seem to be the least concerned about actually following his instructions.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m not against building codes, but they should be voluntary.

                  All of the examples you gave are about reducing risk. That is not the government’s responsibility. People need to be responsible for themselves.

                  In actuality, government mandates and regulations increase risk. For example, vaccine makers are shielded from lawsuits as long as they follow the government’s regulations. That only increases the likelihood of adverse side effects, since the incentive to prevent them is reduced. Similarly with food regulations. If corporations/management are not held responsible for their actions, what do you think the end result will be? They will be more irresponsible!

                  The same is true in every area of life. If bankers who perpetrated mortgage fraud were held personally liable for what they did, they would be much less fraud. But by establishing regulations, the government lets them off the hook by simply saying, “I was just following the rules.”

                  Our society is so over regulated that most people can’t even conceive of what it would be like to live in a free country.

                  Edit: And about “Caesar”, the Bible says stealing is wrong. It is not okay to take money from some people just to give it to other people. That is not “what is Caesar’s”. Government welfare reduces private charity, and wastes a ton of money in the process, among other problems.

                  The Bible does not say that the government is supposed to take my shirt and give it to someone else.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  “I’m not against building codes, but they should be voluntary.”

                  I seriously hope you are joking about that. We’re talking about apartment buildings, schools, office buildings, shopping malls, highway bridges. Under your standards, we’d have to stop and get a building inspection before walking into any public building to be sure it wasn’t going to fall on our heads. (Of course, if it did, our families could sue, but that doesn’t help the person in the collapsed building!) I work in a 5-story office building, and a couple of years back we had an unexpected earthquake. (And we’re not even in an earthquake zone.) As hard as our building shook, there was no danger to anybody in it. I’m very pleased that our building codes are not optional.

                  “And about “Caesar”, the Bible says stealing is wrong.”

                  The OT says that. The NT says to give away all your stuff, in which case you should not have any worries about taxes or theft. It says feed the poor, clothe the naked and tend the sick. The early xians supposedly lived communally,(Acts 2:44-45) sharing everything between them and taking care of each other. Which half of the bible are you following?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Regarding building codes, if they were voluntary, most people would want some assurance that a building is safe before entering it. That could easily be accomplished by private inspection companies that would certify a building to a certain standard. People would be able to choose what standard they wanted to build to.

                  As it is, the building codes changes every few years anyway. Houses, apartment buildings, offices, etc. that were built a couple decades ago do not meet today’s standard. Does that mean they are unsafe? Maybe they aren’t as safe as newer buildings, but that doesn’t mean we need to abandon them or rebuild them every couple of years.

                  The same is true with cars. A Mercedes from a few years ago would not meet today’s safety standards. Does that mean it is unsafe? Hardly. GM makes cars for other parts of the world that sell for under $10,000 US, but a similar car here would cost over $20,000 US because of all the safety/emissions/etc. regulations and requirements. What’s wrong with letting people make choices for themselves?

                  The Bible never says that everyone should give away all their stuff. It certainly doesn’t say to give all your stuff to the government. There is no Biblical justification for forced redistribution of wealth.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  Yes, it does say that that you should give away your stuff:

                  Matt 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

                  Luke 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor…

                  There’s other references too, about not storing up treasures on earth, or worrying how you will live. You really should read your book once in awhile. The central message of Jesus was not “every man for himself”. (Why do we have to know your book better than you do?)

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  First of all, you’re changing the argument. I wrote “The Bible never says that everyone should give away all their stuff.” You left out “all”. Of course, if everyone gave away all their stuff, that wouldn’t really make sense, would it?

                  More importantly, their is a vast difference between voluntarily giving away your possessions and having them forcibly taken from you.

                  Regarding the specific passages you cited:

                  The passage in Matthew was what the Lord Jesus Christ said to one specific person in answer to one specific question. It was not addressed to everybody.

                  The verse in Luke is more general, but again it was addressed to a specific audience in a particular situation. In the context the emphasis is on not worrying about your physical needs or hoarding physical wealth. Instead of that, He instructed His disciples to sell their possessions and give to the poor.

                  I have read through the Bible many times. I am not advocating “every man for himself”. I am pointing out that the Bible does not command forcibly taking wealth from people, even for a good cause.

                  Don’t you think it is better for people to voluntarily help those in need than to be forced to? Forced charity isn’t really charity, and it comes with all kinds of problems. It encourages abuse and ultimately seeks to simply perpetuate itself instead of actually helping those in need. How many failed government programs do you need as evidence?

                  Private charities have their own problems as well. Do you really think the American Cancer Society wants to find a cure for cancer? Not on your life! That would mean they would all be out of a job. No doubt many individual employees are sincere in what they do, but there is an inherent problem with such “charities”.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Pay taxes. Get an education (only children; adults do have greater rights and responsibilities than children, adults must aid the children in getting an education or at least not impede). Have licenses for driving a car or selling services in any number of professions. I’m sure there’s other things, but I can’t think of them right now. And these are “forced” in the sense that there’s consequences for refusal (fines and/or jail time), but not in the sense that you lose all rights should you refuse.

                  Can I force people not to be ignorant, irrational, non-empathetic assholes? If there was a way to do that, I might take it. /sarcasm

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Get an education.”
                  ie. Force people to think how you want them to think.
                  Do you really want the government telling you how you should think?

                  I’m not against licenses or professional credentials, but there is no reason that anyone should be forced to get them in order to engage in any activity. If someone wants to get medical treatment from an unlicensed person, that should be their choice. Misrepresenting credentials is fraud, which is a separate case.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No. Never force people to think what I want them to think. Force people to learn how to think. I honestly don’t care if people’s conclusions are different from mine, but I care intensely how they got there. Do they have data and logic to back them up? Can they identify valid source material? Can they do basic numerical analysis to know when things aren’t adding up at all? Do they have a grounding in basic logic? Do they understand what scientific method, scientific theory, and hypothesis are and why they are not equivalent to personal revelation?

                  If you think Obama’s the worst president ever, I will disagree with you. I don’t love him, but he’s not “the worst” in my mind. But if you have evidence and logic to back you up, I don’t mind that you came to that conclusion. If, on the other hand, your reasons include “Obama’s a Socialist Muslim non-citizen who wants to destroy America”, we’re going to have words, because that’s an idiotic and untrue statement. One should never base conclusions on premises that can be summed up as “idiotic” and “untrue”.

                  As for licensing- no. Just no. We have licensing and laws against practicing without a license for a reason- people aren’t wise enough or rich enough to only get the best, and there are a huge number of people who will prey on others if they are not required to get a license. Just go look into lay midwifery to see the worst consequences of it: women and babies are permanently injured or die. The very least that should happen is unlicensed midwives should go to jail for practicing without a license. Licensure laws exist because before we had them, people suffered and died (patent medicines, etc). Remember, empirical experience matters!

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I agree that it would be great if everyone knew how to think properly. But that’s not something you can force on anyone.

                  Public schools, in addition to all their other problems, are notoriously bad at helping people learn how to think. That system of education is simply not capable of what you want it to produce.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Incorrect. It can be (see Finland), but we choose not to do what needs to be done thanks to people like you who want to defund it, won’t support impoverished children*, refuse to acknowledge that science trumps religion when it comes to knowing things or doing good in the world, and call taxes “theft”. Don’t blame government for failing at the things you told it to fail at.

                  *When asked how to fix public school, at least one top school reformer mentioned universal health care, expanded WIC and SNAP benefits, and getting homeless families into permanent residences. Note that those are all poverty alleviation, not schooling per se.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I agree that less poverty would probably mean better educated children. But your “solution” would lead to more poverty. Subsidizing anything produces more of it. The “War on Poverty” began before I was born. It’s not working. It’s getting worse.

                  I just heard earlier today about someone buying $1700 worth of stuff at Sam’s Club on their government assistance cards. That’s what happens when the government gives out free money. More people sign up to get free money, and less people work to earn a living for themselves.

                  I’ve volunteered at homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Some people are genuinely in need. Others are simply gaming the system. There is no reason for government to be involved one way or another.

                  “It’s for the children” is the refrain of people who want to steal from someone else. People who want to help should help, and stop stealing from others.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh? Then perhaps you could explain the declining rate of child poverty in the US since then, or why child poverty has started going back up as government programs get cut back? If we spent as much (or 1/10 as much) on a “War on Poverty” as we spend on a “War on Terror”, we could have this poverty thing licked PDQ.

                  Sam’s Club is a bulk store. If you have limited money, it’s actually a great place to shop at. “Free money”, as you put it, does not a luxurious lifestyle make, and people use it to get themselves situated for a better life or just not starve.

                  There is every reason for government to be involved in poverty alleviation- poor people are citizens, and government’s duty is to care for its citizens. A government that neglects its poor is failing at one of the basic tasks of government. Personal charity does not and never had been sufficient to deal with the vast need in front of us, plus it usually has strings attached (pray first, only “deserving” poor, etc).

                  It’s not for the children- it’s for me. I don’t want to live in a society that values people so little it lets them die, starving and homeless and alone, of treatable diseases, unless they have money. I don’t want to live in a society that doesn’t give a shit about AIDS or drug-resistant TB until it spreads to society at large, because only “those people” get those diseases. That, to me, is the height of immorality and stupidity. We as a society have the money to fix it, and individually we can’t, so it is our moral obligation and just general good sense to make it obligatory to hand money to those who can (governments).

        • daryl carpenter

          Which part of Cincinatheist’s description of Christianity is incorrect? Granted, he/she has presented them here in an irreverent style, but I don’t see how an ‘orthodox’ Christian can afford not to believe any of the propositions.

          BTW This is great book. Thanks Ed and Bob.

    • Jasper

      Many of us are atheists because no one’s demonstrated that any gods exist. It’s really that simple.

      That’s why before I was clarifying that atheism is not contingent on evolution or the Big Bang. Atheism existed before we had any notion of those things.

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        Exactly. I’m not an atheist because of evolution or the big bang. Atheism as nothing to do with either of those scientific theories.

    • Artor

      I’ll never understand why Xtians feel compelled to come to sites like this, read an intelligently written article, and then proudly declare in the comments that they are too dumb or blinkered to understand science & logic, so they’ll stick to their bronze-age superstitions, because that’s more comfortable. It’s like standing up in public and proudly declaring, “I just pooped my pants!” You might think it’s great that you can do what any chimp in diapers can achieve, but the rest of us look on in disgust, dismayed that a supposedly intelligent adult is unwilling or unable to use basic functions like bowel control that they should have learned in infancy.

    • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

      So what one of the hundreds of versions of consistent christianity are you adhering to?

      Are you keeping slaves? How about stoning kids who talk back to you? I sure hope you dont eat figs. Seriously though, how awesome is it having 10 wives and 100 concubines? Raped anyone lately?

      • jondrake

        Does aborting you kids count?

        • DavidMHart

          Of course not. It is impossible to abort a ‘kid’ – if by that you mean what we ordinarily mean by a child, because in order to become a child, you have to have been born already, and then spent some time as a baby.

          Don’t pretend to be unable to tell the difference between a foetus and a child, or pretend to be unable to understand why there are morally relevant reasons to afford children more rights than we afford foetuses.

          • jondrake

            How about a viable, healthy unborn human? More rights is not the same as “no rights”.

            Do they have any rights or are they still in the SUB HUMAN catergory?

            And don’t get me wrong, if atheists want to abort their kids, I think they should all get DARWIN AWARDS!

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              So when it’s pointed out that your own belief system overtly contradicts your beliefs, you respond by acting even more pissy and by laughing at the idea of people you don’t like dying. Very Christian of you, crybaby.

            • Space Cadet

              Viable means that it can exist independently, outside the womb. The vast majority of abortions take place before the fetus reaches that point.

              • Michael W Busch

                And the standard of care when a fetus has a significant probability of becoming a healthy neonate is to perform a delivery. Most of the few third-trimester abortions that take place take place because the fetus is not actually viable, for whatever reason.

            • DavidMHart

              Well, obviously, a healthy foetus that has not yet developed a brain is not yet an entity whose rights we need to consider, because it is not capable of suffering – the ability to experience suffering or wellbeing are after all the only things that any system of morality can realistically concern itself with.

              Once the foetus has developed sufficient nervous tissue to be capable of experiencing anything, then it would, other things being equal, have the same sort of rights as another living entity with the same level of neural development – a fly, say, or a frog, or so on up the scale of neurological complexity. Once you’ve got yourself a near-term foetus (and remember that in the vast majority of abortions, we aren’t talking about near-term foetuses), then you’ve got a being whose rights can’t just be summarily dismissed.

              But all things are not equal, because the foetus is occupying someone else’s body, at considerable risk to her health, even her life, and certainly at considerable risk to her future freedom and ability to care for any children she may already have, and that someone else is in (almost) every case an adult human whose capacity for suffering and happiness far outstrips that of the foetus, and in any case who cannot justifiably be held hostage to the lesser rights of the foetus.

              If the people who fuss about abortions put as much effort into raising funds for research on artificial wombs and promoting effective contraception as they do into trying to shame women who don’t want to be pregnant into carrying unwanted pregnancies, then we could respect your integrity – but as it is, when you scratch the surface of anti-abortionists, almost always you reveal someone who wants to police other people’s sex lives, and whose actual concern for foetuses is largely a front for wanting to make it difficult for women to have sex without facing consequences.

            • tsara

              If it’s in my body, I get to say when and how it leaves my body. It isn’t my problem if it dies in the process.
              Also, if I became pregnant and I could not obtain an abortion, I would kill myself. What would you want the standard operating procedure to be in that case? What should the law do? What should the people around me do?

        • trj

          Probably, since God didn’t seem to have a problem with it. He gave a divinely sanctioned recipe for abortion in Numbers 5.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        The only consistent worldview is found in the Bible.

        If you really want to discuss slavery and so on, we could have that discussion. One quick point, though. Just because the Bible records certain events doesn’t mean it condones them. Is the New York Times in favor of murder just because it reports them?

        As for the issues you raise, let me ask a question. If atheism is true, why are any of those things wrong? If atheism is true, what is the basis for morality?

        • Kengi

          The Bible didn’t just “report” about slavery, Yahweh set down his rules for how to go about slavery and who to enslave.

          As for consistency, the Bible is full of many well known contradictions. For example, was the first woman created at the same time as the first man, or was she created after the first man (from one of his ribs)?

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            The United States has laws dealing with murder. Does that mean the United States condones murder.

            For the record, the Bible specifically identifies kidnapping as a capital crime. Slavery which involves taking people against their will (except in payment of a debt) is not condoned in the Bible. There are many reasons why people would voluntarily become slaves. Most people today are slaves in the sense that they have a job. There terms of the contract may be different than those in Biblical times, but the basic idea is the same.

            The Bible does not say that the first woman was created at the same time as the first man.

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

              The United States has laws dealing with murder. Does that mean the United States condones murder.

              Murder is illegal in the United States. You know what you never once see in the Bible? A statement saying we shouldn’t own people as property. If the Bible has rules regulating slavery, but not banning it, then the Bible condones slavery. It’s really that simple. To make the comparison more correct, the Bible’s rules on slavery would be akin to having laws about who you can and can’t murder and when you can do it.

              Slavery which involves taking people against their will (except in payment of a debt) is not condoned in the Bible.

              You must think we’re dumb. The OT explicitly tells the Israelites that they can make slaves of the people in neighboring nations. It tells them how to mark people as property by punching a hole in their ears. It tells you how badly you can beat your slaves (i.e., just badly enough that they survive more than 3 days before dying).

              Most people today are slaves in the sense that they have a job. There terms of the contract may be different than those in Biblical times, but the basic idea is the same.

              Nobody should ever take you seriously.

              The Bible does not say that the first woman was created at the same time as the first man.

              Yes, it does. Genesis 1:27, buddy.

              • Dad

                Burrrnnn . . .

              • Kengi

                I always enjoyed the Rabbinical explanation for this inconsistency, which is that Eve was the second woman and the first was Lilith. As stories go, the Lilith stories are more fun and interesting.

              • Willy Occam

                Clearly, this moron has done nothing more than cherry-pick the best parts of his “Good Book.” He has no idea that a lot of atheists have actually read the damn thing.

              • Art_Vandelay

                To make the comparison more correct, the Bible’s rules on slavery would
                be akin to having laws about who you can and can’t murder and when you
                can do it.

                Incidentally, the Bible has that as well.

            • Kengi

              Unlike the murder laws in the US, Yahweh’s rules were for how to go about slavery. Yahweh didn’t set out punishment for slavery, but told his followers it was OK to do it, following certain broad guidelines.

              Mike has already addressed your other lies.

            • DavidMHart

              The US (or more accurately, the individual States) have laws prohibiting murder. Show us where the Bible prohibits slavery in principle.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              LOL. Murder is always wrong. (Killing someone in self-defense is not murder and manslaughter has a different definition.) Slavery is always wrong too. But the Bible says slavery of often okay. That’s immoral. Sorry, but it just is. One human owning another is a very basic human rights violation that was allowed by the Bible. Prohibitions on beating your slaves to death, doesn’t make owning other humans moral.

        • Travis Myers

          Leviticus 25:44

          “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.”

          That is God talking directly to Moses (says the Bible). There is no way to argue that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and also claim that he didn’t condone slavery.

          As for why slavery is wrong if atheism is true: it is wrong because we value living in a free society, and we want our fellow human beings to be happy and free as well. Slavery is inconsistent with those values.

          By the way, I really hope you are not a troll because I respect anyone who sincerely puts forth their viewpoints, even if they turn out to be wrong.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            The Bible does not condone slavery in the sense of kidnapping people and forcing them to work against their will. As for “buying” slaves, we still do that today–we call it “hiring employees”. The Bible’s laws regarding slavery are what we today would call labor laws.

            I am not a troll. I sincerely want to engage in meaningful discussion. I am happy to answer legitimate questions as I have time.

            • Willy Occam

              “As for “buying” slaves, we still do that today–we call it “hiring employees”.”

              Please tell me this is a joke; you can’t possibly believe these two things are analogous. If not, how can anybody on this site take anything you say seriously (although a lot of us stopped doing that a while ago)?

              Oh, and I’m sorry if you don’t find my response friendly. Here, try this:

              :-)

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Are you self employed Willy? If not, you are a “slave” of your employer. You may have some nice conditions stipulated in your contract (in addition to universal labor laws), but you are a slave.

                If you don’t believe me, just try not showing up at your job for a few months and see how that turns out. If you were “free” you could do that.

                • Jasper

                  “Are you self employed Willy? If not, you are a “slave” of your employer. You may have some nice conditions stipulated in your contract (in addition to universal labor laws), but you are a slave.”

                  That’s silly. No. You don’t know what a slave is.

                  Having a voluntary agreement for trade of services for good is not slavery.

                  I’m sorry, but you’ve distorted this concept beyond recognition.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Having a voluntary agreement for trade of services for good is not slavery.”

                  Okay, I’m just trying to clarify. The usage of words change over time. “Slavery” in the Bible is different from what we think of as “slavery” today. The Bible does not condone the form of slavery practiced in American history. That’s my point.

                • Jasper

                  And yet, it actually is basically the same.

                  “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)”

                  In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention at one time attempted to use the Bible to support American slavery.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Baptist_Convention#Divisions_over_slavery

                • RobMcCune

                  Yes the bible describes indentured servitude, but it also describes the kind slavery practiced in American history.

                  ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

                  Leviticus 25:44-46

                  And based on a person’s ethnic group no less.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Not true.

                  Exodus 21:16
                  He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.

                • tsara

                  …because putting someone to death is a measured, well-reasoned response that doesn’t violate one of those commandment-thingies.

                • baal

                  Aside from the beatings and chains? What part of people are property did you not read in your bible?

                • Spuddie

                  Fry: Do you know what I hate about being a slave? They work us like crazy and don’t pay us.

                  Leela: That’s the ONLY thing about being a slave.

                • tsara

                  Willy Occam is perfectly free to stop showing up at work. And they are free to stop giving him money in return.
                  …seriously, can you not see the difference between that and slavery?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Someone is free to sell themselves into lifelong slavery too. Or would you deny people that freedom?

                  In Biblical times, people could also be enslaved in order to pay debts. This is true today in the United States as well.

                  Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
                  Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

                  There are many “slaves” in our prison population. For the record, I don’t agree with most of those imprisonments, but the fact is that “slavery” still exists in the United States today.

                • tsara

                  People can sell themselves into lifelong slavery, as long as they can back out at any time with no punishment beyond the loss of the benefits and privileges they gained as a result of entering into the contract (such as freedom from decision-making) (and as long as they are of legal age to sign contracts, of sound mind, and fully informed and consenting [i.e., uncoerced] at the time) (also, IANAL, so I may have missed something here). (People do this. It’s called a 24/7 BDSM thing, or a total power exchange.)

                  For the rest:
                  1. For duly convicted crimes: life imprisonment is relatively rare, and, you know, there’s a ‘jury of your peers’ thing, and whatever.
                  2. I’m not American, so your constitution means nothing to me.
                  3. Punishment is a pretty biblical concept, and one which I disagree with in its entirety. My moral system (which condemns the idea of punishment, and accepts jail/prison as a distateful evil to be accepted only until we find a system that works better) > the moral system of the god portrayed in the Bible.

                • 3lemenope

                  Huh? What exactly happens in your neck of the woods when people don’t show up for work? Hereabouts, you just don’t have the job anymore. You make it sound like they send out the marshals to round them up.

                  How is getting fired for not living up to stipulations agreed upon as condition of employment “slavery” in any commonly acknowledged sense of the term?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  The conditions of employment in Biblical times were different. Would you disallow people from freely entering into contracts of their choosing?

                • 3lemenope

                  I think I speak for everyone when I say, “huh?”

                  Non sequitur, ahoy.

                • Willy Occam

                  You apparently still live in your parents’ basement. Is that what it is to be “free”?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Freedom” can refer to different things in different contexts. In the context of employment, an employee is not free to do whatever they want. They are enslaved to their employer according to the conditions of their contract.

                  Similarly, borrowers are enslaved to their lenders. If you take out a mortgage, that commits you to certain obligations. You are no longer “free” in relation to that money.

                • Michael W Busch

                  You apparently do not understand what the word “slavery” means.

            • Dad

              Just stop and consider the contortions you are putting yourself through. All so you can hang on to the worldview that you were handed as a toddler.

              Think about it. Seriously.

            • Travis Myers

              Even if I grant you that the Israelites did not capture the slaves themselves (which I highly doubt), God must have been pretty stupid if he believed that the nations they were buying the slaves from never kidnapped any of the slaves they sold.

              Moreover, I don’t think the Department of Labor would approve of this treatment of “employees”:

              “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”

              Exodus 21:20-21

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                That law would make you not want to be a slave, don’t you think? Perhaps the Bible is teaching us that we should seek to be free instead of enslaved. Oh, wait–the Bible does teach that! We are all enslaved to sin, but Jesus Christ gives freedom to those who trust in Him.

                • Travis Myers

                  Okay, just to be clear: God approved of harsh treatment for slaves so that slaves would no longer want to be slaves?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  The Bible never says that God approves of harsh treatment of slaves. In fact, it says the opposite.

                  Ephesians 6:9
                  And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Wrong. The Bible contradicts itself repeatedly about if people may be enslaved and how slaves may be treated: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/slavery.html , http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/slavery.html .

                  As Travis has already noted here, Exodus 21:20-21 says it is okay to enslave people and to beat them to death – as long as they don’t die within the first day.

                  The Bible is not a consistent document.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          If you think the Bible is consistent then you obviously haven’t read the whole thing. And yes, the Bible actually condones slaver. it doesn’t just report that it happened.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Morality is based on maximizing weal and minimizing woe, and on empathy, that thing that most humans and many animal species possess. Its existence might surprise you, as religion tends to bludgeon it down.

          As an example, a person with empathy might think, “Hey, I would want someone to read up on basic arguments using the Google bar sitting right there on their screen before coming and spewing gibberish at me!” Said empathetic person might then come to the conclusion that he himself should do the things that he would want other people to do for him, and go Google those arguments.

          However, I could see how you’d have trouble with that.

          The Bible claims that the value of Pi is 3 and that diseases are caused by evil spirits. So much for consistency… oh, you meant consistently WRONG. My bad.

          The Bible explicitly condones rape, slavery, incest, child rape, child slavery, and abortion, among other things. You’re either ignorant or lying. Take your pick.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            So you believe what Hitler did was right? He was attempting to maximize weal and minimize woe.

            Actually the Bible does not condone those things (at least not as common understood in modern terms).

            • Travis Myers

              Intentions aren’t the only things that matter. Even if Hitler was really trying to maximize weal and minimize woe (which is doubtful), he clearly went about it the wrong way because he accomplished neither of those things.

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

              “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”

              – Adolf Hitler

              “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. …Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.”

              – Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Right, Hitler was an evolutionist too. His “final solution” was based on evolution. I guess that means evolution is false.

                • Dad

                  Hitler had a head. Heads are false!

                  Go away, child. And sin no more!

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I was simply using MikeTheInfidel’s logic.

                  So far no atheist has been able to give a reason why what Hitler did is wrong except, “Because I said so.”

                • Jasper

                  Then you aren’t listening.

                • Reginald Selkirk

                  Hitler was an evolutionist too

                  Hitler the Creationist

                  It is too bad that Christianity, which provides the basis for your morality, does not prohibit you from lying.

                  Everybody who has the right kind of feeling for his country is solemnly bound, each within his own

                  denomination, to see to it that he is not constantly talking about the
                  Will of God merely from the lips but that in actual fact he fulfils the
                  Will of God and does not allow God’s handiwork to be debased. For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape, were given their natures and their faculties. Whoever destroys His work wages war against God’s Creation and God’s Will. – Adolph Hitler, Christian

                • Miss_Beara

                  Hitler liked Wagner. I like Wagner. I guess that means Wagner is false or I am Hitler.

                • Travis Myers

                  Those two options aren’t mutually exclusive.

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              He created a lot of woe for a lot of people. Obviously wrong.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Who says? Who gets to decide?

                A lot of atheist commenters on this blog have caused me woe. Does that mean what they did is wrong?

                • 3lemenope

                  Please articulate the harm that commenters here have done you.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  It’s hard to describe, but I assure you it’s real. :)

                • tsara

                  Then leave. There’s nothing stopping you. You have the power to end the interaction.

                • RobMcCune

                  The proof of christianity in a nutshell.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Actually, I was using atheistic logic for morality. They just know what Hitler did is wrong, but they can’t quite explain it.

                • Jasper

                  Of course we can explain it. This is basic secular morality, which seeks to maximize benefit and minimize harm. Hitler caused a lot of harm to a lot of people… therefore, wrong.

                  Seriously, this isn’t complicated.

                • RobMcCune

                  Unless you can tell Inconsistent who ordered you to do so he will still say you have no basis.

                • Jasper

                  I’m starting to get that impression. Argument from Plug-Ears-and-Hum-NANANANANANANA

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  How do you know what maximizes benefit and minimizes harm? You would have to be God to do that, but you don’t believe in God. You are “The Inconsistent Atheist”.

                  I understand that you all think this is obvious. To the Christian, it is obvious that what Hitler did is wrong because the Bible gives an objective standard. But atheists don’t have that. You’re just making up morality as you go, stealing most of it from Christianity (except the parts you don’t like).

                • tsara

                  “How do you know what maximizes benefit and minimizes harm?”
                  Empirical evidence. Statistics. Looking at the world around you. We work on mental models and best guesses. This is why faith-based worldviews are bad: they interfere with our ability to understand the world around us and change it in ways likely to be awesome and not harmful.

                • Reginald Selkirk

                  The proof of christianity in a nutshell.

                  We’ve seen the nut. Where’s the shell?

                • Dad

                  I say. I get to decide.

                  Run along now!

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Right, atheists don’t believe in God, but they want to be “god” themselves. You are “The Inconsistent Atheist”.

                • Dad

                  I just want to be me. I’m capable of basic empathy, which
                  compels me to think that ethnic cleansing is bad.

                  But just in case I am God: Everyone’s sins are forgiven!

                • Jasper

                  “God, but they want to be “god” themselves”

                  Thanks for breaking the 10th commandment for us. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to shove words in our mouths.

                • Jasper

                  Bah, I mean 9th

                • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

                  Are you actually comparing voluntarily reading things on the internet that you don’t like to the Holocaust? Seriously?

                • Art_Vandelay

                  Best. Godwin. Ever.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  No, I’ve done better.

                  It’s pretty sad that none of the atheists here have been able to provide a consistent explanation of why what Hitler did is wrong. That’s just one proof that atheism is incorrect.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  No, I was just going along with the definition of morality given by one of the atheist commenters.

                  If you have a better definition, go ahead and give it a shot.

                • tsara

                  Google “consequentialism.” There should be a wikipedia page on it.

                  When you’re done with that, HallQ on the Patheos atheist channel has a very recent article up on the subject (its title, last I saw, is “Why I am not a consequentialist”).

                  The basic principle of secular morality is that of minimizing harm and maximizing awesomeness*.

                  *using the word ‘awesomeness’ because ‘goodness’ and ‘happiness’ have too much baggage. See here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/g7y/morality_is_awesome/

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
                  AND
                  Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

                  Both constructions of the Golden Rule (which predates Christianity by a lot, by the way) are valid bases for universal morality. Do good, try not to do harm. All people are valuable and none are more inherently valuable than any other. Where do these come from? Gut feelings, basic logic, pleasure/pain responses, and evolved empathy.

            • Dad

              Ask your god; evidently he’s the being responsible for creating Hitler in the first place.

            • baal

              If you cite to hitler, it means you lost and should consider going home. This is so true that it’s called a ‘Godwin’ after the guy who noted the phenomenon. (it does not mean that god wins!! horray, yipie!)

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Actually, the fact that atheists can’t refute my point about Hitler shows that they are wrong.

                I’ll go ahead any make it easier for you, though. Please explain how anything can be wrong in the atheist worldview.

                • baal

                  ” how anything can be wrong in the atheist worldview.”

                  I would sort of need to know what an ‘atheist worldview’ is. We tend to be all over the map worldview wise. Being an atheist is usually as easy as “no god? no problem.”

                  The usual point for the christian apologist (you or the usual troll) is that without god, you can’t tell right from wrong, it’s all a wooly random whatnot and amazing we don’t all /die or /kill everyone since god isn’t staying our hand or somesuch. Oddly enough, we don’t seem to have a problem with getting along with others and understanding that we are a social species which cooperates more than it kills is a point lost on you and yours.

                  As for what’s positively wrong (really google is your friend, look up “morality & humanism”) I’d list out things that hurt others. Genocide counts as net harmful. Stabbings aren’t ok. I’d put doing anything to another’s person without consent is generally harmful. Note that I can think of exceptions. Is this a hard exercise for you Inconsistent? If it is, you need help. Your average adult anywhere in the world can make lists like this and do it without opening a bibbly or consulting the local shaman or priest.

            • Carol Lynn

              HItler behaved *exactly* the way god commanded the Israelites to behave – take people who worship a different god and exterminate them while keeping a few choice virgins out for personal use of the troops. Why are you so against the very Christian Hitler who did what the God of your Bible commanded him to do?

              Hitler’s problem, and in my opinion that of many so-called good Christians, is that he could only conceive of maximizing the weal of his own and could not conceive that others have just as much right to life, liberty and happiness in their own way.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            The Bible does not claim the value of Pi is 3. I know what you are referring to, and you are incorrect. If you need me to explain more please ask. Most so-called “contradictions” in the Bible are of this trivial kind.

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

              Explain the contradiction in Jesus’ genealogies. Who was Joseph’s father, and why would Joseph even be mentioned in the genealogy?

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Joseph was Jesus’ legal guardian. Matthew records his genealogy. Luke records the genealogy through Mary. There is no contradiction.

                • Reginald Selkirk

                  Luke records the genealogy through Mary.

                  Please stop lying. Won’t somebody think of the children?

                  Luke 3:23-38 -
                  And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,…

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  If you have a point to make, please do so.

        • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

          I dont even have to reply, all my friends here just owned you. You may want to learn a bit more about your own faith.

          • Frank

            The only people getting owned are the foolish that don’t believe in God.

            • tsara

              Evidence?

              • Frank

                Open your eyes if you dare.

                • tsara

                  Are you for real?

                • Frank

                  Most certainly. Are you?

                • tsara

                  I just got confused about whether or not we were talking about God or about the lizard people and Obama’s birth certificate.

            • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

              what god exactly? I have so many to choose from. I just cant decide. Are they all the right one?

              • Frank

                There is only one. Seek and you will find.

                • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

                  Zeus? Nice. He seems bad ass.

                • Frank

                  What that phrase about suffering fools gladly?

                • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

                  Why would I suffer?

                • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

                  oh right, because your loving god tortures those who dont love him back the right way. sounds like a great guy!

                • Frank

                  I would start from a place of knowledge BEFORE spouting nonsense.

                • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

                  When will you start that? I havnt seen you start with any knowledge yet.

                  We are all waiting…

                • Frank

                  If its convenient for you to shift the focus back on me go for it.

                • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

                  you mean like you just tried to do to me? funny how christians never see their own hypocrisy.

                • Frank

                  I see my own quite well, the question is do you see yours? You responded to me remember?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          The only consistent worldview is found in the Bible.

          Self-Contradictions of the Bible

          William Henry Burr ISBN-13: 978-1477660232
          .
          Just for starters, is salvation based on belief or on works?

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            Neither. Salvation is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

            • tsara

              So I can eat babies and laugh at Jesus and I’ll be saved anyway? Awesome!

    • Rain

      So let me get this straight. You created a simulation which led you to believe there is no Creator? You designed a widget which led you to believe there is no Designer?

      I’m afraid I have to agree with this. Even if we give up on the literal Biblical creationist Christian god because the evidence disproves it, there are still plenty of gods left over in the theological snack bar. Heck we can even make one up ourselves if we don’t like any of those ones, although the deist god is generic enough to safely cover all the bets.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        What evidence? Evolutionists admit their belief is just a fairy tale for grownups.

        • Kengi

          The countless fossils, observations and experimental results in biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences. You know, the empirical evidence. Things which have been observed, measured and quantified.

          Here’s a list of just a tiny number of specific examples:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-research.html

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            You mean the evidence which evolutionists admit is not the reason why they believe in evolution?

            BTW, I don’t deny that animals and plants change over time. There are many breeds of dogs that have “evolved”. But there is no proof that a dog every shared a common ancestor with a cat.

            • Kengi

              There are many transitional fossils in the records. Besides, if you agree with evolution, yet reject most macro changes, you need to come up with a theory of evolution which would limit and stop those changes from getting to the point where the changes would lead to a new species.

              What process stops or limits those changes over time? Do you have evidence for this process stronger than the abundant evidence for speciation?

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                I don’t have a problem with new species. Just because we classify things a certain way doesn’t mean that “evolution” is happening before our eyes.

                There is no way you can scientifically prove that every living thing has a common ancestor. Scientists can speculate that, but that is not science.

                • Jasper

                  Then you don’t understand evolution.

                  Evolution IS speciation.

                  It’s science because it’s overwhelmingly justified by scientific evidence.

                  http://talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

                • Reginald Selkirk

                  There is no way you can scientifically prove that every living thing has
                  a common ancestor. Scientists can speculate that, but that is not
                  science.

                  How sad that those are the only two choices, proof, which belongs to mathematics and not to empirical studies, and speculation. It is unfortunate that we cannot accumulate evidence which is consistent with one explanation, and eliminate other explanations which are not consistent with the evidence. It is unfortunate that we cannot apply statistics and probabilities to the various lines of evidence, and the various explanations.

            • Space Cadet

              Well, golly, it took all of 30 seconds on the Google machine to find that common ancestor.

              http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=4B1665EC-E7F2-99DF-332752A3D3E23B03

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                So, some scientists “think” they found a common ancestor.

                I think they didn’t.

                All the so-called “evidence” for evolution is just what some scientists “think”. But other scientists don’t think so.

                • Dad

                  To the kids’ table.

                  1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Have fun there. When you’re ready to have an adult discussion, please feel free to come back.

                • Dad

                  I think you need a time-out.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Again, stop insulting the kids by equating them with Inconsistent Atheist.

                • Jasper

                  Incorrect, the evidence is found within genetics, the fossil record, the geological column, phylogeny, etc.

                  Even Sir Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, and evangelical Christian, believes that genetics – alone – has more than enough evidence to substantiate common anscenstry.

                  Here, enlighten yourself:
                  http://talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

                • Space Cadet

                  Please explain why you think that is not a common ancestor.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              There’s a ridiculously large body of evidence for such. Please read a book. And stop trying to sneak in a “micro/macroevolution” claim. It’s moronic. Lots of little steps add up to large distances.

              Funny how when presented with evidence, you tried to change the discussion and cover up. You’re the reason that people here have overwhelming evidence that vocal Christians are dishonest people. “You mean the evidence which evolutionists admit is not the reason why they believe in evolution?” Really? You’re either too stupid to understand what people are writing, or you’re outright lying. There are no other options. Take your pick, Dimwit or Liar.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Lots of little steps can also get you back where you started.

                If the evidence for evolution is so compelling, why do you believe it and I don’t? The issue isn’t the evidence. It is how we interpret the evidence.

                • Dad

                  “If the evidence for evolution is so compelling, why do you believe it and I don’t?”

                  Because you were raised a Christian.

                • RobMcCune

                  That’s not really an argument when you insist on misinterpreting it.

                • sk3ptik0n

                  Because if you admitted that evolution was true, you’d have to kiss goodbye to a lot of stuff that makes up your worldview. Starting with the Original Sin. Take that away and suddenly Mr. Jesus is being crucified for no other reason that he was a troublemaker, instead of cleaning humanity of the OS.
                  In order to avoid that cognitive dissonance you prefer to misinterpret the evidence and create a reality in need of magic to make sense.
                  And magic doesn’t exist.

                • Michael W Busch

                  If the evidence for evolution is so compelling, why do you believe it and I don’t?

                  Because you are either unaware of or do not understand the evidence, as witnessed by your false claim that there is “no proof that a dog shared a common ancestor with a cat”. There is plenty of evidence that cats and dogs have a common ancestor, which lived about 40 million years ago. You may start learning about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivora

                  As to how we know that there was a single common ancestral population for all life on Earth, you can start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylogenetic_tree & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RRNA

            • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

              I don’t “believe” in evolution. I’ve read about it. It makes sense. The scientists prove their claims. That’s enough. There’s no leap of faith involved.

        • Spuddie

          Where?

          The only people who claim evolution is a fairy tale are the ones pushing their own. The silly one about a mythic sky god creating the world in 6 days and having birds and trees before the sun existed.

    • icecreamassassin

      Well that makes perfect sense to me. Guess I’ll give up the blind faith of atheism and go to a worldview that requires objective evidence to be presented prior to me evaluating the truth-value of a claim.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        Great to hear. You can search through all the religions/worldviews, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time if you just start with Christianity.

        • Willy Occam

          How fucking arrogant is that? You are truly delusional.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            No friendly atheists here. Only “The Inconsistent Atheist”.

            • Willy Occam

              I think you need to look up the word “inconsistent” as a modifier to the word “atheist”; that would imply somebody who goes back and forth between believing in god(s) and not believing in gods… which I doubt is the case with anybody here. You either believe in Santa Claus (bigfoot, unicorns, God) or you don’t. If what you’re trying to do is show that Hemant and others on this site are not consistently “friendly,” then it’s pretty lame to do so by adopting that as your own internet name. But it does make it a lot clearer why you have such trouble understanding simple logic and making sensible arguments.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Funny how when confronted with evidence, you just act pissier. Very Christian of you.

        • icecreamassassin

          Yeah I tried the Christianity bit. The entire “complete and utter lack of objective evidence to suggest any part of the one god with a son sent to redeem mankind through blood as a true claim” thing was a bit of a show-stopper for me.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Your not being able to grasp his describing something as simple as “we can now design programs that simulate natural selection and evolution and see them in action at a desktop” is not the author’s fault.

      Being pissy and childish about things you haven’t bothered to learn isn’t an argument, but it is, unfortunately, very Christian of you.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        I do understand. He designed a simulation. How does he know that it accurately represents reality millions of years ago? How could he possibly know that? He can’t. He’s like a kid who built an impressive sandcastle and thinks he can tell an architect that he didn’t design and build a skyscraper.

        • DavidMHart

          Do you even understand the concept of universal darwinism? Where you have imperfect replication, heredity (i.e. things are more like their ‘parents’ on average than they are like any randomly selected entity from the population pool), and competition for resources so that not everything gets the opportunity to replicate, you will inevitably get some sort of evolutionary process started up. It doesn’t have to be literally like the Earth of X billion years ago, you just need those three factors to get some sort of evolutionary process going. You can create those conditions in a computer simulation, but that doesn’t prove that they don’t sometimes crop up naturally in the universe.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I understand your point. The simulation itself proves nothing. What if a creationist created a simulation that “proved” that none of this could happen without divine intervention? Would that prove anything? No. it works both ways.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Moronic, man, simply moronic. Playing the “were you there” card only shows that you are completely ignorant of the science, in EVERY field, that you’re pretending doesn’t exist.

          Your analogy is broken beyond repair. You really should learn some better logic skills.

        • Kengi

          The simulation is actually a nice simplification of actual natural selection, which makes it a great learning tool for understanding one of the most important mechanics of evolution.

          I’m sure the authors of the book didn’t claim the simulation “proved” evolution. They seem to be claiming it was an important first step in understanding evolution.

    • TiltedHorizon

      “I’ll stick with Christianity–a logically consistent worldview.”

      God lives on Kolob vs God does not on Kolob.
      Celebrating birthdays are good vs Celebrating birthdays are bad.
      Crosses are good vs Crosses are bad.
      The earth is only 6000 years old vs the earth is billions of years old.
      You believe in the trinity vs You don’t believe in the trinity.
      The bible is literal vs The bible figurative.
      Faith healing vs traditional medicine.
      This branch of faith is the only correct interpretation, all others are wrong vs This branch of faith is the only correct interpretation, all others are wrong.

      Yada, yada, yada… The only thing “consistent” about Christianity are the inconsistencies.

    • 3lemenope

      What is the value of a consistent world view?

      • Jasper

        No kidding.

        Consistent != right. And inconsistent != wrong, necessarily. It may just be that we’re still learning, and our current status of knowledge keeps updating as we keep researching, and digging deeper.

        And it just so happens that scientific knowledge has been demonstrably useful in practical applications… even if our knowledge was imperfect, and on occasion, in conflict between different studies… kind of like how we know now that both General Relativity and Quantum Physics aren’t complete models, and contradict one another. That just means there’s more work to do.

        You know… science works.

      • Stev84

        Right. There are plenty of fictional universes that are internally consistent when it comes to their history, religion, politics or philosophy (or mostly saw if it weren’t for writing errors). That doesn’t mean they are true.

    • Plutosdad

      No, randomness combined with selection always results in increase in complexity, That is what he learned, and disproves the counter-intuitive notion that randomness does not make sense.

      Really, your snarky response to someone who obviously struggled for years to reconcile his faith with knowledge, and who also studied for far longer than you (or most of us) is not only ignorant of the study involved but even worse is both insulting and lacks any compassion or empathy.

      • Spuddie

        His response was insulting, lacking empathy and compassion.

        How very Christian. =)

      • http://profiles.google.com/david.mike.simon David Simon

        Randomness combined with selection always results in increase in complexity

        Not always. For example, a sufficiently unstable system will just fall apart before it can increase in complexity. And many selection criteria do not favor complexity.

    • RobMcCune

      Atheism is so confusing.

      Only if what you make up about it is confusing.

    • Makoto

      Nothing is random. that’s the point of genetic programming, which is what the author was discussing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_programming ). In genetic programming, humans impose the pressures which force the code to optimal values for the conditions they desire – speed of execution, for a simple example. Because the computer can run millions of simulations in a day, it can attempt all sorts of things, pit them against each other in time trials, and end up with the best code for the desired output. This is very similar to how race cars are optimized. And how dog breeds are, and when you replace the human desired output with environmental pressures, how natural selection works.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        All the examples you mention involve someone designing something with a goal in mind. That is what Christians believe. That God designed and created everything with a goal in mind.

        The designer of the simulation set the parameters. It was not random, it was designed. He may have designed it to include random factors or to simulate what he believes to be “natural processes”, but those are still design elements based on assumptions.

        • Makoto

          Did you actually read anything about genetic programming? The whole point is that humans don’t know the final design, and want to use pressures so that the computer can find the best design for us.. you know, kind of like how we use computers to do 2+2, but on a much larger scale.

          But okay, you think your god designed everything to end up at us. Prove it. Show me why your god did what it did, and why it makes more sense than any other god out there. There are tons. They have lots of creation stories.. many of which are quite similar to the Christian one. Why does yours make more sense than theirs?

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

          Because something exists don’t necessary mean it has a purpose. It is entirely possible that gawds purpose, or goal as you put it, is actually to do nothing. It is pretty big of you to assume that you know what your gawd’s plan is, just as it is pretty big of you to assume you know exactly how that engineer’s computer program works. Your arguments are made entirely from a position of ignorance.

    • baal

      You’re one of Ken Ham’s brood aren’t you inconsistent? Your personal ignorance doesn’t mean you’re right about the nature of existence.

    • Sven2547

      Atheism is so confusing. It requires way too much blind faith for me. I’ll stick with Christianity–a logically consistent worldview.

      A drive-by nonsensical apologist cliché. This is some pretty obvious flame bait.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

        Yup “it’s” just another transient troll. We will see him in a few days with a brand new alias now that he has been caught.

    • Frank

      Well said!

      • Dad

        His post is a lot of things.

        ‘Well said’ is not one of those things.

        • Frank

          The truth can be inconvenient for some.

          • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

            so true

          • Beutelratti

            The. Irony.

            • Frank

              I know. One day you atheists may wise up.

      • Spuddie

        Well if you like it, then we know he is full of shit.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    “I was raised a fundamentalist and spent four decades living as one; I’m still not ready to call myself an atheist. But after co-authoring this book, I just can’t see where there’s any room for a god.”

    I know where you’re coming from. I called myself an atheist Lutheran for a while, and I still miss reciting the liturgy and singing hymns every week. But eventually it all straightens itself out inside your head. You really can’t be both– your brain will settle on one or the other eventually. It sounds as if perhaps it’s already settled, but you’re not quite ready to accept it, which is fine too. You’ll work it out eventually.

    • Pseudonym

      For the record, you don’t have to lose the liturgy or hymns, any more than you have to lose Greek sculpture when you give up polytheism.

      This applies double to Lutheran hymns. I can’t get enough Praetorius.

      • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

        I tried to attend church for a while. It felt hypocritical. It would have felt even more hypocritical to go back to singing in the choir. I still listen to John Rutter frequently (my choir sung his Requiem once) and sing along at the top of my lungs, and I listen to carols at Christmas. But I don’t believe any of it, and reciting the liturgy in church, or singing hymns there, would make me feel like a poser.

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          Community choruses are a great alternative. You still get to sing all that wonderful music, but without the expectation that you believe any of the lyrics.

        • Pseudonym

          I’m with you on John Rutter (especially the Requiem(, though I find his later stuff a bit too saccharine for my taste.

          That’s cool, BTW. Of course you shouldn’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable if you don’t want to. But many people don’t feel that way; Richard Dawkins nominates Bach’s Mass in B-Minor and St. Matthew Passion as some of his favourite music of all time, and Terry Pratchett said that he’d like to die listening to Thomas Tallis (though he said this before the 50 Shades of Grey craze). My point is that losing faith doesn’t mean you have to give up good taste in music.

      • islandbrewer

        you don’t have to lose the liturgy or hymns, any more than you have to lose Greek sculpture when you give up polytheism

        Now someone tells me! Fuck you, Zeus!

  • Rain

    But after co-authoring this book, I just can’t see where there’s any room for a god.

    Oh there’s still plenty of room. Kenneth Miller’s god is still going strong hiding in the stuff-that-we-don’t-know-yet and in the invsible-stuff-you-can’t-prove-it-ain’t. Like where did the universe come from. God is hiding in areas like that. And in invisible undetectable things like transubstantiation. You can’t prove transubstantiation doesn’t happen. *sticks tongue out* Nanner-nanner boo-boo. So yeah there’s still plenty of room left. Just use some imagination and/or use incomplete knowledge of the universe to your theological advantage. (And then stick your tongue out at people and say nanner-nanner boo-boo.)

    • Space Cadet

      Jesus revealed to me that God is currently between Earth and Mars, having a spot of tea. :-)~ Nanner-nanner boo-boo.

      • Michael W Busch

        Since you mentioned Russel’s teapot: http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.0240 (April 1 joke paper on the arXiv).

        • Space Cadet

          Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed that.

          A tea-based asteroid has probably been fermenting for a time on the order of billions of years, comparable to the solar system age. The process would be slowed by cold and vacuum. Overall, we expect that the ultimate result would be almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

          And that was when I bookmarked it.

          • The Other Weirdo

            So it’s not the taste of dried leaves boiled in water with milk squeezed from a cow?

            • Michael W Busch

              Ten-year old pu’er tastes very little like green teas or what is usually called black tea in English. I would not care to sample billion-year-old tea.

              • The Other Weirdo

                That was just a book reference.

  • Tom

    You didn’t lose your Christian faith…you were cured of it.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      I didn’t lose mine either–I flung it away like anybody sensible would after discovering something harmful and dangerous in hand.

  • Kengi

    You ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Surely your pastors warned you against such an action.

  • jondrake

    You all ought to talk to Fred Heeren at the Kansas City Midwest Skeptics Meetup group.

    He wrote a science book too; now he is post videos on YOUTUBE of a talk at “Reasonfest” in Lawrence in which he disses Christians and talks about how he is trying to reach them with “science”.

    • Spuddie

      There is certainly a lot to diss Christians about.

      Constant dishonesty, being obnoxiously rude yet expecting civility from others, the casual bigotry, their inability to engage in rational discussion…

  • jondrake

    Edwin Suominen has no academic qualifications in Evolutionary Science, neither does Robert Price.

    • Kengi

      Which is why they didn’t write a textbook on evolution, but instead wrote a book about a personal journey of discovery involving learning about evolution.

      • jondrake

        So if you want to learn about evolution, you can skip this book.

        Their personal journey doesn’t mean shit.

        • Spuddie

          And if you want to learn how people get out of the closed mindset of a creationist, then you might want to read it.

        • Kengi

          “So if you want to learn about evolution, you can skip this book.”

          Absolutely. There are some great books which were designed to teach about the mechanics of evolution.

          “Their personal journey doesn’t mean shit.”

          What? I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. Perhaps it doesn’t have meaning for you personally, but many other people are interested in their journey.

          Just because Macbeth isn’t an accurate historical account doesn’t mean it has no value.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Oh, just like a personal journey to find Jesus doesn’t mean shit.

          Speaking of whom, does Jesus love that you’re being a nasty, dismissive hypocrite for him? How about your making jokes about child rape recently? Does Jesus appreciate that from you?

  • C Peterson

    It’s an odd thing, this connection between evolution and the loss of faith (particularly Christianity). On the surface, there’s no reason this should occur. After all, there’s nothing about understanding nature that is intrinsically at odds with Christianity. Christianity certainly doesn’t demand a literal interpretation of the Bible- that is demonstrated by the hundreds of millions of Christians who are not fundies. And that fundamentalism is the key. Evolution is obviously true, and anybody who looks at it with an open mind will recognize that truth. But fundamentalism leaves no room for flexibility. Everything is black and white. So when you recognize a scientific truth that is at odds with a literal reading of the Bible, there is no option but to throw out the Biblical view. And if you throw out one point, you might as well throw them all out, and that means that you’re likely to become an atheist, or at the very least, some sort of “none”.

    Evolution is no threat at all to most Christians, and doesn’t result in their loss of faith. By far, this is a problem for fundamentalists- which no doubt is why fundamentalists are the ones who go to the most effort to shield themselves, and especially their children, from evolution.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      It’s an odd thing, this connection between evolution and the loss of
      faith (particularly Christianity). On the surface, there’s no reason
      this should occur. After all, there’s nothing about understanding nature
      that is intrinsically at odds with Christianity…

      Yes there is. Certainly, one would have to give up the Biblical literalist approach. But suppose we discard the talking snake story, and instead claim that the story of Adam and Eve is an allegory. So original sin is an allegory? That’s a blow. And then what, did Jesus H. Christ die for an allegory? That really lets the air out if it.

      • C Peterson

        Clearly, empirically, there is no need for Christians to believe in the literal truth of everything in the Bible. Most don’t. We don’t see Catholics learning about evolution and leaving their church. We don’t see Lutherans or Anglicans doing so.

        Original sin can be whatever dogma defines it to be. The point is, it’s something philosophical. It isn’t fact based, and it can never be contradicted by science. Christianity can support any amount of woo without coming into conflict with science.

        It’s the fundies who are in trouble. It’s the fundies that have no wiggle room. It’s the fundies that obviously believe stuff that is factually wrong. So it’s the fundies that are most likely to leave their churches when exposed to actual knowledge. And that scares them.

        • Art_Vandelay

          I disagree with you here. I can’t argue that most Christians have no problem reconciling evolution with their faith but it’s not so much that they’ve reconciled it as much as it they just don’t think about it. If you accept evolution as a natural, unguided process, you lose the idea that you were divinely created. If you accept evolution as a divinely guided process with the purpose of making homo-sapiens, it’s not evolution that you’re accepting. In order to avoid all this cognitive dissonance…I think the Christians that you speak of just chose to ignore it.

          • C Peterson

            Actually, I think that most people who believe in divinely created humans have no problem at all reconciling that with evolution. Because everything observable about evolution continues to work if some deity is directing things. The random element- the specific genetic changes that are selected for or against- can’t be scientifically shown to not be directed. So in practice, I think the level of cognitive dissonance isn’t all that high- certainly not enough to drive non-fundamentalist Christians away from their churches or away from theism- at least, not by itself.

            I think with more intellectually developed Christians, evolution is an element in helping them find reason. Not because it conflicts directly with their teachings, but rather, because it demonstrates that a god isn’t necessary to explain something that is pretty fundamental to most god dogma- the divine creation of humans. “Not necessary” is a more subtle concept than “in direct conflict with”.

            • Art_Vandelay

              I think it’s really all a matter of how far people are willing to water down their Christianity. Personally, I don’t think you can get past Genesis 1 without the whole thing going to shit. I also know some people who don’t even think that Jesus was God and happily call themselves Christians. That word means so many things that it doesn’t mean anything.

              • C Peterson

                Most Christians don’t pay much attention to Genesis, except in picture books for their kids.

                I wouldn’t call these things “watering down”, but evolving ideas. Religion is necessarily conservative. It doesn’t like to change. It resists. But like every other aspect of human society, it does change. Modern Christians wouldn’t recognize the Christianity of the 2nd century. That doesn’t mean it got watered down, it means it changed.

                The fundie version of Christianity is doomed. But that some other form of Christianity will probably survive a long time, with many followers (including well educated ones) seems pretty certain. Because it will adapt. And the best way to survive? Abandon all those aspects of biblical teaching tied to explaining the natural world. That doesn’t interfere with the philosophy that most Christians consider important to their belief system. And the stuff that’s left isn’t challenged by science.

                • Art_Vandelay

                  There are as many forms of Christianity as there are Christians. The mere idea alone that humans get to take a divinely-inspired book and then chose what’s right and wrong about it while still considering the dude who inspired it the key to their morality contradicts everything they believe. They can believe whatever they’d like and call themselves whatever they’d like but let’s not pretend for a second this is an intellectually honest position to take. Yes, I agree that most Christians ignore Genesis but they do that because it’s in direct conflict with evolution. It’s not like that many people were calling it allegorical, pre-Darwin.

              • Keyra

                “I also know some people who don’t even think that Jesus was God and happily call themselves Christians.”, even if that wasn’t a bs claim, that makes them Jewish

                • Paul D.

                  It’s not BS at all. Arian Christianity, the main alternative to Trinitarian Christianity for the first six centuries or so, does not hold that Jesus is equal to God. This branch died out for a while, but many new Arian denominations have arisen since the Reformation. Arians are not Jewish any more than Muslims are.

                • Pseudonym

                  You’re Jewish if a) your mother was Jewish, or b) you undergo an official prostelyte conversion. So… no.

          • Pseudonym

            What you say is true of most Christians, but it’s true of most people, full stop. The fact that the majority of theologians “have no problem reconciling evolution with their faith” should be sufficient evidence that it’s not lack of thinking about it that’s the underlying cause.

            • C Peterson

              If you’ve ever read the output of theologians, you’d know that very few of them know how to think in a rational way. They base their conclusions on premises that virtually always are nothing more than unsubstantiated (and unsubstantiatable) assumptions.

              Garbage in, garbage out.

              • Pseudonym

                Never attribute to GIGO that which can adequately be explained by Sturgeon’s Revelation.

        • Bryan Richards

          Faiths themselves are incompatible with science and its methodologies. To apply reasoning and logic to any belief that is based on nonsense, unfounded ideas, or faith results in either changing your mind, or digging in and forcing yourself to be ignorant.

          • Frank

            There is nothing incompatible between faith and science.

            • Bryan Richards

              Then why do so many scientists stop believing?

              • Frank

                All types of people lose their faith for different reasons. Any scientist who loses their faith because of science didn’t understand faith in the first place.

                • Bryan Richards

                  They don’t lose faith because they don’t understand faith, they lose faith because of what they do understand. Seems you don’t understand science very well either. The null hypothesis and the burden of proof alone defeat most faith based concepts.

                • Jim Farmelant

                  ” Any scientist who loses their faith because of science didn’t understand faith in the first place.”

                  On the face of it, it looks like we have here an example of the No True Scotsman Fallacy. At any rate, this looks like a faith-based statement that can never be refuted empirically because for Frank any scientist who loses his religious faith, by definition, never had “true” faith in the first place.

              • C Peterson

                Then why do so many scientists stop believing?

                Faith isn’t necessarily incompatible with scientific knowledge, it is incompatible with the scientific method.

                Many people who have faith-based belief systems understand a great deal of scientific knowledge. What most non-scientists lack, however, is a firm grasp of the methods of scientific reasoning.

                The reason a majority of scientists are atheists (with that number increasing in scientists of greater rank) is that most scientists know how to reason, and reasoning is completely at odds with the very concept of faith.

            • RobMcCune

              Sure, it’s easy just discard all the silly things you’re supposed to have faith in, oh wait…

            • Mayeo

              then why are u fundies so “hell”bent to bring it into schools.. treat it like any other myth, ask urself why dont u believe in Zeus, Allah, Ahura Mazda, Tenryko-O-Mikoto, Krishan..?
              Can you prove any of the other gods do NOT exist?

              keep science alive and child brainwashing at bay.

          • nijelb

            miracles are such that yes methodology cant be applied to it. but the bible is the only relegious book with tons of archeological evidence. i have to ask why was one of the blind men that jesus healed. healed in two steps. step 1 things like scabs fell off his eyes (cataract) he then saw a bler. step 2 he was then healed by jesus of his mental blindness and saw clearly. today we know that mental blindness after long term blindness is a fact. the brain and nerve need time to recover function like a newborn baby. science proves the bible correct.

            • Bryan Richards

              Spiderman comics have evidence too. New york is a real place, therefore spiderman must be real.

              ^This is exactly the type of shitty logic you just employed.

              Beyond that you think science proves the bible… well science knows that the earth is an oblate spheroid with uneven gravity, the bible thinks the earth is flat and round like a plate.

      • Pseudonym

        For the record, “original sin” isn’t an allegory under this model. It’s a real phenomenon: the tendency of humans to do what they know they shouldn’t, and to fail to do what they know they should. The only remaining problem with “original sin”, then, is that it has an archaic and slightly misleading name.

        • Art_Vandelay

          There’s way more problems with original sin than the name. The idea that you’re deemed a sinner before you’ve sinned is a problem. Hell…the idea of sin itself is a problem. The way that Christians cherry-pick that book…who the hell knows what is and isn’t a sin anymore?

          • C Peterson

            who the hell knows what is and isn’t a sin anymore?

            The same thing as always… nothing at all.

          • Pseudonym

            The idea that you’re deemed a sinner before you’ve sinned is a problem.

            FWIW, I don’t have a problem with being considered mortal before I die.

            Hell…the idea of sin itself is a problem. The way that Christians cherry-pick that book…who the hell knows what is and isn’t a sin anymore?

            You’ve opened a huge can of worms there, which I won’t go into given the forum. I will just note that the notion of a misdeed being “a sin” (as opposed to “sin” referring to a general state that humanity may find itself in) doesn’t appear in the teachings of Jesus or the authentic letters of Paul. Thats part of the reason why there’s been quite a bit of rethinking of the concept in the last century or so.

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      I would agree that it is possible to believe in a god that chooses to direct evolution so that it looks exactly like a natural process with a random component at the level of genetic recombination and mutation. Consider two equally likely random numbers. Perhaps god chooses one of them for a particular reason but the god makes the choice so that from outside, the choices look completely random. There is no objective test that can show that a god is making the choices. It all appears exactly like it would appear if there was no god involved at all. Yes, I think it would be possible to believe that a god is involved in evolution in his way. It is also possible that such a person could call themselves a Christian (probably for cultural reasons). There may even be a lot of people that fall in this category. Of course people could also argue that such a god hypothesis is completely unnecessary but there is nothing illogical about it. The god hypothesis can just be easily carved off by Occam’s razor.
      Most Christians, though, want their god hypothesis to have more teeth and relevance to their world. That is where they get into trouble. The fundamentalists get into the most trouble.

    • Mary Leinart

      So, one could argue that fundamentalism is not the fittest form of Christianity, and eventually that religion will evolve away from it, if it has any hope of surviving. :)

  • Plutosdad

    Computer modelling really affected me in the same way. One problem with evolution is that it is very hard for us to image the vast expanse of time. It is not intuitive to many of us, and assuming someone must have made it makes more sense. That is where the watchmaker comes in, it’s not a logical argument, it’s visceral.

    But the modelling really brings it home. You can model billions and billions of generations in weeks instead of millions of millions of years, and suddenly it’s possible, you see it right in front of you.

    Combine that with the Lenske experiments that did the same thing using fast-reproducing bacteria, discovering 2 mutations that worked together but are completely unrelated in just a few years, and evolution is not only possible but probable.

    But again, it’s modern technology that lets us model and simulate and do the vast numbercrunching required, that allows us to overcome our balking at the vast distance and time involved.

    • Tobias2772

      Very good point. This is what I first tell my students whenever this topic is braoched. Humans cannot get their heads wrapped around the concept of change over millions and millions of years. I have never used the modeling to which you refer, but I can imagine the effect.

  • Jasper

    I’m getting the distinct impression that this “Inconsistent Atheist” fellow has never had to defend the Bible’s position on slavery. He’s probably just been told by his pastor that the Bible meant something else, and didn’t bother to look into it further.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      He is a troll, if you look at his diqus profile he has made only a few comments in the last few days, whereas some of us here have nearly a thousand or more comments he has just breached 50+. I wouldn’t take anything he has to say with a grain of salt. I suspect “Inconsistent Atheist” is just an alias for “Free” or any of the other transient trolls we get here.
      Add: Jondrake
      Add: Frank
      Probably all the same person.

      • Jasper

        Probably. I figure at least the rebuttals may be useful to others.

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          Yes, we’re not writing to change the mind of Mr. Inconsistent Ahole, we’re writing for the people reading this who have heard those same bad arguments in their churches, but have never heard the rebuttals. Until now.

          • Frank

            I am still waiting for actual cogent rebuttals not based in ignorance.

            • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

              OK, here goes. You have provided no evidence for any of the extraordinary claims your religion has made. Until such time as you provide evidence commensurate with your claims, we reject them as unsupported. Until you provide support for your religion, we reject any claims you make based on that religion.

              • Dad

                That about covers it.

              • Frank

                Your rejection is your loss.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Your rejection is your loss.

                  You have not provided evidence for that claim either.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  No, It’s my gain. I’ve discarded cognitive dissonance, believing a book that contradicts itself and reality, and spending large amounts of time and money bowing down in expensive pointy houses to a projection of the human ego. Out with fear of imaginary punishments, out with guilt for simply being human, and out with believing that a magic fairy will fix everything if you just believe hard enough. I’ve gained the freedom choose the meaning and purpose of my life for myself, instead of having it dictated to me by self-appointed representatives of whichever “one true god” they are following.
                  I’ve seen “the man behind the curtain” and you will never again convince me to be afraid of “The Great and Powerful OZ”.

                • Frank

                  Still waiting for the cogent response. I suspect I will be waiting forever.

                • decathelite

                  What is your objective in commenting here? Do you revel in pointing out the supposed absurdities of atheism in the hopes that folks here will change their minds? How’s that working for you? Almost all of your comments are patronizing or outright negative.

                  I am not a Christian but Romans 14:19 applies here I think.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  The same amount of time you are prepared to wait for Jesus to come back, or for all the billions of prayers for world peace to be answered.

                • Matt D

                  SInce you lack the understanding of what a cognent response is, you will indeed be waiting. It won’t be forever, though.

                • Matt D

                  No.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                Not true. You have simply chosen to reject the evidence presented to you.

                “Evidence” cannot prove anything if someone chooses to reject it. All evidence is interpreted within a worldview.

                The atheistic worldview is inconsistent.

                • Mogg

                  “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  Our standards for evidence are really high, because the god claim is so extraordinary. Arguments aren’t evidence. Asserting the truth of an ancient book isn’t evidence. Confirmation bias isn’t evidence. Anecdotes aren’t evidence.

                  There are lots of things that would change my mind about the existence of a god, but believers have never been able to produce anything of the sort: The stars rearranging to spell out bible verses. KJV bibles growing on the tree in my front yard instead of crabapples. A group of believers prays for Mt. Vesuvius to relocate to somewhere less dangerous, and it actually happens.

                  Or, simpler, I have a pass-phrase. A sentence in plain English that I’ve never told anybody, but thought in my head plenty of times. A sentence that is very unlikely to come up in a normal conversation. An omniscient god would know what it is. And omnipotent god could tell somebody what it is. Any god that wanted me to listen to one particular evangelist over all the others could tell that person to come to me and say that sentence. Ask your god what it is, and if your next reply starts with that sentence, you will have my undivided attention, and I will consider very carefully everything you say.

                  Is there any evidence that would change your mind about the existence of god(s)?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So you won’t believe in God unless He meets your standard of evidence? It sounds like you want to be “god” instead of Him.

                  How about someone rising from the dead? But I’m sure that wouldn’t convince you either. Jesus Christ said that if someone won’t believe the Bible, they wouldn’t even believe if someone rose from the dead.

                  Lack of evidence is not the problem.

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  That wasn’t the pass-phrase, sorry. You didn’t even try. Apparently your god does not want you to be the one to convert me. Actually, if your biblegod existed, he’d know exactly what evidence would convince me better than I would, and be able to send it. But nothing so far, so your god is either weak, imaginary, or an asshole. I’m going with imaginary.

                  I’d take someone rising from the dead, but not some unverifiable tall tale about it happening a long time ago. And not somebody who is only mostly dead coming back either, we can do that with a defibrillator. Your bible says that true believers are supposed to be able to work great miracles, so you can start with raising my Dad. He died in 1983, so if you can bring him back, that would do the trick.

                  Think about how much evidence it would take to persuade you that your belief in Jesus is incorrect, and that you should follow Krishna instead. Some guy on the internet quoting the Bhagavad Gita at you isn’t going to do it, right? How about if he feels Krishna in his heart? Still not enough, right? It would, and should, take an enormous amount of really convincing evidence to persuade you of the reality of Krishna. Why should we expect a different standard from you?

                • trj

                  Lack of evidence is not the problem.

                  The quality of your “evidence” is the problem. We have plenty of anecdotes about people rising from the dead, but these anecdotes (or scripture passages or whatever) invariably fail to be confirmable. For that matter, I can get claims of raising the dead from plenty of other religions besides Christianity. Based on your standards of evidence (“Someone tells me about it, so I believe it”) these other claims are just as credible as the ones you make – ie. not at all.

                  So you won’t believe in God unless He meets your standard of evidence? It sounds like you want to be “god” instead of Him.

                  Don’t be daft. Asking for evidence is not playing god.

  • Greg McHone

    You don’t have to be against evolutionary theory to be a Christian. You just need to pay attention to the teachings of Jesus, who said nothing about evolution or the age of the Earth or the movements of planets around the sun. There’s a huge amount of ignorance, baloney, and messages of downright hate in both the old and new testaments, which are un-Christian and should be ignored. Just as Jesus himself would and did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anonomouse.fred Anonomouse Fred

      Well, its pretty easy for Jesus to have ignored the New Testament it being written a long time after he was dead.

    • Dad

      Greg-

      And ff you ignore all the terrible stuff, you’ll probably end up with “be good and be just”, which is the same conclusion reached by me and everyone else who is born with, and cultivates, basic human empathy.

      • Beet LeRace

        RIGHT?! And those basic moral teachings (for those that still need them) could be delivered in a FAR less dangerous format…

        It’s like shipping a pair of earrings in a wooden crate filled with styrofoam peanuts. GET A SMALLER FREAKIN’ BOX!

        • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

          Poisonous styrofoam peanuts.

          • Beet LeRace

            That won’t ever biodegrade!

      • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

        Exactly…and we manage to do it without being afraid of going to hell if we don’t.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      Yes I agree that the philosophies of Plato Socratics and Aristotle are so good even Jebus adopted them.

    • trj

      So basically we should ignore all the stupid and evil crap in the Bible and just be good.

      That’s the kind of Christianity I can get behind, even if I still think it would be easier to discard all the remaining supernatural crap and move straight to humanism.

      I wish you luck in convincing your fellow Christians that you have the right approach.

      • Greg McHone

        Read this recently, which has the most sense of any book about Christianity that I know of: http://www.amazon.com/The-Gospel-According-Jesus-Translation/dp/0060923210

      • Greg McHone

        I think there is more to being a Christian than just being good, although I can’t claim to be there myself, either. I just have a hard time with the strange definition of “Christian” that many people seem to have, which can’t be right. They are not my fellows, and most won’t be convinced by me anyway.

        • trj

          Seems like every Christian believes most other Christians are not Christian.

          • Greg McHone

            That’s only true for some. I am not included because I probably don’t qualify as one, although I am thinking of what it is all about and how the label should be defined. Getting old puts those thoughts to the front.

    • Beet LeRace

      Greg, maybe you can clarify why the bible is worth reading at all if it requires so much of it to be rejected, and little Jesus nuggets picked out gingerly? I mean Jesus sounds nice, but there are so many contemporary exemplary humans that have so much more to say, so much more to contribute to humanity without the baggage of dogma. I suppose I just don’t get why Jesus keeps people so tethered to a book which almost always on the wrong side of big moral issues? Genuinely curious here, no ill-will meant.

      • Greg McHone

        Jesus left no writings but of course he was a good Jewish scholar and so took what we call the Old Testament seriously. The real problem is separating all the stuff supposedly written on his behalf in the New Testament from what he actually said and taught. Read “The Gospel According to Jesus“ by Stephen Mitchell for the best perspective on what is real vs. what is misleading.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          And how do we choose what to believe and what not to believe from the same book. Look, I have read the entire bible and I’ll agree that there is some good (and some horrible) stuff in there. I’m rather fond of the parable of the good Samaritan. But that is just treating it like any other work of fiction. I also find many stories from other mythologies compelling or useful, but I don’t believe in the supernatural part of any of those stories either.

          • Greg McHone

            I am a scientist not a bibical scholar, so I read various sources with a skeptical eye and believe or not as it makes sense to me. I don’t like the supernatural crap either, I think that part was thought necessary by writers at the time because everyone was so superstitious and believed so absolutely in magic. Much more so than today. Ignore all that, remember that some of the so-called quotes of Jesus were made up or severely edited as the gospels were re-written, and look for the messages that are consistent. If you read Mitchell’s book cited above you will see what I mean.

    • Sandy Knauer

      So, you are saying that disregarding the bible would lead to being a better Christian? I might be able to second that.

      • Greg McHone

        You should remember that the New Testament was written and re-written 1700 years ago by and for people of their own times, while the Old Testament is much older and recorded for an even more different society than any we know. Certainly the Bible expresses many timeless values, but it also has many rules, laws, stories, and advice that make no sense today. Read it as an important historical document, but keep it in context. To be a good Christian you need to find the real message and teaching of Jesus, which is not easy among all the different texts written and re-written by so many well-meaning (or some not so) people. Read “The Gospel According to Jesus” by Stephen Mitchell for a good summary of the problem.

        • Travis Myers

          But Jesus himself believed that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God. So if there are problems with the old testament, then there are problems with Jesus’ teachings.

          • Greg McHone

            Yes, but his interpretations of the Old Testament were a lot more liberal than most people of his time, and for some in our time too. He conducted activities on the Sabbath that drew severe criticism, and was quite ready to forgive people contrary to the old laws. His new way of thinking about how to conduct your life was too radical for many back then, and for many now.

            • Arawhon

              Actually, depending on which book you read his message is starts very close to that espoused in the old testament and gets progressively more “liberal” the later they are written.

        • Michael W Busch

          That assumes that there was a historical Jesus, and that the earliest extant Christian texts preserved what said historical Jesus taught in some recoverable fashion, and that said teachings are something that should be given credence over the teachings of others.

          The last is impossible to justify, because there is no evidence for a historical Jesus who was anything other than a normal human (I defer to the professional historians on the debate of if someone we could call a historical Jesus actually existed at all).

          • Greg McHone

            Well, it is a stretch to think that Jesus is an invention, since he was real enough for reputable contemporary historians such as Josephus and Tacitus. I would agree with you that he was very human although hardly normal for the times. It is up to you to decide if his teachings should be given credence over others, but as I say, it can be difficult to know what he actually taught versus what some people claimed he taught, sometimes centuries afterward.

            • Michael W Busch

              he was real enough for reputable contemporary historians such as Josephus and Tacitus.

              No, Josephus did not talk about the Jesus referred to in the Bible. Neither did Tacitus. Josephus mentioned a person called Jesus, but that was Jesus ben Damneus, a Jewish high priest. There is the Testimonium Flavianum section in extant copies of Josephus’ work, but that was a later addition to the text by a Christian author. Tacitus described early Christians and what they believed, which is not the same thing as saying there was a historical Jesus.

              I pull from Wikipedia and its sources, which notes the huge debates associated with those passages and the arguments about if they reflect there having been a historical Jesus or not. But whatever historical Jesus there may have been was not the character portrayed in Christian texts.

              it can be difficult to know what he actually taught versus what some people claimed he taught

              I would say that it is impossible to do that reconstruction with any confidence. But even if you did, there is no evidence for what a historical Jesus said to be considered as anything more than a person making stuff up.

              • Greg McHone

                Yes, people make stuff up. Believe what you wish.

            • Thin-ice

              Greg, get with accepted biblical scholarship, not Christian apologetics. The Josephus bit is clearly out of place, and is widely regarded as a Christian interpolation during copying. And Tacitus only passed on what Christians were saying about the crucifixion of Jesus, and NOTHING about the life of Jesus. Sorry chap, but that leaves you with zilch extra-biblical sources for “the” Jesus.

          • Sandy Knauer

            Also assumes that there was some logical reason that historical Jesus didn’t write for himself. There were scribes at the time, weren’t there?

        • Sandy Knauer

          I don’t need to remember any of that because the bible plays no part in my life other than to be an annoyance when others try to use it as an excuse to be as ugly as they want. The world would suit me much better if we all stopped talking about “good Christians” and just talked about good people. Christians have no claim to goodness or values – some of them are good, others aren’t, same as the rest of us.

        • Discordia

          Seems odd that a message that is supposed to be so important would take so such work to figure out, and would be shared in a time where 90% or better of the worlds population was ILLITERATE.

          I cannot imagine a god that would go out of its way to hide critical information from it’s prized creatures while so much is at stake, and punish said creatures for failing to find what it has so cleverly hidden. That’s no better than a NBA player volunteering at a children’s day care and hiding all the eggs from the 3′ tall kids in areas they could not hope to reach and then punishing the children for not finding all the eggs.

    • Thin-ice

      Jesus said, “He who does not hate his mother and father and sister and brother, is not worthy of me.”

      Thanks, Greg, you can keep your Jesus.

  • Keyra

    Francis Collins is one of the top experts on evolution yet, he;’s wise enough to realize there’s a God

    • SpontOrder

      Keyra, that’s sort of to play an odd game, Collins is clearly among the minority of ‘top experts on evolution’ who ‘realize’ there’s a God.

      • Keyra

        And?

        • Beet LeRace

          You’re argument – that a top expert in evolution believes in a God, seems to suggest that being a top expert in evolution lends one credibility on the topic of whether there’s a god.

          So if being an expert on evolution means you know more about whether God exists, and FAR FAR FAR more evolution scientists support the atheist perspective, then your logic about Collins sort of falls apart eh?

          The merit of ideas isn’t based on the quality of the mind holding the idea; it’s based on the quality of the evidence. And for god, the evidence is nil.

        • islandbrewer

          And frankly, Francis Collins is more of a “top” expert (more accurately, a famous expert) in molecular biology, really.

          Richard Dawkins is more of a top expert on evolution. I’d also include folks like the late Allan Wilson, Svante Paabo, Kevin Padian in that “top” list, even if they’re not as famous.

    • sk3ptik0n

      Why would that make him wise? Since proving god is impossible, as a scientist he is taking a position of pure faith without any supporting evidence. “look at the trees, look at the sky” is not evidence and neither is “The genome is so complex that a god must have made it up”.
      Collins is undoubtedly an important scientist, but his views on religion and evolution are no more profound than your average youtube comment by a supporter of guided evolution.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Many people believe many things. Their belief is not evidence that they are true. collin’s belief in god is no more proof of the existence of that god than his colleagues’ lack of belief is proof that no god exists. Belief is not evidence.

    • Matt D

      Calling people who agree with you, “wise”, is not an honest observation.

    • Peter_Dickinson

      Francis Collins is NOT an expert on evolution. He WAS a geneticist. Now he is an administrator, and a not very good one at that.

  • Sandy Knauer

    Hope everyone else figures this out before the quiverful.

  • nubwaxer

    thank you. i request that religious people do not take it on themselves against my wishes to pray for me. true atheism is not denial of god but the denial of god as even a topic for discussion. people who belief facts over fiction would gladly never consider a concept of god except for the fact of religious people aggressively trying to impose that concept on us.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anonomouse.fred Anonomouse Fred

      “true atheism is not A SCOTSMAN.”

      Fixed that for you.

  • Derek

    I think one has to specify what kind of evolution we are talking about. Darwin’s theory of evolution is a fatally flawed enterprise whereas later evolutionary sciences are for the most part accurate and legitimate. Having said that evolution is phenomenology – it simply describes the material world and process. It doesn’t prove or disprove atheism or religion – though I daresay older creationist theories are as bad if not worse than Darwin.

    • Spuddie

      I would change that to say ALL creationist theories are worse than Darwin. Not one of them is grounded in a scientific thought. Merely excuse-making and fallacy used to browbeat people into Biblical literalism.

    • Michael W Busch

      Darwin’s theory of evolution is a fatally flawed enterprise

      No. It is not. Darwin developed a basic theory of evolutionary biology that is correct in most respects, and was an adequate explanation of the evidence he had available. We now have much more information, which we have used to produce more sophisticated and accurate models in the modern evolutionary synthesis (which is also called the neo-Darwinian sythesis, reflecting the continuing importance of Darwin’s work).

      And there is no such thing as a “creationist theory” – all creationist models are contradicted by the evidence (except Last Thursdayism, which is by definition unfalsifiable and therefore not actually a theory).

      • Spuddie

        Creationist theory is contradiction of terms.

  • Eric

    Ed, please drop by http://www.christianevolution.com which seeks to enlighten folks to many of the same questions.

  • Magdalen

    I am fascinated by this blog because you were a conservative Christian. I have 6 children because I wanted to obey the teaching on fertility by the Catholic Church. Now I feel like I was lead down this path and abandoned to a life of stress and anxiety. Did your wife also leave the faith?

  • nijel

    well you should have gone back to basics dude. the millions or billions of years just doesnt exist. check out rate of erosion on Australian coast line. no uplift present due to its central position on tectonic plate. the hole country would cease to exist in a very short period of time. the mere fact that it still fits back into the prehistoric global jigsaw puzzle proves its relatively young. not even a million years old. archeological and historical evidence also exists in ample amounts. id be happy to share it with you. sorry to see you have accepted the far less then rational alternative. as the time just isnt there to permit for evolution. all the end time signs are upon earthquakes increase in knowledge wars and travel. the generation that shall witness these things shall not pass away.we are very close now to the end time. mark of the beast that you cannot buy or sell without it is comming i would say. lets not forget radiometric dating never dated anything correctly ever. many strong creation arguments exist , you just need to look for them.


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