Louise Antony on Obedience to God

Obedience to such a God [i.e., the vengeful, despotic God depicted in the pages of the Hebrew Bible] would not be morally virtuous; it would be, at best, prudent. One does not owe allegiance to another being simply because that being is stronger. And it does not matter if the being in question is responsible for your very existence. No one thinks that an abused child is morally obliged to obey an abusive parent, simply because the parent gave the child life. Parents do not own their children, and their right to expect obedience is contingent upon their being benevolent and comptent trustees of the child’s own welfare.

Louise Antony, “Atheism as Perfect Piety,” in Robert K. Garcia and Nathan L. King, eds., Is Goodness without God Good Enough? A Debate on Faith, Secularism, and Ethics (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), 80.

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17801369779625472334 Pete Hoge

    As a Christian I was afraid to ask
    a potent question:

    " is my God really worthy of
    respect, let alone worship"?

    At some point I vocally cursed
    the God of my faith and ancestors
    and hope that he would burn in
    the Hell that unbelievers are
    supposedly destined for.

    If by slim chance Satan is real
    (and now my true Lord), then I
    have made my bed and I will
    sleep in it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    If you're looking for a God you can respect, a God whose morals are as good as for better than yours, what do you think of Jesus Christ?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    You mean, assuming he's actually the son of the brutal entity Louise Anthony is talking about?

    It seems, then, that Jesus is no better than his father. After all, he always agrees with his father's actions, and acts in coordination with him.

    That said, it seems to me that Jesus actually showed a much worse aspect of the biblical god.
    The brutality of God is depicted more frequently in the Hebrew Bible, but if you take a look at Jesus' doctrine, that seems to include infinite torture for some people, after they "die" – or, more precisely, after they go from this realm to another one.
    Talk about forgiveness, offering the other cheek, etc., might tend to depict a less monstrous entity, but those are drops in the fiery ocean of Hell, so to speak.

    Of course, you might be a Christian who interprets the Bible differently and believes there is no Hell.

    If so, please let me know what Jesus actually does, promises, etc., so that I can adjust my assessment accordingly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    "Hell" is a condition on earth that owes to our sins. In the afterlife, everyone goes to heaven, which I explain here: http://wp.me/pKqSA-1

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    Okay, so no hell.

    That's a much less evil entity – assuming heaven is a reasonably good place to live in, that is -, but I'm afraid still despotic, brutal, and generally bad.

    After all, Jesus is the son of the god of the Hebrew bible; that he is his son would have no relevance in the case of humans, but in this case, being the son somehow in a mysterious way makes him the same substance as his father, and so he always agrees with his father's actions, acts in agreement with him, and so on.

    P.S: There are alternative ways of showing why that entity would not be good, but we don't need a full-fledged argument from evil or from suffering when we have the specific actions of the Old Testament to make the case.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu

    When you are unwilling to believe something, you can always find reasons not to believe it.

    The idea you should consider, whenever you have a quiet moment, is if your unwillingness to believe that God is good and that He loves you, as well as all human beings, is what has kept the evidence of His existence in your life at bay.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    I'm afraid your reply is missing the point.

    My reasons for concluding that the Christian god does not exist, or whether the Christian god exists, are not matters under discussion.

    Rather, one of the issues is whether the obedience to the Christian god would be virtuous, if he existed, and a more general one is the character of the Christian god.

    Whether he exists is beside the point in this context. We can assess the morality of the actions of, say, Pol Pot, or the actions of Darth Vader for that matter. Existence is orthogonal to the points under consideration.

    We might for that matter assume the Christian god does exist, and the conclusion would remain the same.

    On that note, I do not know what your prefer version of the Bible is, but since they're all similar, I'll quote some brief passages from the King James Bible – please, let me know if you prefer another version instead, and I will adjust my reply accordingly.


    Deuteronomy 22:

     20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
     21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

    Leviticus 20:
    13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
     14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
     15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
     16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    So, the Christian god commands to stone a woman to death for having sex before marriage and then claim to be a virgin and get married, or to burn two women and a man to death if he marries both of them, etc.

    How is he good?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    My reply may be missing your point, but it is not missing mine.

    If you are willing to take a journey with me, both of us seeking truth and willing to follow wherever it leads us, then I'm game.

    However, you are proposing an argument independent of that issue. Have it with others. I am not interested in arguing for arguing's sake.

    Lastly, so as to not send you away completely empty-handed, I will tell you that the reason you can look with disdain on the practices of a society that preceded you by some three thousand years is precisely because Jesus Christ came and defeated the powers of heaven. Should you ever decide to undertake the honest and vulnerable journey, the Bible will explain to you just how He did that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    Your reply – most of it – is not only missing my point; it's missing the issues this thread is about.

    But that aside, I have a question: What do you mean by saying that Jesus defeated the powers of heaven?

    According to nearly all versions of Christianity, Jesus is the ruler of heaven, alongside his father who is also the same substance as Jesus.

    Are you saying that Jesus and the entity described in the Old Testament are not the same entity?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    They are one and the same, but not in the way that you think:

    http://wp.me/pKqSA-1lm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    If they're one and the same, then, the fact remains that the Christian god gave those commands – in the story, of course, not in reality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379426257309938220 JB

    Hello, I would like to add a few comments to your quote from the post:

    First, you frame the God of the Hebrew Bible in a manner that fits your picture of conveniently, but fail to take into account his covenantal faithfulness to the people of Israel despite their covenant unfaithfulness. That’s a big picture theme throughout the entire OT. No matter what rebellion, no matter what rejection, God maintained and upheld the covenant. Additionally, the logical path that you created in owing allegiance or obedience unfairly implies that God-human relationship is similar to an abused child-parent relationship. As evidenced by God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel in the OT, his selfless sacrifice on the cross in the NT, God is certainly not a child abuser.

    Furthermore, the parent-child metaphor works on some levels, but it fails when you say that a person does not owe allegiance or obedience to God because he created them. God’s creation of mankind is different than that of childbirth, first because God created man out of nothing. He did not birth man, but he created man. Second, in his creation-creator relationship, God has dominion over all creation, whereas a parent is only a human, just like the child. A parent’s only designed and intended responsibility with a child is to raise him or her up, providing care and protection. God does provide that, but we relate to him not only as a father, but as Lord with dominion over all his creation. For this reason, God’s creation under his dominion should rightfully pledge allegiance to it’s creator.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    If I say that Angra Mainyu said, "the fact remains that the Christian god," I would merely be quoting you. If I went on to say that from this quote we can know that Angra Mainyu believes in the existence of the Christian god because, as we can see, he has described this existence as a fact, you would object, saying rightly that I had taken the quote out of context and was trying to prove a lie.

    This is what you are doing. And until you become willing to go wherever the truth leads you, you will continue doing it in one form or another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07559081710058635050 Pulse

    JB said,

    "First, you frame the God of the Hebrew Bible in a manner that fits your picture of conveniently, but fail to take into account his covenantal faithfulness to the people of Israel despite their covenant unfaithfulness. That’s a big picture theme throughout the entire OT. No matter what rebellion, no matter what rejection, God maintained and upheld the covenant…"

    Yes, per the terms of the covenant, as long as the Israelites devoted themselves to God exclusively and obeyed all his laws, God provided them with the bare necessities of life. Also per the terms of the covenant, any time the Israelites turned away from God, God disowned them, abandoned them, and allowed them to fall into enemy hands. Such a loving father.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00379426257309938220 JB

    Pulse, thanks for the reply.

    Again, that’s not a fair representation. Yes sometimes while Israel was wandering in the desert, the bare necessities were provided. When wandering in the wilderness, a feast of kings should not be expected. Many people then and now would give nothing more than to have bare necessities provided for them when wandering. When settled, they were more than provided for.

    You are correct that God frequently did allow their enemies to defeat them, leaving them to their own ways for a season. But it’s incorrect to say that he abandoned them or disowned them. Covenant faithfulness has less to do with Israel than it did with God and maintaining the holiness of his name. If he ever gave up on the covenant, part of the essence of his appeal (I would say glory) and his faithfulness would be gone. If you read through 1-2 Kings you will see God’s covenant faithfulness. King after king leads Israel astray, yet God remains faithful to his people, through constant idol worship and rebellion. Even though there were periods of silence, giving them over to their own ways (and enemies, through their own actions), he never neglected the covenant. If you have kids (or even in your own childhood), did you (or your parents ever) let you (or your child) make a mistake, learn from mistakes, and even discipline them for their mistakes? Obviously this is where the analogy is not perfect, because hopefully you’d never let anyone attack or harm your child, but hopefully you see my point that sometimes giving people to the consequences of their actions is a lesson.

    -JB

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07559081710058635050 Pulse

    Let's take a look at Deuteronomy 28 to see what God promised to the Israelites.

    The first 14 verses list the blessings that God would bestow upon the Israelites if they obeyed his commandments to the letter, not going "aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left…" The list includes things like health, rain, prosperous crops and herds, full stores of provisions, wealth, safe journeys, the smiting of enemies, and reputation and rulership among nations. None of these blessings strike me as particularly spectacular or miraculous. Of course, it is an impossibility for an entire nation of people to obey every commandment to the letter, so it is expected that these blessings came and went, if they were even the result of God's actions at all. There is certainly no evidence that the Israelites enjoyed unlimited prosperity for any extended period of time.

    The following 54 verses (nearly four times as long!) list all the atrocities God would inflict upon the Israelites if they deviated from his commandments. These curses first include the reverse of many of the previous blessings: illness, drought, failing crops and herds, empty stores, poverty, and traveling mishaps. Already the curses seem to more than negate the previous blessings, but the horrors don't stop there, and they go into greater detail too. God personally would inflict destruction, pestilence, disease, war, rot, conquering enemies, unburied corpses, medical ailments, insanity, disabilities, despoilment, adultery, failed efforts, theft and plunder, slavery, oppression, injuries, foreign rulership, ridicule, locusts, worms, usury, hunger, thirst, nakedness, forced labor, ravaging, sieges, cannibalism of family members out of hunger, infighting among even the meekest, plagues, new and unheard of diseases, near genocide, scattering of the few remaining people, forced idolatry, restlessness, fear, and sorrow. The Bible claims that many of these curses eventually came to pass, and modern history can attest to most of them as well.

    The most telling verse among these:
    Deuteronomy 28:63 – And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither though goest to possess it.

    This does not appear to me to be a misrepresentation.

    This does appear to me to embody covenant faithfulness (if God did, in fact, make due on his promised blessings and curses).

    This does not appear to me to display appeal and glory.

    This does appear to me to show that God would take an active (and heinous) role in punishing disobedience rather than leaving the Israelites to the consequences of their own actions.

    This does not appear to me to represent just lessons for learning from mistakes.

    This does not appear to me to support the idea of a loving God of any sort.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    JB,

    There is no misrepresentation on my part.

    Yahweh (in the story) commanded that people be stoned to death, burned to death, etc., for actions for which they obviously did not deserve it.

    If Yahweh was also faithful to his promises, that would not excuse his actions a bit.

    For that matter, one might posit a very faithful creator who promises to reward everyone who rapes and beats a child a day, and torture everyone else for eternity, and then keeps his promises.

    He would still be evil, promise or not.

    So, it's not that I fail to take into account his faithfulness.

    Rather, it's that even if there was such faithfulness, it wouldn't matter, since it still would not excuse his actions.

    As for the people you call unfaithful to the covenant, most of the Hebrews did not enter a covenant, or were coerced.

    Some of the people in their government did, but then again, if the ruler of my country makes a covenant with a monster that sentences people to burn to death for having sex in the way he does not like, that does not create an obligation for me.

    And if I have to publicly accept the covenant to avoid horrible torment and/or death, that does not bind me, either. I'm just agreeing under duress.

    But in any case, the main point it that, covenant or not, that would be no excuse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    Your assertion that I've taken the quote out of context does not make it so.

    The context is clear: in the story, the Christian god gave such commands.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I'm not talking about context "in" the story; rather, I talking about the context "of" the story.

    Jesus Christ is the overarching context of the Bible, and only through Him can you come to realize that you are not nearly so moral as you make yourself out to be.

    Until you becoming willing to open your mind to the truth, and follow it wherever it leads you, you will stay ignorant of Jesus of Nazareth in whom all the mysteries of life become navigable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    Your comment about me misses the point entirely.

    Whether I am morally good is not the point of the discussion.

    Rather, it's the morality of the Christian god that is being assessed.

    As for the context "of" the story vs. "in" the story, I'm talking about the context of the actions of the Christian god, which is provided by the story.

    Insisting in bringing up Jesus also misses the point, since the point is that the Christian god – who is the same entity as Jesus – commanded that people be burned to death, stoned to death, etc., when they obviously did not deserve that, or anything remotely like that.

    And to expand on the covenant issue, if some or all of the rulers of Israel made a deal with the biblical God, according to which the biblical God would help them militarily, with food supplies, etc., and in exchange, they burn people do death for having consensual sex or marital relations in such-and-such way, stone a woman to death if she lies about being a virgin and gets married, kill some gay men for having sex, and so on, then his actions are appalling, even if he provides the military assistance and supplies in question.

    If Jesus then showed up, then – as always, in the story – that's the same entity who got people stoned or burned to death.

    I'm afraid that telling me to open my mind to the truth, etc., are personal comments that have nothing to do with the points others and I have been making.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    You said, "Whether I am morally good is not the point of the discussion."

    It is the presupposition of the discussion. For if you presume to judge God, you are thereby making a moral judgment about yourself. We do not allow felons to serve as judges, so you must think you are more moral than God if you presume to pass judgment on Him.

    The reason you are unwilling to follow the truth wherever it might lead you is that you do not want to become accountable for your sins. But it is a foolish gambit because you already are accountable and you are only making judgment worse to put it off.

    The good news for you is that everyone is going to heaven.
    http://wp.me/pKqSA-1

    Therefore, repent of your sins and open your heart to God. Then you can be done with all this intellectual pretense and use your gifted mind for more productive things.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    If I say that Ted Bundy's killings were immoral, or that Darth Vader's were, whether I'm morally good has nothing to do with whether the claims are correct.

    We do not allow felons to serve as judges, and for good reasons .
    However, if a felon says that Ted Bundy's killings were immoral, or that Darth Vader's were, that the claimant is a felon makes no difference whatsoever to the truth-value of his claims.

    For that matter, I might as well be a P-zombie, and that would not affect my claims at all (yes, I'm obviously assuming that no type of moral relativism is true, but Christianity entails no relativism, so one can safely assume no relativism when debating Christians)

    So, the point is not whether I'm good, bad, or a mindless P-zombie.

    The point is that the Christian god – who is the same entity as Jesus – commanded that people be burned to death, stoned to death, etc., when they obviously did not deserve that, or anything remotely like that.

    Incidentally, for that matter, someone might posit another religion, say Islam, and say that the Muslim god – who tortures those who convert from Islam to Christianity for eternity – is morally good.

    If you raise an objection based on the moral character of the Muslim god, they could reply just the way you're replying to me: by questioning your right to make your case, instead of engaging the substantive points in it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    As I've said, I'm not interested in debating someone who is less interested in seeking truth than he is in confirming his own point of view.

    Jesus Christ expressed unwavering commitment to the God of the Old Testament and yet, in following that God, never practiced or taught military conquest. If you were interested in truth, you would be curious about why that was so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    As I pointed out, my character is not the matter of the thread. The Christian god's character – assessed by the biblical description – is.

    The point is that the Christian god ordered that women be stoned to death if they do not tell the truth about their virginity before getting married, that people be burned to death in case a man marries a woman and her mother – or if he has sex with them, apparently -, and a number of other actions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    A woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus John 8:1ff), and the question put to Him was, "What should we do?" The question I put to you is, "Why did Jesus, who was completely devoted to the God of the Old Testament, not push for the stoning?"

    When you get curious about that question, you will know that you are genuinely seeking truth and not just seeking an occasion to browbeat those with whom you disagree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    The real answer is that whoever wrote that story about Jesus didn't have the same agenda as whoever wrote those laws in the Old Testament.

    If the story happens to be true, then it's also the case that Jesus did not have the same agenda as whoever wrote those laws in the Old Testament.

    However, if I play along and talk about the characters in the story, then Jesus wasn't just "devoted" to the god of the Old Testament: he is the god of the Old Testament.

    So, why did he not push for the stoning?

    Well, the passages I quoted do not specify the method of killing in that particular case.

    However, given that the usual methods of execution – sometimes commanded by the biblical god – were particularly brutal methods such as stoning and burning, given that stoning was commonly used in the case of adultery, and given that the biblical god never suggested that that particular method was not correct in the case of adultery, it seems clear that he approved of the stoning of adulterers on many occasions.

    So, your question remains: why did he not push for the execution?

    Who knows?

    But then, in any case, that wouldn't excuse his previous actions.

    Regardless of his reasons on that particular occasion, that does not change the fact that the Christian god ordered that women be stoned to death if they do not tell the truth about their virginity before getting married, that people be burned to death in case a man marries a woman and her mother – or if he has sex with them, apparently -, and a number of other actions.

    That aside, many of the actions of the biblical god appear to be whimsical when not absurd (to be expected, of course, given that they were invented by people from very different cultures, with very different agendas, etc., but leaving that aside)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike, you continue to claim that Angra, etc, are simply not interested in following the truth, and that when they are you'd be happy to take the journey to wherever it leads with them.

    But, from the dialog it seems obvious (to me at least) that it is you who is uninterested in the truth, and unwilling to follow the evidence where it leads. You're unwilling to discuss the horrendous and obviously immoral acts of Yahweh in the OT, and continue to bring up irrelevant points.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    If anyone is willing to discuss Jesus Christ, I am interested. To discuss Yahweh independent of Christ is something that does not interest me. Yahweh was the God of the Jews. Only through Jesus Christ do Gentiles have an interest in Yahweh. Only in Jesus Christ do the Jewish Scriptures about Yahweh have any relevance to Gentiles.

    Jesus Christ lived and died for Yahweh. I live and die for Jesus Christ.

    Yahweh cannot be properly understood apart from Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ revealed the true heart of Yahweh.

    You and Angra can pursue your study of Yahweh if you like. However, even if you came to a positive conclusion about Him it would do you little good apart from a recognition of Jesus Christ. The New Testament reveals that there were plenty of people who had a positive view of Yahweh and a negative view of Christ. This did them no good with Yahweh however because Jesus Christ was the heir of Yahweh for the world in which we live.

    Arguments like Angra's are weak because they seek to discredit God on the basis of peripheral issues and incendiary rhetoric based on quotations taken out of context. The central initiative of Yahweh in this creation is Jesus Christ. Unless you're prepared to deal with that, you're just arguing side issues.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    So Mike, you're unwilling to discuss the moral atrocities that Yahweh condones and perpetrates in the stories of the Hebrew bible (which it seems to me the original post was concerned with).

    You say you are willing to discuss Jesus Christ, but according to your beliefs, Jesus Christ is God, and therefore Jesus condoned and perpetrated these atrocities – but you don't seem willing to discuss this (even though this would be discussing Jesus Christ).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: Yahweh cannot be properly understood apart from Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ revealed the true heart of Yahweh.
    So how does your understanding of Jesus Christ illuminate these moral atrocities, such that Yahweh|Jesus goes from being subject to moral condemnation to being morally praiseworthy for these acts?

    I think a response to that might almost be on topic :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    You misstate my objection. I didn't say I was unwilling to discuss difficult passages from the Old Testament (by the way, you reveal your prejudice against open inquiry when you characterize them as "atrocities"). I said I was unwilling to discuss them outside of the context of Jesus Christ.

    Jesus was the most moral human who ever lived. He was devoted to the God of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), yet He never sought military or political gain, He prescribed mercy for His enemies, and He introduced into the world the moral code which you now seek to use against Him. Therefore, the question you should be asking is how did Jesus find mercy in this God you want to accuse of cruelty? Until you get interested in that question, you're not engaged in honest inquiry. You're just trying to reinforce and perpetuate your current worldview which allows you to live free from any moral constraints that Jesus might apply to you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: You misstate my objection. I didn't say I was unwilling to discuss difficult passages from the Old Testament (by the way, you reveal your prejudice against open inquiry when you characterize them as "atrocities").
    And you reveal your own by referring to the condoning and commanding of horrendous acts as "difficult passages"

    Mike Gantt: I said I was unwilling to discuss them outside of the context of Jesus Christ.
    I fail to see how the "context of Jesus Christ" can turn horrendous immorality into something morally praiseworthy, but perhaps I'll be surprised.

    Mike Gantt: Jesus was the most moral human who ever lived.
    That claim doesn't seem to stand up to scrutiny – while many teachings and actions of Jesus seem quite decent, others are rather immoral.

    mike Gantt: He was devoted to the God of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), yet He never sought military or political gain, He prescribed mercy for His enemies
    If he was devoted to Yahwe as you're claiming, then he's devoted to a being who condoned and commanded horrendous immoral acts.

    Mike Gantt: and He introduced into the world the moral code which you now seek to use against Him.
    I'm of the understanding that many of the "good" parts of Christian morality were already extant in the world prior to Christianity, so I hardly see how this point works.

    Mike Gantt: Therefore, the question you should be asking is how did Jesus find mercy in this God you want to accuse of cruelty? Until you get interested in that question, you're not engaged in honest inquiry.
    (the Greeks for example).

    Mike: You're just trying to reinforce and perpetuate your current worldview which allows you to live free from any moral constraints that Jesus might apply to you.
    And yet I live quite a moral life Mike (though you'll have to take my word for it).

    And the fact that you are attributing motivations to me when you know about me (but which fit with the narrative your religious beliefs require you to follow) indicates that you're not interested in the evidence, just in perpetuating your own worldview.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    De-fang your loaded question and I'll answer. "Have you stopped beating your wife?" questions don't augur productive interactions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike, I don't see any good way to "defang" the question which doesn't in some way detract from the gravity of the acts and commands in the Hebrew bible.

    Why don't you "defang" the question, and write you're response, and then folk can critique both? :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    Here's the question and the answer you requested:

    Question: Why are there passages in the Old Testament which seems to violate the moral code of Jesus and even some of our own moral sensibilities?

    Answer: Because they are read out of context. The Old Testament, like any document, must be viewed contextually to be understood. It was written in a time and place far removed from ours and, more importantly, was written only to the descendants of Abraham and meant to apply only until the time of Christ. Thereafter, Christ taught us, it was to be viewed spiritually. Therefore, to suggest that certain of its injunctions be lifted from that context and applied to any people in any time and place is to mischaracterize and misrepresent it.

    Christ (Messiah) is the interpreter of the Old Testament for us. He explains how it applies to our lives. This is what you see happening in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and specifically, for example, in Matthew 5:17-48 and Matthew 19:3-12. Christ is teaching us to have pure hearts as He did. And through Christ our hearts can indeed be purified.

    People whose view of morality consists largely of a focus on the sins that others commit (e.g. "atrocities") have a hard time getting serious about their own personal need for moral improvement. Nonetheless, Christ can soften even these hard hearts. He has mine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    My arguments aren't weak nor take things out of context, as I explained.

    You just fail to acknowledge my points, and instead insist on accusing me of taking things out of context.

    I thought this discussion was over, but unfortunately it isn't, so briefly: regardless of what Jesus said later, that does not excuse burning or stoning people to death for actions for which they obviously did not deserve that.

    Jesus himself did not deny that those were the commands of his father. Rather, he acknowledged the Old Testament as inspired.

    If the biblical god did not order to, say, stone women to death for having premarital sex, then why did Jesus not point out that the command in question was not given by the Christian god, but was made up by some human?

    And if the command was given by the Christian god, then how is it acceptable to stone women to death for having premarital sex, and on top of that trying to justify those actions by claiming that those women are evil?

    Again, if Jesus did something good later, that would not just erase the earlier atrocities committed by the Christian god.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: People whose view of morality consists largely of a focus on the sins that others commit (e.g. "atrocities") have a hard time getting serious about their own personal need for moral improvement.
    So you're basically providing an excuse. The "horrible" acts which Yahweh condoned and purpetrated aren't so bad because Jesus was nicer in some way?

    Mike Gantt Nonetheless, Christ can soften even these hard hearts. He has mine.
    I don't think that finding genocide, for example, to be an atrocity indicates hardness of heart – apparently you do.
    In fact, I would think that someone mounting an apologetic for genocide would be hard of heart (and quite deluded to boot).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I hear you saying that you are not taking these things out of context, but that does not mean that you aren't.

    Those rules were for a special people for a special time. To suggest otherwise is to mispresent their meaning.

    If you have ever had your own words taken out of context and used to disparage your reputation, then you know what God feels like.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    You're proving my point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: Those rules were for a special people for a special time. To suggest otherwise is to mispresent their meaning.
    And yet those rules are still atrocious. Those acts are still immoral.
    Does your God belief include him being unchanging and perfectly moral? If so, then perhaps you should change it a little :-)

    Mike Gantt: You're proving my point.
    Mike, perhaps further explanation instead of presenting enigmatic points would help you to make your case?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    I'm saying that I'm not taking these things out of context because I'm not.

    Yes, those rules were made for other people.

    I recognized that repeatedly.

    You are the one misrepresenting my words by implying that I ever suggested otherwise.

    Of course, I've had my words taken out of context and used to disparage my reputation, since I'm quite used to debating on the internet.

    In fact, you're taking my words out of context right here, and attacking my reputation with false accusations.

    But you're going beyond taking my words out of context.

    You are implying that I'm suggesting that those rules were not meant for a particular group of people – namely, the ancient Hebrews -, while I never did such a thing.

    Moreover, you appear to be accusing me of deliberately taking words out of context, whereas I'm not taking them out of context, deliberately or otherwise.

    I do not know whether you're doing that deliberately, or just because your faith gets in the way of your reason – or maybe you're just too angry to reason, but given your beliefs, I'd say that at least to some extent it's faith, and not just angry, which is getting in the way.

    Based on my years of interaction with Christians, my best guess is that you're more likely to be acting on faith, and that's mostly what keeping you from reading my words properly and understanding my points – though anger due to what you perceive as a threat to your reputation probably plays a role as well.

    But regardless of your motivation or state of mind, you're making false claims about me.

    Anyway, that aside, back on topic:

    Yes, those rules were made for other people. My point is that that is beside the point; the biblical god still gave immoral commands and made false moral claims

    For instance, the biblical god commanded that if a woman has sex and then gets married, she is to be stoned to death for having sex before marriage in his father's house.

    Moreover, the biblical god claimed that she was evil for doing so, as a means of trying to justify the command.
    However, it seems obvious that a woman does not deserve to be stoned to death for having sex before marriage at her father's house, and that she would not be evil for that – contrary to the biblical god's claim -, but rather, those stoning her would be acting in a despicable manner.
    So, the biblical god both gave immoral commands, and made false moral claims, accusing someone of being evil just for having sex before marriage at her father's house, and actually implying that she deserves to be stoned to death for that reason.
    One could also mention the fact that looking at the hymen is an unreliable method to ascertain whether a woman has had sex, or that she might have been raped but the rape wasn't proved.
    However, there is no need for that, as the command would be obviously immoral – and the claim of evilness obviously false – even if the method were reliable, and even if it made exceptions for cases of rape.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    On the first point, you are insisting on taking the rules out of context and insisting that they were given as universal commandments. This Jesus did not do, and thus He learned things from the Old Testament that you have not.

    On the second, I had no intention of being enigmatic. I was saying that you are acting like a person more interested in God's sins (perish the thought) than you are your own.

    May I ask you this: If you don't believe God is, why do you care whether He's moral or not?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I am not angry, nor is there any need for you to be angry. I accept your claim that you did not intend to take the troubling OT commands out of context. I was not, however, addressing your intentions, but rather your actions. That is, you keep insisting on a justification as if these commands universally apply. Just because you are not intending something does not mean you are not accomplishing it.

    Jesus is the teacher of the Old Testament. If you want understand how He saw a God of goodness in the Old Testament, then He will show you. Therefore, if you really do want to understand these Old Testament commands, then search the life of Jesus in the New Testament. See if you can find any immorality in Him. If you cannot, then trust Him and He will teach you. If not, then what do you care what the Old Testament says anyway?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: On the first point, you are insisting on taking the rules out of context and insisting that they were given as universal commandments.
    No, I'm not. I'm simply saying that regardless of the context, whether in the ANE, or today, those commands are immoral (though I also don't really see why an omni x3 God would give "special rules" as you're claiming Yahweh|Jesus did).
    I think Angra is making much the same point.

    Mike Gantt: On the second, I had no intention of being enigmatic. I was saying that you are acting like a person more interested in God's sins (perish the thought) than you are your own.
    The topic under discussion is the character and behaviour of Yahweh|Jesus. My personal life is irrelevant, and you trying to bring it into discussion seems like an attempt to avoid the topic.

    Mike Gantt: May I ask you this: If you don't believe God is, why do you care whether He's moral or not?
    Because a lot of people care about what they think this character in a story is asking them to do, and that directly impacts my life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    First, as I repeatedly pointed out and explained, my actions do not take anything out of context. You're the one misrepresenting my position by repeatedly accusing me of doing that.

    Second, I said that you "appear to be" accusing me of doing so deliberately; if you did not mean to raise such accusation, you still appeared to do so, for the reasons I explained.

    I do accept your clarification that there was no intention on your part of accusing me of doing that deliberately.

    The fact remains, however, that I did not take anything out of context.

    Third, you say:

    Mike Gantt: That is, you keep insisting on a justification as if these commands universally apply.

    That claim of yours is false.

    Of course, I keep insisting that those commands are unjustified, but also of course, it's not "as if these commands universally apply". I repeatedly stated that they do not.

    The biblical god commanded that women in ancient Israel be stoned to death for having premarital sex at their father's house.

    That is a seriously unjust action on the part of the biblical god.

    Moreover, he claims that those women were evil for having premarital sex, and implied that they deserved to be stoned to death for that reason. So, he makes false moral claims as well.

    Again – for the zillionth time – I'm not suggesting that the biblical god gave those particular immoral commands to everyone.

    I'm saying quite clearly – impossible to be clearer, frankly -, that he gave those immoral commands to the ancient Hebrews, and made false moral claims to justify them.

    Mike Gantt:
    . Therefore, if you really do want to understand these Old Testament commands, then search the life of Jesus in the New Testament. See if you can find any immorality in Him. If you cannot, then trust Him and He will teach you. If not, then what do you care what the Old Testament says anyway?

    Yes, I can find immorality in him.

    Actually, if you consider the New Testament as well, it's even worse than the OT because of Hell, but since you believe in no eternal Hell, I prefer to stick to the Old Testament.

    But still, leaving aside Hell, what Jesus said was:

    Luke 16: 16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

    Luke 16: 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

    Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    So, regardless the obscurity about what exactly he's going to change, it is apparent that Jesus acknowledges the law as originating in the biblical god – and since Jesus and the OT god are the same entity, then he's responsible for those commands and claims to.

    So, what do I care about what the OT says?

    I care because the OT shows how the biblical god – who, according to Christianity, is the same entity as Jesus – gave evil commands and made false moral claims, and that shows that Christianity is not true.

    Obviously, there are other ways of seeing that Christianity is not true. For instance, the resurrection claim shouldn't be given a hundredth of the attention and respect it's given. But this discussion is about moral issues – and, in particular, the OT -, so I stick to the topic at hand.

    P.S: By the way, something good came out of your persistence. Since I was writing moral arguments against the biblical god, I decided to write a bit more and posted a much more comprehensive moral case against Christianity in my blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Making a moral case against Christianity must not have been difficult. Even Christ has qualms with it. Making a moral case against Him, however, would be a far more challenging task. I don't believe it can be done.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    I am not questioning your honesty but I must say that I find it hard to believe that a lot of people in your life think Jesus is wanting them to stone people, much less that this is directly impacting your life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    Actually, the moral case against Christianity I'm talking about is a moral case against Jesus too, since according to Christianity, he's the same entity as the biblical god, who is not morally good, let alone morally perfect.

    Moreover, even if we put that aside, he also approved of the actions of the biblical god, so he's not morally perfect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: I am not questioning your honesty but I must say that I find it hard to believe that a lot of people in your life think Jesus is wanting them to stone people, much less that this is directly impacting your life.
    That's irrelevant Mike. People believe nonsense. It is useful to point out the nonsensical nature of their beliefs (as I think Angra is doing currently).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    Angra is fighting the same straw man you are. No one is promoting the Mosaic Code today. What's nonsensical is to devote your energies to a non-issue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I can understand your wanting to avoid direct confrontation with Jesus, but if your goal is to combat faith you're never going to get anywhere until you attack it at its root…and that is Christ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: Angra is fighting the same straw man you are. No one is promoting the Mosaic Code today. What's nonsensical is to devote your energies to a non-issue.
    Again, that's irrelevant (though I also think it's false – there seems to be quite a few who promote the mosaic code).

    You worship Yahweh. Yahweh is demonstrated as being unworthy of worship (the mosaic code), therefore your worship seems rather ridiculous.

    You do not seem to want to discuss whether the mosaic code (Angra example of death by stoning for adultery) was moral of immoral even in the context of a limited command to few people. You do want to try to focus on the "peace and love" image of Jesus you seem to have, but according to your faith, this Jesus is the same as the Yahweh who ordered such horrible acts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: …and that is Christ.
    And, as Angra has pointed out, Christ is supposed to be the same as the Yahweh who ordered and committed immoral acts. Yet you're claiming that a moral case cannot be made against him. It seems nonsensical.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt:
    Havok,

    Angra is fighting the same straw man you are. No one is promoting the Mosaic Code today. What's nonsensical is to devote your energies to a non-issue.

    You continue to make blatantly false statements about what I'm doing.

    Again, I do recognize that, according to Christian tenets, the laws in question were meant for the ancient Hebrews and no longer apply.

    I do not claim that Christianity promotes the Mosaic Code (though as Havoc pointed out, there are people who promote that code – but I'm not talking about them).

    Mike Gantt:
    Angra Mainyu,

    I can understand your wanting to avoid direct confrontation with Jesus, but if your goal is to combat faith you're never going to get anywhere until you attack it at its root…and that is Christ.

    I already did, repeatedly, both here and in my blog.

    The fact that you have so far been unable to realize that, and that you've continued misrepresenting my claims – despite numerous clarifications -, does not make the above any less true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok:  And, as Angra has pointed out, Christ is supposed to be the same as the Yahweh who ordered and committed immoral acts. Yet you're claiming that a moral case cannot be made against him. It seems nonsensical.

    Christ did not teach the Mosaic Code, and yet you think you are discrediting Christ by discrediting the Mosaic Code.  It is clear you are avoiding the more formidable moral opponent.

    You keep saying that your morality is irrelevant to your argument, but it is central to it.  Jesus offered a moral code based on His own morality.  For you to condemn His morality and moral code is to suggest that yours are superior.  Let us hear more about them that we may make a choice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,:  I do not claim that Christianity promotes the Mosaic Code (though as Havoc pointed out, there are people who promote that code – but I'm not talking about them). 

    Count on me to stand alongside you and Havoc against those who are promoting the Mosaic  Code.  I must admit, however, that I cannot think of anyone who is promoting it.  The only people I can think of who are wanting to stone people today are certain sects of Islam…but then maybe I'm not as well read as you and Havoc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Christ did not teach the Mosaic Code, and yet you think you are discrediting Christ by discrediting the Mosaic Code.  It is clear you are avoiding the more formidable moral opponent.

    You keep saying that your morality is irrelevant to your argument, but it is central to it.  Jesus offered a moral code based on His own morality.  For you to condemn His morality and moral code is to suggest that yours are superior.  Let us hear more about them that we may make a choice.

    Actually, according to Christianity, Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god, who did give the command to stone women to death for having premarital sex, and claimed that they were evil.

    So, Jesus is the same entity who made false moral claims and commanded that people be tortured to death – people who clearly did not deserve that.

    I understand that, given how much resources you've dedicated to promoting Christianity – your peculiar version of it, anyway -, you would be very reluctant to recognize that Christianity is false.

    But that does not change the fact that it is false; while that should be obvious for a number of reasons without even raising moral issues (e.g., entities that look like human are so, and do not resurrect), the moral arguments used in this discussion are sufficient, and you've failed to provide any reasonable reply to them – you just continue to preach, without realizing what's wrong with your arguments, and raising false accusations against your opponents in the process, even though you fail to realize that you're doing that.

    Regarding promotion of OT laws, I should stress that that is a side note, but I think you're probably right they're not calling for stoning people.

    On the other hand, some people morally condemn other people on the basis of the laws in question, and in fact attempt to take action – though fortunately not the action prescribed in the Bible.

    For example, recently there was a condemnation of same-gender sex by ultra-orthodox rabbis.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-littman/orthodox-rabbis-homosexuality-declaration_b_1114090.html?ref=gay-voices

    http://www.ssc.org.il/UploadFiles/3534218c-5.pdf

    Now, while there is no calling for stoning, they do base their condemnation on the Torah, citing one of the laws in Leviticus in support of their stance (luckily, they cite no passage calling for the death penalty, but they do consider the law to still apply, it seems).

    Also, AFAIK (though I might be mistaken), the Talmud claims that the code is still in place, even if there is no court capable of applying it.

    That aside, I suppose we cannot count you in among those who reject the condemnation of same-gender sex, though, but rather among those who condemn people for having same-gender sex – even though you don't base your condemnation on the law in Leviticus.

    In any case, in context, I can see that you probably were saying that no one is trying to actually stone people to death based on that, so my mistake.

    Fortunately, though, it was an error on a point that is not relevant to the matter at hand, which is the immorality of the biblical god, not that of the humans who applied the laws he – according to the story – gave, or the humans who believed his lies, or the humans who still morally condemn people and call for (fortunately non-lethal) action based on some of the laws in Leviticus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I appreciate your fair-minded address of the "side issue," as you call it. No more needs to be said on that.

    As for your continued focus on the Mosaic Code, however, that itself is a side issue. You are claiming to have felled the tree of Christ, but all you are doing is hacking off the already dead limb of the Mosaic Code and hacking at the foreign vine of Christianity that wraps itself around the trunk.

    Until you deal with Christ Himself and the human life He lived, the tree stands.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    You're welcome, but it is a side issue (not a "side issue"), for the reasons I explained in considerable detail.

    That aside, the commands that the biblical god gave to the ancient Hebrews, and the moral claims he made, are pretty obviously not at all side issues when it comes to assessing whether the biblical god is morally good.

    Again, I've already dealt with Jesus, but I will continue to deal with him if you insist – will this exchange ever end?

    Let's see:

    a) Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god.

    b) The biblical god commanded that Hebrew women who had premarital sex be stoned to death.

    c) Hence, Jesus is the entity who commanded that Hebrew women who had premarital sex be stoned to death.

    d) The biblical god claimed that Hebrew women who had premarital sex were evil, and implied that they deserved to be stoned to death.

    e) Hence, Jesus is the entity who claimed that Hebrew women who had premarital sex were evil, and implied that they deserved to be stoned to death.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:  …will this exchange ever end? 

    I agree that we are going in circles and it is time to stop.  When you are prepared to engage Christ and His code, please let me know.  Until then, feel free to pursue your discussion of the Mosaic Code without me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Actually, I have already engaged Jesus, as explained.

    What you do not appear to realize for some reason is the fact that defeating the claim that the biblical god is morally good is sufficient to defeat the claim that Christianity is true.

    If you want to promote some of the views that Jesus promoted, you actually do not need to claim that he is the biblical god.

    Moreover, if what you believe is true is what you call his code, then you can defend it just as well without claiming any superhuman source.

    However, as long as we're discussing Christianity, the commands that, according to the story, the biblical god gave to the ancient Hebrews, and the moral claims he made, are of course relevant to the topic at hand, and moreover a defeater.

    On the other hand, again, claiming that Jesus' moral teachings that aren't related to the OT are true does not require claiming that Christianity is true.

    You could just defend the moral positions you agree with without having to bring up Christianity.

    But this discussion is about Christianity, and so the arguments others and I have given are right on target.

    That said, of course I also worry about the consequences of rules that Christians actually do try to enforce – often, successfully -, like those regarding sexual matters.

    On that note – for instance – I've seen you claim that same-gender sex is immoral.

    But where do you get that idea from? Jesus?

    If so, I'd say that's another fault in Jesus.

    However, of course, that's not nearly as bad as stoning Hebrew women to death for having premarital sex.

    Also, in the context of debates about Christianity, normally one seeks to present as persuasive an argument as one can present, and clearly a command to stone women to death for having premarital sex is a lot more obviously immoral than whatever it is that you think he said about homosexuality, given that you deny that there is Hell – else, he is done far worse than the stoning, which was already horrible.

    In any case, discussing the issue of homosexuality would obscure the more obvious fact that Christianity is not true because the biblical god is not morally good, as argued in previous posts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I understand why you insist on making the Mosaic Code the focus of your argument. In today's sex-saturated society there is nothing quite so convenient to your purpose as to point to a Bible verse which speaks of stoning someone for what many people today consider practically a rite of passage preliminary to and independent of marriage. It's like yelling "Republican" in a room full of Democrats. But just because it is convenient to your purpose does not mean it is the right or intellectually honest tack to take. If you truly wish to defeat Christ as immoral then you must have the courage to take Him on directly and not seek to discredit Him by a moral code He is not promulgating to His followers. Otherwise, you're just like the schoolyard bully who pounds his chest away from the strong but quiet kid and looks instead for someone smaller he knows he can beat. Yes, these are strong words but your unyielding insistence on discussing a side issue has drawn them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike, Angra HAS dealt with Christ. You are refusing to acknowledge it. As Angra put it just a few comment ago:

    Angra Mainyu:
    a) Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god.

    b) The biblical god commanded that Hebrew women who had premarital sex be stoned to death.

    c) Hence, Jesus is the entity who commanded that Hebrew women who had premarital sex be stoned to death.

    d) The biblical god claimed that Hebrew women who had premarital sex were evil, and implied that they deserved to be stoned to death.

    e) Hence, Jesus is the entity who claimed that Hebrew women who had premarital sex were evil, and implied that they deserved to be stoned to death.

    The conclusion that seems to follow from this is that the Christian deity (Yahweh, Christ, whatever name you want call it) is immoral and not worthy of worship.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    The argument obscures the fact that Jesus distanced Himself dramatically from the Mosaic Code, so much so that the Jews disowned Him, and yet portrays Jesus as promulgating the Mosaic Code. Thus the argument is not only irrelevant, it's dishonest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    The argument obscures the fact that Jesus distanced Himself dramatically from the Mosaic Code, so much so that the Jews disowned Him, and yet portrays Jesus as promulgating the Mosaic Code. Thus the argument is not only irrelevant, it's dishonest.

    No, the argument is right on target.

    Calling it "irrelevant" is a false claim, and that should appear obvious by now, so insisting on it is either irrational or dishonest.

    Calling it "dishonest" is also either irrational or dishonest.

    Yes, if one forgets about Christianity, one could argue that Jesus may well have been a religious leader who distanced himself from the Hebrew Bible.

    That, however, is quite controversial too, since the books of the Bible were written by people with different agendas, and the information we have about him is shrouded in myths written for different purposes.

    However, that's what's irrelevant here.

    It is irrelevant because according to Christianity, Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god – and as I pointed out, Jesus according to the Bible clearly acknowledged that the biblical god was the origin of the Hebrew law.

    So, as I repeatedly explained, the argument hits the target – namely, Christianity.

    The point is that the biblical god is not morally good. Hence, Christianity is not true. If the biblical god later changed his mind and refrained from committing some of the atrocities he had committed before, that does not change the fact that Christianity is not true.

    You can't get out of that by saying that Jesus was trying to distance himself from the Mosaic code, because you actually assert that Jesus and the entity that promulgated the Mosaic code are one and the same entity.

    All you can say is that the entity in question gave a certain code, and then abrogated it. But abrogating the code much later does not excuse his actions promulgating it earlier, or his lies about the moral character of some of the people tortured to death by stoning or by fire in accordance to the original code.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Please forgive me if I am simply kicking a dead horse, but I had an idea that I haven't seen explicitly stated on this thread.

    Assume, for the sake of argument, the following:

    1. Christian theism is true.
    2. Some modified version of the divine command theory of ethics is true, i.e., X is morally obligatory if and only if God has commanded X.
    3. In OT times, God commanded the Mosaic Law.
    4. In NT times, God repealed the Mosaic Law.

    This makes the Christian God seem like a sort of moral relativist, since the commands He issued were/are relative to a given time and culture.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    Okay, I was quite patient, but there is a limit.

    Now, I can use strong words too – though I will stick to true ones:

    Mike Gantt

    I understand why you insist on making the Mosaic Code the focus of your argument. In today's sex-saturated society there is nothing quite so convenient to your purpose as to point to a Bible verse which speaks of stoning someone for what many people today consider practically a rite of passage preliminary to and independent of marriage. It's like yelling "Republican" in a room full of Democrats. But just because it is convenient to your purpose does not mean it is the right or intellectually honest tack to take. If you truly wish to defeat Christ as immoral then you must have the courage to take Him on directly and not seek to discredit Him by a moral code He is not promulgating to His followers. Otherwise, you're just like the schoolyard bully who pounds his chest away from the strong but quiet kid and looks instead for someone smaller he knows he can beat. Yes, these are strong words but your unyielding insistence on discussing a side issue has drawn them.

    They're not only strong, but also blatantly false.

    Your insistence on making points that have been thoroughly refuted, and your blatant disregard for the truth shows that you're either being irrational, or dishonest.

    Given my experience in on-line debates, I'd say you're almost certainly being irrational rather than doing this as a calculated strategy, but that does not excuse your behavior.

    You compare me with a schoolyard bully, but worship an entity that sentenced women to be stoned to death for having premarital sex – and she was the daughter of a priest, she was to be burned to death for having sex outside marriage.

    Moreover, you imply that it was morally acceptable for the biblical god to call for them to be stoned or burned to death, and even condemn today's "sex-saturated society" rather than the utter brutality of those who stone and burn women to death – or command that others do so -, blinded by your faith.

    Yes, okay, I do get that after all the resources you spent defending your particular version of Christianity, recognizing that you were wrong and letting go of that would be painful: you would have to both cope with the fact that you've wasted so much of your life on a false religion, and also take a hit on your reputation in the eyes of many people who have faith in your religious claims.

    So, you (perhaps, instinctively, in the context of defending you social status) will be particularly motivated to defend Christianity no matter what.

    But on the other hand, you should realize that if you continue attacking me with complete disregard for the truth and using increasingly strong language, that will likely result increasingly stronger replies on my part as well – though without such a disregard.

    Of course, that you should realize that does not mean that you will realize that.

    In fact, given your previous replies, I can conclude that you almost certainly will not realize that you're attacking me in such way, or that I'm the one speaking the truth on the matter at hand.

    However, at least, you might be able to realize that your persistence will likely result in persistence on my part, and that using stronger language will only result in stronger language on my part.

    It's up to you to decide how to proceed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    I'm joining this discussion late, so I'll understand completely if Mike chooses to pass my comment by.

    Mike wrote:

    Here's the question and the answer you requested:

    Question: Why are there passages in the Old Testament which seems to violate the moral code of Jesus and even some of our own moral sensibilities?

    Answer: Because they are read out of context. The Old Testament, like any document, must be viewed contextually to be understood. It was written in a time and place far removed from ours and, more importantly, was written only to the descendants of Abraham and meant to apply only until the time of Christ. Thereafter, Christ taught us, it was to be viewed spiritually. Therefore, to suggest that certain of its injunctions be lifted from that context and applied to any people in any time and place is to mischaracterize and misrepresent it.

    I am familiar with the standard Christian explanation for why the Mosaic Law no longer applied after Jesus. What I do not understand is how to reconcile that position with either our moral intuitions regarding the wrongness of OT morality or with the metaethical view of moral realism.

    For example, suppose that moral realism is true and that moral properties supervene on natural (non-moral) properties. On such a view, to say that adultery is wrong means that wrongness supervenes on the natural property of "adultery." So the question is this: which natural properties changed as a result of Jesus' Incarnation, death, and resurrection, so that the supervenience relationship which previously supported the Mosaic Law no longer applied?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Jeffery,

    I don't think the morality of the OT – and the NT, if one considers Hell – is compatible with our moral intuitions, including the intuitions of most Christians, who usually end in untenable positions because they don't want to say explicitly that, say, it's intuitive to them that it's morally right to burn or stone
    a person to death for some consensual sexual behavior, or inflict infinite torment on her for whatever it is they're condemning her for.

    (Side note and shameless self-promotion: I recently posted a moral case against Christianity addressing common objections and a few others)

    Regarding the metaethical challenge, that's an interesting angle.

    I guess a Christian might try something like:


    a) Point out that realism does not preclude that it's alright to impose different rules on different societies, since the same rules may well have a different effect on different societies, and

    b) Claim that the action "stoning women to death for having premarital sex and then marrying someone unaware of that in today's society" is immoral, but the action "stoning women to death for having premarital sex and then marrying someone unaware of that in ancient Hebrew society" is not immoral, and point out that that's compatible with realism.

    In the context of DCT, they might say that the commands did not change, but rather, the commands "If you are a person in situation A, then do B" (where "situation A" include the social conditions the ancient Hebrews lived in), and "If you're a person in situation A', do B'" always remain – but situation A does not obtain today.

    c) Insist that women who have premarital sex in the conditions of ancient Israel are evil and deserve to be stoned to death.

    c) Try to come up with some reasons to justify the difference in treatment, or say that there are mysterious reasons.

    However, the action in question – and many others in the OT – is still obviously intuitively immoral, and Christians have tried to find solutions for a really long time, to no avail.

    So, I think one can claim that one can generally use moral assessments to ascertain whether some claims – including religious claims – are true (if the Christian denies that, they're in trouble for a number of other reasons), and then one can use that to make a successful case against Christianity as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:  Yes, if one forgets about Christianity, one could argue that Jesus may well have been a religious leader who distanced himself from the Hebrew Bible.

    I have been saying all along that I want you to forget about Christianity and address your criticisms at Christ, the One I am willing to defend.  If instead you insist on criticizing Christianity, please proceed without me.

    Angra Mainyu:  So, as I repeatedly explained, the argument hits the target – namely, Christianity. 

    And as I have repeatedly explained, Christianity is not Christ.  I have asked you to redirect your argument toward Him.  It's clear that you do not want to do so.  Let us get off this merry-go-round.  Proceed without me, please.

    Jeffery Jay Lowder: Please forgive me if I am simply kicking a dead horse, but I had an idea that I haven't seen explicitly stated on this thread. 

    Thanks for the suggestion, and even more for the helpful spirit in which it was offered.  The  first problem I see with it, however, is that it implies that the Mosaic Code was given in the same context as Christ – that is, that the applicability of the two codes is the same.  I have objected from the beginning that the Mosaic Code was restricted to the physical descendants of a particular man and even then only for a certain period of time (i.e. from the time of Moses until Christ came).   Properly understood, this does not make God a moral relativist.  Rather, it makes Him a moral pragmatist (by the way, I'm not trained in philosophy so I'm only using these words according to a generic dictionary).  That is to say, He urges people to the highest morality that they are capable of attaining, using what tools He has available at their time.  Furthermore, the Mosaic Code was intended for that nation and family from which Christ would come.  Therefore, certain requirements were laid on them in the Mosaic Code which had to do with creating an environmental setting for the Christ and not with human morality per se.  The genealogies and intermarriage constraints would be an obvious example.  Therefore, we see that the moral code promulgated by Christ is the only one of the two decreed to be a moral code for all people for all time.

    Jeffery Jay Lowder:  I'm joining this discussion late, so I'll understand completely if Mike chooses to pass my comment by.

    Regarding this comment, I literally do not know what to say.  I do not understand some of the terms you are using in your question to me.  I don't even know whether they are philosophical terms or simply generic English words that I'm not educated enough to understand.  I'm sorry.

    Angra Mainyu:  So, you (perhaps, instinctively, in the context of defending you social status) will be particularly motivated to defend Christianity no matter what. 

    For the umpteenth time, my focus is Christ – not Christianity.  I recognize that you may not be accustomed to people wanting to distinguish the two.  However, you obviously have a strong intellect and I've been hoping you could adapt.  In at least one way, you should immediately appreciate the distinction being made between the baby and the bathwater.  That baby (though He is by no means a baby any longer) is indeed more precious to me – and, I believe, to all of us – than life itself.  For from Him comes life, including the resurrection of life.  As for the bathwater, the faster it is thrown out, the better for all of us – even those who enjoy wading in it, though they may not immediately think so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:  It's up to you to decide how to proceed.

    I've already declared myself on this point: proceed without me!  The only reason I've continued to respond the last couple of times is that you've continued to insist that defeating Christianity is defeating Christ and I did not want to concede that particular point, for the reasons that I've stated.  Christ is of supreme importance to me, and, I believe, to the whole world (including the fact that He takes everyone to heaven).  Christianity, by contrast, has obscured Him by focusing on itself.  However, if you make this claim yet again in reply to what I am saying here, I will simply be silent.  I have to trust that, given my previous objections to the point, readers won't assume that my silence the last time is capitulation to an equating of Christ with Christianity.

    However, in the constructive spirit of Jeffery Jay Lowder: (by the way, I'm sorry for the formalities but I don't know how either of you like to be addressed so I just have to use your names as they are provided above), let me also offer an alternative possibility for continued discussion.  That is, I will re-frame your argument for you, changing it from addressing Christianity to addressing Christ.  In doing so, I will preserve what I believe you think are its most salient points.

    a) Jesus of Nazareth claimed to represent the biblical god (i.e. the Creator).

    b) Jesus taught that sex was the province of a man and woman in marriage, and that sex outside this context is immoral.

    c) Jesus taught that premeditation of an evil act was itself evil. Therefore, one who meditates on extramarital sex is immoral.

    Even if you want to pursue this alternative discussion, I am sure you will want to further adapt this argument to even better suit you.  However, at the very least you can see that in pressing for a discussion of the code of Christ I am not seeking to soften His demands for morality.  Rather, I am pointing out that they are even more demanding than what you have previously protested.  Just because everyone is going to heaven does not mean that God is giving us license to live in immoral ways.  On the contrary, because everyone is going to heaven He expects more from us.  The morality He seeks from us is not merely outward, but inward as well.  In fact, if we were to get our thought lives straight, our deeds would take care of themselves.  That's what He taught, and the Sermon on the Mount is the most expansive discourse of His we have on this point.

    So, there you have it.  You may either proceed in peace without me in your assault on Christianity and the Mosaic Code or you may work with me in refashioning your argument to be against Christ – which is an argument I am willing to have with you.  I am okay either way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I have been saying all along that I want you to forget about Christianity and address your criticisms at Christ, the One I am willing to defend.  If instead you insist on criticizing Christianity, please proceed without me.

    Actually, I'm targeting Christianity by means of targeting the moral character of the biblical god.

    But let me try again:

    If one does not make the assumption that Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god, then one could argue that Jesus may well have been a religious leader who distanced himself from the Hebrew Bible.

    That, however, is controversial too, since the books of the Bible were written by people with different agendas, and the information we have about him is shrouded in myths written for different purposes – in other words, we do not have a reliable source of information about what Jesus.

    Now, the source of information that you propose and which you believe is reliable is the Bible. Yet, according to the Bible (some parts of it, anyway), Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god.

    That what your particular version of Christianity maintains as well – namely, that the biblical god and Jesus are the same entity.

    So, once again, the criticism is right on target, and it adequately deals with Jesus – not the historical Jesus, but the biblical Jesus.

    Mike Gantt
    And as I have repeatedly explained, Christianity is not Christ.  I have asked you to redirect your argument toward Him.  It's clear that you do not want to do so.  Let us get off this merry-go-round.  Proceed without me, please.

    Actually, you did say that Jesus and the biblical god are the same entity.

    So, you say Christianity is not Christ.

    Okay: Christianity is a religion – or a set of them, including yours -, whereas Christ is a person.

    If you don't want to call your religious beliefs "Christianity", suit yourself, but the point remains:

    Jesus – or Christ – is the same entity as the biblical god, and the way in which I'm targeting Christianity is by means of targeting the moral character of the biblical god which is the same entity as Jesus, according to (some parts of) the Bible.

    As I said before, if you want to promote some of the views that Jesus promoted, you actually do not need to claim that he is the biblical god.

    Moreover, if what you believe is true is what you call his code, then you can defend it just as well

    However, as long as we're discussing the biblical Jesus – in your interpretation or another -, the commands that, according to the story, the biblical god gave to the ancient Hebrews, and the moral claims he made, are of course relevant to the topic at hand, and show that he was not a morally good person.
    If you want to say that the historical Jesus was morally good, but he wasn't the biblical god, that's another matter. But that's not what you're saying.

    Mike Gantt
    For the umpteenth time, my focus is Christ – not Christianity.  I recognize that you may not be accustomed to people wanting to distinguish the two.  

    I'm pretty familiar to distinguishing between Christianity – a religion, or rather many – and Jesus – a person.

    But in any case, once again, I've been targeting Christianity by means of targeting the moral character of the biblical god, which you claim is Jesus.

    So, I've adequately dealt with that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt:
    Furthermore, the Mosaic Code was intended for that nation and family from which Christ would come.  Therefore, certain requirements were laid on them in the Mosaic Code which had to do with creating an environmental setting for the Christ and not with human morality per se. 

    Requirements such as:

    a) Burning a woman to death if she's the daughter of a preacher and is a prostitute.

    b) Stoning a woman to death if she has sex before marriage and then marries someone else.

    c) Burning two women and a man to death if he marries both of them, and one of them is the daughter of the other one.

    d) Killing – probably by stoning; he does not say, but that's a procedure he promoted sometimes and did not object to – two men for having sex with each other.

    e) Stoning a man in a woman to death if they have sex with each other and she's betrothed to someone else.

    f) Killing a woman and a non-human animal if they have inter-species sex, and actually blaming them both.

    g) Falsely claiming that the people or non-human animals who are to be stoned to death, burned to death, etc., deserve to be tortured to death in such a manner.

    Now, the biblical god is an entity of immense power, capable of and willing to intervene in the history of Israel on many occasions.

    Obviously, he could have pointed out that women who have premarital sex do not deserve to be stoned to death, instead of falsely claiming that they do and commanding that they be so stoned.
    No social breakdown would have followed from refraining to make a false moral claim and from issuing a profoundly unjust command.

    What would the ancient Hebrews have done, if he had not lied and said that those women were evil, and had not commanded that they be stoned to death?

    Rebel against an omnipotent being because he does not command them to stone women to death for having premarital sex?

    And if some of them absurdly would have done just that, then so be it. Good people could have been protected, if protection was required.

    So, this objection is also unreasonable.

    However, even if - against all reason - we assume that there was some justification for calling for an execution, the biblical god could have always command that they be killed in a way the minimizes suffering, and not lie saying that they were evil.

    He instead commanded that they be tortured to death by means of stoning – again, not that it would be reasonable to assume that there was some justification for calling for that execution -, and made a false moral claim against them.

    The same goes for the burning to death, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
     In at least one way, you should immediately appreciate the distinction being made between the baby and the bathwater.  

    Yes, and if the baby were the teachings of Jesus and the bathwater were the biblical god, that would be okay with me – you could just recognize that Jesus wasn't the biblical god but a human preacher, and then we could discuss his teachings.

    Mike Gantt
    That baby (though He is by no means a baby any longer) is indeed more precious to me – and, I believe, to all of us – than life itself. 

    And now you find an entity who you claim is the biblical god, more precious to you than life itself.

    Well, I can assure you that he's not more precious to me than life itself, but my point is that he – the biblical Jesus – is not morally good, since he's the same entity as biblical god, who isn't morally good.

    Mike Gantt
    The only reason I've continued to respond the last couple of times is that you've continued to insist that defeating Christianity is defeating Christ and I did not want to concede that particular point, for the reasons that I've stated. 

    You're misrepresenting my words.

    I did not say that defeating Christianity was defeating Christ.

    I did say or implied that showing that the biblical god is not morally good deals with Jesus too – the Jesus of the story, of course; the biblical Jesus, not the historical Jesus -, since they're both the same entity, and so Jesus is not morally good.

    I did say or imply that showing that the biblical god is not morally good defeats Christianity – including the Christian belief that Jesus is morally good.

    Mike Gantt
    Christ is of supreme importance to me, and, I believe, to the whole world (including the fact that He takes everyone to heaven). 

    He's not important to me, though.

    There is no fact that he takes everyone to heaven; the fact is that there is no heaven – but that's a matter for another moment.

    Other than that, I do not know enough about your version of heaven to tell whether I'd prefer to be in there or to cease to exist, so I'll make no further comment.

    Mike Gantt
     Christianity, by contrast, has obscured Him by focusing on itself. 

    You're mistaken about what I mean by "Christianity"; your religion counts as one of the many religions that go by the name "Christianity".

    It's a set of beliefs – rather, many sets of beliefs, including yours.

    If you prefer not to call your set of beliefs about Jesus, etc., "Christianity", please let me know what you call it.

    For now, let's call it "set of beliefs Z", and I'll say that the moral arguments that show that the biblical god is not morally good are a defeater for both Christianity and set of beliefs Z.

    Mike Gantt
     However, if you make this claim yet again in reply to what I am saying here, I will simply be silent.  I have to trust that, given my previous objections to the point, readers won't assume that my silence the last time is capitulation to an equating of Christ with Christianity.

    Since I never equated Christ – a person – with Christianity – a religion, or rather many -, that's a misrepresentation that once again misses my points.

    Again, the point is that the biblical god is not morally good, and – according to the story that you and many others believe in -, Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god.

    Hence, Jesus is not morally good – the biblical Jesus, that is.

    As for the historical Jesus, that's beside the point: since both Christianity and set of beliefs Z claim that Jesus is the same being as the biblical god, and that Jesus is morally good, then showing that the biblical god is not morally good suffices to defeat them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03040485938067728696 Daily Coffee

    The existence of God provides a being to which all of humanity is held accountable. Such an existence yields an uneasy feeling with the hearts and minds of many. To prove God’s existence proves the subordination of all of humanity towards another higher being. Humiliation of humanity – not cool for many!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Daily Coffee,

    You will not find much humility here. However, where it is lurking, I trust you've encouraged it.

    The more I learn about Christ, the more stunned I am with His humility.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Daily Coffee,

    First, this is about the biblical god, not about God (i.e., not about an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect creator).
    While Christians usually claim that the biblical god is God, precisely a moral case can be used to show otherwise.
    Whether either being exists is a different matter.

    So, even if God exists, God would not be the biblical god, who is not morally good – let alone morally perfect.

    Second, of course, subordination to a being like the biblical god would be terrible.

    But then again, I'm sure (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt) that he does not exist, so that does not give me any uneasy feeling – the fact that so many people worship him does, though.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    Do you want to talk about humility?

    That's off topic, but still:

    I don't claim to be humble, but you claim to have access to an infallible source of morality even though you have no good reason whatsoever to back that claim up, and even against all reason – given that the previous considerations should have persuaded you that Jesus is not the biblical god, or not morally good.

    Moreover, you condemn others based on the claims made by that alleged source, or the way you interpret it.

    For instance, you apparently condemn people for having same-gender sex, or for having sex without being married.

    Why would you do that?

    Did Jesus say so? If so, then why believe him?

    As for Jesus' alleged humility, you're talking about the being who commanded that some ancient Hebrews be burned to death or stoned to death for actions for which they obviously did not deserve it, and then claim to have the moral high ground.

    That does not sound exactly humble.

    And if we're talking about the historical Jesus, there is no good reason to think he was humble, either. He surely wasn't if he claimed to be omniscient, infallible, or something like that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Yes, add humility (what constitutes it and who demonstrates it) to the list of things about which you and I disagree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    @Mike Gantt,

    Already added; regarding what you call "addressing Christ", I already explained carefully why I already did, but let's try once more:

    Mike Gantt
    That is, I will re-frame your argument for you, changing it from addressing Christianity to addressing Christ.  In doing so, I will preserve what I believe you think are its most salient points.

    a) Jesus of Nazareth claimed to represent the biblical god (i.e. the Creator).

    b) Jesus taught that sex was the province of a man and woman in marriage, and that sex outside this context is immoral.

    c) Jesus taught that premeditation of an evil act was itself evil. Therefore, one who meditates on extramarital sex is immoral.

    Even if you want to pursue this alternative discussion, I am sure you will want to further adapt this argument to even better suit you. 
    Actually, my argument would be:

    Assuming as usual that Jesus is the same being as the biblical god (i.e., the entity described in the Bible and claimed to be the creator)

    a') Jesus is the biblical god.

    b') The biblical god claimed that, in Hebrew society, a woman who engaged in premarital sex and then married someone who didn't know, was evil to the point that she deserved to be stoned to death for that, a woman who engaged in prostitution but was the daughters of a priest was evil to the point that she deserved to be burned to death by that.

    c') The biblical god also commanded that the women described in d) be stoned to death and burned to death respectively.

    d') The claims in b) are false, and the commands in b) are very evil – the false claims are used to try to justify them.

    e') The biblical god also gave a lot of other evil commands, and made other false moral claims.

    f') An entity who engages in such false moral claims and does so much evil is not morally good – let alone morally perfect.

    g') The biblical god is not morally good, let alone morally perfect.

    g') Jesus is not morally good, let alone morally perfect.

    All that said, if you want to discuss the claims made by Jesus in your argument above, I guess for the sake of the argument I could address them too.


    a) Jesus of Nazareth claimed to represent the biblical god (i.e. the Creator).

    I see no good reason to believe so, and pretty good reasons to believe otherwise.

    For that matter, plenty of people have claimed to represent all sort of superpowers, and they've been wrong.

    But let that pass to make it shorter, and let's focus on the moral claims ignoring claims of representation and/or of substance identity.


    b) Jesus taught that sex was the province of a man and woman in marriage, and that sex outside this context is immoral.

    Okay, so he claimed that.

    Why should I believe his claims?

    In fact, that seems strongly counterintuitive to me. It's offensive to my sense of right and wrong.

    So, why should I believe he was correct?


    c) Jesus taught that premeditation of an evil act was itself evil. Therefore, one who meditates on extramarital sex is immoral.

    That's even more strongly counterintuitive if possible, and offensive to my sense of right and wrong.

    So, why should I believe he was correct?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    @Mike Gantt

    For the sake of clarity, when I said it's even more counterintuitive if possible, I meant specifically the claim that even contemplating sex outside marriage is immoral, since it would appear to be a condemnation of even feeling sexually attracted to someone.

    However, on second thought, the first claim is also so counterintuitive that, perhaps, they're equally counterintuitive after all.

    Regarding the claim that Jesus represents the biblical god, that would open the door for bringing up stoning and burning, etc., so I can agree for the sake of the argument to leave that claim aside and consider Jesus' claims without reference to the biblical god – not that it can help Christianity, even in your version, but since you seem to want to discuss Jesus' teachings on the matter, I can do that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    a) Jesus of Nazareth claimed to represent the biblical god (i.e. the Creator).
    I see no good reason to believe so, and pretty good reasons to believe otherwise.

    We view the evidence differently.

    For that matter, plenty of people have claimed to represent all sort of superpowers, and they've been wrong.

    Many of the them have, but the prophets of Israel were certainly true – Jesus been the last and greatest in that long line.  And, of course, He has sent forth others in His name.

    But let that pass to make it shorter, and let's focus on the moral claims ignoring claims of representation and/or of substance identity.

    Okay.


    b) Jesus taught that sex was the province of a man and woman in marriage, and that sex outside this context is immoral.
    Okay, so he claimed that.

    Okay.

    Why should I believe his claims?

    1) Because He claimed in a convincing way to be speaking on behalf of the One who created us.

    2) Because He lived the most moral life any human has ever lived.

    3) Because our consciences bear witness that He is right.

    In fact, that seems strongly counterintuitive to me. It's offensive to my sense of right and wrong.

    That means your conscience is malfunctioning.  To get it healed, you need to acknowledge your own sins before God and seek His forgiveness.

    So, why should I believe he was correct?

    Until you confess your owns sins and honestly deal with them, you won't.


    c) Jesus taught that premeditation of an evil act was itself evil. Therefore, one who meditates on extramarital sex is immoral.

    That's even more strongly counterintuitive if possible, and offensive to my sense of right and wrong.

    Not to mine.  It makes perfect sense that if you're going to eradicate sin that you go after its root.

    So, why should I believe he was correct? 

    Because no one else 1) tells you the truth about your sins, and 2) has the authority to forgive you of your sins, and 3) has the power to cleanse you from your sins and empower you to walk free from those sins.

    Moreover, no one else has a coherent solution to the problem that is undeniably central to every human being:  that is, death.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    We view the evidence differently.

    There are people who say, for instance, Sathya Sai Baba was capable to manifest small objects and had an assortment of other powers, etc.; others believe that they speak in tongues and make sense, and others believe Jesus resurrected.
    Of course, they assess the evidence differently – more precisely, wrongly.
    But let's say you got it right and Jesus is the biblical god.
    Then, he's powerful but not morally good, and all the arguments based on the commands he gave to the ancient Hebrews work (see above)
    You can't object to that saying that I'm not addressing Jesus, because you're the one claiming that that's the same entity as Jesus.
    And if you only claim that Jesus represented the biblical god, then he represented an evil entity.
    If you want to discuss Jesus apart from the actions of the biblical god in the OT, you ought to drop the claim that Jesus was either a representative of, or the same entity as the biblical god.
    But since you won't be convinced, let's proceed.
    Mike Gantt
    Many of the them have, but the prophets of Israel were certainly true – Jesus been the last and greatest in that long line.  And, of course, He has sent forth others in His name.

    I suppose you mean they were true prophets of the biblical god, and so was Jesus.
    In that sense, they were certainly not true prophets, but no need to debate that: assuming they were true prophets of the biblical god, they were the prophets of an evil entity – my previous arguments do apply.

    Angra Mainyu:
    Why should I believe his claims? 

    Mike Gantt
    1) Because He claimed in a convincing way to be speaking on behalf of the One who created us.

    2) Because He lived the most moral life any human has ever lived.

    3) Because our consciences bear witness that He is right.
    Let's take a look at the 3 points, one by one:


    1) Because He claimed in a convincing way to be speaking on behalf of the One who created us.

    1) You're trying to make Jesus credible by claiming that he was talking on behalf of the biblical god (you claim that the biblical god created us).
    Of course, I don't believe that, but if I Jesus had been speaking in the name of the biblical god, then – as pointed out above – he would have been speaking on behalf of an evil entity.
    Whether that entity was also the creator is beside the point; the point is that he's not to be trusted in moral matters, given the lies he said in the OT, and given how he gave very evil commands.
    In other words, by claiming that Jesus spoke in the name of the biblical god, you're not giving me a reason to believe his claims; rather, you're giving me further reason to not trust his claims – at least, that would be the case if I had any reason to believe your claim that Jesus spoke in the name of the biblical god.

    So, 1) fails one way or another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu


    2) Because He lived the most moral life any human has ever lived.

    But why should I believe that?
    The Bible is not a reliable source of information, and if it were, then I have to – once again – assume that he at the very least approved of the actions of the biblical god.

    Moreover, a number of claims he makes are in conflict with my sense of right and wrong, and he promotes the corresponding beliefs.

    So, if I use my sense of right and wrong to make this assessment, my conclusion is that that claim is not true.

    3) Because our consciences bear witness that He is right.

    But my conscience bear witness that he is not.

    That means your conscience is malfunctioning.

    No, it does not mean that.
    If either conscience has to be malfunctioning, it might as well be yours.

    Why should I believe it's mine?

    In fact, given the way in which you tried to avoid the points about the Hebrew law, but you insist on saying that Jesus is the biblical god, and generally your insistence in misrepresenting my claims, etc., plus generally your belief that Jesus had any kind of connection to a superpowerful creator, 'd say your reasoning is obviously compromised here, very probably due to faith.

    Why should I assume your sense of morality isn't, but mine is instead, when they disagree?

    Moreover, it's rational to trust one's intuitions unless one has a good reason not to, so why would that good reason be?

     To get it healed, you need to acknowledge your own sins before God and seek His forgiveness.
    If by "sin" you mean "an offense to the biblical god", I don't believe that that monster exists, but if he did, well it wouldn't be immoral to offend him by pointing out that he's a monster.
    If you mean "immoral acts", well I'm not perfect, I acknowledge that – but not before any deity, monstrous or otherwise.
    But that does not prevent me from making moral assessments – as your immoral acts do not prevent you from making moral assessments, like your assessment that Jesus is morally good.

    Until you confess your owns sins and honestly deal with them, you won't.

    The question was: why should I? – it wasn't "will I"?
    Regarding "sin", see above.

    Not to mine.  It makes perfect sense that if you're going to eradicate sin that you go after its root.

    I clarify that in a later post.
    But let me try to use an example:
    Suppose Bob and Alice are married, but their relationship is such that they accept watching porn – they sometimes do so together -, but not having sex with other people.
    Then, if they're looking at a porn video and one of them looks at one of the performers with desire, that is intuitively not immoral – they're not cheating on their spouse -, whereas having sex with one of the performers would be immoral – since that would be cheating.


    Because no one else 1) tells you the truth about your sins, and 2) has the authority to forgive you of your sins, and 3) has the power to cleanse you from your sins and empower you to walk free from those sins.

    But why should I believe 1), 2) or 3)?


    Moreover, no one else has a coherent solution to the problem that is undeniably central to every human being:  that is, death.

    Sure, many people come up with solutions that aren't contradictory.
    I maintain that the correct one is that death is death. In other words, it's the end of the existence of our minds. But regardless of who's right, obviously there is no contradiction in that position.
    On the other hand, having a coherent solution for what happens after death would not make one's moral claims any more persuasive.
    So, again, why should I believe him?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Given your example of Bob and Alice, it's immediately apparent why you would object to Jesus having any authority over you. It's also obvious why you want to center your argument against Him in the Old Testament because stoning, notwithstanding its limited application and even more limited occurrence, gives you the chance to make an emotional appeal to those you would rally to your side. In any case, I must say that I find your view of morality to be immoral; and I suppose you might say the same of me. Given that our views of morality are so divergent, I don't see a solid enough common foundation to engage in a productive argument about the morality of God.

    I must, however, ask you something. If you do not believe in the existence of God and Jesus, why do you invest energy in arguing about their morality? If I had a brother who thought that the Star Wars characters were real, I would not spend time trying to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were immoral. I'd invest all my time in trying to get him to see that they were imaginary. What is the reason you tell yourself that you are on this jihad against imaginary characters' character?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08021810579773953296 Rian

    Mike, you seem to consistently avoid engaging Angra's point – that according to you Jesus IS the OT Yahweh, who commanded immorality and is therefore not worthy of worship (the original point of the post). Angra has also pointed out things Jesus supposedly said or did which are immoral, undermining your point that Jesus' life was morally perfect.

    Instead of addressing these points, you're trying to cast suspicion on Angra's motives, which are for the purposes of this discussion irrelevant. Instead of showing how and why Angra is incorrect, you simply make the claim that it is.

    Why not ignore Angra's possible motives, and show that Jesus was morally perfect, that the OT commands made by Jesus|Yahweh (according to your beliefs) were morally correct?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Rian,

    How do you propose I do such a thing when our views of what constitutes morality vary so greatly?

    Angra Mainyu's arguments assume an agreement about morality that are only likely to exist among those who already share his conclusion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    I'm Rian (a case of multiple internet-identities) :-)

    Mike, Angra has already given you suggestions, I believe.

    You need to demonstrate that the commands to the Israelites, such as death for adultery (Angra has given a number of examples), were not immoral, but rather were perfectly moral (within the context of Ancient Israel, of course).

    You continue to avoid doing so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    I've given ample explanation as to why I do not want to center the discussion in the Old Testament, which I consider a side issue. I will not repeat those explanations here. I will add, however, that I am quite willing to have the Old Testament discussion after we're reached an agreement where the argument centers on Christ. I always have been, but don't think I've stated such until now.
    In requesting that the argument first be centered on Christ, I don't think I'm asking Angra Mainyu to give up any critical part of his argument. And, both he and you have stated that you can prove Jesus is immoral. Therefore, I don't understand your objection to doing so without resorting to the Old Testament.

    I have, however, come to learn that his view of morality (and perhaps yours, too) is so radically different from my own (and from Jesus', for that matter) that for me to prove to him that Jesus is "moral" will be as impossible as it will be for him to convince me that Jesus is immoral – if for no other reason then because our definitions of morality are different. The issue is not in the argument itself but in the assumptions on which the argument is built – and we are assuming two different standards of morality. It would be like trying to build one house on two different plots of land. Angra Mainyu's argument is only a practical discussion for those who share his moral code. It is thus a circular argument because it begins with assumption that Jesus is immoral and then sets out to "prove" it. But the "proving" depends on accepting the moral code that defined Jesus as immoral in the first place.

    Aside from all this, I can relate to people who struggle with elements of Old Testament morality. That struggle makes sense to me, even though I don't share it. I cannot, however, relate to people who consider Jesus immoral. That just seems strange. And I would have said this even before I came to trust in Christ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: In requesting that the argument first be centered on Christ
    And what do you actually mean by that Mike?

    Mike Gannt: And, both he and you have stated that you can prove Jesus is immoral.
    Angra is doing an admirable job of this by using your equating of Jesus with the OT Yahweh. You seem to be trying to sidestep this.
    If Jesus IS the Yahweh of the OT, then Jesus commanded a death penalty for adultery. It seems you have a couple of ways to proceed from here – stop equating Jesus & Yahweh, or argue that the death penalty was a moral command. Not sure if there are other options for you to take :-)

    Mike Gantt: if for no other reason then because our definitions of morality are different.
    But the conclusions of both of your views of morality are very likely quite similar, and you can probably find similar values to agree upon.
    It seems that this is all you really need in order to discuss whether certain actions can be called moral or not.

    Mike Gantt: Angra Mainyu's argument is only a practical discussion for those who share his moral code
    No, I see it as applying whenever people can agree that certain acts are immoral (ie. stoning of adulterers). Once there is agreement (and I think you agree that this is an immoral thing *today*), then the discussion can proceed (ie. was it an immoral act *then*).

    Mike Gantt: But the "proving" depends on accepting the moral code that defined Jesus as immoral in the first place.
    A moral code which dictates that a death sentence for adultery (and the claim that thoughts constitute immorality every bit as much as deeds do) seems false from the outset, and this is exactly the sort of moral code we're discussing. You're not providing any reasons to think otherwise Mike, and I think you need to.

    Mike Gantt: I cannot, however, relate to people who consider Jesus immoral. That just seems strange.
    Why not Mike?
    If Jesus is Yahweh of the OT then you need to deal with that.
    If Jesus elevated thoughts to the equivalent of deeds, then you need to deal with that.

    Currently you don't seem to be doing either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    You are retracing steps AM and I have already covered. Please re-read the thread.

    To summarize, I do not wish to argue that the Mosaic Code was moral because it is a tangential issue for humanity today (we can argue it later). AM had said that he thought Jesus was immoral independent of his role in the Mosaic Code. I told him I was willing to argue on that basis. He finally agreed and we actually made some initial steps in that direction. However, it quickly became apparent from AM's Bob and Alice example that our respective moral codes are drastically different. That's the current obstacle to any further discussion. Maybe you can see a way forward for us, and I'm open to hearing that. But for you to suggest that we return to a discussion to the Mosaic Code is not productive.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    MIke, I've been following the thread. If I seem to be retracing it is because you don't seem to have interacted with the points.

    MG: To summarize, I do not wish to argue that the Mosaic Code was moral because it is a tangential issue for humanity today
    No it isn't Mike. I assume you believe Jesus moral code is a valid issue for today. According to you Jesus is the same being that commanded the mosaic code. Therefore this issue is certainly relevant to this post, as Yahweh in the OT does not seem worthy of worship, and you claim that Jesus is the same being.

    MG: However, it quickly became apparent from AM's Bob and Alice example that our respective moral codes are drastically different
    Perhaps, though you again didn't seem to demonstrate that his example was wrong, even by your own lights.

    MG: Maybe you can see a way forward for us, and I'm open to hearing that. But for you to suggest that we return to a discussion to the Mosaic Code is not productive.
    Perhaps MG could provide a different example, or you could demonstrate why his example failed in some way?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Given your example of Bob and Alice, it's immediately apparent why you would object to Jesus having any authority over you.

    Actually, I have no good reason to assume that Jesus or any other person has any superhuman moral authority. What I'm doing with that example is assessing one of Jesus' claims. You can make your own assessment too, and give reasons, and then other people can reach their own conclusions.

    So far, you have provided no good reasons


    It's also obvious why you want to center your argument against Him in the Old Testament because stoning, notwithstanding its limited application and even more limited occurrence, gives you the chance to make an emotional appeal to those you would rally to your side.

    Actually, my claim is that the biblical god in the Old Testament gave evil commands and made false moral claims.

    As I repeatedly pointed out, that those commands were given to the ancient Hebrews does not change the fact that they show that the biblical god is not morally good.

    Your characterization of my arguments as an "emotional appeal" is a way of actually making an emotional appeal attacking my position.

    Yes, uttering "emotional appeal" does have pack some rhetorical punch – it really sounds bad.

    However, what I'm doing is to appeal to people's sense of right and wrong which is what moral argumentation is always about.

    If we were to dismiss that as an "emotional appeal", with that criterion, any kind of moral argumentation could be so dismissed.
    Mike Gantt
    In any case, I must say that I find your view of morality to be immoral; and I suppose you might say the same of me.

    You suppose correctly.
    But I will add that your failing to acknowledge the arguments based on the OT, and your insistence that they were irrelevant, dishonest and whatnot, is also irrational, given that you stated that Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god.
    Mike Gantt
    Given that our views of morality are so divergent, I don't see a solid enough common foundation to engage in a productive argument about the morality of God. 

    That depends on what counts as "productive": If you're saying that we will never persuade each other, that seems obvious.
    But on the other hand, this exchange can be productive after all: readers can take a look at what each party is saying, and reach their own conclusion.

    Now, I don't need to convince non-theists, and I don't expect to convince committed Christians. I have enough experience to conclude that committed Christians are almost certainly beyond my capability of persuasion.
    However, there are fencesitters or Christians who are already doubting because they see some moral problems with Christianity – in any version -, so they might be persuaded – though I wouldn't count on it; I'd rather focus on fencesitters.

    Additionally, some non-theists might find some of my points useful, and use them in other debates, which eventually might convince fencesitters.

    So, from that perspective, I think that the debate just might be productive.

    I do not have statistics about numbers of readers of this debate, though, so I can't tell whether there will be any impact. There might or there might not be.

    Now, if you believe you're making the better case here, then the above might apply to you too: you could try to continue in order to persuade fencesitters.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I must, however, ask you something. If you do not believe in the existence of God and Jesus, why do you invest energy in arguing about their morality?

    No, it is not the case that you must; further, as Rian already explained, that is irrelevant to the matter at hand.
    Still, I can answer that if you insist: Among other reasons, I invest energy arguing about their morality because other people – Christians, Jews, etc.; that includes you -, actually use their religion as a means of trying to back their own moral claims, and generally the policies they support.
    Moreover, in a good number of cases, they believe in their moral claims because of their religion.
    Since I do disagree with many of their moral claims – and with the policies that are based on them -, I'm interested in opposing them.

    Mike Gantt
     If I had a brother who thought that the Star Wars characters were real, I would not spend time trying to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were immoral. I'd invest all my time in trying to get him to see that they were imaginary.

    That would be a reasonable course of action if you think you have a shot at convincing him of that.
    But what if many people believed that Palpatine was both real and morally good, and they based some of his own, real-life decisions on those moral beliefs?
    What if all of your attempts to persuade them that Palpatine does not exist had already failed, despite the fact that you've spent many years trying?
    What if you had concluded that they are well beyond your capability for persuasion?
    I'm kind of in that situation, so I don't try to persuade Christians anymore, but only attempt to help reduce the damage they make by trying to persuade fencesitters, so that they won't become Christians, and – perhaps -, so that they will be more motivated to try and persuade others.
    Also, I try to help indirectly – within the limited time I've got for this -, by means of giving arguments to other non-theists, if I can.
    Why do I use the tactic of making a moral case, instead of a case against existence?
    Actually, I've used a combination of different tactics, including arguments against existence. I prefer not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak – I try different alternatives.

    However, in my assessment, if people believe that an entity worshiped by some people is morally good, they're on average more likely to irrationally come to believe that said entity exists than if they believe the the entity in question is not morally good.
    I suppose my assessment might be mistaken – I have no hard data.
    But then again, I have no hard data anyway, and I have to make a choice as to how to allocate my time to defending different arguments – as in the case of everyone else, there's only one of me and my time is limited.
    So, my assessment is as I mentioned above, and so it seems to me that a moral case is a reasonable course of action.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    What is the reason you tell yourself that you are on this jihad against imaginary characters' character?

    Calling it a "jihad" is an unnecessary insult, but that aside, I couldn't care less about the character of imaginary characters as long as it has no impact on real actions.

    But it does have such an impact.

    Now, in my assessment, if people realized that the characters are imaginary (well, Jesus is not imaginary as far as I know, though he's long dead), they probably wouldn't believe that the biblical god is morally good, nor would they buy all of Jesus' moral claims.
    However, even if they promoted the same morality of the New Testament without believing that the biblical god exists or that Jesus was anything but human, then we might still be able to have a rational moral debate, in which they would have to focus on the actual arguments rather than saying using "arguments" like claiming that he's the creator – or his representative -, or that he has authority over us, and so on.
    So, the fact that they believe that those characters are real tend to make them also fail to debate moral issues in a rational way, when the issues involved claims made by Jesus, or generally by the biblical god.

    Mike Gantt
    To summarize, I do not wish to argue that the Mosaic Code was moral because it is a tangential issue for humanity today (we can argue it later).

    As I repeatedly shown, it is not.

    The very fact that you keep using the claim that Jesus represented the biblical god – and/or is the biblical god – allegedly in support of your moral claims show how relevant the matter is: showing that the biblical god is not morally good takes away that kind of confusing argument – well, at least in the eyes of those who understand it.

    Mike Gantt
    AM had said that he thought Jesus was immoral independent of his role in the Mosaic Code. 

    No, that's not what I'm saying.
    I'm saying that he's very evil assuming he's the biblical god, because the biblical god is very evil.
    If I consider Jesus as a human being, I would say that he's not morally perfect, and sometimes makes false moral claims. I wouldn't go as far as to claim that he's evil – or to pass a blank statement that he is (or rather was) immoral; I would only say that sometimes he was being immoral – like every other human – and that some of his moral claims are not true.
    But surely, he's not a monster like the biblical god – not as long as we keep in mind that he wasn't the biblical god.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    MG: If I had a brother who thought that the Star Wars characters were real, I would not spend time trying to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were immoral. I'd invest all my time in trying to get him to see that they were imaginary.
    Further to AM's point about Palpatine. Demonstrating that the biblical Yahweh commanded immoral actions IS a demonstration that the biblical God is not all good, and therefore IS an argument for the nonexistence of this being as being morally perfect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    AM: But surely, he's not a monster like the biblical god – not as long as we keep in mind that he wasn't the biblical god
    And we ignore Hell, which I believe both of you are doing (though most Christians do not).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I have, however, come to learn that his view of morality (and perhaps yours, too) is so radically different from my own (and from Jesus', for that matter) that for me to prove to him that Jesus is "moral" will be as impossible as it will be for him to convince me that Jesus is immoral – if for no other reason then because our definitions of morality are different. 

    You said that we have different definitions of morality.
    But do you actually mean to say that the definitions are different?
    If so, do you actually mean that we don't mean the same by "immoral", etc.?

    If you – and others – don't mean the same as I – and others – mean by "morally wrong", "morally permissible", etc., then what you have is some kind of moral antirealism.

    For instance, if we mean different things by "morally perfect", it might be that when you say that Jesus is morally perfect, that's true, and when I say that he's not morally perfect, that's true as well.

    I'm not sure you actually mean to imply that – one of the consequences would be that Christianity is not true, including your version – , so I will ask for clarification.

    If you do not mean that, then what do you mean?

    Mike Gantt
     The issue is not in the argument itself but in the assumptions on which the argument is built – and we are assuming two different standards of morality. It would be like trying to build one house on two different plots of land. Angra Mainyu's argument is only a practical discussion for those who share his moral code.

    There is no requirement of a particular moral code.

    My argument will be persuasive to those who take a look at the actions of the biblical god rationally – including, of course, the stoning of women to death for having premarital sex in ancient Israel, etc. -, make a moral assessment of those actions using their own sense of right and wrong, and agree that the biblical god is not morally good.

    Of course, your claim that the Mosaic Code is irrelevant will be dismissed as false by them – I'm assuming that they're being rational, and they can see that you claim that Jesus is and/or represents the biblical god.

    On the other hand, if someone truly has different moral intuitions – or if they're being irrational and their irrationality leads them to an assessment that the biblical god is not evil -, then they will not be persuaded.

    Mike Gantt
    It is thus a circular argument because it begins with assumption that Jesus is immoral and then sets out to "prove" it. But the "proving" depends on accepting the moral code that defined Jesus as immoral in the first place.

    No, the claim of circularity is false.
    I do not assume that Jesus is immoral.
    I explain why the attempts to shift the focus away from the Old Testament is irrational, and also appeal to reader's sense of morality to tell whether the actions of the biblical god are morally good.
    Also, when I consider Jesus as a human being – not as the biblical god -, I do not make a blanket claim that he's immoral, but actually challenge some of his moral claims, and ask you to back them up.
    Now, your attempt to back them involves appealing to the claim that he's the creator biblical god – which brings back all the other problems -, claiming that he lived the most moral life of any human – which you don't back -, and appealing to the reader's sense of right and wrong.

    So, my sense of right and wrong – and those of other readers – say otherwise.

    But there is no circularity involved.

    If you want to defend a moral case, what you need to do is present scenarios that in one way or another, will appeal to the readers' sense of right and wrong.

    That's how moral arguments go, and that's what I do.

    What else could you do?
    Claim that Jesus said so?
    But that would not work, since the question is whether his claims are true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Aside from all this, I can relate to people who struggle with elements of Old Testament morality. That struggle makes sense to me, even though I don't share it. I cannot, however, relate to people who consider Jesus immoral. That just seems strange. And I would have said this even before I came to trust in Christ.

    There is a big difference between passing a blanket condemnation that a person is immoral, and disagreeing with some of his moral claims, or saying that sometimes he is being immoral, which is not a general statement about his character.

    I only claim that Jesus is immoral – very evil, actually – under the assumption that he's the biblical god, which is an assumption you and other Christians believe in, but I do not.

    I'm not making the same claim about Jesus as a human being, but I disagree with several of his claims and/or the interpretation of his claims made by you and many others.

    Let me make this short: if you want to rationally discuss whether sex outside marriage is always immoral, then the way of doing that would be to set aside claims about Jesus, the Bible, etc., and try to give persuasive reasons, and then discuss, by presenting different scenarios and try to appeal to people's moral sense.

    If that does not work because our moral senses happen to be too far apart from any agreement, then you could still try to persuade readers, and so could I.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Havoc
    And we ignore Hell, which I believe both of you are doing (though most Christians do not).

    I've been ignoring Hell because Mike Gantt claims that there is no Hell – not in any usual understanding of the term, at least.

    However, even if we include Jesus' belief in Hell, I don't have enough reasons to believe he was a monster like the biblical god, because even if he believed in Hell, it's not clear that he actually would go through with that if he thought about it rationally and they had to decide whether or not to put someone in Hell.

    Still, I concede I can't say that he's "surely" not a monster like the biblical god without knowing whether he'd actually put people in Hell.

    I was replying to Mike Gantt, assuming at least his interpretation that Jesus did not claim that here was Hell – but not his interpretation that he was the biblical god -, but that was not clear given the context.

    So, let me correct the previous point and say that I make no claim that he was a monster like the biblical god.

    On a related note, I do not believe most Christians living today are monsters like the biblical god – though surely some of them are -: I think their faith is probably just getting in the way, not allowing them to reach the conclusions they would otherwise reach.

    In short, they're being irrational, but otherwise most of them wouldn't be nearly as bad as the biblical god.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    If I consider Jesus as a human being, I would say that he's not morally perfect, and sometimes makes false moral claims. I wouldn't go as far as to claim that he's evil – or to pass a blank statement that he is (or rather was) immoral; I would only say that sometimes he was being immoral – like every other human – and that some of his moral claims are not true.  But surely, he's not a monster like the biblical god – not as long as we keep in mind that he wasn't the biblical god. 

    So, aside from his affiliation with the biblical god whom you deem to be a monster, you would not make a blanket statement that Jesus is evil or immoral.  That's helpful to know, but still leaves me uncertain about where you stand with respect to Jesus' morality apart from the aforementioned affiliation.  Could I have your list of Jesus' immoralities and false claims along with your general characterization of his morality, say, on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being the worst possible human being, 5 being a average human being living today, and 10 being perfect in morality – of course, you've already indicated you wouldn't give him a 10)?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    Thanks for your efforts to advance the conversation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu


    So, aside from his affiliation with the biblical god whom you deem to be a monster, you would not make a blanket statement that Jesus is evil or immoral.  That's helpful to know, but still leaves me uncertain about where you stand with respect to Jesus' morality apart from the aforementioned affiliation.  Could I have your list of Jesus' immoralities and false claims along with your general characterization of his morality, say, on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being the worst possible human being, 5 being a average human being living today, and 10 being perfect in morality – of course, you've already indicated you wouldn't give him a 10)?

    That's very difficult, because we know almost nothing about the actual, historical Jesus, and if I'm going to assess the character of the biblical Jesus, that will depend on which version of the biblical Jesus we're talking about.

    Still, considering at least some of the biblical claims as a guide to analyze possibilites, we have the following possibilities:

    1) Whether or not he actually believed that infinite torment in Hell is an acceptable punishment makes a difference.

    2) Assuming he did not, whether he also approved of the biblical god's actions in the OT – and how he did so – makes a difference as well.

    For instance, it might be that:

    a) Jesus did not approve of OT commands, and tried to change that, but he couldn't say that openly or he would be rejected. So, he lied and claimed to follow the OT, while in reality advocating for change, trying to make things less bad.

    b) Jesus thoughtlessly approved of the OT commands, because that's what he was taught.

    c) Jesus thought about it carefully, and still approved of the OT commands.

    I would say that a) is okay, b) is not but isn't as bad as c).

    3) On the issue of sexual morality, according to the Bible:

    : Jesus: "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart"

    Now, did Jesus actually say that?
    Assuming he did, implicitly, what he's saying is that looking a woman lustfully is always immoral.

    I disagree with that claim.

    But what was his goal, and his mindset when he made it?

    How much responsibility does he have?

    Was he trying to stop, say, frequent acts of rape that happened in the context in which he lived?

    Or was he following an idea that sex outside marriage is immoral because some deity says so?

    Generally, why would he go that far trying to curb human sexuality?

    Did he have some really bad experiences with it?

    So, I don't really have enough data to make even an approximate assessment there, other than saying that if he made a claim like that, I do not agree with it.

    But perhaps, if you make a list of some of Jesus' moral claims and actions that you're interested in – according to whatever version of Jesus you believe was historical -, I can make an assessment of those claims and actions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    …[I]f I'm going to assess the character of the biblical Jesus, that will depend on which version of the biblical Jesus we're talking about.

    The one presented in the New Testament.  I take it at face value as a reliable historical document.

    : Jesus: "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart"

    Now, did Jesus actually say that? 

    Yes, the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:28 to be exact.  (The Sermon on the Mount covers chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew's gospel, and it a good place to focus.)

    Assuming he did, implicitly, what he's saying is that looking a woman lustfully is always immoral.

    Yes.

    I disagree with that claim. 

    I don't.  Where do you want to go from here.?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    The one presented in the New Testament.  I take it at face value as a reliable historical document.

    I don't, but there are some problems if I assume so:

    1) There are contradictions.

    2) Leaving that aside, I was trying to assess the character of Jesus independently of the claim that he's the biblical god, or his representative. However, if we take the NT at face value, it's not possible to do that without ignoring crucial evidence.

    So, we end up back in the beginning.

    Mike Gantt
    Yes, the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5:28 to be exact.  (The Sermon on the Mount covers chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew's gospel, and it a good place to focus.)

    I know that the NT claims that he said that. My question was whether he actually did.

    If we go by the NT, then I would have to say that Jesus was either the biblical god, or his representative – doing his bidding – and one way or another, my assessment remains that he was then very evil.

    Mike Gantt
    I don't.  Where do you want to go from here.?

    Okay, let's try to clarify the matter a little:
    This is how I understand your claim:
    It seems to me that your position is that whenever someone looks at a woman and wants to have sex with her, that's immoral if they're not married, or even if they're married but they're both women, since you do not accept same-gender marriage (let's call that behavior "X", to make it shorter).

    Also, you claim that that's what Jesus said or implied.

    Is that a correct interpretation of your view?
    For now, I will assume it's correct, but please correct it if it's not.

    Let's assume that Jesus did claim that X is always immoral.

    So, there are people – namely, you and others today, and Jesus in the past – making the claim that X is always immoral.

    On the other hand, there are people who do not believe X is always immoral.

    Moreover, some may well assess that spreading the belief that X is always immoral, is often immoral.
    On that note, spreading the belief that X is immoral is not innocuous: if people buy it, some will go in guilt trips and feel really bad about themselves because of their sexual impulses. That can seriously affect a person psychologically, for example – but not only – if he or she is a teenager struggling with their sexuality.

    So, my question would be: what's the basis for that claim?

    In other words: why is behavior X immoral?

    If you say you find it intuitive but give no reason beyond something like "it's what my sense of right and wrong tells me", then my sense of right and wrong tells me otherwise.

    So, if your intuitions really tell you that X is always immoral, and mine tell me otherwise, then it seems to me that there isn't much we can do to resolve our differences on that particular subject.

    But is that really what you intuitively apprehend, or do you believe it because you believe Jesus says so?

    It's difficult to separate the two if you've been a Christian since childhood, though (have you?), but in that case, I would ask you about the following hypothetical scenario:

    Let's suppose that new manuscripts are found, and those writings show that there was an omission: Jesus made exceptions and said that the above claim only applied to married men, but in the case of other people, it's not always immoral to look at a woman with sexual desire – rather, it depends on the case.

    In that hypothetical scenario, would you conclude that Jesus was in error, or would you rather withdraw the claim that X is always immoral?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    @Mike Gantt

    Just to clarify: even though accepting the NT as an accurate description leads us back to the OT, in the previously mentioned post I assessed the claim about behavior X without taking that into consideration – i.e., I assessed that independently of any moral assessment of Jesus based on the parts of the NT that link him to the OT.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: I take it at face value as a reliable historical document.
    I don't want to derail the discussion you guys are having, but I just wanted to point out that this amounts to special pleading Mike. There are vast number of other historical documents which were written by superior historian using better methodology, and whose providence is not so mysterious, and yet you don't seem to accept these "at face value as a reliable historical document.".
    I wonder why that is :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:

    Okay, let's try to clarify the matter a little:
    This is how I understand your claim:
    It seems to me that your position is that whenever someone looks at a woman and wants to have sex with her, that's immoral if they're not married, or even if they're married but they're both women, since you do not accept same-gender marriage (let's call that behavior "X", to make it shorter).

    Also, you claim that that's what Jesus said or implied.

    Is that a correct interpretation of your view?

    Yes.

    For now, I will assume it's correct, but please correct it if it's not.

    Let's assume that Jesus did claim that X is always immoral.

    So, there are people – namely, you and others today, and Jesus in the past – making the claim that X is always immoral.

    On the other hand, there are people who do not believe X is always immoral.

    Moreover, some may well assess that spreading the belief that X is always immoral, is often immoral.
    On that note, spreading the belief that X is immoral is not innocuous: if people buy it, some will go in guilt trips and feel really bad about themselves because of their sexual impulses. That can seriously affect a person psychologically, for example – but not only – if he or she is a teenager struggling with their sexuality.

    It deserves to be said that the converse is also true.  That is, some may well assess that spreading the believe that X is moral, is immoral.  On that note, spreading the belief that X is moral is not innocuous: if people buy it, some will engage in thought patterns and practices that are not good for themselves and others.  That can seriously affect a person psychologically, for example – but not only – if he or she is a teenager struggling with their sexuality.

    –more to follow–

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    –continued–

    So, my question would be: what's the basis for that claim?

    In other words: why is behavior X immoral?

    If you say you find it intuitive but give no reason beyond something like "it's what my sense of right and wrong tells me", then my sense of right and wrong tells me otherwise.

    So, if your intuitions really tell you that X is always immoral, and mine tell me otherwise, then it seems to me that there isn't much we can do to resolve our differences on that particular subject.

    Yes, this is the point I came to after you introduced the Bob and Alice example.

    But is that really what you intuitively apprehend, or do you believe it because you believe Jesus says so? 

    Both.

    It's difficult to separate the two if you've been a Christian since childhood, though (have you?),

    I was brought up in Roman Catholicism.  I left it when I became a teenager and lived as an agnostic until my late 20's when I decided to read the Bible 1) because I'd never read it and wanted to check that off my "I've read the classics of literature" list, and 2) a guy was witnessing to me about Jesus Christ and the Bible and I was sure he was wrong so I was looking evidence I could use to refute him (the god is a monster accusation would have been an acceptable strategy for that purpose).

    but in that case, I would ask you about the following hypothetical scenario: 

    Let's suppose that new manuscripts are found, and those writings show that there was an omission: Jesus made exceptions and said that the above claim only applied to married men, but in the case of other people, it's not always immoral to look at a woman with sexual desire – rather, it depends on the case.

    In that hypothetical scenario, would you conclude that Jesus was in error, or would you rather withdraw the claim that X is always immoral?

    Neither.  I would conclude that the new manuscript was unreliable because of its inconsistency with Jesus' broader teaching that any outward sin is first conceived in the mind and it is as much a sin when the mind plans it as when the body executes it.  This teaching, of course, applies to much more than adultery.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

     Havok:

    I don't want to derail the discussion you guys are having, but I just wanted to point out that this amounts to special pleading, Mike. There are vast number of other historical documents which were written by superior historian using better methodology, and whose providence is not so mysterious, and yet you don't seem to accept these "at face value as a reliable historical document."  I wonder why that is :-)

    I don't understand your point. Please paraphrase or explain.

    I am referring to the New Testament documents simply because they are the source material from antiquity which describe the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  As to "other historical documents…,"  I don't know what documents you have in mind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
      That can seriously affect a person psychologically, for example – but not only – if he or she is a teenager struggling with their sexuality.

    How?
    In other words, how would a person be affected if she or he does not believe that it's always immoral to look at a woman and want to have sex with her?

    Mike Gantt
    Yes, this is the point I came to after you introduced the Bob and Alice example.

    Okay, but it's not entirely clear to me that that's actually what you intuitively assess, instead of just believing it because you think Jesus said or implied so.
    In any case, but there are other examples we can consider…which takes us back to the OT.
    Yes, I know, it's no longer applicable, etc. I never claimed otherwise.

    But besides that, I have to ask you to please use your own own sense of right and wrong – not your religious beliefs – and let me know whether you truly assess that – in ancient Israel, of course:

    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death.
    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death.
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn't know that, she deserved to be stoned to death.
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death.
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    I'm asking you because in my experience, even Christians usually do not make those assessments based on their own moral sense, and because people who aren't Christians (or Muslims, etc.), are usually appalled by that kind of assessment.

    If it truly is the case that that's what your moral sense tells you, all I can say is that I find your moral sense very unusual.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I was brought up in Roman Catholicism.  I left it when I became a teenager and lived as an agnostic until my late 20's when I decided to read the Bible 1) because I'd never read it and wanted to check that off my "I've read the classics of literature" list, and 2) a guy was witnessing to me about Jesus Christ and the Bible and I was sure he was wrong so I was looking evidence I could use to refute him (the god is a monster accusation would have been an acceptable strategy for that purpose).

    That is interesting (by the way, I was also brought up in Roman Catholicism, but I guess our coincidences end there), since it might allow us to make some assessments:
    1) When you were an agnostic, did you still believe that it was immoral to look at a woman and wanting her, except perhaps within heterosexual marriage?
    2) When you read the Bible, did you read the passages of the OT making the claims I described above, and issuing corresponding commands?
    3) If your answer to 2) is "yes", did you agree with the moral assessments and commands in the OT?

    Mike Gantt
    Neither.  I would conclude that the new manuscript was unreliable because of its inconsistency with Jesus' broader teaching that any outward sin is first conceived in the mind and it is as much a sin when the mind plans it as when the body executes it.  This teaching, of course, applies to much more than adultery.

    I guess I have not been clear or detailed enough, so let me try some more detailed alternatives:
    1) The new evidence shows that Jesus did not make the claim that sex outside marriage is always immoral, but rather, than it's immoral in some cases, including the case in which one partner is married to someone else, or in a relationship with someone else.
    If you still would not believe the new manuscript, please assume you get more evidence for it than you get for the authenticity of the manuscripts you have now.
    2) The new evidence shows that Jesus clarified that same-gender marriage is not immoral.
    Would you believe Jesus is in error, or that your moral intuitions are in error?
    As before, let's assume you have better evidence for this manuscript than for the others.
    3) The new evidence shows that some of the manuscripts you have are actually not reliable, and that Jesus said that the Old Testament was not inspired by the creator, and had profoundly immoral commands and false moral claims.
    Would you believe Jesus is in error, or that your moral intuitions are in error?

    To be clear, I'm not saying that that will happen. What I'm doing is trying to know what your moral assessment of some situations would be, without your belief that Jesus says that they're immoral, or with a belief that Jesus says otherwise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:  

    How?  In other words, how would a person be affected if she or he does not believe that it's always immoral to look at a woman and want to have sex with her?

    In many ways.  For instance, a teenager who thinks lust is immoral, but hears some adults sanctioning it, can be tempted to engage in that which will later bring guilt and confusion.

    But besides that, I have to ask you to please use your own own sense of right and wrong – not your religious beliefs – and let me know whether you truly assess that – in ancient Israel, of course:

    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death.
    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death.
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn't know that, she deserved to be stoned to death.
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death.
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    I'm asking you because in my experience, even Christians usually do not make those assessments based on their own moral sense, and because people who aren't Christians (or Muslims, etc.), are usually appalled by that kind of assessment.

    You are confusing two issues here.  One issue is whether an act is moral or immoral.  Another is what is the appropriate consequence for the action.

    As to the first issue, my assessments are as follows:  the man in "a" is immoral for marrying two women.  The woman in "b"  has done nothing wrong. If the woman in "c" led people to believe she was a virgin at marriage, she lied.  The man in "d" cheated on his fiance and thus did wrong.  The woman in "e" acted immorally.  That is, all but "b" acted immorally.

    As to the second issue, this would take us into a discussion of the moral legitimacy of the Mosaic Code for ancient Israel – which, as I've said, I'm willing to do once we've established the moral legitimacy of Jesus of Nazareth apart from that.  More broadly, I'd simply say that I would not know how to assign proper consequences to these immoral actions.  A case could be made that some of them deserve sanctions in the civil sphere (such as "e") but most I think have to be left to God's sphere.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu:  

     That is interesting (by the way, I was also brought up in Roman Catholicism, but I guess our coincidences end there), since it might allow us to make some assessments:
    1) When you were an agnostic, did you still believe that it was immoral to look at a woman and wanting her, except perhaps within heterosexual marriage?

    I don't recall thinking about the issue in that sort of crystal clear moral view, but I do remember that period of my life being marked by times of guilt and confusion as I alternated between pursuit of morality and pursuit of pleasure.

    2) When you read the Bible, did you read the passages of the OT making the claims I described above, and issuing corresponding commands?

    I focused more on the New Testament.  I was interested in Jesus – His identity and His claims.

    3) If your answer to 2) is "yes", did you agree with the moral assessments and commands in the OT?

    We'll discuss the Mosaic Code in due time…if you're willing.

    I guess I have not been clear or detailed enough, so let me try some more detailed alternatives:

    If I understand your purpose, a better way to achieve it would be to simply say "If the New Testament said Christ's teaching about A was really B, then…"

    1) The new evidence shows that Jesus did not make the claim that sex outside marriage is always immoral, but rather, than it's immoral in some cases, including the case in which one partner is married to someone else, or in a relationship with someone else.

    If the meaning of Jesus' words were clear on the matter I would trust His word, though I would likely be simultaneously confused in conscience as the idea does not resonate.

    2) The new evidence shows that Jesus clarified that same-gender marriage is not immoral.  Would you believe Jesus is in error, or that your moral intuitions are in error?

    (Same as previous answer.)

    3) The new evidence shows that some of the manuscripts you have are actually not reliable, and that Jesus said that the Old Testament was not inspired by the creator, and had profoundly immoral commands and false moral claims.  Would you believe Jesus is in error, or that your moral intuitions are in error?

    If Jesus so disclaimed the Old Testament He would forfeit all right to the claim that He was Israel's Messiah – and without that identity, He'd have no authority over us.  What He did do, relevant to your question, is claim that the Old Testament was inspired by the Creator but that its words must be understood in a new way going forward.  In this spirit He eschewed all violence in pursuit of God's purpose, and even said, for example, that the Mosaic rules about divorce were not to be taken as God's approval of divorce but rather an accommodation to the hard hearts of ancient Israel (not that those folks cornered the market on hard hearts).

    What I'm doing is trying to know what your moral assessment of some situations would be, without your belief that Jesus says that they're immoral, or with a belief that Jesus says otherwise.

    I understand that, though the distinction is not always easy to make.  For one thing, dealing in hypotheticals is often problematic.  For another, mental history can be hard to nail.  For example, when I read a teaching of Jesus on a subject it can solidify and strengthen what was previously a weak and fuzzy moral concept in my mind.  Does this mean it could not have survived and matured otherwise?  Not necessarily.  Nevertheless, I've tried to answer your questions as best I can.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    In many ways.  For instance, a teenager who thinks lust is immoral, but hears some adults sanctioning it, can be tempted to engage in that which will later bring guilt and confusion.

    But that will not bring guilt or confusion. What will bring guilt and will make him feel really bad is to believe that looking at a woman and desiring her is always immoral if he's not married.
    As far as I can tell, your position is not limited to directly looking at her – staring may well be wrong in many cases -, but encompasses looking at pictures and/or watching videos: Is that a correct assessment of your position?
    Moreover, it applies even to using his imagination, right?
    Of course, most teenagers may not even take that seriously. But many will, and they will suffer a lot because they will believe that they are immoral and will hate themselves for that, try to control themselves with little chance of success, etc.

    So, there are good reasons to believe that spreading that belief would have serious negative consequences for many people. But I still don't see the consequences you're talking about. Could you be more specific, please?

    Mike Gantt
    You are confusing two issues here.  One issue is whether an act is moral or immoral.  Another is what is the appropriate consequence for the action.

    No, I'm not confusing them.

    The biblical god claimed or implied that they deserved it, so I asked what your assessment is. While I could have asked both whether you assessed that their actions were immoral and whether they deserved it, given the biblical god's command, asking the latter was sufficient.

    Still, if you want to answer both, that's no difficulty – as long as you answer whether they deserve it.
    The problem is, however, that you refuse to answer.
    Mike Gantt
    As to the first issue, my assessments are as follows:  the man in "a" is immoral for marrying two women.  The woman in "b"  has done nothing wrong. If the woman in "c" led people to believe she was a virgin at marriage, she lied.  The man in "d" cheated on his fiance and thus did wrong.  The woman in "e" acted immorally.  That is, all but "b" acted immorally.

    Case a):

    i) Are you saying that the man in "a" is immoral, or that he acted immorally in that particular case?
    There is a big difference.

    ii) What about the two women?
    Case b)
    Your reply to b) is surprising.
    Are you really saying that she did not do anything wrong for becoming a prostitute?

    Not that I claim that she acted immorally, but I'm extremely surprised that you would say she did not do anything wrong.

    Are you certain that you didn't misread?

    Case c)

    Perhaps, she lied. Perhaps, she simply said nothing. Why should she?

    In any case, she would have been punished if she'd said something, so again, why should she?

    Case d)

    No, the man in d) did not necessarily cheat on his fiancee, since the man in d) does not have to have a fiancee.
    Rather, the woman in d) is the one who is betrothed to another man.
    However, that may not count as cheating, if she did not choose to be betrothed to the man she's betrothed to – i.e., she could have been the victim of her father's choice.

    Case e)
    You say that the woman acted immorally.
    But what about the non-human animal that had sex with her? Let's say he's a dog. Did the dog act immorally as well?


    That is, all but "b" acted immorally.

    Two questions:

    1) Does that include the non-human animal in e), regardless of what species he was?

    2) Are all of those judgments the result of your intuitive assessment, or what you think Jesus believes?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    As to the second issue, this would take us into a discussion of the moral legitimacy of the Mosaic Code for ancient Israel – which, as I've said, I'm willing to do once we've established the moral legitimacy of Jesus of Nazareth apart from that.  

    That's very disappointing.
    You're interested in the truth, right?
    So am I, and I'm asking you what your intuitive moral assessment is about the claims in question, in order to learn about your method for making moral assessments:
    Essentially, the question is as follows:

    All I'm asking is for you to please use your own own sense of right and wrong – not your religious beliefs – and let me know whether you truly assess that – in ancient Israel, of course:

    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death. 
    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death. 
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn't know that, she deserved to be stoned to death. 
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death. 
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    Mike Gantt
    More broadly, I'd simply say that I would not know how to assign proper consequences to these immoral actions.

    Are you saying that your own sense of right and wrong does not tell you whether or not those women and men deserved to be stoned to death, or burned to death, and that you do not know whether the non-human animal in question deserved to be executed for having sex with a woman?

    If that's what you're saying, I have to say that you have a very odd sense of right and wrong.
    If that's not what you're saying, could you please let me know what your sense of right and wrong tells you about that?

    That aside, you can't reasonably claim moral goodness of Jesus while ignoring the Mosaic Code and at the same time claiming that Jesus is the same entity who commanded that code, since, well, those are his actions, and in order to assess whether he was morally good, we have to assess his actions the best we can – not just ignore some obviously evil actions.

    For that matter, a brutal tyrant may love his children. But it would not be reasonable to ask people to judge him on the base on that alone in order to establish legitimacy, and then claim that in the cases that appear "problematic" (i.e., obviously immoral), he must have had a good reason, since he was good.

    Sorry to be blunt, but I already spent many hours on this, and we're going nowhere: This is not about disagreement between your moral intuitions and mine; it's about the lack of rationality of the criterion that you're using.

    Still, let me try another angle:

    A) If Jesus was the same entity as the biblical god, then he was a monster for the reasons previously explained.
    The commands he gave to the ancient Hebrews and the claims he made are relevant when it comes to assessing his moral character, simply because those are some of his actions.

    B) If Jesus was entirely human, going by the biblical description (minus the claims of superpowers), he apparently was a cult leader, who told men to hate and abandon their families to follow him.
    That's probably not enough to qualify as a monster, but that's not right.

    C) If Jesus was neither the biblical god nor entirely human, but some other sort of entity, it remains the case that he does not appear to have been morally perfect. For instance, he still falsely claimed that the biblical god was good, and also told men to hate and abandon his families to follow him.

    However one slices it, he wasn't morally perfect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    A case could be made that some of them deserve sanctions in the civil sphere (such as "e") but most I think have to be left to God's sphere.

    First, you're not addressing my question.
    I did not ask whether other humans should punish them. I asked whether they deserved to suffer the aforementioned punishments, according to your intuitive sense of right and wrong.
    Second, why would you leave it to the biblical god?
    How is he any better than human judiciary systems?

    Mike Gantt
    We'll discuss the Mosaic Code in due time…if you're willing.

    Actually, due time was long before, and is now as well.
    And I'm sorry to be blunt, but you're not being rational on this matter, for the reasons I've explained throughout this discussion.
    You may not be able to understand them because your faith gets in the way, but I find an irrational reply on this matter particularly problematic, as it dismisses a repeated and very accurate explanation of what's epistemically wrong with what you're doing – actually, a number of them -, and which is crucial to the matters at hand.

    Mike Gantt
    If the meaning of Jesus' words were clear on the matter I would trust His word, though I would likely be simultaneously confused in conscience as the idea does not resonate.

    Mike Gantt
    (Same as previous answer.)

    Okay, so you put Jesus' words over your own sense of right and wrong.
    What makes you believe that he's got a better sense of right and wrong than you do, and that he was truthful about morality?

    Mike Gantt
    If Jesus so disclaimed the Old Testament He would forfeit all right to the claim that He was Israel's Messiah – and without that identity, He'd have no authority over us. 

    Okay, so you give him this right to moral authority because he was the biblical god. But why?

    If the biblical god said that it's morally right to rape children for fun, would you believe that it's right?

    If not, then why do you believe that what the biblical god says is right, is right? – because the reason why you put Jesus' judgment about your own sense of right and wrong seems to be precisely that he's the biblical god.

    Mike Gantt
    In this spirit He eschewed all violence in pursuit of God's purpose, and even said, for example, that the Mosaic rules about divorce were not to be taken as God's approval of divorce but rather an accommodation to the hard hearts of ancient Israel (not that those folks cornered the market on hard hearts).

    First, that is irrational on the part of Jesus. An entity of immense power would not need to lie and issue immoral commands. And he shouldn't, actually.
    Second, the biblical god claimed or implied that, in ancient Israel:

    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death. 

    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death. 
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn't know that, she deserved to be stoned to death. 
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death. 
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    Was he lying to, or did he believe those claims?

    Mike Gantt
     Not necessarily.  Nevertheless, I've tried to answer your questions as best I can.

    Thanks, but I'm afraid that only very limited progress is possible in this way.

    The main difficulty is not the cases that you don't remember, but the ones when you misunderstand the question and/or choose not to answer because of a non-rational procedure of making moral assessments.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    My responses to your latest comments can be found at http://wp.me/p1eZz8-IX

    If you choose to reply, you can do so there or here – whichever you prefer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt:
    There is a distinction which should be apparent, but in case it is not, let me make it now.  A person is not responsible for being tempted – only if he capitulates to the temptation.  Thus it is not the presentation of an immoral thought that defiles a person, but rather meditation upon it.  You can’t control who knocks on your door, but you can control who you invite in to entertain.  Or as Martin Luther may have put it, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.”

    Angra Mainyu:
    Okay, this also should be apparent and sorry to be blunt, but you're in any case implying that watchng pornography is always immoral.
    Moreover, you seem to be clearly implying that masturbation is always immoral, even if there is no pornography involved.
    I not only disagree, but claim that if you convince teenagers of that, you can cause some serious suffering.

    Mike Gantt
    Only through our awareness of the presence of Jesus Christ in every place on earth can we find the grace to achieve success such as this.  He Himself gives us the strength to resist temptation by virtue of our desire to please Him.  Boys find the ability to resist pornography while in the presence of their parents, and men find the ability to resist it while in the presence of their wives.  Therefore, everyone has the ability to resist viewing pornography.  The power to resist is found in the presence of eyes one does not want to displease.  Thus an awareness of the eyes of Christ gives us the power to resist meditation on immoral thoughts even when no human authority figures are around.

    Angra Mainyu
    1) The biblical god is not morally good.
    I defended that claim in considerable detail in our previous exchange, and in considerably greater detail in my blog, but I'm afraid I can't repeat all of that here, due to time limitations.
    So, I would ask readers to take a look at the previous exchange and/or the case in my blog and make their own assessment of the merits of our respective positions.
    2) I see no good reason to believe that Jesus exists in the first place – I believe he did, but he's long dead.
    I'm afraid I don't have time for a debate on that point, either, but even if he lived, and because of the reasons I mentioned earlier, I would disagree with his moral claims.
    3) Given 1) and 2), if you want to argue that watching pornography is always immoral, and furthermore that masturbation is always immoral, I would address arguments that do not involve claims to some kind of superhuman moral authority.
    4) Yes, in the presence of their parents, boys will not likely watch pornography.
    Also, in the presence of their parents, adults will not likely have sex with their partners or spouses.
    Moreover, they're not likely to do it on the streets, either, or at the office, even if their parents aren't present.
    Depending on the situation, in some cases such behaviors would be either embarrassing, or immoral, or both.
    But that is no reason to suspect that either having sex with one's partner is always immoral, or that watching pornography is always immoral – or that masturbation is always immoral, for that matter.
    And the fact that some people can suffer and suppress their sexual desires at considerable cost does not suggest that it's always immoral not to do so, or that it's morally acceptable to spread the belief that they have a moral obligation to suppress them like that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    You seem quite mindful of the damage that can come if my views of morality are spread because you are currently convinced that your views are right.  However, you seem oblivious to the harm your view causes if you are wrong.  Please think about it.

    Angra Mainyu
    Actually, I would still need the specifics. I'm presenting scenarios in which people clearly do suffer as a result – they end up blaming themselves.
    Yet, you've not presented scenarios showing what kind of suffering would result if, say, teenagers do not believe that it's always immoral to watch pornography.
    Sure, you could say that if you're right about the moral claim, then the negative results are the fact that they make moral errors.
    I can say that in reverse.
    But I can also point to specific negative results, not assuming who's right: they will hate themselves, or have to suppress their sexuality in a way that would make them prone to violence, nervous, etc.

    Mike Gantt
    Therefore, be assured that the burden of proof to demonstrate that you are not corrupting good morals is as great for you as you perceive it to be for me.

    Angra Mainyu
    Given that my position is intuitively clear, the burden seems to be on you.
    If you put aside religious claims and ask people to make an intuitive assessment on whether it's always immoral to watch pornography, or masturbate, what do you think the common assessment will be?
    Still, let's say that we're both in the same situation, intuitions-wise.
    Removing the irrationality of trying to use Jesus' claims in support of your position would be good enough for me, because in that case people would use their own intuitions.
    Some of them might still disagree with me, but at least there would be rationality on the matter, and the disagreement, if there is one, would only come to a difference in moral intuitions, rather to people irrationally placing an ancient book before their moral intuitions.
    Now, that point is independent of our disagreement on moral intuitions, as I argued in our previous exchange.

    Mike Gantt
    As I’ve said, we can deal with the Mosaic Code in due time.  It’s not that I’m unwilling to answer, it’s just that I don’t want to major on a minor.  Until we settle the issue of Jesus Christ, the Mosaic Code is a moot point for us.  

    Angra Mainyu
    And as I repeatedly explained, that is an irrational position for you to take.
    While I would accept discussing Jesus' claims as the claims of a human being – not the biblical god, or his representative -, you keep bringing back the biblical god as a means to support Jesus' alleged goodness, or the reliability of his claims.

    However, if Jesus is the biblical god, then he's evil because of the reasons I've been explaining, and avoiding them or leaving them for later while insisting that Jesus is or speaks in the name of the biblical god as a means of trying to support your position is not a rational way to assess his actions.

    Mike Gantt
    Neither of us is a Hebrew living between the time of Moses and the time of Christ, so the Mosaic Code has never had any applicability to us.  

    Angra Mainyu
    As I said many, many times, that is obviously true, and also obviously irrelevant. I explained why in great detail, but now you open a debate here too.

    Mike Gantt
     The New Testament claims that Jesus does have authority over us.  Therefore, we need to deal with that first.
    Angra Mainyu
    That's a non-sequitur.

    The NW claims that Jesus is morally good and somehow ought to be obeyed on account of the claim that he's the biblical god, or his representative.

    So, of course, we need to deal with the morality of the biblical god, including both the New and the Old Testaments.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    If we conclude that the New Testament is wrong and that Christ doesn’t have authority over us (because, for example, He lived or taught immorally), then we can disregard consideration of the Mosaic Code entirely because it could not restore that lost authority to Him.  
    Angra Mainyu
    First, in order to assess whether Jesus is morally good because he's a representative of the biblical god or the biblical god himself, we need to assess whether the biblical god is morally good.
    Second, what do you even mean by "authority" here?
    Even if Jesus were morally good, we would have no moral obligation to obey his commands. If you claim otherwise, why?
    Mike Gantt
    If we conclude that Christ does have authority over us, then we can examine whether your claims about the Mosaic Code do or do not discredit Jesus (i.e. undermine His moral authority and therefore delegitimize Him).
    Angra Mainyu
    Again, the questions are whether he's morally good, and whether his moral claims are reliable.
    But if you also want to introduce authority and claim that we have an obligation to obey him, then why should we?
    Mike Gantt
    When you’re hiring a new employee, you don’t check references from prior employment until you’re otherwise satisfied that you want to make the hire.  Similarly, focusing on what Jesus may or may not have done in a completely different prior context is premature if we don’t think Jesus in His New Testament context is sufficiently moral to command our attention.
    Angra Mainyu
    No, that's not similar:
    First, if someone else insists that I should hire him because of what he did before, then that surely plays a role.
    Second, if the person insisting that I hire him also tells me that the employee is the same being who, in the past, engaged in heinous acts of torture, rape and murder, I will certainly take that into account.
    Mike Gantt
    If you are unwilling or unable to judge Him as a man how in the world will you have the ability to judge Him as a god?  For we only know how to be human; we have no experience as gods.
    Angra Mainyu
    If someone claims that religion X is true, and religion X claims that, say, Hewhay is morally good and tortures everyone else for eternity just for fun, we can safely conclude that religion X is not true because an entity who behaves in that way would not be morally good.

    And if religion Y claimed that Hewhay is morally perfect and created the universe just for the fun of watching the "show" of limited sentient beings struggling, killing or being killed, etc., and does not care at all who or what suffers as long as he has fun, we would be able to tell that such a religion is not true, since a morally perfect being would not do that.
    And if religion Z claimed that Susej is a morally perfect creator, and he teaches that it's okay to rape children for fun, we would be able to tell that religion Z is not true.

    Similarly, then, one can properly make a case against Christianity based on the actions of the biblical god, as described in the Bible.

    Of course, the biblical god does not torture everyone for eternity for fun, etc., – that would make the case too easy -, but that does not prevent us to assess his actions.
    Mike Gantt

    Therefore, if you can be patient, we will get to your question about the Mosaic Code after we decide about Jesus of Nazareth.  If, on the other hand, your patience is exhausted, it’s fine with me to stop now.

    Angra Mainyu
    I've been told a few times that I have considerable patience for irrational replies, but I have to admit that my patience has a limit too, and it was over a few days ago.

    I've continue only due to your persistence in misrepresenting my position, and insisting in your irrational claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Perhaps you already believe Jesus of Nazareth is unimpeachable without bringing in the Mosiac Code argument.  If so, I hope you’ll acknowledge that.

    Angra Mainyu
    No, of course not. I already refuted that claim. Frankly, your insistence in ignoring my replies instead of acknowledging that I address the matter is quite offensive.

    Again, I would have no problem debating the morality of Jesus' actions without blaming him for the atrocities committed by the biblical god as long as you do not claim that he's the biblical god in support of your claim of "authority".

    While I can grant some absurd assumptions for the sake of the argument – such as the claim that the biblical god exists -, and still make a good case against Christianity – even in your version -, what you propose here is simply too irrational to allow for any kind of debate.

    For that matter, you might as well start with the assumption that only good actions are to be considered first, and bad actions are to be explained for mysterious reasons (because the good actions "show" he is good).

    As for the alleged unimpeachable character of Jesus, I already challenged him on two grounds:
    a) His claims about sexual morality, and

    b) His behavior like a cult leader, telling men to hate their families and follow him.

    Mike Gantt
    Maybe I did.  I thought you were asking me to comment on the morality of the daughter.  I  see nothing she did wrong.  Her mother the prostitute was acting immorally by being a prostitute, and, of course, the priest was acting immorally with the prostitute.

    Angra Mainyu
    Let me clarify that: the woman is both the daughter of a priest and a prostitute. The mother's occupation is not specified.
    Sorry if that wasn't clear, but I thought you were familiar with the biblical passages in question.

    Mike Gantt
    If she knew that the person she was marrying was pure and that he was expecting her to be pure, then she had a moral duty to him to disclose that she wasn’t.  The same duty applies if their roles were reversed.
    Angra Mainyu
    First, there is nothing "impure" about not being a virgin.
    Second, why did she have that duty?
    Why did she have the obligation of risking to be stoned to death by saying she wasn't a virgin?
    Third, you're not taking into account that the man she's betrothed to may well not be someone she wants to marry, but someone who was chosen by her father against her will – i.e., her future rapist.
    Mike Gantt
    You’ve introduced another factor with the possible father’s choice.  I’m not an ethicist; I’m just trying to answer the questions you posed to me.  Let’s keep it simple.  You know that I believe sex outside of marriage is immoral; therefore, I believe that betrothed woman and her lover acted immorally.
    Angra Mainyu
    Actually, I was pointing out that you misunderstood the scenario, and also pointing out that you were not talking into consideration a factor that might be relevant.
    I know that you claim that sex outside of opposite-gender marriage is always immoral; I'm not entirely sure you actually believe it is so in all cases. Suppose that she cannot choose whom to marry. Is she still acting immorally if she has sex with someone else?

    Mike Gantt
     No.  Animals are not moral agents.
    Angra Mainyu
    Well, humans are animals, but that aside, then this too contradicts a claim made by the biblical god. He claimed that their blood shall be upon them, implying that both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be put to death.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Humans have moral capacity and responsibility, and are thus distinguished from animals.  Animals, by definition, cannot sin; they act by instinct.
    Angra Mainyu
    Humans developed from other species over millions of years. There is no such thing as a "first human" – our language is not so precise.
    Do you think that early hominids did not have moral awareness?
    Then, what happened?
    Some amoral entities had children who were moral agents, and who had to learn from their amoral parents?

    Mike Gantt
     He has been working on my conscience so long it is hard to determine with any certainty what it would say apart from His influence.  My most fervent wish is that my conscience match His, because His is the best conscience I have ever seen in operation: that is, a conscience which leads one to do the least harm and the most good for other people.
    Angra Mainyu
    You're using your own sense of right and wrong to assess his moral character.

    Mike Gantt
    Perhaps to your point, I did not arrive at my answers by looking up chapter and verse in the New Testament to see what Jesus said about such cases.  Rather, I infer from His nature, His example, and His precepts.  My conscience is the only tool I have for inferring.
    Angra Mainyu
    But how would you assess that Jesus' example was good, if not by your own sense of right and wrong? – your conscience, if you like.

    Mike Gantt
    I’ve answered you on all this so I’m not sure what else you’re asking at this point.
    Angra Mainyu
    You've avoided the issue, or answered obscurely.
    But if I'm wrong about that, please answer the questions again in a direct manner; it's pretty easy: the possible answer for each claim is.
    But perhaps, at least you can consider one single claim:
    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death. 

    Would you say that, by your own moral intuitions, a) is:
    1) True.
    2) False.
    3) Your intuitions tell you nothing.
    Mike Gantt
    I thought I was being obliging by answering your questions about the morality of each case.  
    Angra Mainyu
    Actually, I didn't even ask for the morality of the actions of the people who were being punished; what I asked is whether they deserved to be burned to death, stoned to death, etc.
    Mike Gantt
    As for the sentence imposed for disobedience, I’ve stated repeatedly that I am willing to address this after we have settled on whether Jesus was moral.
    Angra Mainyu
    I have repeatedly explained why you're being irrational about this.
    Further, I challenged the morality of some of his actions and the truth of some of his claims both from the perspective that he's the biblical god, and from the perspective that he is not.
    Mike Gantt
    You want to ignore the human life that Jesus lived and impeach Him solely on the evidence of what you deem to be immoral about the Mosaic Code.
    Angra Mainyu
    No, you grossly misrepresent my position once again.
    First, if Jesus was the biblical god, he did so much evil – as described in the OT -, that he was certainly a very evil man, even if he did some good too.
    Second, if Jesus was not the biblical god, then I'm challenging his behavior as a false prophet, a cult leader, and also his claims about sexual morality – for instance -, plus his claims that the biblical god is morally good.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
     That tells me you must feel uncomfortable trying to attack the morality of Jesus of Nazareth.  I don’t blame you.
    Angra Mainyu
    What tells you that is not what I do, but the gross misconstruction of my position that allows you to reach that conclusion.
    Let me try again:
    He made false claims about sexual morality (we disagree), he told people to hate their families and follow him (cult leader), he claimed that the biblical god was morally good (false claim), and he claimed to represent the biblical god (false, but if true, then he's far, far worse).
    Mike Gantt
     As I’ve said, I’m willing to discuss Jesus and the Mosaic Code in due time.  
    Angra Mainyu
    As I've not only said, but carefully explained many times, it's been due time from starters, and the position you're espousing is irrational.
    Mike Gantt
     It appears to me that you just want to avoid Jesus entirely and focus on what you consider the sensational aspects of the Mosaic Code in 21st-century eyes.
    Angra Mainyu
    If that's what appears to you, it's because you're being irrational and you keep believing that I'm saying something very different from what I'm saying.
    Mike Gantt
     You cleverly concede the idea put forth by Jesus’ admirers that He is Yahweh, but only for the purpose of ignoring His life, death, and resurrection – which is the only reason we Gentiles have any benefit in the Bible.
    Angra Mainyu
    I concede that for the sake of the argument, to show that he's evil in that case.
    The good actions do not make him not evil, just as a dictator who tortures political opponents to death just for speaking out against some of his policies is morally bad, even if he is kind to his children, and even if he is good towards millions of people in the country he rules over.
    But I can deal with a human Jesus too: he was a cult leader who demanded that his followers hate their own families – for instance.
    Mike Gantt
    Address the morality of Jesus of Nazareth, His life and death, and this conversation will advance. Angra Mainyu
    I've already addressed it repeatedly, showing that if he's the biblical god, he's very evil, and if he isn't, he's still not morally perfect (big understatement).
    But the conversation will never advance, because you're being irrational, and because the previous exchange show that that's not going to change in the context of this conversation. It will always remain that way.
    Now, you even misrepresent my position in another venue – one you control.
    Mike Gantt
     Poor example.  I am not talking about partitioning one part of Jesus’ earthly life from another, as is the case in the analogy you propose.  On the contrary, I’m saying look at His life as a whole.  Attack it if you can.
    Angra Mainyu
    That's not what you're doing. His life as a whole include his claims that, in ancient Israel:
    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death. 
    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death. 
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn’t know that, she deserved to be stoned to death. 
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death. 
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    His life as a whole also includes the commands to carry out the penalties those people, according to the previous claims, deserve.
    Given those atrocities, his good actions do not make him not evil, just as a dictator who tortures political opponents to death just for speaking out against some of his policies is morally bad, even if he is kind to his children, and even if he is good towards millions of people in the country he rules over.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
     I’m sorry about your time loss, but I’ve given you multiple opportunities to drop the  discussion with me.
    Angra Mainyu
    You mean, after misrepresenting my position and insisting on it, or after also misrepresenting my position elsewhere?
    Mike Gantt
     As I’ve said from the beginning, I am interested in defending the morality of Jesus Christ.  
    Angra Mainyu
    But you try to frame the debate in an irrational manner.
    Mike Gantt
    If you can’t demonstrate Him to be immoral, or you are unwilling to attempt to demonstrate Him to be immoral, fine.  
    Angra Mainyu
    Okay, I guess that I have to count to ten before responding to that level of repeated blatant falsehoods about me. Will they ever end?
    Mike Gantt
    Just move on without me.
    Angra Mainyu
    And leave that kind of repeated misrepresentation stay?
    I suppose in the end, you're going to exhaust me, and will keep the last word, misrepresenting me badly. But at least, I will reply for a while.
    Mike Gantt
     If there is anything irrational here it is a person insisting on debating the morality of the Mosaic Code without any basis for thinking it might apply to him.
    Angra Mainyu
    As I said many, really many times, I do not believe that it applies to me. And as I explained very, very carefully, that is utterly irrelevant.
    Mike Gantt
    Yes, you’ve said this.  And I’ve said that I reject it.  And we’ll get to debating it if you have the patience to get there.
    Angra Mainyu
    You irrationally rejected it, and my patience is not infinite, and it's already exhausted. Unfortunately, your persistence in making irrational claims and misrepresenting my position obviously is not.
    Mike Gantt
    It would only be wrong if He were only human.  But if He were sent by God as the Messiah, it would be wrong for Him not to have said those things.
    Angra Mainyu
    If he were the Messiah sent by the biblical god, he would be working for an evil monster. And if he were the biblical god, he would be an evil monster. And in any case, telling people to hate their families is not acceptable.
    Mike Gantt
    I note that you identify here no immorality in Jesus other than His allegiance to, and claim to represent, the Old Testament God.   That’s significant.
    Angra Mainyu
    I note that that claim of yours is blatantly false. That's significant.

    I identify his immoral actions when he tells me to hate their families and abandon them (he was a cult leader), for instance.

    And then, you reply – as if it were an excuse -, that he's actually the representative of the biblical god.

    So, I point out that, on top of the immorality of telling them to hate their families, he's the representative of the monster who commanded that, say, a woman who is the daughter of a priest and also is a prostitute be burned to death, and then you irrationally believe that you have achieved some victory in this debate.
    The only victory you can have is by exhaustion, and by means of your dedication to making blatantly false claims about my position – not deliberately, but because you irrationally fail to realize that those claims are blatantly false.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Human judiciary systems are entirely inappropriate for dealing with sins of the heart.  I’m shocked you’d even suggest it.  Human governments getting involved in that sort of thing raises the specter of “thought crimes.”
    Angra Mainyu
    You're shocked because you first badly misrepresent my position and make me look bad, and then you can express your shock.
    I'm not saying, of course, that they should be punished by human courts.

    What I'm saying is that, if you're willing to actually leave it to someone to punish them, leaving it to the biblical god is at least no better.

    In other words, you are the one who accepts someone punishing "sins of the heart", but only as long as the judge, jury and executioner is the monstrous biblical god, rather than humans.

    As for me, while I don't know what category you count as "sins of the heart", I don't think that the government should punish any of those actions. And I don't think the biblical god should, either.
    Mike Gantt
    A legal code that expired two millennia ago is hardly a “matter at hand.”
    Angra Mainyu
    Not when it comes to assessing the morality of the actions of someone who made that code, and then abrogated it about two millennia ago.
    Obviously.

    Mike Gantt
    I understand your frustration.  You do not want Jesus to have authority over you.  
    Angra Mainyu
    While of course I wouldn't want either a cult leader or the monstrous biblical god to have any power over me, and while of course I don't recognize them as authorities I ought to obey – one never existed, the other is long dead, and I wouldn't owe them obedience even if that weren't the case -, what frustrates me here is not that – I'm already familiar with all those claims -, but your persistence in misrepresenting my claims, and behaving irrationally in a way that is harmful to me – defending myself here is not cost-free, and you're also now attacking me elsewhere, as usual misrepresenting what I say.

    Don't you have other targets, perhaps?
    Mike Gantt
    Neither do you want Him to have authority over anyone else because that could still affect you, presumably through laws, social customs, etc.

    But I you've really exhausted me.

    I really can't go on like this, so you might persuade other people by smearing me here and elsewhere.

    I did what I could, but I only have reason on my side. But you seem to have all the time in the world, and the conviction of faith.

    Mike Gantt
    I’ve worked hard on this dialogue with you.  If I’ve misunderstood you, it’s been a mistake made in good faith.  I understand that you fail to see rationality in how I make moral assessments because I fail to see rationality in how you make yours.  I at least have a standard to which I can appeal – a standard which transcends both of us.  
    Angra Mainyu
    That is obviously also irrational.

    You have no epistemic advantage, because in order to assess the claims of the Bible, you need to use your own mind; but you do have a great disadvantage, and that's the fact that you're being irrational, as exemplified once again by this claim of yours.

    Mike Gantt
     You are arguing that I should accept as moral what you consider moral without offering me any objective basis for doing so.  In the non-theistic mindset which you embrace, there can be no true north.
    Angra Mainyu
    As I explained in my case against Christianity, that position is absurd:

    But I'm really exhausted, so I'll just post a link:

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/#where do you get morals

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    All direction is a matter of taking a vote, which is why your standard of morality seems to match generally accepted moral principles of today’s American society – a subjective and rapidly-declining standard.
    Angra Mainyu
    That's absurd.
    a) Metaethical arguments for theism fail, but in any case, this is not about theism in general, but about Christianity – or whatever you call your set of beliefs.
    b) Most Americans believe that the biblical god is morally good. I believe he is a monster.
    c) Until recently, most Americans were against same-gender marriage. I've been for it for many years.
    d) Incidentally, I'm not American, and I don't live in America.
    Still,
    e) Over here, nearly everyone believes that the biblical god is morally good. I believe he's a monster.
    f) Most people seem to be against legalizing abortion. I'm in favor of legalizing abortion.

    Do I need to go on?

    I'm most certainly not following what the majority says.

    On the other hand, you are blindly following a book of myth and lies that what was written long ago by some people who lived in other societies.

    Mike Gantt
    Jesus Christ offers an enduring and unchanging standard of morality for us all.  He is not the God of Christians – He is the God of all human beings.  He is not the God of religion, He is the God of morality.  That is, He does not judge the world according to religious standards.  Rather, He judges it according to moral standards.
    Angra Mainyu
    Yes, then, he's the unchanging evil biblical god.
    By the way, Mohammed offers an "unchanging standard". Making up some stuff and writing it in a book also makes an "unchanging standard".

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Sorry, the link I provided above won't work for more than a couple of weeks; I'll post a more durable one.

    Mike Gantt
    You are arguing that I should accept as moral what you consider moral without offering me any objective basis for doing so. In the non-theistic mindset which you embrace, there can be no true north.
    Angra Mainyu
    As I explained in my case against Christianity, that position is absurd:

    But I'm really exhausted, so I'll just post a link:

    New link:

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#where do you get morals

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    [T]he biblical god claimed or implied that, in ancient Israel:

    a) If a man married two women and they were mother and daughter, the three of them deserve to be burned to death.
    b) If a woman was the daughter of a priest and a prostitute, she deserved to be burned to death.
    c) If a woman had premarital sex and then got married to someone who didn’t know that, she deserved to be stoned to death.
    d) If a woman was betrothed to a man, but had sex with someone else, both she and her lover deserved to be stoned to death.
    e) If a woman had sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserved to be killed for their actions.

    In your numerous responses, you seem to have overlooked my request for the Old Testament chapter and verse for each of the statements in this list to which you have repeatedly referred.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Actually, I posted some of them earlier, and I also posted a link to my blog, where all the chapters and verses are named, and where the implication is clear.

    Since I went to your blog to read your reply, I don't see what's the problem in referring you to mine.

    Still, I will post the chapters and verses here:

    a) Leviticus 20:14 
    b) Leviticus 21:9 
    c) Deuteronomy 22: 13-21
    d) Deuteronomy 22:23-24 
    e) Leviticus 20:16

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    There's no problem. Sorry if I missed an earlier reference. Thanks for providing them here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    It's okay.

    It seems we both missed something: after re-checking, it seems that even though I did post some of the chapters and references earlier, I didn't post a direct link to my blog where you could find all of them.

    I thought I had, but the only link was the one in my profile.

    Anyway, with regard to the chapters and verses, I think it's clear that it's said or implied that they deserve it, even if they don't use the word "deserve", but if you don't find it clear, I explained why that is the case in more detail in the following part of my article:

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#hardened

    I also considered specific cases in other parts of my article, but the above link should provide sufficient evidence that there is a claim or implication that they deserve it. Other translations of the Bible have similar claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I read through your last group of ten responses a couple of times, and thought about them. Rather than respond to them point by point, I thought it would be more productive summarize your comments and deal with the main themes. Two stood out to me: 1) you think I am being irrational, and 2) you think I am misrepresenting your position. By word count, you said I was being irrational 15 different times (i.e. used "irrational," a cognate, or a synonym). You also described me as misrepresenting your position 15 times (again I'm counting "misrepresent" and synonymous words and phrases). It's obvious that you feel strongly about these two points.

    As to irrationality, you have stated your conviction that the biblical God is a myth and does not exist, and yet you are exhausting yourself trying to get people to come to the conclusion that He is immoral. And you think I'm being irrational?

    As to misrepresentation, you have repeatedly called our loving and gracious Creator "immoral," "very evil," "an evil monster" – one who has "committed atrocities" and ignoring all the good He has done. And you think I'm misrepresenting someone's position?

    You are being irrational about, and misrepresenting, the biblical God. When someone accuses others of that which he himself practices, there's nothing else to call it but hypocrisy.

    Aside from this, however, there is an even more fundamental flaw in your argument. That is, your argument is based on your moral code – which is severely lacking in morality. You put yourself in opposition to Jesus' claims about sexual morality. Many people say His values are not attainable…but you say they're immoral! Moreover, you say that even if God did exist, He should have no moral authority over you. Thus, your fundamental desire seems to be freedom from moral restraint. In this mindset you will never find God…because you don't want to find Him. To do so might cut into your moral freedom. It is this desire for unfettered pursuit of pleasure that is keeping you bound. I doubt if you pursue all the pleasures you would seek to allow – but it's the unwillingness to give the right of any of them up for a higher authority that is your problem.

    Should you ever come to your senses, here's how you find God: acknowledge that you have not even lived up to your own moral code, much less His. You have not always done for others what you should have done for them, and you have done things to others that you should not have done to them. I do not say this because I have any knowledge of your life. Rather, it is the way of a human being – all human beings save one, that is.

    The moral code of Jesus of Nazareth – both as He practiced it and taught it – is the most pure morality known to humanity. As long as you think that you are more moral than He, you will maintain perverse ideas about the morality of the biblical God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    @Mike Gantt,

    That you're misrepresenting my position is obvious to anyone who reads the exchange carefully and is being rational.

    Also, I've already showed that you're being irrational on some issues, notably how to assess the morality of the actions of the biblical god, and of Jesus'.

    Now, you keep doing it again: you ignore most of my points, and go back to claims that I've refuted, misrepresenting my position again, etc.

    So, let's begin:

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    You say:

    Mike Gantt
    As to irrationality, you have stated your conviction that the biblical God is a myth and does not exist, and yet you are exhausting yourself trying to get people to come to the conclusion that He is immoral. And you think I'm being irrational?
    Angra Mainyu
    I already explained why you're being irrational, and of course that reply does not change that fact or affect my arguments; instead, you take a shot at me implying that I'm being irrational for that, even though there is nothing irrational about my course of action, as I carefully explained before.

    I will quote the most relevant parts again:

    Mike Gantt
    I must, however, ask you something. If you do not believe in the existence of God and Jesus, why do you invest energy in arguing about their morality? 
    Angra Mainyu
    No, it is not the case that you must; further, as Rian already explained, that is irrelevant to the matter at hand. 
    Still, I can answer that if you insist: Among other reasons, I invest energy arguing about their morality because other people – Christians, Jews, etc.; that includes you -, actually use their religion as a means of trying to back their own moral claims, and generally the policies they support. 
    Moreover, in a good number of cases, they believe in their moral claims because of their religion. 
    Since I do disagree with many of their moral claims – and with the policies that are based on them -, I'm interested in opposing them. 

    Mike Gantt
     If I had a brother who thought that the Star Wars characters were real, I would not spend time trying to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker were immoral. I'd invest all my time in trying to get him to see that they were imaginary. 
    Angra Mainyu
    That would be a reasonable course of action if you think you have a shot at convincing him of that. 
    But what if many people believed that Palpatine was both real and morally good, and they based some of his own, real-life decisions on those moral beliefs? 
    What if all of your attempts to persuade them that Palpatine does not exist had already failed, despite the fact that you've spent many years trying? 
    What if you had concluded that they are well beyond your capability for persuasion? 
    I'm kind of in that situation, so I don't try to persuade Christians anymore, but only attempt to help reduce the damage they make by trying to persuade fencesitters, so that they won't become Christians, and – perhaps -, so that they will be more motivated to try and persuade others. 
    Also, I try to help indirectly – within the limited time I've got for this -, by means of giving arguments to other non-theists, if I can. 
    Why do I use the tactic of making a moral case, instead of a case against existence? 
    Actually, I've used a combination of different tactics, including arguments against existence. I prefer not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak – I try different alternatives. 

    However, in my assessment, if people believe that an entity worshiped by some people is morally good, they're on average more likely to irrationally come to believe that said entity exists than if they believe the the entity in question is not morally good. 
    I suppose my assessment might be mistaken – I have no hard data. 
    But then again, I have no hard data anyway, and I have to make a choice as to how to allocate my time to defending different arguments – as in the case of everyone else, there's only one of me and my time is limited. 
    So, my assessment is as I mentioned above, and so it seems to me that a moral case is a reasonable course of action.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    What is the reason you tell yourself that you are on this jihad against imaginary characters' character? 
    Angra Mainyu
    Calling it a "jihad" is an unnecessary insult, but that aside, I couldn't care less about the character of imaginary characters as long as it has no impact on real actions. 

    But it does have such an impact.

    Now, in my assessment, if people realized that the characters are imaginary (well, Jesus is not imaginary as far as I know, though he's long dead), they probably wouldn't believe that the biblical god is morally good, nor would they buy all of Jesus' moral claims. 
    However, even if they promoted the same morality of the New Testament without believing that the biblical god exists or that Jesus was anything but human, then we might still be able to have a rational moral debate, in which they would have to focus on the actual arguments rather than saying using "arguments" like claiming that he's the creator – or his representative -, or that he has authority over us, and so on. 
    So, the fact that they believe that those characters are real tend to make them also fail to debate moral issues in a rational way, when the issues involved claims made by Jesus, or generally by the biblical god. 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    As to misrepresentation, you have repeatedly called our loving and gracious Creator "immoral," "very evil," "an evil monster" – one who has "committed atrocities" and ignoring all the good He has done. And you think I'm misrepresenting someone's position?
    Angra Mainyu
    Of course you are, as I've repeatedly explained, and as any careful reader who is being rational will realize. I'm worried that casual readers might overlook that, and truly believe that I say what you claim I say.
    This new ad-hominem attack also is not a rational reply: even if I had misrepresented the position of the biblical god, that would not change the fact that you have repeatedly misrepresented mine, even after being corrected many, many times.

    Of course, the biblical god does not exist, but I'm in no way misrepresenting what he did in the story; the assessment that he's very evil, etc., it's a moral assessment of his actions – as described in the story -, not a misrepresentation of what he did – in the story, obviously.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Regarding the rest of your preaching, it's senseless as well.

    My argument is not based on some personal "moral code" of mine; rather, I appeal to readers' sense of right and wrong, which is the way one makes a moral argument.

    I already showed your irrationality in concluding that Jesus is morally good, but I suppose your further repetitions may work purpose: casual readers might be confused because they've not been following the exchange in detail.

    So, since I've sufficiently argued the case here but you won't desist in your irrationality and it may take long to follow such a long exchange in this kind of format, I will instead refer readers to the moral case in my blog, where I deal with the objections you raise (even if with different wording) and many more.

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html

    Also, as I explained there, I appeal to their sense of right and wrong, not to a personal code of mine.

    Yes, you can say your sense of right and wrong yields different verdicts; that might be so, but what is clear is that you're being irrational about how to make moral assessments in this context, so I guess we can't really tell whether your sense of right and wrong would disagree with mine or not, in conditions of rationality on your part.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    With regard to the question of irrationality, you have defended yourself essentially by saying that your ultimate goal is to make sure no moral restraints are placed on you. In that sense, you are being rational, albeit foolish. I say foolish because you are therefore not really committed to the idea that God doesn't exist, or even that He's immoral. Rather, you're committed to the idea that you want no moral restraints. Your concepts of God's nonexistence and God's immorality therefore are simply tools used in service of that goal. You are thereby preventing yourself from discovering God's existence and morality – a no-no for any genuine seeker of truth. You will not see God's existence and holiness because you can't afford to see them given your true goal.

    As for misrepresentation, you defend yourself by saying you have not misrepresented the biblical God because you have accurately conveyed what you call His "atrocities." In this very narrow and technical sense, you may be right – not that He committed atrocities, but that you can point to chapter and verse in the Old Testament for your indictments. This is still misrepresentation, however, in the same way that someone intent on character assasination of a good person siezes upon isolated details taken out of context from that person's life to make the very opposite of reality appear to be true. It's not that you want to assassinate God's character or Jesus' character per se – rather, this is just a necessary means to keep their morality from confining your choices in any way.

    You say that your thinking is not based on your own moral code but that you appeal to others' sense of right and wrong. What you overlook is that you are appealing to certain values you hold that you hope they do, too. Therefore, you are looking for your moral code – or at least elements of it – in others. The hope of finding it reinforces your worldview – which is what you are most interested in preserving. Your quest is to find more people to support your desire to be able to do whatever you want without fear that it might be considered immoral. That is, you want to be able to be immoral but you want to be considered moral for it. Thus for you it is indeed all about your moral code and your hope that it prevails as society's moral code – and your fear that it won't.

    Thus you have only reinforced my closing point above that led to your most recent defense – that it is freedom from moral restraint which is the axis upon which all your thinking turns. Until you deal with that issue, all other discussion is irrelevant – including your "A Moral Case Against Christianity" which deserves a preface entitled "Why I Can't Bear the Thought That Jesus Christ Might Be More Moral Than Me."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    With regard to the question of irrationality, you have defended yourself essentially by saying that your ultimate goal is to make sure no moral restraints are placed on you.
    Angra Mainyu
    That's blatantly false.
    You keep grossly misrepresenting my position, by both repeating the misrepresentations I corrected many times, and by coming up with new ones.

    You're not debating me, but actually making up strawmen after strawmen, and then you attack them, but you claim that that is my position.

    I'm tired of this, and that my considerable efforts to persuade you to stop doing at have all been in vain, so I just hope most readers will go through the exchange carefully and see for themselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Here is the primary exchange from which I drew this conclusion:

    Mike Gantt
    I must, however, ask you something. If you do not believe in the existence of God and Jesus, why do you invest energy in arguing about their morality?
    Angra Mainyu
    No, it is not the case that you must; further, as Rian already explained, that is irrelevant to the matter at hand.
    Still, I can answer that if you insist: Among other reasons, I invest energy arguing about their morality because other people – Christians, Jews, etc.; that includes you -, actually use their religion as a means of trying to back their own moral claims, and generally the policies they support.
    Moreover, in a good number of cases, they believe in their moral claims because of their religion.
    Since I do disagree with many of their moral claims – and with the policies that are based on them -, I'm interested in opposing them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    But that only shows that your conclusion is obviously a non-sequitur, and a particularly bad one because it attacks my moral character for no good reason.

    I disagree with their moral claims, and I don't want some policies in line with their moral claims imposed on other people – myself included.

    Usually those policies do not affect me directly, but others, but even if they do affect me, "concluding" from there that "your ultimate goal is to make sure no moral restraints are placed on you" is an attack on my character which has no basis on anything I said.

    Suppose that Bob disagrees with the moral claims of those who believe it's morally obligatory to execute apostates from Islam, and he tries, by means of persuasion, to prevent that policy from being implemented in countries in which it's not being implemented yet – including Bob's country -, or even to persuade people in places such as, say, Saudi Arabia, to amend their laws.

    Now, suppose based on that, Tom concludes that Bob's ultimate goal is to make sure that no moral restraints are placed on Bob.

    What would be your assessment of such conclusion?

    Furthermore, let's suppose that Tom starts telling other people that Bob's ultimate goal is to make sure that no moral constraints are placed on him (i.e., on Bob).

    How would expect Bob to feel about Tom's actions?

    Now, it's not killing apostates that I'm trying to prevent here; I don't think that I can persuade enough Saudis to make any difference, so I'm debating in a different context, and targeting less serious restrictions, but in any case I target restrictions that I disagree with, like restrictions on abortion and/or same-gender marriage.

    By the way, neither abortion bans nor same-gender marriage bans affect me. They affect people I think is not right to affect in that manner.

    What you ought to conclude is that several of the restraints I want people to be subject to are different from the restraints you want people to be subject to, because of our moral disagreements.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    You and I seem to be talking about entirely different kinds of restraints. That is, you seem to be talking about moral restraints that are enacted into laws which members of society must obey. I am not interested in that. Rather, I am interested in the moral restraint that comes from knowing that a pure, holy, and perfectly moral Creator is watching us, allowing a person to acknowledge His presence and embrace His nature as a code to live by because of its rightness and because of its wholesome consequences.

    If a person does not want to accept Christ in this way, then my cause is lost with that person. I have no desire for there to be laws which force him to do that which he does not want to do. Such morality would not emanate from the heart and therefore would not be the kind of morality Christ seeks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    I'm sorry, but what you're saying is not even remotely connected with anything I said.

    Let's consider again the case of Bob.

    Suppose that Bob disagrees with the moral claims of those who believe it's morally obligatory to execute apostates from Islam, and he tries, by means of persuasion, to prevent that policy from being implemented in countries in which it's not being implemented yet – including Bob's country -, or even to persuade people in places such as, say, Saudi Arabia, to amend their laws. 

    Now, suppose based on that, Tom concludes that Bob's ultimate goal is to make sure that no moral restraints are placed on Bob, in the sense that Bob's ultimate goal is not to fail to "know" that a pure, holy, and perfectly moral Creator is watching us.

    What can we say about Tom's "assessment"?

    Surely, we can say that Tom is not even addressing anything Bob said or did, but just making stuff up about Bob, because of some feature of Tom's mind – perhaps, faith, or perhaps something else.

    It's not that I don't want to accept Jesus.

    I assess that Jesus no longer exists, and when he did, he wasn't morally perfect.
    And if I assume for the sake of the argument that Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god, I assess that he's very evil, since I assess that the biblical god is very evil.

    That has nothing to do with the goal I stated in the paragraphs you quoted just three posts above.

    What you're saying now is obviously not related with what you said earlier: You claimed that I had defended myself essentially by saying that my ultimate goal was to make sure that no moral restraints were placed on me, somehow implying that I did not want to be told to do what was right and/or prevented from acting immorally, and now you're telling me that my ultimate goal is not to know that someone is somehow watching?

    That does not make sense. I know that Jesus is not watching me, because he's long dead. But that has nothing to do with moral restraints.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,
    "I assess that Jesus no longer exists, and when he did, he wasn't morally perfect.  And if I assume for the sake of the argument that Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god, I assess that he's very evil, since I assess that the biblical god is very evil."

    Our views on Jesus Christ are so far apart that it seems to be affecting all topics in this discussion.  As one important example, what you call morality I call immorality and vice versa.  You seem to deny the possibility that someone with more morality than you is watching everything you think.  To me, that is living without moral restraint.  But when I say this, you act offended at being accused of something that you believe is not true and for which you believe I have no proof.  We appear to be at loggerheads, and thus it's hard for me to see the value in continuing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Actually, I made that comment about Jesus and the biblical god, not about morally perfect entities that might be watching me, but you're right that I don't believe there is any morally good entity watching my every move.

    However, you insist that to you, that's living without moral restraints, which is a bad misuse the terms, because it gives people the impression that I don't take moral matters into consideration, whereas I just don't believe that there is a superpowerful moral police out there.

    Moreover, you claim that I have the ultimate goal of making sure that no moral restrains are placed on me.
    Translating that into English, now apparently you claim to mean that I have the ultimate goal of not believing that someone more moral than me is watching everything I think.

    Of course, that claim is false: not believing that someone more moral than me is watching everything I think is not my ultimate goal, or even a goal of mine at all. It's an assessment. I don't choose what to assess. Based on the information available to me, I reach a conclusion.

    Also, clearly, nothing I said suggests I have that as a goal.

    Now, you accuse me of "acting offended" "at being accused of something that you believe is not true and for which you believe I have no proof".

    Actually, I'm also offended – don't just "act offended" – by your continuous misrepresentation of my position, regardless of how many times I've clarified that, but it's true that your continuous accusations for which you have no warrant – and which you should not believe; you're just making them up, even if you don't realize that -, and which are not true, offend me. Why shouldn't they?

    How would you feel if someone repeatedly accused you of, say, stealing cars?

    You could protest all you want saying that you don't steal cars, but they would continue to make stuff up – even without realizing it – and, with no evidence at all, they would continue to accuse you of stealing cars.

    Would you "act offended" if someone did that?

    As for the reasons why our views on Jesus are so far apart, it's actually difficult to assess whether our moral disagreement results from different moral intuitions or because of the irrationality of your method of "assessing" his moral character, as explained:

    In a nutshell, it seems that you trust Jesus' words over your own sense of morality because you believe that he was the biblical god.
    And it seems that you put the biblical god's words over your own sense of morality, because – by your own sense of morality – you assess by his actions in the NT – ignoring the OT – that the biblical god is morally perfect, and then by that "conclusion", you assume that that the biblical god must have had good reasons for the actions described in the OT.

    Clearly, the "method" makes no sense.

    So, maybe our moral disagreements stem from different moral intuitions, or maybe just from the fact that you're not making an assessment by a procedure that makes sense. Or maybe it's a combination of both.

    It's hard that test unless you start actually assessing the morality of the biblical god considering all of his actions – and as I pointed out, good actions do not make him not evil, just as a dictator who tortures political opponents to death just for speaking out against some of his policies is morally bad, even if he is kind to his children, and even if he is good towards millions of people in the country he rules over. 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    "It's hard that test unless you start actually assessing the morality of the biblical god considering all of his actions – and as I pointed out, good actions do not make him not evil, just as a dictator who tortures political opponents to death just for speaking out against some of his policies is morally bad, even if he is kind to his children, and even if he is good towards millions of people in the country he rules over."

    Do I take this as your concession that Jesus of Nazareth was a moral man?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike, you seem to be stuck in some kind of intellectual rut.

    You won't discuss the actions of Yahweh in the OT unless, it seems, the person agree's with you that Jesus was morally perfect. To assess that Jesus is morally perfect, you seem to have defined him as such, and therefore anything Jesus supposedly said or did, was morally perfect.
    I assume that were someone to agree with you that Jesus was morally perfect, that you'd then, as Angra pointed out, claim that there were obviously good reasons for the actions of Yahweh in the OT.

    But this entire thing seems to be wrong headed.
    You can't simply define someone as moral, refusing all rational discussion of that person's behaviour.

    As Angra has (repeatedly) pointed out, you equate Jesus with the OT Yahweh. Angra has pointed out why the OT Yahweh is not morally perfect, and therefore your Jesus is not morally perfect.
    Angra has also pointed out that Jesus, independent of his association with the biblical God (and therefore taking Jesus not as God), he had some morally good and bad lessons.

    You don't seem to have addressed any of these points, but have rather gone of on a tangent about Angra's motivations (which are irrelevant).

    It would be nice to have you address the points put to you in a more straightforward manner :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    You said, "You won't discuss the actions of Yahweh in the OT unless, it seems, the person agree's with you that Jesus was morally perfect."

    No, what I'm saying is that unless you find Jesus of Nazareth a compelling person (moral being the most important component of compelling), then what the Mosaic Code says is utterly irrelevant. Have I been consistent on this point? I confess I have.

    If you and Angra Mainyu want instead to make the Mosaic Code your primary focus, don't let me hinder you further. Have at it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: No, what I'm saying is that unless you find Jesus of Nazareth a compelling person (moral being the most important component of compelling),
    You've been saying something more along the lines of "We must find Jesus to be a compelling person".
    Angra has given reasons as to why he doesn't find Jesus morally compelling.
    I simply see Jesus as a character in a story, who has some good and bad things put in his mouth by the authors (much like many other such characters).

    Mike Gantt: then what the Mosaic Code says is utterly irrelevant.
    As Angra has repeatedly pointed out, if we're talking about the biblical God (whether one equates this being with Jesus of not) then the Mosaic code is indeed relevant.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Do I take this as your concession that Jesus of Nazareth was a moral man?

    I don't know whether you take that as a concession, but I know that you shouldn't, since there is nothing in what I said that suggest that that is the case.

    My point is exactly what it says. If Jesus is the same entity as the biblical god, he carried out some good actions, and some horribly evil ones – somewhat like the brutal dictator in my example, but worse.

    In reality, Jesus was fully human; also, if we take some of the accounts in the NT as evidence, a probable conclusion is that he was a cult leader, who carried out some good actions, and some evil actions, though not as evil as some of the actions carried out by the biblical god in the story.

    Finally, if the accounts of the NT are not reliable in the least, then we don't know anything about the historical Jesus.

    Still, in my assessment, and based on the conclusions by scholars, cult leader appears to be, perhaps, the most probable scenario. That does not mean he was as bad as the biblical god; there was some good and some bad; overall not a particularly good person, but there's much worse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu and Havok,

    Mr. Gee had a "For Sale" sign in the front yard of his home. A nice young couple name Angie and Harry came to his door saying they did not want to buy his house because of problems with the crawl space. Mr. Gee asked them, "Well, are you saying that you like the house otherwise?" "Oh no," Angie responded, "the bedrooms are much too small and confining." She went on at length about the many reasons they would never be interested in living in this house. Harry didn't say much except to occasionally affirm how ill-suited the floor plan was for their needs. Yet the crawl space was the topic to which they continually returned.

    The couple insisted on having Mr. Gee take them on an inspection tour of the crawl space because they said it was very pressing that they do so. Mr. Gee was perplexed and asked, "If you already know you don't want the house, why do you want to spend time inspecting it – especially its non-living space when you don't even like the living space?" Angie said it was because the house was unlivable for anyone, and they wanted to make sure no one lived in a house like Mr. Gee's. Mr. Gee said, "But I've lived here for years and enjoyed it very much." Angie responded, "But your crawl space is unlivable; even a child cannot stand up straight in it." Mr. Gee, scratching his head, said, "But no one lives in the crawl space – why does it matter that it's unlivable?" Angie replied, "Because people used to live there." Mr. Gee explained that indeed some people had previously lived on that land, but that was before the first and second stories were constructed. The "crawl space" as such hadn't existed then; there were just foundation columns so people had no problems standing up. Only when the first and second stories were put up was the "crawl" space created. "But we can't live there now!" Angie exclaimed. "I keep telling you that you don't have to live in crawl space; no one does," said Mr. Gee. "But it's unlivable!" Angie cried. Mr. Gee just sighed.

    In a candid moment, Angie said that her goal was to solicit Mr. Gee's help in making sure he could never sell his house. Angie admitted that she wanted his help in inspecting the crawl space because she was sure it would prevent anyone else from ever buying the house even if she couldn't get Mr. Gee to move out of it. Mr. Gee told them that he had much work to do, and that he would be glad to show the crawl space to Angie and Harry if they were interested in possibly buying the house but otherwise he needed to get back to his work. Angie and Harry continued to be obsessed with the crawl space, however, refusing to stop talking about it. Mr. Gee tried to interact with them but found that Angie became easily offended at perceived slights. Even so, she would not leave because she was determined to never live in a house like this and equally determined to keep others out of it as well – and she insisted that Mr. Gee allow her in and assist her in her effort by taking her through the crawl space.

    Being unable to convince Angie and Harry of their irrationality, Mr. Gee finally decided to indulge their obsession for the sake of peace because the stalemate was beginning to annoy the neighbors. "Besides," he said to himself, "Perhaps their obsession is rooted in an attraction to the house that they cannot yet understand; in any case, I know the place would be perfect for them – if they could ever get their minds on the living quarters instead of the crawl space." So he said to them, "Okay, let's put on our overalls and get started."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    On that note, I do not know what your prefer version of the Bible is, but since they're all similar, I'll quote some brief passages from the King James Bible – please, let me know if you prefer another version instead, and I will adjust my reply accordingly. 

    Deuteronomy 22:

    20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
    21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

    Leviticus 20:
    13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
    14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
    15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
    16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    So, the Christian god commands to stone a woman to death for having sex before marriage and then claim to be a virgin and get married, or to burn two women and a man to death if he marries both of them, etc. 

    How is he good?

    By warning His people not to do evil.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    By warning His people not to do evil.

    Seriously?

    He claimed or implied that:

    a) If a man marries two women, and they're mother and daughter, then the three of them deserve to be burned to death.
    b) If a woman has premarital sex, she deserves to be stoned to death – at least, if she then marries someone who does not know it.
    c) If a woman is the daughter of a priest and she is also a prostitute, she deserves to be burned to death.
    d) If a woman is betrothed to a man, but has sex with another man, then she and her lover deserve to be stoned to death.
    e) If a woman has sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserve to be killed.

    In addition to those claims or implications, the biblical god gave the corresponding commands – i.e., he commanded the ancient Hebrews to stone to death, burn to death, etc., all the people and non-human animals in question.

    And you're saying that such an entity is morally good because he's warning "his" people not to do evil?

    He's not just "warning" them.

    He's making false moral claims, given atrocious commands, and so on.

    In addition to that, some of the actions people and other animals are punished for are not even immoral.

    But even if the actions of the people were all immoral, it's obvious that they're not nearly as immoral as burning or stoning people to death for doing them.

    And the non-human animals in question are not even moral agents (though, of course, it's not surprised that confused ancient Hebrews would make up a god that does not realize that, because they didn't realize that, and they were the ones making up Yahweh)

    If you had been confronted with such actions when you were still an agnostic, would you have concluded that said actions were morally good?

    Do you actually believe that many people (who aren't already Christians or Muslims) who read the biblical god's actions and your attempt at excusing them will make any assessment but that the biblical god is indeed a very immoral entity – no better than, say, Darth Vader?

    The fact that you say that those were the commands of a morally perfect entity is explained by the fact that you're not using your moral intuitions to assess them, but are non-rationally placing your religion above them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I'll confine my responses here and going forward to those cases where you provide the actual biblical text with the corresponding chapter and verse locations (or just the chapter and verse locations, if you prefer) because that helps to see the cases in context, which is so important. Also, you made the offer in your initial comment in this thread to use an alternative translation. I think the New American Standard Bible (NASB – http://www.lockman.org) is preferable to the King James version (KJV) because 1) it is as faithful to the original languages as the KJV, 2) it has more underlying textual support based on the many additional ancient copies found since 1611, and 3) it, of course, uses English in a modern, not antiquated, style.

    "And you're saying that such an entity is morally good because he's warning 'his' people not to do evil?"

    Yes, of course.

    On what basis do you say these deeds are not evil?

    What is the meaning of the quotation marks you have put around "His"?  He is speaking to the physical descendants of Abraham, a man with whom He had a covenant.  These descendants were therefore a unique people, chosen for a unique purpose: to declare the existence and supremacy of the Creator to the surrounding world.  It was the fact that they were His people that called for morality above that of the nations that surrounded them including the nations they were displacing in Canaan.

    "He's not just "warning" them.  He's making false moral claims,"

    What moral claims has He made that are false?  What is your source or authority for saying they are false moral claims?

    "…given atrocious commands, and so on."

    What atrocious commands has He given?  By what authority do you define them as atrocious?

    "In addition to that, some of the actions people and other animals are punished for are not even immoral."

    For example?  (And please cite your authority for saying they are immoral.  His authority, if it's not apparent, is that He is Creator of all.  It will be interesting to see what authority you cite.)

    "But even if the actions of the people were all immoral, it's obvious that they're not nearly as immoral as burning or stoning people to death for doing them."

    Obvious to whom?  It wasn't obvious to the people who received them because there is no record of them complaining about the law Moses gave them.  And be sure that the record shows they were not slow to complain about anything they didn't like from Yahweh.  In fact, complaining to Yahweh was one of their noted characteristics.  Yet Moses asks the Israelites rhetorically, "[W]hat great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?"  (Deuteronomy 4:8, and recall that "righteousness" is the biblical equivalent of our word "morality.")  The  Mosaic Code and its intrinsic morality was Israel's distinguishing characteristic among Ancient Near Eastern peoples.  The Israelites consecrated themselves to it and took vows to obey it.  Subsequent history shows they weren't very faithful to it, but that they embraced it when given eviscerates your claim that it's a prima facie case of immorality.

    (had to truncate – remainder to follow)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu (continuation),

    "If you had been confronted with such actions when you were still an agnostic, would you have concluded that said actions were morally good?"

    That's hypothetical and too long ago for me to give a conclusive answer.  It's also complicated by the issue of whether someone would have been around to explain to me the context – an important issue that, when challenged, you say you acknowledge, but otherwise you ignore, as in the current question.

    And the non-human animals in question are not even moral agents (though, of course, it's not surprised that confused ancient Hebrews would make up a god that does not realize that, because they didn't realize that, and they were the ones making up Yahweh)

    I presume the destruction of the animals was for sanitation's sake, although the incident with Jesus and the pigs in Gadara indicates that moral agents can enter animals.  I have no definitive view of which is going on here.  Generally speaking, neither the Bible nor I consider non-human animals as moral agents.

    What is the authority or basis of your claim that the Israelites created Yahweh rather than the other way around?  (Though that sounds like a separate topic from the one at hand, so I don't know why you raised it.)

    Do you actually believe that many people (who aren't already Christians or Muslims) who read the biblical god's actions and your attempt at excusing them will make any assessment but that the biblical god is indeed a very immoral entity – no better than, say, Darth Vader?

    Do you actually believe that morality is determined by vote?  On that view, the Nazis were justified in the Holocaust because they outnumbered the Jews.

    The fact that you say that those were the commands of a morally perfect entity is explained by the fact that you're not using your moral intuitions to assess them, but are non-rationally placing your religion above them.

    No, it just means I'm not using your moral intuitions to assess them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt,

    I already posted the context in my blog, and earlier. Refusing to address the points for that reason is just, well, refusing to address the points.
    As for the translation, I prefer one that is in the public domain, but there is no substantial difference.

    As for whether the deeds that are being punished are immoral, intuitively, some of them seem immoral, and others are not. Some are obviously not immoral, like the actions of non-human animals.

    But even in cases in which they are immoral, they're not nearly enough to deserve to be burned to death, so the point remains.

    As for the quotation, the point is that they're not slaves. They can make their own choices, and even if he made a covenant with one of his ancestors demanding that, say, if a man marries a woman and her mother, they all be burned to death, the previous covenant does not make the command any less evil.

    Once again, I would ask you this: if it weren't because of your religion, would you actually assess that the actions in question merit stoning or burning to death?
    /(
    The false moral claims are, of course, that those people and non-human animals deserve to be burned to death, stoned to death, etc., as I repeatedly explained, he claims or implies that.

    As for the "source", you're talking nonsense. I'm using my sense of right and wrong, which is what humans do in moral debates.

    As for the atrocious commands, of course, I'm talking about burning people to death or stoning people to death, etc., for actions for which they obviously do not deserve that.

    I don't define them as "atrocious", I assess that they are; asking for an "authority" is more nonsense. It's like saying "by what authority do you define the biblical god as morally perfect?".

    That he is the creator has no bearing on the matter. Again, if the creator claimed that, say, all children deserve to be raped, and commanded that everyone raped a child a day, would you say that he's morally good?

    (I dealt with all that nonsense in detail in my blog, for those interested: http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html )

    As for non-human animals, I already cited examples, but let's see:

    Leviticus 20:16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    In addition to the usual unjust commands and false moral claims, in this particular case the biblical god accuses any non-human animal for the "crime" of having sex with a woman, claiming that their blood "shall be upon them".

    It's not that the woman deserves to be killed, of course – objections are handled as in previous cases, mutatis mutandi, so I will not repeated them for the sake of brevity -, or that this case is any worse than the others.

    However, I mention this case because curiously, the biblical god is accusing an entity that is not even a moral agent[6] of acting immorally.

    Obvious to whom?

    To human beings who have the means to consider the matter carefully, are doing so, and are not being irrational.

    Of course, there would be no record of complaining because the people who actually invented those laws (not Yahweh, but the real humans) approved of them.
    And those laws probably reflected common moral beliefs in their society, to some extent.

    For that matter, Aztec law makers did not record many complaints against their laws, either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    The  Mosaic Code and its intrinsic morality was Israel's distinguishing characteristic among Ancient Near Eastern peoples.  

    The "intrinsic morality" are the commands to stone women to death for having premarital sex, to burn women to death if they engage in prostitution while being the daughter of a priest, to burn man and women to death for certain marital arrangements, so stone oxen to death as a punishment – oxen aren't even moral beings, but the brutish inventors of Yahweh's law appear not to have noticed.

    The "embrace" by the ancient Israelite leaders of an immoral law does not help your case at all.

    For that matter, the Taliban endorsed their rules, and plenty of people in Afghanistan and other places still endorse many of them. In Kenya, there are rural areas in which "witches" are burned to death.

    That aside, your accusation that I ignore the context is out of place. I repeatedly considered it.

    As for the non-human animals, no, it was not for sanitation sake, since it was claimed or implied that they deserved it: for instance, in one case (see example above), the claim was "their blood shall be upon them", and that applied to non-human animals as well.
    In other case, oxen were being stoned to death, which is obviously not for sanitation sake, but a punishment.

    Now, absurdly, you suggest that the non-human animals in question may have been possessed by demons. But then again, that would only be the fault of the biblical god, who could remove the demons.

    There was no need to punish the non-human animals.

    As for why I say that the Israelites created Yahweh, that was a side note, jumping out of the fantasy tale for a moment, but again the demand for an authority is absurd.
    It's a matter of evidence, and evidence tells us that religions made up all sorts of absurd claims, but we don't live in a world where superpowerful beings show up and do the kind of stuff religions claim moreover, the Bible is full of contradictions and looks like any other book of myths.

    But that was a side note, so let's go back to the morality of the biblical god.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that morality is determined by vote. Rather, what I'm saying is that in this particular case, your judgment is obviously biased: my point in asking you about other people was to ask you to assess how a human being would assess the matter if their religion wasn't getting in the way.

    Mike Gantt
    No, it just means I'm not using your moral intuitions to assess them.

    That's false, but it's an unwarranted claim, anyway. On the other hand, my point that you're not using your moral intuitions is warranted; as I showed earlier in the exchange, you're using an irrational procedure to "assess" the morality of the biblical god.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: The Mosaic Code and its intrinsic morality was Israel's distinguishing characteristic among Ancient Near Eastern peoples. The Israelites consecrated themselves to it and took vows to obey it.
    Mike, that doesn't even appear to be true, let alone justification for your claims.
    The Mosaic code appears to be very similar to the written laws of the surrounding nations. There doesn't appear to be any justification for you to make this claim.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok said…

    Mike, that doesn't even appear to be true, let alone justification for your claims.
    The Mosaic code appears to be very similar to the written laws of the surrounding nations. There doesn't appear to be any justification for you to make this claim.

    If you think that the Mosaic Code was very similar to the written laws of the surrounding nations, why are you trying to pin what you deem to be its excesses on the God of Jesus Christ?  Shouldn't your target instead be all the human beings of that region and time period?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    "I already posted the context in my blog, and earlier. Refusing to address the points for that reason is just, well, refusing to address the points."

    I'm not refusing to answer any points; just appealing for a little cooperation.  Since you were the one who pulled the quotes from the Old Testament, it should not be difficult for you to show chapter and verse whenever you use a quotation. Making me and the readers (if there are any besides Havok) rely on your paraphrases, or else dig through concordances to find the passages for the exact wording and context, does not seem cooperative – especially since you are the one demanding answers.

    As for the translation, I prefer one that is in the public domain, but there is no substantial difference.

    Then your offer to use another translation was practically empty.  Hardly any English translations are in the public domain.  British Commonwealth publishers even insist that the KJV is protected by their copyrights.

    As for whether the deeds that are being punished are immoral, intuitively, some of them seem immoral, and others are not. Some are obviously not immoral, like the actions of non-human animals.  But even in cases in which they are immoral, they're not nearly enough to deserve to be burned to death, so the point remains.

    The point that remains is that you think the Mosaic Code is immoral.  Moses did not think it was immoral.  God did not think it was immoral.  Jesus of Nazareth did not think it was immoral.  According to Havok, the surrounding nations would not have thought of it as immoral.  Those points remain, too.

    As for the quotation, the point is that they're not slaves. They can make their own choices, and even if he made a covenant with one of his ancestors demanding that, say, if a man marries a woman and her mother, they all be burned to death, the previous covenant does not make the command any less evil.

    Then why did the people not only accept the Mosaic Code, but extol it?

    Once again, I would ask you this: if it weren't because of your religion, would you actually assess that the actions in question merit stoning or burning to death? 

    Once again, it is not a code that applies to me.  There are a lot of things about ancient life that seem incongruous with my 21st-century life.  Had I lived at that time and in that context I  imagine I would have thought and acted as those people did.  It certainly would be anachronistic to impose my 2011 worldly sensibilities upon them.

    In this regard,  you must remember that God did not invent stoning and burning.  These practices were not introduced to humanity through the Mosaic Code.  Such practices were already part of the human landscape.  When God told Noah to build an ark, He had to explain how it was done because no one was building arks.  However, societies did stone and burn as forms of capital punishment.  God was just outlining the limited occasions where capital punishment was permissible.  For all you know, these laws that so trouble you were curtailments of existing social practice – not expansions of them.  And, as I've said, in no case was it introduction of such practices.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    As for the "source", you're talking nonsense. I'm using my sense of right and wrong, which is what humans do in moral debates.

    It's not nonsense.  In fact, you inadvertently answered the question.  That is, you are the moral authority.  You have deemed yourself qualified to pass judgment on God and on the practices of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) peoples.

    That he is the creator has no bearing on the matter. Again, if the creator claimed that, say, all children deserve to be raped, and commanded that everyone raped a child a day, would you say that he's morally good?

    You should wash your mouth out with soap for suggesting your Creator could do such a thing.

    Our Creator has the same sorts of rights and responsibilities regarding us that human parents have over infant children – and far more.  Human parents can only bring us into the world, while God has responsibility for bringing us in and taking us out.

    As for non-human animals, I already cited examples, but let's see:  Leviticus 20:16 "And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."  In addition to the usual unjust commands and false moral claims, in this particular case the biblical god accuses any non-human animal for the "crime" of having sex with a woman, claiming that their blood "shall be upon them".  It's not that the woman deserves to be killed, of course – objections are handled as in previous cases, mutatis mutandi, so I will not repeated them for the sake of brevity -, or that this case is any worse than the others.  However, I mention this case because curiously, the biblical god is accusing an entity that is not even a moral agent[6] of acting immorally.

    I've already addressed the issue of animal culpability.  To briefly repeat it, non-human animals are not moral agents, but there can be found exceptions where it appears moral agents (e.g. demons) entered animals.  In any case, you can't blame people if they didn't want an animal like that hanging around, and you can't blame God for giving them a law which, among other things, was probably good for public health reasons.

    Of course, there would be no record of complaining because the people who actually invented those laws (not Yahweh, but the real humans) approved of them. And those laws probably reflected common moral beliefs in their society, to some extent.

    Then why aren't you accusing them of being immoral instead of God?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    As for why I say that the Israelites created Yahweh, that was a side note, jumping out of the fantasy tale for a moment, but again the demand for an authority is absurd.  

    Your fundamental purpose in this conversation is to reverse the moral perception of someone you believe to be a fairy tale character, and you think I'm the one being absurd?

    It's a matter of evidence, and evidence tells us that religions made up all sorts of absurd claims, but we don't live in a world where superpowerful beings show up and do the kind of stuff religions claim moreover, the Bible is full of contradictions and looks like any other book of myths.

    I make no defense of religions.  As for the Bible, it is full of repeated and varied affirmations that God became a man and died for the sins of the world, being resurrected afterward to lead all humanity to righteousness forevermore.  I think you'd going to have a hard time finding any other religion or book that's telling a story like that – much less that all of them do.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting that morality is determined by vote. Rather, what I'm saying is that in this particular case, your judgment is obviously biased: my point in asking you about other people was to ask you to assess how a human being would assess the matter if their religion wasn't getting in the way. 

    I'm not interested in religion; I'm interested in truth.

    You say that you're not suggesting morality is determined by vote but that's the only implication possible from your repeated point that you think my view is outnumbered by that of you and others.

    That's false, but it's an unwarranted claim, anyway. On the other hand, my point that you're not using your moral intuitions is warranted; as I showed earlier in the exchange, you're using an irrational procedure to "assess" the morality of the biblical god.

    When you speak about my being irrational, you remind me of how my wife and I used to argue with each other when we were younger.  "But, honey, if you'd only be reasonable, you'd see things my way."  After a few years, we realized the folly of that assumption.

    As for human moral intuitions, mine are pretty good.  In fact, if you asked people who worked with me over the years one of the things you'd likely hear is "Mike has integrity."  However, compared to Jesus Christ I am a moral pipsqueak, a moral leper.  He exceeds my morality in every conceivable way – and by a wide, wide margin.  People can only see what's on the outside, but God measures our morality from the innermost thoughts outward.  I do not want to be left to my own moral intuitions.  I want His to elevate mine.  By myself, I cannot even live up to my own ideals.  But with the assurance of His presence, I have the hope of living beyond them and even up to His.

    As a GPS device becomes unreliable when it loses contact with the satellite, so our consciences (i.e. moral intuitions) become unreliable when disconnected from our Creator.  Therefore, if you really desire to be moral you are cutting off your own nose to spite your face when you call your Creator and Redeemer immoral.  Jesus Christ is truth north.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: If you think that the Mosaic Code was very similar to the written laws of the surrounding nations, why are you trying to pin what you deem to be its excesses on the God of Jesus Christ? Shouldn't your target instead be all the human beings of that region and time period?
    They're irrelevant in that way Mike, since no one is arguing that their laws were perfectly moral.

    You are committed to and are claiming that the Mosaic code was perfectly moral, and handed down by a perfectly moral being, and therefore we are focussing on that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    You were the one who said the surrounding nations had the same moral code, not me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: You should wash your mouth out with soap for suggesting your Creator could do such a thing.
    This you get upset about, but not the slavery, genocide, rape and murder which appears in the OT.

    Strange

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: You were the one who said the surrounding nations had the same moral code, not me.
    And their codes contained immoral claims, as did that of the Israelites.

    You're the one who is committed to the alternate claim, that these codes were perfectly moral (that killing infants and taking women as sex slaves, practicing genocide, and commanding murder as punishment for somewhat trivial transgressions).

    So really, I have no problem stating that the moral codes of the ANE, including those of Israel, contained immoral clauses.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Ps. You also claimed that some imagined difference between the Mosaic code and the rest of the ANE indicated some divine source for their code. Something you've not bothered to address either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    I'm committed to the claim that the Mosaic Code was moral.

    I am not committed to the claim that the Mosaic Code is perfectly moral, because perfect morality did not come until Jesus Christ.

    Neither am I committed to your biased description of it including such pejorative, inaccurate, and misleading terms as genocide.

    Until and unless you have some evidence to prove that the Mosaic Code was not superior to that of the surrounding nations I remain committed to its superiority.

    As for washing your mouth out with soap, and the fact that I haven't recommended this every time you have falsely labeled the commandments of God, who could keep up with you? At least sometimes there is some truth you are twisting, and I can tell myself to be understanding with you because perhaps you've been misled or can be excused in some other way. But in that particular instance AM was suggesting something for which I couldn't even think of what in line in the Mosaic Code he might be perverting and it was just too painful to contemplate what he was describing. Nonetheless, let this be my opportunity to say I have been deeply grieved in heart from the very beginning (even from the original post) every time I hear one of you speaking evil of God. It reflects very unhealthy thinking, and it saddens me more than I can say.

    As for your point about surrounding nations having a God-given moral code, and my having suggested it, I am completely at a loss as to what you're saying.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    Sorry, but given how many times I've made that point, and given that I have already provided the references, and the links, asking me to provide those references again, and again, etc., is disruptive.

    I'm not the one being uncooperative.

    Regarding the KJV, it's in the public domain with respect to the law over here, and in most of the world. That's good enough for me.

    Regarding the immorality of the actions, what you present is just a nuclear bomb for moral argumentation.

    Sure, many of the Hebrews did not think that that was immoral.
    Neither did the Aztecs with regard to their practices. Nor do people who engage in honor killings, or who throw acid at the face of women because they had sex before marriage – for instance.

    I posted a more readable reply in the following link: http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#moralprogress

    I will repost it here:

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    First, let's consider a few cases:
    It is clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally that, say, people who stop believing that Islam is true do not deserve to be
    decapitated for that. It appears that it's not at all apparent to many people in places such as Saudi Arabia.
    It is clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally that, say, a woman who has sex before getting married, or who refuses to marry a person chosen by her father, does not deserve to be killed for that, or to have her face disfigured with acid for that.
    However, many people around the world fail to realize that.
    It is clear that a woman who has sex before marriage – today or in ancient Israel – does not deserve to be stoned to death for that. Well, it's clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally.
    It was not clear to ancient Hebrew lawmakers, and perhaps to most of the ancient Hebrews.
    People who live in brutal social environments usually do not dedicate time to ponder whether their laws are just, and when they do, they usually do so looking to the tainted lens of false beliefs that they're emotionally attached to, and/or otherwise irrationally.
    There are of course, exceptions, which contributes to moral progress.
    Also, progress in living conditions results in more people assessing these matters rationally, and not make up or approve of laws that are as immoral as the ones under consideration. That also contributes to moral progress.
    Now, by contemplating the claim that an ancient Hebrew woman who had sex before marriage and then married someone who did not know that she was not a virgin, deserved to be stoned to death in a rational manner, I conclude that the claim is not true, and that stoning her to death is immoral.
    That is what I maintain, and readers of course can use their own sense of right and wrong to make an assessment. I would only ask them to be rational about it, and not say – for instance – "but God commanded it, and God is morally perfect, so the command was not immoral".
    That would not be a rational way of assessing the moral claim in question, or the morality of the command. That would amount to essentially refuse to assess the claim by one's moral intuitions, and instead conclude that she deserved it and that the command was not immoral because of a baseless assumption that God commanded it.
    There is no problem assuming for the sake of the argument that the biblical god claimed or implied that she deserved to be stoned to death, and commanded that she be stoned to death.
    However, assuming that God commanded it, or that biblical god commanded it and that the biblical god is actually God would amount to refusing to assess rationally whether an ancient Hebrew woman who had premarital sex and then married someone who did not know deserved to be stoned to death.
    The same goes for other commands and claims I will address in later subsections, including some probably even worse than this one – some that involve burning people to death.
    Second, anyone could raise it in any moral debate a similar objection, saying something like "how do you know your moral intuitions are correct, rather than the intuitions of someone else?", for that matter.

    Yet, we can still make moral assessments, using of course our sense of right and wrong. Without that, no religious book would help, either.

    So, I'm making a moral case in the sense people usually make moral arguments – at least, when they're being rational about it.

    If a reader truly have the moral intuition that a woman who lived in ancient Israel and who had sex before marriage and then married someone who did not know deserved to be stoned to death, I guess I will not persuade that person – at least, not with this particular example.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    As for the claim that the biblical god was curtailing such practices, I already dealt with that earlier.

    I also addressed that in detail in the case of stoning to death, and more in general, in the following places:

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#objection215

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#hardened

    I will (mostly) quote the one referring to the case of a woman stoned to death for having premarital sex and then marrying someone who did not know, but it's more readable in the other format.

    First, that they were doing evil before is no good reason for the biblical god to command that they continue to do evil.
    Second, the biblical god also lied by implying that they deserved to be stoned to death.
    Third, the biblical god is an entity of immense power, capable of and willing to intervene in the history of Israel on many occasions.
    Obviously, he could have pointed out that those women did not deserve to be stoned to death, instead of falsely claiming that they did and then commanding that they be stoned.
    No social breakdown would have followed from refraining from making false moral claims and from issuing a profoundly unjust command.
    What would the ancient Hebrews have done, if he had not lied and had not commanded that they be stoned to death?
    Rebel against an all-powerful being because he does not command them to stone women to death for having premarital sex and then marrying someone who does not know that they did?
    Should we believe that his commands would only be obeyed by most of the population if they were in line with what the people he's giving commands to already wanted?
    What kind of command is that?
    That seems absurd.
    And if some of them absurdly would have rebelled against an all-powerful being for that, then so be it. The potential absurd rebellion of some of the people who wanted to stone to death any woman who had sex before marriage and then married someone who didn't know she wasn't a virgin, does not justify giving the command that those evil people wanted.
    In short: if some evil people would only "follow" certain evil commands, that does not justify giving them the evil "commands" that they want, and on top of that telling them or implying that their actions were actually just.
    So, this objection is also unreasonable.
    However, even if - against all reason - we assume that there was some justification for calling for the execution of those women, the biblical god could have always commanded that they be killed in a way the minimizes suffering; furthermore, he could have refrained from falsely implying that they deserved to be stoned to death.
    Instead, he commanded that they be tortured to death by means of stoning – again, not that it would be reasonable to assume that there was some justification for calling for that execution -, and made false moral claims against them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: I'm committed to the claim that the Mosaic Code was moral.
    I am not committed to the claim that the Mosaic Code is perfectly moral, because perfect morality did not come until Jesus Christ.

    It still seems to be an indefensible position to hold given the content of the Mosaic code, as Angra has repeatedly demonstrated.
    Besides, if the Mosaic code wasn't perfectly moral, then doesn't that mean that Yahweh was not being perfectly moral, which undermines your claims concerning Jesus (since he is Yahweh)?

    Mike Gantt: Neither am I committed to your biased description of it including such pejorative, inaccurate, and misleading terms as genocide.
    Mike, this is ridiculous.
    Genocide has a fairly simple definition, and one which biblical mandates in the OT satisfy.

    Mike: Until and unless you have some evidence to prove that the Mosaic Code was not superior to that of the surrounding nations I remain committed to its superiority.
    Unless and until you can actually back up this claim of yours, you appear to have absolutely no real reason to be committed to this claim.

    Mike: At least sometimes there is some truth you are twisting, and I can tell myself to be understanding with you because perhaps you've been misled or can be excused in some other way.
    If the truth is being twisted don't just claim it, show it.
    If there is a misunderstanding don't just claim it, show it.

    Mike: But in that particular instance AM was suggesting something for which I couldn't even think of what in line in the Mosaic Code he might be perverting and it was just too painful to contemplate what he was describing.
    Really?
    So you're fine with stabbing pregnant women through the abdomen, dashing infants heads against rocks, forcing women to marry their rapist and killing people for adultery, but overt paedophilia is too far for you?
    As I said, very strange

    Mike: Nonetheless, let this be my opportunity to say I have been deeply grieved in heart from the very beginning (even from the original post) every time I hear one of you speaking evil of God.
    I don't really care how you feel about this Mike. I care about discussing things in a rational and reasonable fashion. And thus far you have not made your position look very reasonable or rational (not that I agree entirely with Angra either).

    Mike: It reflects very unhealthy thinking, and it saddens me more than I can say.
    And it was a hypothetical, one which seems to be a perfectly good conclusion to be gathered from the system of morality you seem to claim exists – that anything Yahweh/Jesus wills/commands is automatically to be accepted as moral, regardless of what that actually is.

    Mike: As for your point about surrounding nations having a God-given moral code, and my having suggested it, I am completely at a loss as to what you're saying.
    No Mike, you claimed that the Israelite moral code was superior to those around it, and that this was an indication of it's divine nature. I quote:
    "The Mosaic Code and its intrinsic morality was Israel's distinguishing characteristic among Ancient Near Eastern peoples."

    I simple made the rather obvious observation that the Israelite code was little different to that of surrounding nations, nations which I doubt even you would claim had a God given moral code, and therefore you have no reason to make the claims that you did.
    Have you actually looked into ANE codes of laws, or do you just accept what the bible claims of other nations without question?

    You do seem to want to misinterpret what others are saying to you Mike. I'm not sure why that is.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    It's not nonsense.  In fact, you inadvertently answered the question.  That is, you are the moral authority.  You have deemed yourself qualified to pass judgment on God and on the practices of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) peoples.

    I already addressed this nonsense earlier, and in my blog.

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#sovereignty objection

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#whoarewetojudge

    If someone claims that religion X is true, and religion X claims that God tortures everyone else for eternity just for fun, we can safely conclude that religion X is not true because an entity who behaves in that way would not be God - since it would not be morally perfect.
    And if religion Y claimed that God created the universe just for the fun of watching the "show" of limited sentient beings struggling, killing or being killed, etc., and does not care at all who or what suffers as long as he has fun, we would be able to tell that such a religion is not true, since a morally perfect being would not do that.
    Similarly, then, one can properly make a case against Christianity based on the actions of the biblical god, as described in the Bible.
    Of course, the biblical god does not torture everyone for eternity for fun – that would make the case too easy -, but that does not prevent us to assess his actions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    Regarding non-human animals and the "possessed" objection, I already addressed, but let's do it once more:

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#interspecies

    http://angramainyusblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/moral-case-against-christianity.html#oxenstoned

    Mike Gantt
    I've already addressed the issue of animal culpability.  To briefly repeat it, non-human animals are not moral agents, but there can be found exceptions where it appears moral agents (e.g. demons) entered animals.  In any case, you can't blame people if they didn't want an animal like that hanging around, and you can't blame God for giving them a law which, among other things, was probably good for public health reasons.

    You completely miss the points. The points is that the biblical god made false moral claims and/or implications, and gave immoral commands

    Leviticus 20:16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    If the biblical god meant to say that this command only applied to possessed non-human animals, he should have said so in order to be understood.
    Instead, the command – and the moral claim "their blood shall be upon them" – applies to any woman, and any non-human animal she may choose to have sex with – and she doesn't have to pick one that is possessed.

    Exodus 21:28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
    Exodus 21:32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
    While killing a dangerous animal is acceptable, those are clearly not just commands to kill a dangerous ox.
    Rather, the ox is punished for his actions by being tortured to death by stoning.
    In other words, killing him because he's dangerous is one thing, but commanding that he be put to death by stoning is a way of implicitly saying that the ox deserves it. But he does not deserve it: the ox is just an ox.
    So, in addition to cruelty against non-human animals – there were clearly more humane ways of killing -, here the biblical god is implying that oxen who behave in that manner are acting evilly, and deserve to be tortured to death for their actions. So, he's implicitly making a false moral statement.

    If the biblical god meant to say that this command only applied to possessed oxen, he should have said so in order to be understood.
    But he did not, so the command applied to any ox, and even in the story, there is no good reason to believe that any ox that gores a human was possessed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu


    Then why aren't you accusing them of being immoral instead of God?

    Actually, if we leave aside the story, of course those people were immoral. There is no biblical god.

    On the other hand, if we assume that the biblical god was involved, I maintain he's profoundly evil, for the reasons I stated.

    Of course, the specific Hebrews who engaged in some of those actions did not commit all of the atrocities the biblical god committed (not even close), but also committed atrocities, so they were very immoral as well.

    But then, that's beside the point, since my case is against Christianity, not against some of the ancient Hebrews.

    Mike Gantt
    Your fundamental purpose in this conversation is to reverse the moral perception of someone you believe to be a fairy tale character, and you think I'm the one being absurd?

    Yes, for the reasons I gave.
    In fact, I destroyed that particular ad-hominem before, but I guess maybe you believe you can persuade people just by repeating the same thing over and over.

    But what if many people believed that Palpatine was both real and morally good, and they based some of his own, real-life decisions on those moral beliefs? 
    What if all of your attempts to persuade them that Palpatine does not exist had already failed, despite the fact that you've spent many years trying? 
    What if you had concluded that they are well beyond your capability for persuasion? 
    I'm kind of in that situation, so I don't try to persuade Christians anymore, but only attempt to help reduce the damage they make by trying to persuade fencesitters, so that they won't become Christians, and – perhaps -, so that they will be more motivated to try and persuade others. 
    Also, I try to help indirectly – within the limited time I've got for this -, by means of giving arguments to other non-theists, if I can. 
    Why do I use the tactic of making a moral case, instead of a case against existence? 
    Actually, I've used a combination of different tactics, including arguments against existence. I prefer not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak – I try different alternatives. 

    However, in my assessment, if people believe that an entity worshiped by some people is morally good, they're on average more likely to irrationally come to believe that said entity exists than if they believe the the entity in question is not morally good. 
    I suppose my assessment might be mistaken – I have no hard data. 
    But then again, I have no hard data anyway, and I have to make a choice as to how to allocate my time to defending different arguments – as in the case of everyone else, there's only one of me and my time is limited. 
    So, my assessment is as I mentioned above, and so it seems that a moral case is a reasonable course of action.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    As for washing your mouth out with soap, and the fact that I haven't recommended this every time you have falsely labeled the commandments of God, who could keep up with you? At least sometimes there is some truth you are twisting, and I can tell myself to be understanding with you because perhaps you've been misled or can be excused in some other way. But in that particular instance AM was suggesting something for which I couldn't even think of what in line in the Mosaic Code he might be perverting and it was just too painful to contemplate what he was describing. 

    Will you ever stop falsely accusing me of perverting and/or misrepresenting lines?

    That was not a line in the OT. It was a way of showing how absurd your demand that I show an "authority".

    The point is that if a creator claimed that, say, all children deserve to be raped, and commanded that everyone raped a child a day, it would be reasonable to conclude that he would not be morally good. He would be very evil.

    And if he sent to eternal torment everyone who does not trust him as lord and savior, he would be morally good. He would be even more evil.

    Now, if he claimed that, say, if a man marries a woman and her mother in ancient Israel, the three of them deserve to be burned to death, and commands that they be burned to death, and then gives all of the other evil commands in the OT – and the corresponding false moral claims -, then he's not morally good, either.

    He may not be as evil as the infinite torturer so many Christians believe in, but he's very evil notwithstanding.

    Of course, anyone who is being rational should see your double standards when you have no problem in making the assessment that a creator who behaves in a way you don't believe the biblical god behaves is morally evil in some cases (e.g., Hell, rape of children), but on the other hand, you accuse me of somehow arrogating some "authority" because I maintain that the creator who claims – for instance – that if the daughter of a priest in ancient Israel becomes a prostitute, she deserves to be burned to death, and commands that she be burned to death, etc., is also not morally good, but evil.

    You're not just disagreeing with me. You're not even being consistent in your use of standards. On top of that, you keep misrepresenting what I said. Will you ever stop at least the misrepresentation?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I make no defense of religions.  As for the Bible, it is full of repeated and varied affirmations that God became a man and died for the sins of the world, being resurrected afterward to lead all humanity to righteousness forevermore.  I think you'd going to have a hard time finding any other religion or book that's telling a story like that – much less that all of them do.

    Of course, a religion can have its own absurdities.
    But that's not the point here, so I'll leave it there.

    Mike Gantt
    I'm not interested in religion; I'm interested in truth.

    You say that you're not suggesting morality is determined by vote but that's the only implication possible from your repeated point that you think my view is outnumbered by that of you and others.
    No, it's not a matter of numbers; it's a matter of that view being rejected by those who aren't assuming their religion first.

    My point is not to say that the majority is right, but that those who are being rational are.

    Obviously, your opinion is not outnumbered among, say, Americans, or Christians, or ancient Hebrews, who approved of the actions of the biblical god.

    The whole point of asking you to think as if you were still an agnostic was to tell you not to be irrational placing your religion first – I've already showed why you're being irrational about that, so I'll refer readers to previous posts.

    Mike Gantt
    When you speak about my being irrational, you remind me of how my wife and I used to argue with each other when we were younger.  "But, honey, if you'd only be reasonable, you'd see things my way."  After a few years, we realized the folly of that assumption.

    1) It's not an assumption.
    I already showed that the procedure that you're using is irrational. That you won't realize is beside the point.

    2) This isn't like the arguments you had with your wife, because in that case, there was no audience, so you were trying to persuade each other. I know I cannot persuade you that the biblical god is evil, or that you're not being rational – you're being religious.
    My hope is – among other things – to persuade some of the readers, if there are any.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    As for human moral intuitions, mine are pretty good.  In fact, if you asked people who worked with me over the years one of the things you'd likely hear is "Mike has integrity."  

    See, now you're relying on their intuitions. Majority rules?

    But seriously, of course your intuitions may be good, but you're not using them here. You irrationally place your religion over them.
    Mike Gantt
    However, compared to Jesus Christ I am a moral pipsqueak, a moral leper. 

    And how do you conclude that?
    Surely not by using your intuitions, but rather claiming that we don't have "authority" to make a moral assessment of the creator.
    Of course, if someone posits a creator who behaves in a manner that is different from the manner in which you believe the biblical god behaves, you have no problem making a moral assessment, as is the case when you conclude that a creator that creates infinite Hell would not be morally good, or that a creator who commands child rape would not be morally good.

    Mike Gantt
    He exceeds my morality in every conceivable way – and by a wide, wide margin.  People can only see what's on the outside, but God measures our morality from the innermost thoughts outward.  I do not want to be left to my own moral intuitions.  I want His to elevate mine.  By myself, I cannot even live up to my own ideals.  But with the assurance of His presence, I have the hope of living beyond them and even up to His.

    And, of course, by your own moral intuitions, you have no problem in assessing that a creator who rapes children, or a creator who creates an eternal Hell for unbelievers, would not be morally good.

    Yet, when the creator behaves in the way you actually believe that the biblical god behaved, like stoning or burning people to death (even if by proxy) for things like having premarital sex, or engaging in prostitution under some conditions stated in the Bible, you fail to use your moral intuitions and actually believe it's a virtue of yours to do that (!!), accusing me because I make a moral assessment.

    That's religious irrationality.
    Mike Gantt
    As a GPS device becomes unreliable when it loses contact with the satellite, so our consciences (i.e. moral intuitions) become unreliable when disconnected from our Creator.  Therefore, if you really desire to be moral you are cutting off your own nose to spite your face when you call your Creator and Redeemer immoral. 

    And, of course, you irrationally say that just after you assessed that a creator who commands the rape of children, or who burns infidels for eternity in Hell, would not be morally good.

    That kind of irrationality is one of the common side-effects religion has on a human mind.

    Now, if you call your religion not a religion, that does not change the facts: whatever we label it, the point is that it's irrational.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05770427187548083625 Havok

    Mike Gantt: As a GPS device becomes unreliable when it loses contact with the satellite, so our consciences (i.e. moral intuitions) become unreliable when disconnected from our Creator.
    Mike, care to actually produce any evidence of this?
    Since there seems to be no real difference between the behaviour of people regardless of beliefs (culture seems far more significant than religious belief), this claim seems not only false, but also ridiculous.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    It still seems to be an indefensible position to hold given the content of the Mosaic code, as Angra has repeatedly demonstrated.

    AM has not "demonstrated" that the Mosaic Code is immoral; he has "repeatedly asserted" that it is.

    His acknowledged standard for morality is his own conscience.  Your conscience agrees with his.  My conscience tells me different.  And the Bible outside the Mosaic Code tells me different.  I agree that my position seems "indefensible" to you, and I assure you that your position seems indefensible to me.  You and AM call moral things immoral and immoral things moral.  In your view, I am doing the same.  That's how much of a difference Jesus Christ makes.

    I do not regard my own conscience as adequate.  I need something more.  I cannot look to you or AM or other people…because your consciences suffer the same inadequacy as my own.  Society's idea of morality is always shifting.  Where then is a source of true morality which, by definition, can never change?  Where is that conscience that is always true?  In Jesus Christ – the most moral person who ever lived.

    Even if you don't yet believe in Jesus Christ you surely should believe that there is some standard of morality higher and better than your own – even if you don't know precisely what that standard is or how to access it.  The mere fact that the three of us agree that there is such a thing as morality but can't agree on what its saying about these cases is proof that true morality exists…and that it lies outside ourselves.  We can only partake of it and abide by it – we can't produce it.

    Besides, if the Mosaic code wasn't perfectly moral, then doesn't that mean that Yahweh was not being perfectly moral, which undermines your claims concerning Jesus (since he is Yahweh)?

    No – why would it mean that?  The Mosaic Code was given by God as a temporary standard for a particular nation He had chosen for a particular purpose.  It was moral, but only for that time, place, and purpose.  Later, Jesus of Nazareth brought the perfect moral code for all of humanity for all of time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    Mike, this is ridiculous.  Genocide has a fairly simple definition, and one which biblical mandates in the OT satisfy.

    Yes, genocide has a fairly simple definition but you have not produced biblical mandates which match that definition.  You've just asserted that some exist.

    Unless and until you can actually back up this claim of yours, you appear to have absolutely no real reason to be committed to this claim.

    Sure I do.  The Old Testament claims it.  Jesus regarded the Old Testament as reliable.  That's good enough for me.  Is there more to my rationale than that?  Yes, in the sense that when I tell you that my wife told me something, I believe it, and that settles it…that there's more to my rationale than that.

    Moreover, it's not as though Jesus alone claimed this.  It is the testimony of the entire nation of ancient Israel.  We should remember that the Bible is a collection of dozens of writings from dozens of authors written over the course of centuries.  It was not just Jesus, but the entire line of Israel's prophets preceding Him that declared the morality of the Mosaic Code…and who were constantly calling wayward Israel to return to it.

    Israel's history, as we see it in the Old Testament, was largely recorded by its prophets.  These prophets were often at odds with the leadership of the country, which it why you see the weaknesses and failings of its leaders as well as its people on full display in the Scriptures.  Not many nations have their national archives produced by the loyal opposition – but this is the case with Israel.  These prophets testify that it was Israel's failure to live by the Mosaic Code that was the reason for their immorality.  When they did not obey the laws of Moses, their behavior became like that of the surrounding nations.

    God could not very well dispossess the Canaanites of their land on the grounds of immorality (sin) if He was not going to hold the Israelites to a higher standard.  Thus when Israel so departed from the Mosaic Code that they became as immoral as the Canaanites, God dispossessed them of the land as well – sending them into exile in 586 BC.

    Today's aggressive atheists have sold many books which throw around the kind of charges and inflammatory rhetoric that Louise Antony, AM, and you are using here.  But the volume of such charges only gives them credibility in the ears of those unfamiliar with the source material that the Bible provides.

    If the truth is being twisted don't just claim it, show it.  If there is a misunderstanding don't just claim it, show it.

    I've shown it most recently in my refutation of AM's claims about Deuteronomy 22 and Leviticus 20 above.  AM wants to impose his own moral standard on God's commands and then impose 21st-century standards for civil sanctions on an ancient society.  There's a difference between showing you something and showing it to your satisfaction.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Havok,

    Really?  So you're fine with stabbing pregnant women through the abdomen, dashing infants heads against rocks, forcing women to marry their rapist and killing people for adultery, but overt paedophilia is too far for you?  As I said, very strange.

    What is very strange is that you would ascribe such acts to a holy and righteous God – a God who was willing to give His own life on a exceedingly painful cross for you.  And who loves you know even when you say such awful things about Him.

    I don't really care how you feel about this Mike.

    So be it.

    I care about discussing things in a rational and reasonable fashion. And thus far you have not made your position look very reasonable or rational (not that I agree entirely with Angra either).

    My position seems eminently reasonable to me – as yours apparently does to you.  It reminds me of Superman and Bizzaro, where up was down and down was up.  Each of us is living in a Bizarro world when compared to the other.

    And it was a hypothetical, one which seems to be a perfectly good conclusion to be gathered from the system of morality you seem to claim exists – that anything Yahweh/Jesus wills/commands is automatically to be accepted as moral, regardless of what that actually is.

    It would have been a stretch for a conclusion even if one conceded that all ANE mores were God's will for our time.  And it was all the more out of bounds given that such had not been conceded.

    No Mike, you claimed that the Israelite moral code was superior to those around it, and that this was an indication of it's divine nature. I quote: "The Mosaic Code and its intrinsic morality was Israel's distinguishing characteristic among Ancient Near Eastern peoples."

    Yes, this I did say…and still maintain it.

    I simple made the rather obvious observation that the Israelite code was little different to that of surrounding nations, nations which I doubt even you would claim had a God given moral code, and therefore you have no reason to make the claims that you did.  Have you actually looked into ANE codes of laws, or do you just accept what the bible claims of other nations without question?

    You apparently are a student of ANE history; I am not.  I would expect the Mosaic Code to be similar to the codes of surrounding nations but still superior to them.  Since you feel differently, give me some basis for why you think so and it might impress me.

    You do seem to want to misinterpret what others are saying to you Mike. I'm not sure why that is. 

    This is yet another accusation you make that seems descriptive of your own behavior.  You are misrepresenting God by ascribing immorality to Him through cherry-picking Bible verses and then interpreting them through your own modern-day moral grid without regard to their proper context.

    Mike, care to actually produce any evidence of this?  

    The evidence is apparent in the very disagreement we are having about what constitutes morality.  If the three of us had access to the absolute standard of morality, we would be agreeing about what is moral instead of disagreeing.

    Since there seems to be no real difference between the behaviour of people regardless of beliefs (culture seems far more significant than religious belief), this claim seems not only false, but also ridiculous.

    That there is no discernible difference in the moral behavior of Christians and non-Christians in the Western world is something with which I can agree.  However, when I examine my own behavior, I notice significant difference in moral behavior between those times I regard Christ in my life and those times I haven't.  Therefore, I have to conclude that most Christians are merely giving Christ lip service and not truly heeding Him.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I'm not the one being uncooperative.

    Ah, cooperation – like morality – is in the eye of the beholder.

    Regarding the KJV, it's in the public domain with respect to the law over here, and in most of the world. That's good enough for me.

    Then you should ask yourself why you beseeched your readers to let you know if they preferred another version.

    Sure, many of the Hebrews did not think that that was immoral.  Neither did the Aztecs with regard to their practices. Nor do people who engage in honor killings, or who throw acid at the face of women because they had sex before marriage – for instance.

    The Mosaic Code did not evolve with the Hebrew people.  That is, it was not the aggregation of laws they themselves or their leaders had decided upon over time.  Rather, it was presented to them in toto as a completely new civil code to which they would thereafter be subject. The Hebrews often said Moses or God were bringing hardship on them, but they never said it with respect to this law. They, in effect, took a marriage vow to it with full understanding of what they were doing.  Truly, the Hebrew experience was unique in this regard.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    First, let's consider a few cases: 

    With regard to your cases, you are consistently lifting them out of their biblical context and placing them in ours.  This obscures very important distinctions and misrepresents reality.

    For example, if you brought a person to me who was guilty of a capital offense under the Mosaic Code and asked if I thought the Mosaic sentence should be imposed, I would say no.      The Mosaic Code is entirely out of place for us.  However, the answer would probably have been different had you asked me in 1500 BC and I was a Hebrew.  And, of course, if you had been a Hebrew, you probably wouldn't have asked the question in the first place.  Had you been a non-Hebrew contemporary, you might have asked it differently.  Context matters.

    God's morality does not change with context, but ours does, as does our sense of God's morality.  This is why no one could believe that Jesus Christ reflected the morality of God until they actually saw it in action – and specifically saw His resurrection.  That is, prior to Jesus of Nazareth, I don't think you could have convinced a single human being that God was so good, so moral, that He would endure the rejection demonstrated through the crucifixion and still love those who did it.  Even after the crucifixion, no one would have believed Jesus was acting the way God would.  Even Jesus' allies figured He had misunderstood God.  But once the resurrection occurred, that perception changed…forever.  Thus humanity's sense of God's morality reached unprecedented heights when it experienced Jesus Christ.  And that perception has continued to lift and enlighten our own sense of morality…when we let it.

    Anachronisms in moral assessments lead to false assessments, and this logical error is embedded in all your argumentation.  A person today may say, "Slavery is inherently evil and I would never have supported it."  Yet it costs that person nothing to make such a statement or take such a stand.  Yet to take that stand during most of history would have gotten him labeled as a kook at best, and perhaps killed.  If such a person had been born into a slave-holding family long ago are we really to believe the same bravado would be on full display as he freed the slaves, endured the wrath of his community, put his family in the poorhouse, and told the former slaves that he no longer had the money to feed them and he was sorry they were now starving to death?  After-the-fact morality is the cheapest kind you can buy.  At the point of actual moral crisis, few are willing to pay the price.  Jesus was, and that's what makes His story so morally attractive.

    Therefore, do I think the Mosaic Code including its provisions for capital punishment were appropriate to their limited time, place, and purpose?  Yes.  Do I think that they're appropriate for us today?  No.  If you get people to answer no to both questions, it's probably in part because you're engaging in anachronistic moral assessments.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    …the case of a woman stoned to death for having premarital sex and then marrying someone who did not know…"

    The stoning aspect I dealt with in part when I wrote about anachronistic moral assessments.  Let me deal here, however, specifically with the immorality of premarital sex.

    Your analysis of this case is fatally flawed by your failure to appreciate the importance of sexual purity.  God gave marriage for one man and one woman for one lifetime.  Our society has so cheapened, polluted, and corrupted this relationship that you cannot see the harm in extramarital sex.  I cannot explain it to you; you must ask Him to restore your moral sight where marriage is concerned.

    Neither you nor I would condone the stoning of such a woman guilty of this infraction today.  But where you and I part company is that I think she has nonetheless done a very immoral thing, and you do not.  I believe she and her partner have done harm to themselves, to the spouses they might ultimately marry, and to society at large.  Marriage is to be pure.  When we defile it, we defile ourselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    If someone claims that religion X is true, and religion X claims that God tortures everyone else for eternity just for fun, we can safely conclude that religion X is not true because an entity who behaves in that way would not be God - since it would not be morally perfect.

    This is a straw man.  See Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

    And if religion Y claimed that God created the universe just for the fun of watching the "show" of limited sentient beings struggling, killing or being killed, etc., and does not care at all who or what suffers as long as he has fun, we would be able to tell that such a religion is not true, since a morally perfect being would not do that.

    This is a straw man.  See Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven.

    Similarly, then, one can properly make a case against Christianity based on the actions of the biblical god, as described in the Bible.

    The closest you've come to doing this is to declare that according to the moral code of Angra Mainyu and some other people, the Bible's God is immoral.  I continue to find the argument of Jesus of Nazareth far more persuasive.

    I invite every reader to make the same comparison.  That is, Angra Mainyu or Jesus of Nazareth: whom do you regard as a greater authority on the subject of morality?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    With regard to your ongoing moral assessments of God based on some of His statements involving animals:

    I was not raised on a farm, but over the years I've picked up enough knowledge to consider your view of animal rights one of recent vintage.  It seems to me, quite apart from ancient Israel or even any religious context at all, animals have been killed for various practical reasons, and reasons not dissimilar to those involved in the texts you've cited.  That is, a horse might be killed because it has a broken leg.  A cow might be killed if it was considered diseased.  A dog might be killed if it manifested rabies or otherwise demonstrated that it could be a hazard to human health.  While all the humans involved were saddened by such occasions, it's not apparent that such incidents spawned moral outrage – and certainly not the kind you are voicing.

    Once again, I think you are trying to impose 21-century urban sensibilities on people who lived in times when a local chapter of PETA was not always nearby.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Mike Gantt:  Your fundamental purpose in this conversation is to reverse the moral perception of someone you believe to be a fairy tale character, and you think I'm the one being absurd? 

    Angra Mainyu:  Yes, for the reasons I gave. 

    In fact, I destroyed that particular ad-hominem before, but I guess maybe you believe you can persuade people just by repeating the same thing over and over.

    I'm happy for people to make their own decision about whether your mission here is absurd or not.  In the meantime, I was not attacking you; I was merely pointing out the weirdness of your mission.  And just because you defended your mission, does not mean you did so successfully.  Furthermore, if you accuse someone of being absurd (as you did me) you should not be shocked if your own pitard is brought out to see if you've hoisted yourself upon it.

    But what if many people believed that Palpatine was both real and morally good, and they based some of his own, real-life decisions on those moral beliefs?  What if all of your attempts to persuade them that Palpatine does not exist had already failed, despite the fact that you've spent many years trying?  What if you had concluded that they are well beyond your capability for persuasion?

    I'd begin to wonder if I was the one mistaken.  Do you ever ask yourself such questions, or do you think you are infallible on these questions?

    I'm kind of in that situation, so I don't try to persuade Christians anymore, but only attempt to help reduce the damage they make by trying to persuade fencesitters, so that they won't become Christians, and – perhaps -, so that they will be more motivated to try and persuade others.  Also, I try to help indirectly – within the limited time I've got for this -, by means of giving arguments to other non-theists, if I can.  Why do I use the tactic of making a moral case, instead of a case against existence?  Actually, I've used a combination of different tactics, including arguments against existence. I prefer not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak – I try different alternatives. 

    However, in my assessment, if people believe that an entity worshiped by some people is morally good, they're on average more likely to irrationally come to believe that said entity exists than if they believe the the entity in question is not morally good.  I suppose my assessment might be mistaken – I have no hard data.  But then again, I have no hard data anyway, and I have to make a choice as to how to allocate my time to defending different arguments – as in the case of everyone else, there's only one of me and my time is limited. 
    So, my assessment is as I mentioned above, and so it seems that a moral case is a reasonable course of action. 

    So, you are very much like an evangelical Christian.  That is, you believe you possess truth.  You see others who do not possess it and you are determined to give them the truth that you have.  Success is getting others to see truth as you see it.  That is your mission.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    Will you ever stop falsely accusing me of perverting and/or misrepresenting lines? 

    When you stop falsely accusing Jesus Christ of being evil and doing evil, and when you stop perverting and misrepresenting lines from the Bible, then you might…might…have some basis for the kind of moral indignation you are expressing.

    Of course, anyone who is being rational should see your double standards when you have no problem in making the assessment that a creator who behaves in a way you don't believe the biblical god behaves is morally evil in some cases (e.g., Hell, rape of children), but on the other hand, you accuse me of somehow arrogating some "authority" because I maintain that the creator who claims – for instance – that if the daughter of a priest in ancient Israel becomes a prostitute, she deserves to be burned to death, and commands that she be burned to death, etc., is also not morally good, but evil. 

    Your anachronistic morality is on display yet again.  You refuse to distinguish between societal practices and taboos of one age and another.

    As for your arrogation of the right to condemn God, that is not a fact in dispute between us.

     

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    No, it's not a matter of numbers; it's a matter of that view being rejected by those who aren't assuming their religion first.   My point is not to say that the majority is right, but that those who are being rational are. 

    Your approach still comes back to numbers.  You are simply excluding those who look to an  additional source for morality beyond their own conscience.  But whether you exclude them or include them, you are still counting noses.  Not that the exact count matters to you – just so there's enough to create and  "us-them."

    You are also off-base in that you ascribe irrationality to anyone who consults a source beyond himself for moral questions.  You may not seek to be informed of morality from any other source, but to say that anyone who does is doing so for motivations that are not rational is…well, not rational.

    The whole point of asking you to think as if you were still an agnostic was to tell you not to be irrational placing your religion first

    To consider the thoughts of someone more moral than me, that I might include them in my  own moral deliberation about an issue is hardly irrational.  You seem to think that anyone who is not an atheist is irrational.  Is that rational?

    1) It's not an assumption.  I already showed that the procedure that you're using is irrational. That you won't realize is beside the point.

    To rationally appeal to a rational source is not rational?

    2) This isn't like the arguments you had with your wife, because in that case, there was no audience, so you were trying to persuade each other.

    She was the audience for me and I was the audience for her.  To have added in observers wouldn't have changed the dynamic I was describing.

    I know I cannot persuade you that the biblical god is evil, or that you're not being rational – you're being religious.

    Oh, I get it now: If I don't agree with you, that means I'm being irrational.  Why didn't you say so?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    Then you should ask yourself why you beseeched your readers to let you know if they preferred another version.

    Your ad-hominem is out of place.
    I have no problem discussing another version. I just prefer to use that one (or any other one that is in the public domain where I live, and in the US, and in most of the world).
    If you or someone else uses another one, that's not a problem. Or are you suggesting that the choice of version has somehow misrepresented any of the actions?

    Mike Gantt
    The Mosaic Code did not evolve with the Hebrew people.  That is, it was not the aggregation of laws they themselves or their leaders had decided upon over time.  Rather, it was presented to them in toto as a completely new civil code to which they would thereafter be subject. The Hebrews often said Moses or God were bringing hardship on them, but they never said it with respect to this law. They, in effect, took a marriage vow to it with full understanding of what they were doing.  Truly, the Hebrew experience was unique in this regard.

    That's not true, but we can assume it for the sake of the argument, as we can assume the same in the case of the Aztecs, or Sharia Law, or any tribal law. That does not make a difference.

    Mike Gantt
    For example, if you brought a person to me who was guilty of a capital offense under the Mosaic Code and asked if I thought the Mosaic sentence should be imposed, I would say no.      The Mosaic Code is entirely out of place for us.  However, the answer would probably have been different had you asked me in 1500 BC and I was a Hebrew.  And, of course, if you had been a Hebrew, you probably wouldn't have asked the question in the first place.  Had you been a non-Hebrew contemporary, you might have asked it differently.  Context matters.

    It matters in that their answers would have been mistaken. If you ask someone who carried out an "honor killing", many of them will tell you that their actions are okay. For that matter, they could say that their context is different – they don't live in your society.
    Mike Gantt
    With regard to your cases, you are consistently lifting them out of their biblical context and placing them in ours.  This obscures very important distinctions and misrepresents reality.

    That is false. I'm asking readers to assess the actions of many people in their context, which may be the past, or today's Saudi Arabia. Social context changes not only with time, but also from place to place.

    But regardless, as I explained, your objection is like a nuclear bomb against moral arguments (or it would be, if you were to follow it to its consequences).

    Mike Gantt
    Anachronisms in moral assessments lead to false assessments, and this logical error is embedded in all your argumentation.

    That's not a logical error, and it's not embedded in anything. Again, the one carrying out honor killings, the Aztec, etc., can all claim context for that matter.
    On the contrary, I'm considering precisely context when I point out that the people who are being punished do not deserve so – I'm explaining, for instance, why they're being punished.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    A person today may say, "Slavery is inherently evil and I would never have supported it."  

    I'm not even talking about slavery. I'm talking about, say, burning a woman to death for prostitution, if she was the daughter of a priest.
    Mike Gantt
    Therefore, do I think the Mosaic Code including its provisions for capital punishment were appropriate to their limited time, place, and purpose?  Yes.

    So, in particular, you believe that, in ancient Israel:
    a) If a man marries two women, and they're mother and daughter, then the three of them deserve to be burned to death.
    b) If a woman has premarital sex, she deserves to be stoned to death – at least, if she then marries someone who does not know it.
    c) If a woman is the daughter of a priest and she is also a prostitute, she deserves to be burned to death.
    d) If a woman is betrothed to a man, but has sex with another man, then she and her lover deserve to be stoned to death.
    e) If a woman has sex with a non-human animal, both the woman and the non-human animal deserve to be killed.
    And why do you believe that?
    Mike Gantt
    The stoning aspect I dealt with in part when I wrote about anachronistic moral assessments.  Let me deal here, however, specifically with the immorality of premarital sex.

    It's beside the point. Even if premarital sex was immoral, she did not deserve to be STONED TO DEATH!!! for that.

    Mike Gantt
    This is a straw man.   See Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

    No, your reply is the straw man. I'm not saying that your particular religion says so. I'm providing examples, showing that one can use one's sense of right and wrong to assess whether a religion is true.

    You're being irrational, as explained.

    Mike Gantt
    This is a straw man.  See Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven.

    No, that's another strawman from you.

    I'm not saying that your particular religion says so. I'm providing examples, showing that one can use one's sense of right and wrong to assess whether a religion is true.

    Mike Gantt
    The closest you've come to doing this is to declare that according to the moral code of Angra Mainyu and some other people, the Bible's God is immoral.  I continue to find the argument of Jesus of Nazareth far more persuasive.

    No, I've made a case appealing to people's sense of right and wrong, and showed why your appeal to Jesus or to the Bible to defend the biblical god is irrational.
    Mike Gantt
    I invite every reader to make the same comparison.  That is, Angra Mainyu or Jesus of Nazareth: whom do you regard as a greater authority on the subject of morality?

    The whole "authority" thing is a strawman; also, my moral character is not the point.
    I invite the reader to make a moral assessment of the actions of the biblical god, like burning a woman to death for being the daughter of one of his priests and a prostitute.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    I'm happy for people to make their own decision about whether your mission here is absurd or not.  In the meantime, I was not attacking you; I was merely pointing out the weirdness of your mission.  And just because you defended your mission, does not mean you did so successfully.  Furthermore, if you accuse someone of being absurd (as you did me) you should not be shocked if your own pitard is brought out to see if you've hoisted yourself upon it.

    But you are being irrational, whereas I'm not.
    If readers take a careful look at the exchange, they will probably realize that unless, perhaps, their religion gets in the way of their reason.

    Mike Gantt
    So, you are very much like an evangelical Christian.  That is, you believe you possess truth.  You see others who do not possess it and you are determined to give them the truth that you have.  Success is getting others to see truth as you see it.  That is your mission.

    You mean, I'm like everyone making an argument honestly.
    Because anyone who honestly tries to persuade others of anything believes that he or she has true beliefs about the matter.
    What's interesting is your irrationality here. Of course, you too believe that you "possess truth", when you claim that – for instance – there is an afterlife, everyone goes to heaven, etc. You're mistaken, but you don't believe you are. You believe you have the truth, and so does anyone who is not being dishonest when they try to convince others.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    See, now you're relying on their intuitions. Majority rules?

    If you'd properly read what I wrote, you'd know that I was making the opposite point.

    But seriously, of course your intuitions may be good, but you're not using them here. You irrationally place your religion over them.

    I wasn't arguing that my moral intuitions were good; I was arguing that they are, when left to themselves, inadequate.

    And how do you conclude that?  Surely not by using your intuitions, but rather claiming that we don't have "authority" to make a moral assessment of the creator.

    You misunderstand me.  I do indeed use my conscience to make a moral assessment of Jesus Christ.  And by that assessment, He is clearly my moral superior.  I read the things He said and did in the New Testament – especially how He handled the rejection that came at the peak and end of His life, and I am awestruck with His morality.  To say that I would have buckled under the pressure He withstood is putting it mildly.

    My objection to you is not that you make a moral assessment of God but that you assess Him to be less moral than yourself.  If you add 2 + 2 and tell me it equals 3, I don't fault you for adding the numbers; I fault you for getting the wrong sum.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Let's consider the
    social context objection once more.

    This kind of objection could be raised pretty much against any moral argument when the person making the assessment is not in the social context in which the events take place, and the people in the given context disagree. The ancient Hebrews are no exception in that regard.
    It's not generally a good objection, and it fails in this case too.
    But let's consider a few cases to see why:
    It is clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally that, say, people who stop believing that Islam is true do not deserve to be decapitated for that.
    It appears that it's not at all apparent to many people in places such as Saudi Arabia, including those making the laws.
    So, many, perhaps most living in that context fail to see it.
    Perhaps, that's because some beliefs to which they have strong emotional attachments get in the way, and/or they haven't even considered the matter – it depends on the person -, but it is clear that people who leave Islam do not deserve to be killed for that even in the social contexts in which they're killed for that – and we don't need to be part of that context to make that assessment.
    It is clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally that, say, a woman who has sex before getting married, or who refuses to marry a person chosen by her father, does not deserve to be killed for that, or to have her face disfigured with acid for that, even if the acid attack happens in a social context in which such acid attacks are common, and even if they are believed to be morally right by most of the people living in those social groups.
    However, many people around the world fail to realize that.
    It is clear that a human woman who has sex before marriage – today or in ancient Israel, or in any other society – does not deserve to be stoned to death for that.
    Well, it's clear to a human being who is contemplating the matter carefully and rationally.
    It was not clear to ancient Hebrew lawmakers, and perhaps to most of the ancient Hebrews, and also to many other people in the past, in different societies.
    Generally, people who live in brutal social environments usually do not dedicate time to ponder whether their laws are just, and when they do, they usually do so looking to the tainted lens of false beliefs that they're emotionally attached to, and/or otherwise irrationally.
    There are of course, exceptions, which contributes to moral progress.
    Also, progress in living conditions results in more people assessing these matters rationally, and not make up or approve of laws that are as immoral as the ones under consideration. That also contributes to moral progress.
    Now, let's assess the claim:
    P: An ancient Hebrew woman who had sex before marriage and then married someone who did not know that she was not a virgin, deserved to be stoned to death.
    It should be obvious that the claim is not true, and that stoning her was immoral.
    Readers of course can use their own sense of right and wrong to make an assessment.
    That is rational.
    So, I'm making a moral case in the sense people usually make moral arguments – at least, when they're being rational about it.
    If a reader truly has the moral intuition that a woman who lived in ancient Israel and who had sex before marriage and then married someone who did not know deserved to be stoned to death, I guess I will not persuade that person – at least, not with this particular example.
    As before, I would only ask readers to please use their own sense of right and wrong to assess the matter, rather than, say, assume that the biblical god is morally good, or that Jesus is, and that Jesus approved, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    It matters in that their answers would have been mistaken. If you ask someone who carried out an "honor killing", many of them will tell you that their actions are okay. For that matter, they could say that their context is different – they don't live in your society.

    You are telling me that sex outside of marriage is moral and that God is immoral and you live in my society, so I am well acquainted with people who call immorality moral.

    Social context changes not only with time, but also from place to place.

    On that we can agree.  This is one of the points I've been trying to make to you.

    Again, the one carrying out honor killings, the Aztec, etc., can all claim context for that matter. 

    No one claims context who's in the context.  They just claim to be right.  As you are doing.

    On the contrary, I'm considering precisely context when I point out that the people who are being punished do not deserve so – I'm explaining, for instance, why they're being punished. 

    You're like the person who can't find his contact lens because he's wearing them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    When you stop falsely accusing Jesus Christ of being evil and doing evil, and when you stop perverting and misrepresenting lines from the Bible, then you might…might…have some basis for the kind of moral indignation you are expressing.

    I accuse the biblical god of being evil, but I give reasons for that – well, he is evil – , and I do not misrepresent any lines from the Bible at all.

    You, on the other hand, continuously make obviously false claims about me and about what I do, like the false claim that I misrepresent lines from the Bible.

    Mike Gantt
    Your anachronistic morality is on display yet again.  You refuse to distinguish between societal practices and taboos of one age and another.

    False; I've already explained this in the immediately previous post, so I'll leave it at that.

    Mike Gantt
    As for your arrogation of the right to condemn God, that is not a fact in dispute between us.

    The use of the expression "arrogation of the right to condemn God" is part of your irrational behavior here. I'm just assessing that the biblical god is immoral, as explained.

    If someone claims that religion X is true, and religion X claims that God tortures everyone else for eternity just for fun, we can safely conclude that religion X is not true because an entity who behaves in that way would not be God - since it would not be morally perfect.
    And if religion Y claimed that God created the universe just for the fun of watching the "show" of limited sentient beings struggling, killing or being killed, etc., and does not care at all who or what suffers as long as he has fun, we would be able to tell that such a religion is not true, since a morally perfect being would not do that.
    Similarly, then, one can properly make a case against Christianity based on the actions of the biblical god, as described in the Bible.
    Of course, the biblical god does not torture everyone for eternity for fun – that would make the case too easy -, but that does not prevent us to assess his actions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    With regard to your ongoing moral assessments of God based on some of His statements involving animals:

    I was not raised on a farm, but over the years I've picked up enough knowledge to consider your view of animal rights one of recent vintage.  It seems to me, quite apart from ancient Israel or even any religious context at all, animals have been killed for various practical reasons, and reasons not dissimilar to those involved in the texts you've cited.  That is, a horse might be killed because it has a broken leg.  A cow might be killed if it was considered diseased.  A dog might be killed if it manifested rabies or otherwise demonstrated that it could be a hazard to human health.  While all the humans involved were saddened by such occasions, it's not apparent that such incidents spawned moral outrage – and certainly not the kind you are voicing.

    Once again, I think you are trying to impose 21-century urban sensibilities on people who lived in times when a local chapter of PETA was not always nearby.
    I'm no fan of PETA, and I'm not saying that it was immoral to kill some non-human animals because they were dangerous. My point is that the biblical god was making false moral claims or implications by claiming or implying that said animals deserved to be killed for their actions, which is not true given that they were not moral agents.

    Moreover, stoning an ox to death is immoral, even when killing him would not be so. The killing did not have to be by torturing him to death with stones.
    As for moral outraged, actually they were morally outraged at the actions of the ox!!. Their moral outrage was, of course, completely out of place. The ox was not guilty of any moral transgressions, because the ox is just an ox.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    I'm not even talking about slavery…

    I am only permitted to use metaphors or examples which you have first used?

    It's beside the point. Even if premarital sex was immoral, she did not deserve to be STONED TO DEATH!!! for that.

    Anachronistic judgment – as well as an emotional, that is, non-rational appeal.  You probably don't think horse thieves in the American wild west should have been hanged, but does that make you more moral than folks who lived in that time and place?

    No, I've made a case appealing to people's sense of right and wrong, and showed why your appeal to Jesus or to the Bible to defend the biblical god is irrational.

    You are appealing to people whose moral sensibilities are similar to your own ("fencesitters" as you call them).  To appeal to your own conscience is therefore to appeal to theirs.  By labeling anyone who disagrees with your moral sensibilities as "irrational" you emotionally boost your case.

    The whole "authority" thing is a strawman; also, my moral character is not the point.  I invite the reader to make a moral assessment of the actions of the biblical god, like burning a woman to death for being the daughter of one of his priests and a prostitute. 

    Proof once again that you invite them to do so absent the proper context of these words.

    You keep saying your moral character is not the point, but by your position you are positioning yourself in contradiction to Jesus of Nazareth.  Therefore, like it or not, you have invited the comparison.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    But you are being irrational, whereas I'm not.  If readers take a careful look at the exchange, they will probably realize that unless, perhaps, their religion gets in the way of their reason. 

    It was my reason that led me to Jesus Christ…and my reason that keeps me there.

    You mean, I'm like everyone making an argument honestly. 

    I wasn't ascribing wrongdoing to you for this.  I just wondered if you saw the similarity.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    One of the fallacies in your non-contextual assessment of the morality of the Mosaic Code is your unspoken assumption that sexual licentiousness was as prevalent among the Hebrews under Moses' leadership as it is today.  Fortunately, it was not.  In any case, there is no record in the Bible of any stoning ever being executed for a sexual offense.  Your omission of this relevant fact speaks to the biased case you seek to present your readers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    Angra Mainyu,

    You've reached a point where you are mainly repeating yourself, so I don't see the value in repeating my objections.

    Merry Christmas.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt
    You misunderstand me.  I do indeed use my conscience to make a moral assessment of Jesus Christ.  And by that assessment, He is clearly my moral superior.  I read the things He said and did in the New Testament – especially how He handled the rejection that came at the peak and end of His life, and I am awestruck with His morality.  To say that I would have buckled under the pressure He withstood is putting it mildly.

    My objection to you is not that you make a moral assessment of God but that you assess Him to be less moral than yourself.  If you add 2 + 2 and tell me it equals 3, I don't fault you for adding the numbers; I fault you for getting the wrong sum.
    By assessing the actions of someone who, say, burns a woman to death (even if by proxy) if she's a prostitute and the daughter of one of his priests, of course I conclude he's evil.

    As for Jesus, again, if he's the biblical god, he's very evil. Else, he's a cult leader who told people to hate their families.

    But all that aside, any assessment of my moral character is beside the point. The point is the moral character of the biblical god.

    Mike Gantt
    You are telling me that sex outside of marriage is moral and that God is immoral and you live in my society, so I am well acquainted with people who call immorality moral.

    No, I'm not telling you that.
    If you ask me, sex outside marriage is sometimes immoral (e.g., in most cases of cheating), and in other cases not immoral.
    But what is very immoral is to stone a woman to death for having sex outside marriage and then marrying someone who does not know. And that was also very immoral in ancient Israel, just like it's immoral in tribal areas of Afghanistan to kill a woman for doing just that.
    Mike Gantt
    No one claims context who's in the context.  They just claim to be right.  As you are doing.

    Of course people who are in the context claim context. And so do you.

    Mike Gantt
    You're like the person who can't find his contact lens because he's wearing them.

    Irony meter off the scale.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Regarding the "anachronistic" charge, I already dealt with that. Also, there is no emotional appeal: I'm asking people to use their sense of right and wrong.

    I'm pointing out what the action is, because you seem to miss it.

    As for the claim that I "invited the comparison", well I'm not a monster like the biblical god, but that's not the point either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Mike Gantt

    I'm repeating the refutations of your objections because you're repeating objections I've already refuted.

    You've been doing so for many days.

    If you're actually planning to stop, okay, no objections from me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    If you have anything new to say, I will respond.

    In the meantime, Christ Jesus lives – and how happy I am that He does.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    All — I'd like to propose that comments for this post be closed. The comments have been irrelevant to the actual content of the post for some time and the comments on this post have become repetitive. Any objections?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    Not from me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00053915240281421992 Mike Gantt

    While I object to part of the characterization ("irrelevant to the actual content of the post"), I don't object to the proposal. Thanks for asking (you didn't have to, but it was a nice courtesy).


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