Do Atheists Get Their Morals From the Bible?

bible2Did you know that atheists on this site get their morals from the Bible? That’s what Cory Tucholski of “Josiah Concept Ministries” says when talking about the recent lying for Jesus debacle.

Atheists Without Moral Foundations

Cory agrees that Pastor Chris did something wrong when he impersonated atheists, but he also agrees with Pastor Chris’s original point that atheists have no morals. Cory gives advice to Christians about the right away to show atheists the error of their ways:

What he should have done was to engage the issue intellectually. He should have logically demonstrated what we theists have always known: atheists have no foundation for morals, so they borrow morals from the Judeo-Christian worldview and declare that those are the morals that society has “evolved” with. Without God, life has no transcendent value and therefore things like “good” and “evil,” “right” and “wrong” have only what value we humans assign to them. Wrong and right become a matter of opinion in the atheistic worldview.

I’m all for believers engaging us intellectually. It rarely happens, but I must say I am in favor of it.

I find it ironic that Cory accuses atheists of “borrowing morals” — does he really think that Judeo-Christian morals are completely original? That they were not influenced by cultures like the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians?

The 15 Commandments

So what do we do without a foundation of morals?

Well, they create the New Ten Commandments, of Which There are now 15 (listed on p. 263-264 of The God Delusion).

Wait, what? We created the new 10 — nay, 15, Commandments?! I wasn’t invited to that committee. And I didn’t even get a memo that it happened. Shucks.

But even more shockingly, it ends up these mysterious 15 Commandments are actually based on the Bible! And that’s how we knew what Pastor Chis did was wrong!

This is how Daniel Florien and his readers knew what Pastor Chris did was wrong. They knew it was wrong because the Bible said that it was wrong, and that means that they get their morals from the same place as Christians.

I’ve studied the Bible quite a bit, and it never says it’s forbidden for pastors to pose as atheists on the internet. So how did I base my moral judgement of this on the Bible?

Let’s Be Biblical

According to Cory, we’re all biblicists and get our morals from the Bible. So, anyone up for slaughtering some innocent children and women, selling our daughters into sexual slavery (Ex 21:7-11), stoning homosexuals (Lev 20:13), disobedient children (Lev 20:9), adulterers (Lev 20:10), non-virgin brides (Deut 22:20-21), Sabbath breakers (Ex 31:12-15) and practicing some polygamy (Ex 21:10)?

Oh, right, that’s the “Old” Testament — only Jews have to do that stuff (unless it’s stoning homosexuals). So how about we gouge out our eyes (Matt 18:9), hate our families for Jesus (Luke 14:26), sell everything we have and give it to the poor (Mark 10:21), and by the way — give me $10,000, your car, and your house because I asked for it (Matt 5:42).

No? Why not? God commands those sorts of things in the Bible! You must obey His Holy Word! These moral teachings are absolute — plus, every time you disobey, Jesus weeps!

My Morality Isn’t From The Bible

I can’t speak for everyone here, but I don’t get my morals from the Bible. It has good moral teachings and it has bad ones — just like most holy books. I’m a free thinker, which means I’m not bound to a book.

I get my morals from myself and my society. I treat others like I want to be treated, because that’s how I want others to treat me. I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from. I don’t murder because I don’t particularly want to be murdered. And so on.

Morality has nothing to do with the Bible. It has to do with reason. If we abandon our reason, then we have to rely on someone else’s opinion — but then how are we to choose which opinion is the right one? Why choose the morals of the Bible over the Quran, the Vedas, or the Iliad?

As for myself, I choose none of them. They are not the source of morality — we are.

  • Sock

    Don’t forget. There are many, many, MANY atheists who have never read the Bible.

    I’m one of them! Hiya! I have started reading it, but so-and-so-begot-so-and-so gets so tiresome that I just end up coming to UF and enjoy a discussion with some of the folks here.

    That said. I don’t steal, murder, lie, cheat, or anything else. I don’t even have any -desire- to do any of those things. How can you say that I learned my way of life from the Bible when I’ve never read it? Nor was I ever taught it? Nor have I (really) had any introduction to any form of religious teaching? All I have is the gist of religion that can be encountered in every day secular America.

    • B-Girl

      I’m right with you on this, Sock. I have never read a bible, never had any religious education, only attended church a few times with friends (and didn’t pay attention while I was there – so boring!) and come from a family that didn’t even pray before meals. How would my morals come from the bible? And if my morals come from the bible, then the bible must say that gay marriage is okay, sex between non-married people is okay (heck, it must say all couples should have sex before marriage to ensure sexual compatibility), and men and women should have the same rights. I’m pretty sure all of those are actually forbidden by the bible.

  • wazza

    I get my morality from the Veil of Ignorance… I think about what I would like things to be like if I were given the chance to live life again, but with no idea what my station in life would be this time around, and then work to achieve that, from simple things like helping put the chain back on someone’s bike up to working for decent welfare and healthcare systems.

  • xian-x

    I thought the apostle Paul said we non-believers got our morality from nature (Romans 1:20).

  • http://hoofspot.blogspot.com Hoof

    How about that Confucius dude, he got his ideas from the Bible too? Before it was written?

    He had some usefull things to consider to, morality-wise.

  • http://www.adamus.nl Adamus

    Hmm, actually, getting our morals from the Iliad is not such a bad idea. Kidnapping royal daughters, impersonation, slaying your opponents in single combat, stealing their armor and desecrating their corpse… sounds pretty good to me.

  • Roger

    Tuchowski lost me with the “Defending God’s Word in a Scientifically-Minded Society.” Dudeski, if your imaginary sky-friend is so all powerful and what not, you’d think it wouldn’t be necessary for a puny human to defend it. And what’s a “scientifically-minded society”? Ooooh, science bad, superstitious woo good!

    It’s very interesting to me how Christians carp about their morals coming from a collection of writings that, at best, appear quite schizophrenic (and at worst, appear sadistic); perhaps it is that quality that allows for such an unreflective a la carte Christian morality (hey, we don’t like that OT stuff–lucky us, we’ve got Jesus and his TOTALLY better morality. Oh, but wait, we’re still clinging to the Well Over Ten Commandments…) Also, it takes quite a bit of ignorance to claim the Bible as THE source of morality (ignore Hammurabi’s Code, the existence of other religious traditions that codify similar moral precepts, etc.).

  • http://www.zeekeekee.wordpress.com isnessie

    I was born into, and grew up in the Hindhu religion and culture. My parents were chanting ‘no sex before marriage’, ‘do unto others as you would have done unto yourself’ long before I ever walked into a church, let alone read the Bible.

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    “I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from.”

    Daniel, isn’t this somehow dangerous?
    Many people end up stealing because they know they won’t be stolen from anyway (see politicians).

    Also, if we do derive our morals from our society, and our society is, or at least was, christian, we will indeed end up with a christian moral.
    Basing your moral on the others around doesn’t seem a good idea to me.

    For example, I see no problem with killing, since I don’t believe in an afterlife.
    But I don’t kill because killing causes suffering to the victim and those around.
    At the same time, I cannot stand that animals and other living beings are considered “inferior” to humans.
    This has christian religion among its sources and it’s widely accepted by most atheists and agnostics.

  • http://custador.wordpress.com/ custador

    I had this discussion with my g/f a few weeks ago (FYI, she’s about to graduate from St. John’s College, Oxford, with a degree in Human Sciences). Humans actually evolved to be philanthropic towards their immediate peers because it increases the chances of their shared genes being passed down to the next generation; we also evolved a natural aversion to things like murder and incest because of the unpleasant consequences of them. Society in general gets its morals from a combination of these factors and the prevailing moral zeitgeist at the time; the bible probably contributed largely to that once, but (certainly in Europe) doesn’t so much any more.

  • http://mycolleaguesareidiots.com/ Jason

    Hey Daniel,

    Can I just pull you up on one thing?

    “Pastor” Chris was not *impersonating* atheists. He was just engaging in sockpuppetry of a very unsophisticated and unsubtle stripe.

    To impersonate implies some kind of resemblance to actual character traits. His performance was too far fetched from reality to be good impersonation.

    I’m fully agreed that Cory’s thesis is absurd, however

  • Bender

    Christians always try to appropriate the concept of morality. That’s bullshit. Every human society before and after christianism has had some form of morality. Some norms inevitably vary, but things like not killing and not stealing are universal.
    Christians who claim morals derive from the bible are too stupid to realize that even right now, 70% of world’s population doesn’t believe in jesus, and they live in society with their own moral values that have nothing to do with christianism.

  • nitiniu

    Many animals seem to have morals, especially those primates that are equipped to form cultures. Our morals are probably *not* based on reason, but rather on what works — on natural selection. As social animals we depend on our group, and it is in our interest that the group survives. Therefore we are ready to defend it against threats and cooperate when hunting. We share food and territory.

    Many social animals also have a system for how to spread genes. Often it is the males that must one day leave the group and join another. These behaviors are ultimately favored by natural selection.

    As a child I got my morals from my atheist parents. When i grew a little older I started questioning everything, and indeed I don’t think that life has some transcendent meaning or value. The human value that I assign to life is the deepest respect and awe in the face of nature, and that is more than enough to keep me from raping or killing or stealing! I believe in egoism, but I believe we can all get more from life by cooperating, just as we have done before. I call this collective egoism.

    Furthermore it is curious that these Christians ignore the philosophical writings that existed before the tales of Moses. The golden rule is golden because it is exceedingly simple to understand, and because it occurs again and again in different cultures. It’s based on a very important brain function, empathy, which is useful for any social animal, and from there more advanced morals can be *reasoned* forth.

    Without your particular holy book, nobody would know how to behave? The nerve of some people.

  • Pastor Chad

    I regret that many people who label themselves Christian do such stupid things, and I include myself in this label. After all, who hasn’t. I definitely think that what Pastor Christ did was ingenuous, and wrong.

    I hate it that I am painted with the same brush as someone like that.

    I appreciate this discussion, and I agree, for the most part. The Bible is not the source of morality, it is not, after all a book of moral teachings primarily. Sure there are morals there, but it is really a record of how people have experienced God working in and through them. This means that there are many things which are cultural that are packed into it that we know and understand are not appropriate (there is a good list of them in the post).

    No, you do not need the Bible to be a good moral person, you do not need to be Christian either. In fact I have met many “better” people outside the faith than in it.

  • cello

    The non-believers that referenced the Bible in reference to Pastor Chris did so to show he wasn’t following the standards that he himself espoused. We were pointing out the irony in the situation. (Is it only me who finds literary critical thinking skills lacking in some of the Christians posting here?)

  • Anon

    I would like to offer a simple example of where an athiest can get moral advice… Buddha.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_precepts

    The above mentioned ethical suggestions were given well before Christ existed.

    Now where did Buddha get his sound moral judgement from? Simple observation. The same place science gets its understanding from. (Although in Buddhist circles, observation has less rigid requirements)

    To Christians: This isn’t a post about how all morality really came from the Buddha, but that ethical judgement can be viewed as a tool of sorts. It is a means to an end and not the end itself. It helps society grow and everyone live in freedom to pursue their life as they see fit. It works for everyone if followed with care.

    Anyone who is married can attest to the fact that there is definitely a “wrong” way to be right. ;-)

    One who is being ethical is never harsh in their speech, regardless of how correct their logical argument.

  • http://www.jesus21.com Miss Poppy Dixon

    I don’t murder because I don’t think I could live with myself if I did so. I don’t steal because I am able to supply myself with what I need or do without. It’s not so much the golden rule with me, but that my sense of self would be damaged if I did these things, and besides, I like people and don’t want to hurt them.

    No Bible stuff.

  • Barry

    Cory should have been a little more specific by saying that that atheists don’t have a transcendent foundation for morality. Hence subjectivity comes into play in the decision to find a foundation to base morality upon whether that’s empathy, survival, etc.

    Christian theology, especially natural theology, shows why atheists must have some form of morality and also why they may differ in certain respects. Atheists have morality because of imago dei but their moralities may differ because of sin or because general revelation isn’t specific in regards to all actions.

    C.S. Lewis alluded to this when discussing the is/ought problem. He reasons that all cultures agree that killing is wrong, but differ in regards to whom that prohibition extends to. We don’t kill our family, but we can kill someone from another tribe, state, or nation. Those boundaries are defined within our cultural settings but the principle that we shouldn’t just kill anyone we want is still there.

    I do agree that atheists at least in the western world “borrow” morality from the Judeo-Christian heritage in the sense that western atheists perceptions of what is moral probably differ on specifics from an atheist that has grown up in an eastern setting. I’m sure an atheists from a Buddhist country wouldn’t view the morality of natural rights in quite the same way that we do for example. In the West we have a much higher view of man than in many places and I think that comes naturally from the Christian tradition where usually ideas of karma or dharma are foreign.

  • http://mehbooks.wordpress.com/ Bissrok

    I don’t get that arguement. We follow the rules of the Bible, even though we don’t believe it or think there’ll be consequences from ignoring those rules?

    A lot of Christians just generally assume that all morality stems from the Bible, and I think this is just another case of that. Why aren’t atheists running around butchering children? The Bible! They secretly love it! Couldn’t be anything else. Lord knows no one thought of “not killing people” before that book.

    I absolutely do not get my morality from the Bible. One of the reasons I bother my friends about their religion so much is because the morality shown in the Bible is so abhorrent. So many people are slaughtered in such unjust ways, and all of my Christian friends defend it because it was done in the name of God. And these people say WE lack morals…

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I do not get my morality from the Bible.

    I believe that slavery is wrong.

    I believe that committing genocide is wrong.

    I believe that ordering someone else to commit genocide is wrong.

    I believe that telling someone else not to kill, and then ordering them to commit genocide is still wrong.

    I believe that demanding the sacrifice of one person’s life to atone for the sins of other people is wrong.

    I believe that the death penalty for sassing your parents is disproportionate, and therefore wrong.

    I believe that the death penalty for engaging in homosexual activity, or for working on the Sabbath, or for not believing in God, or for many other things, is wrong.

    I believe that beating your spouse is wrong.

    I believe that forgiving the debts of people who owe your employer money so that they will think well of you and possibly hire you after you are fired is not only wrong, it is probably also ineffective; because those people are not saying, “what a great guy, I should hire him,” they are instead saying, “some day, he’s going to be doing that to me.”

    I believe that mistreating a person in order to see how much they can withstand is wrong, and gambling on the outcome of it is also wrong.

    And so on.

  • Frank

    If we have an innate, biological sense of morality, then it goes something like this:
    1. Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate
    2. If provoked, the agent will retaliate
    3. The agent is quick to forgive
    4. The agent must have a good chance of competing against the opponent more than once.

    Those are the principles of TIT FOR TAT, a computer program which proved to be the optimum strategy for participation in a “game theory” scenario called “the prisoner’s dilemma”.

    Evolutionarily speaking, TIT FOR TAT is a successful model for operation in what we might call the “moral” sphere of operations, and is therefore the model of “morality” most likely to survive in a population, be that a population of people, plants, or fruit flies.

    (NOTE: Daniel seems to have followed the TIT FOR TAT model exactly in dealing with Pastor Chris, and other “problem” commenters, and it seems to have served him well)

    As “trolley problems” help show, there are other factors that affect any given ethical or moral situation, and some of these seem fairly well hard-wired as well, like inaction/action biases and often unhelpful reliance on “intuition” Other responses to ethical problems are the result of inculcation, or learning by rote, or being “programmed” by authority figures early on. Some of these are helpful, some of these are noble, but they are overlayed on top of basic patterns of response that are our instinctual birthright.

  • http://thebeattitude.com theBEattitude

    Basic moral behavior is common sense.

    Our system of law holds more moral teaching than a primitive book. Any policeman can tell you: Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, and don’t kill. The rest of the Ten Commandments are simply orders from an imaginary jealous god reminding you to love him or else. Not moral teaching.

  • The Medium Lebowsky

    I just posted this on his blog:

    Oh dear, oh dear.

    We get our morality from the bible? Really? Funny then how I lost my religion early on in life after being appalled and disgusted by bible-god. Everything he does is morally obscene. For example, due to anger management issues he not only throws Adam & Eve out of the garden, but he places the eternal Curse of Original Sin on all humanity thereafter. This curse then sets him up to be the hero who “saves” us from his wrath. This sounds a lot like the arsonist who starts a fire and then reports it in order to admired by the public.

    Can you imagine anyone today punishing someone for something done 2 or 3 thousand years ago? Then there’s the alleged flood. It’s the first holocaust. Yaye, bible-god! Then there’s the infinite punishment for finite transgressions thing. In contrast humans mete out punishment commensurate with the “crime.”

    I could go on with countless examples of the moral repugnance of bible-god, but I will stop with the sacrifice of his son in a gruesome blood sacrifice to himself. Was there not a better solution to the disasters in his creation than this?

    Bottom line, bible-god is a hapless screw-up with a violent temper and the last deity in the universe you should turn to for moral guidance.

  • pgs

    When Christians say such things, they are only making obvious their own ignorance of the Bible (specifically Romans 2:14-15), and should be taken to task for it.

  • John B

    “Why choose the morals of the Bible over the Quran, the Vedas, or the Iliad?”

    Even if you go ahead and pick the Bible as your source of morality, Christians themselves can’t agree on what exactly it says is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, anyway. They make it sound like there’s no room for interpretation at all and the Bible is just a simple list of moral do’s and don’t’s and everyone can agree on what they say even if they don’t believe in following them.Take the death penalty, for example. The legal killing another person is a serious matter of morality, not something to be taken lightly in a modern, civilized society, right? But I’ve heard some Christians say that that they’re *for* it, because of their faith, and I’ve heard others say that they’re *against* it, because of their faith; because of what they read in the Bible.
    I couldn’t agree with you more, Daniel- “[holy books] are not the source of morality — we are.

  • http://www.muckmakers.com Ian

    Jesus is nothing more than a (relatively) modern knock-off of the Egyptian god Horus.

    They can’t even fabricate an original savior, let alone an original code of moral behavior.

  • Shelly

    Imago dei? I think not. We learn morals from kindergarten-Don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t hit, don’t bite, tidy up after yourself, don’t color outside the lines, talk one at a time, etc. We follow rules from parents and family as children, but as we mature hopefully we learn to comprehend that unacceptable actions have deleterious consequences and positive actions have benefits.

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Mike Caton

    People forget there’s a rest of the world in which to test these questions. My wife is from Japan. About 1% of Japan is Christian. She is not one of that 1%. She’s not even Buddhist. She’s an atheist. Yet she is moral. Have Christian morals somehow been broadcast silently through the air in Japan and landed in her brain? Or, is it just a matter of time before she murders me in my sleep and makes off with my money?

    What about the billions of other people all over the world whose exposure to Christianity is zero or near zero, and yet are moral people?

    Even social non-human animals (like dogs) seem to have a morality. Are they influenced by Christians?

    I sincerely applaud Cory for asking this question in an open forum and being accountable to his arguments, but I think in this case he has a lot of explaining to do.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    You raise an interesting point Shelly: Jesus never mentioned biting. So is it okay for me to bite, say, my landlord because He didn’t cover that?

    Not that that’s happened and I need a plausible defence to use in the lawsuit or anything …

  • http://luckyatheist.blogspot.com Mike Caton

    It’s also underappreciated that there are differing versions of the Ten Commandments depending on the branch of Christianity one practices, as well as that most Christians can’t name the Ten Commandments if asked. Yet I don’t doubt that most of those Christians are good people, but I wonder if Cory would.

  • Michael

    Again with the ‘getting morals from the Bible’ kind of talk. Again, Christians don’t believe we get our morals from the Bible. But generally speaking, without the divine, morality is merely subjective – or an opinion. Whether such a notion is good or bad is another topic altogether.

    If someone told me that I got my morals from the bible, I would be indignant too – but this is not the Christian worldview.

  • claidheamh mor

    Christians seem mentally tiny and limited to me. I even think that perhaps, Christianity appeals to the unintelligent and narrow-minded.

    They seem to think that their belief has some appeal to anyone who has had any kind of hard time in life: for only one example, I posted about being a child victim of a bad marriage, and The Lying Pastor came on to me (just before he started lying), saying, “come over to our side”. The concept and fact that many of us (meaning posters on this blog) have BEEN Christian, and that belief system failed the tests of use, failed examination. It failed to make morality, happiness, a good life, an explanation of the universe, and it has clearly failed to make good people. By its fruits you shall know it, and Christianity’s fruits (results) are a mal-effect on people.

    The things others mentioned here seem true to me: They have such a weak god that they must jump to his defense. God is always a “he”, though they never pulled up his robe and looked. More of the christian posts are unlettered, unread, even illiterate. Many are hostile. Christians here are passive-aggressive and liars – they say, “Not to be rude, but…” and then proceed to be sneakily, subject-changing, fact-avoiding, excuse-making, name-calling, underhandedly, cattily, first-grader-style rude.

    And they are totally incapable of even the tiniest comprehension of Buddhist morals, Hindu morals, and especially atheist morals. They and their belief system are utterly incapable of conceiving of innate ethics. They have a stake in preventing people from believing in that; with innate ethics you would not need church, saving, redeeming, external authority, or the Christian God.

    I find Christians’ assumptions insultingly stupid, ignorant, and narrow-minded. I find the Christians posting here to be less moral (ethical) than the non-Christians.

    — and the irony…. it burrrrnnnnsss.

  • carrotplease

    I am likely preaching to the choir, but on the subject of where morality “comes from,” there is an excellent episode of Radio Lab on the subject. You can find it on their podcast page :)

  • Janelle

    So we all disagree that atheists get their morals from the bible. But what this discussion is lacking, is an explanation of where atheists (and others for that matter, whether they realize it or not) DO get their morals from.

    Morality is an evolved trait. Humans are social creatures, as we are physically weak but highly intelligent. As such, a tribe of humans can band together for strength in numbers, but humans who wander off by themselves get quickly picked off by predators.

    Because of this, we have evolved to interact well with others. We crave social contact, we thrive when included in social groups and we deteriorate when isolated. Those who showed anti-social behaviors found themselves banished from the tribe and thus isolated, and they did not survive. Those who showed characteristics that were advantageous to living in close proximity to others, would survive and thrive in a tribe, and thus got to pass on their genes to future generations.

    Traits like empathy, concern for the well-being of others, etc, were essential for living in social groups. An every-man-for-himself approach quickly makes everyone dead, or at least as far away from each other as possible, and thus dead soon enough.

    So, morality is an evolved characteristic enabling humans to band together in social groups and thus survive. Since atheists evolved in the exact same way that christians did, our moral instincts and benevolent traits are every bit as strong as any christian’s.

    I admit…I posted a version of this as a comment before…but it seems even more relevant to this discussion.

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com lauradee24

    Biblical morals are ALWAYS interpreted according to the current zeitgeist, so society makes the rules anyways. When it was popular for women to stay at home and serve their husbands, people yelled about submission. When slavery was cool, it was cool with the Bible too. Now fundamentalists are all about homophobia based on the Bible while many of the liberal Christians are pro-homosexuals based on, you guessed it, the Bible.

    So nobody gets absolute morals from the Bible apart from what any common sense society would view as moral anyways (ie, don’t steal, murder, etc). They just think they do.

  • Feshy

    I’ll take it a step farther. Most Christians derive their morals (or many of them) from secular society. Some things we think are moral and good that don’t come from the bible:

    No Slavery (bible implicitly endorses it)
    Free Speech (runs contrary to many biblical themes)
    Trial by jury (not mentioned)
    Rape is bad (runs contradictory to the few biblical examples)
    Equal rights for women (contradicted by the bible)
    Genocide isn’t cool (Tell that to the Canaanites)
    Freedom of religion (we sure didn’t get this from “No Gods before me”)
    Innocent until proven guilty (necessitating more than one accuser doesn’t count.)
    The right to vote for everyone of age (no voting in the bible, of course.)
    Child and spousal abuse is bad (as opposed to just “respect your parents/obey your husband” even in the face of abuse)

    Most Americans at least believe most of these to be good and moral positions, but they certainly weren’t derived from the bible. Several in fact run contradictory to traditional biblical teachings. So it’s clear that not only do most Christians not believe atheists derive their morals from the bible, but most themselves do not do so (at least exclusively.)

    Of course, there are at least some biblical positions on morality that many atheists agree with. You will find nearly universally though that they don’t believe them because they are in the bible, but for other reasons. (It doesn’t help the biblical case any that the majority of those universal morals pre-date the bible by a good long time.)

  • Pingback: The Source of Morality | Reality Hackers Net

  • professoryackle

    Cory agrees that Pastor Chris did something wrong when he impersonated atheists, but he also agrees with Pastor Chris’s original point that atheists have no morals.

    At a risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, that’s rich, Pastor Chris claiming atheists have no morals. Whether we borrow them or not, it’s a damn good thing we didn’t borrow his, huh?

    I’m sorry. Daniel made his point much more eloquently than I have. But this whole holier-than-thou stance from xians makes my blood boil.

  • cello

    Friendly Atheist just put up a post on how Christian missionaries are lying about native Brazlians – saying they bury handicapped babies alive to get rid of them.

    There are plenty of historical examples of Christian missionaries lying about other cultures to justify their exploitation of native populations. I don’t really think this is justified behavior a la the Bible but it does demonstrate the cultural imperialism present in Western thought over the past centuries. We *assume* we are better than other cultures but often we flat out lied about them to support our own preconceived notions.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    This one blows me away. Anybody who observes the world must realize that there are millions of “moral” people who don’t base that morality on the bible. There are whole countries of non christian people who make good healthy choices for themselves and the culture they live in without any thought of the bible.

    You can disagree with me on whether the bible provides a better moral code than mine, but surely you must realize that my moral code soes not come form the bible.

  • Maupassant

    So basically Cory is claiming morals as the “intellectual property” of Christians.

    If/when ACTA (Anti-Counterfitting Trade Agreement) is passed, will we be searched at the borders so see if we have on our person any illigitimately acquired morals?

  • DarkMatter

    “Without God, life has no transcendent value”

    For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14)

    -Cory Tucholski need not bother about the 10 commandants of the jews or 15 commandments of “God delusion” for he is not under law of God.

    But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.(Gal 5:18-21)

    Transcendent value of life under God according to him is free from the judgement of Moses’ law. Therefore for example, a christain murderer can be free from the judgment of law as long as he apologize for his crime(works of the flesh) for Jesus had said christians must forgive 7 times if he repents in a day.

    Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. (Luk 17:3-4)

    So, he should fight for the sins of morality of christs to be judged under the law of the Spirit and not laws of the flesh, no more prison for christians who sin against their God.

    Cory Tucholski comment also deny Fox of lying, by the way.

  • Marley

    I’m done trying to intellectually engage religious people. No one ever changes their mind because of a debate, and every time I read the comments on Unreasonable Faith, it makes me think this blog has become a victim of its success. At first, the only christians who would comment here had some good points. All easily refuted, but they at least showed some intellectual rigor.

    I left christianity about a year ago because there were just too many questions that, once one delved through the layers of biblespeak, were answered by “We just don’t know, and there’s no way for us to know until we go to heaven.” I decided that truth should be the most important thing in my life, and began to examine my beliefs logically. I came to a conclusion opposite of Pascal’s Wager. I decided that since there’s no real, hard evidence for god, there’s no reason for me to jump through hoops for some entity that has never bothered to give me proof of its existence, and therefore probably doesn’t exist.

    The christians who come here have no understanding of the above paragraph. They come here like flies to a ripe melon, attracted by the scent of intelligent people who disagree with them. I think they love to try to engage the atheists here, because conflict helps them validate their belief that they are somehow fighting a war for the souls of humanity. This being a deconversion blog, a lot of the atheists here are former christians, and have heard it all. We used to be where those christians are, and our desire for truth trumped the fear of eternal damnation and social ostracism instilled in religious people by their upbringing.

    In response to Cory Tucholski, nice try, but you’re playing with big people now.

  • Alan

    I sure could use at least one extra wife to help with house cleaning, watching the kids and doing the cooking, or maybe she bring in some extra income. That would be nice.

    Also, some sex slaves would be good. I like a little variety like Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 sex slaves.

    And, of course, this is condoned by the Bible which never states, for the general public, that marriage must be one man and one woman. God had good reasons for establishing polygamy. Learn to use it and women to your advantage.

  • DarkMatter

    “4.CSF said
    March 22, 2009 at 9:40 pm
    Hi Cory, let me adjust a couple things in this article. First, I posted several things related to morality and “killing babies” had been mentioned already, thus my reply. It was not related to abortion, however. Yes, I did make this post from the viewpoint of an atheist, and should have wrote it differently, and not as an actual atheist. Rumors have already been embellishing over the www, and the truth is I have not been trolling the internet impersonating atheists (only this site and a couple posts). I actually had no clue what “trolling” meant til yesterday. The only “troll” I can remember was back in the late 80s/early 90s – the little figurines with hair that stands up like Don King or Buckwheat from the Little Rascals – trolls were cute and ugly at the same time. I also was not intending to make fun of atheism or even claim that this was a viewpoint from atheism in general, but it was not well-posted on my part. I am humbly trying to redeem myself. I am grateful for Daniel and so many commenters welcoming me back to the UF site – kudos!”

    If Fox were to say “in my ignorance, I lied, forgive me”, I, for one will leave him alone, if I am angry for what He did, I would say something like”please don’t lie deliberately when posting here.”

  • Denis

    Great article Daniel!

    I too do not get my morals from the bible. It frustrates me to no end that many religious people, especially fundamentalists, believe that a person needs morality imposed upon them by a greater being. They believe that only a god fearing individual will be do right, for fear of punishment and retribution.

    What the hell is wrong with these people!

    I treat others as I would like to be treated. It’s a simple principle that anyone can observe with their own eyes. No divinity required.

  • The Medium Lebowsky

    I actually feel sorry for the fundies like Pastors Cory Tucholski and Chris Fox. It’s like picking on the handicapped kids from the short bus. They simply can’t defend themselves or their bizarre superstitions.

  • Joel Wheeler

    I must take issue with this bit from Cory:

    “Without God, life has no transcendent value and therefore things like “good” and “evil,” “right” and “wrong” have only what value we humans assign to them. Wrong and right become a matter of opinion in the atheistic worldview.”

    Or maybe I mustn’t. To the first sentence, I say… exactly! That’s exactly right. But saying life has no ‘transcendent’ value is not to say that it has no value at all. I find the notion of transcendence to be specious, and totally unnecessary to the notion of value. Good/evil/right/wrong have only what value we humans assign to them, because good/evil/right/wrong only have meaning TO us humans, as opposed to the stars. Far from being a matter of opinion, they are a matter of consensus, and in almost all cases, just plain common sense.

    Once again, what these fundy pastors are concerned with is better defined as righteousness, not morality.

  • http://edward.de.leau.net/the-10-commandments-are-a-copy-from-chapter-125-in-the-egyptian-book-of-the-dead-20070513.html Cogmios

    so on these morals:

    - when Jesus was around there was only the Tora, the 5 books of the Jews
    - these 5 books were written in Egypt a while before (by never existing moses)
    - while the book of the dead of Egyptians existed thousands of years before, containing long pieces of text of “rules”

    I have not cause harm to be done to a servant by his master.
    I have not caused pain.
    I have caused no man to hunger.
    I have made no one weep.

    which was the basis for the small group of Tora writers to pick just 10 from, meaning: the christian religion did not add ANY new rules on society. When Jesus died and before the first concilie (49/60 after his death) there was just the Jewish religion with all its rituals, it didnt add any new writings or even rituals. The only thing added was “A god needed to die to give us a superpower: immortality”.

    So once again: “Christianity” did not add anything, really nothing, zip, on morality that was not there before, they even just went on using the Tora 5 books (later old testament) which in the first place were copied from chapter 125 of the book of the dead.

    Also added to that since I read it above in relation to changes in society: the main thing about chapter 125 and the book of the dead in general is that it was not fixed it was a changing document which adjusted to new needs of society.

    If you look up the complete text of chapter 125 (see url) the coin will drop.

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  • Dan L.

    Simple proof that my morality is not derived from the 10 commandments (using the Catholic version for this exercise):

    I don’t believe in Yahweh (breaks #1).
    Yahweh is kind of a prick (breaks #2).
    I worked almost every weekend in December 2008 and January 2009 (breaks #3).
    My mother and father are poop heads (breaks #4; sorry Mom and Dad!).
    My neighbor drinks his own urine (breaks #8).
    And his wife is pretty hot (breaks #9).
    And he has a sweet ride (breaks #10).

    So I’m batting 0.300. Will that get me into the all-star game or is there some kind of fielding statistic I need to work out now?

    And it should be abundantly clear to anyone who can, you know, think critically about stuff that morality is a pre-condition for society. If there was no mechanism whatsoever to prevent people from killing and stealing, we would still be throwing feces to express displeasure instead of commenting on blogs. Since society existed before the Old or New Testaments, I have to assume that morality predates those as well.

    Good post, Daniel, and kudos to the many commenters who made fascinating positive (secular) cases for the origin of human morality. This site has really attracted a great community.

  • Annie

    It’s not morality if you are doing it to please God, or get yourself a one way ticket to heaven.

  • Starr

    Nope. Don’t get my moral from the bible. As simple as that. I get them from my gut instinct.

  • Marley

    Religion has caused and continues to cause so much pain for humanity that the idea of atheist morality being derived from religious precedents is not only laughable; it’s insulting. I’m just glad I live in the West, where our tradition of religious apathy is strong. In the islamic world, fundamentalism doesn’t just mean oppression. Violence against women, homosexuals, and religious minorities is a cultural fixture. I guess that’s why I believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t complete failures. Democracy might not take root, but as long as we’re fighting to keep islamic fundamentalists out of major urban areas, I think we’re doing some good.

  • Sock

    I posted this on the Lying for Jesus thread, but well… it’s easy to get lost in that thread, and I want to apply it here, as well:

    How is it that the Catholic Church had the initial reaction to excommunicate the 9 year old girl who aborted twins, but did nothing to the father that had sex with her (which is in direct opposition to Leviticus 18:6)? Can you not agree that something is clearly wrong if the Church reacts FIRST to the abortion (which is not anywhere in the Bible), and not the horrible crime that actually IS in the Bible?

    Does the Church even get their morality from the Bible?

  • lucidmystery

    “I’m all for believers engaging us intellectually. It rarely happens, but I must say I am in favor of it.”

    No offense because I know that most of the people who comment on here are indeed very intelligent, but most of the time emotion gets in the way of either the atheist or believer camp having an intellectual discussion. It’s a heated subject and there really are few people who seem to be able to keep their cool, which makes any intellectual discussion impossible.

  • http://www.curefiath.com Infidel

    Thanks for that! Was good to hear another take on where atheist morals come from. I agree.

    My response to a recent challenge from a theist:
    “What is it about God that gives his rules so much meaning? His omnipotence? His omnipresence? If God was these things but was not conscious, would he still be the ultimate authority through which all life has meaning? I don’t think so, and I’d hope you would agree. You’re asking me to find a higher power to appeal to, but for the same reasons I am appealing to myself, to conscious thought, because there is nothing higher.”

  • puzzled

    For folks who don’t believe in God and who so disdain the Bible, you seem to spend a lot of time worrying about those of us that do believe, as evidenced by your sustained efforts to refute these things. The things in which I do not believe (in the scope of religion) rarely come to my mind. I’m not worried about what I don’t believe in, only my freedom to believe and live in truth. I hope my beliefs do not trampled on your freedom not to believe.

    If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.

    If you’re wrong about God, at death, you’ve lost everything.

    I wouldn’t expect you to accept or respect it, but I sincerely believe that God is truth and freedom, and pray that others will experiece that truth and freedom, too. I am concerned about the bondage of closed minds.

  • http://www.curefiath.com Infidel

    “If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.”

    Looks like your getting a firestorm of responses from people who seem to value our life on earth allot more than you do.

    Shame.

    my recent blogpost “what if you’re wrong”

  • http://rumpledforeskin.wordpress.com ilsita

    Infidel, I agree with you about the distastefulness of the “what if you’re wrong?” question. I have no idea how such an argument would make any sense to someone who has faith. The question, coming from a true believer, seems to seriously undermine the whole idea of faith. It makes it sound like all there is to believing is just saying so — like God’s not gonna know that you’re just hedging your bet. Very weird.

    Anyway, I wrote about this subject a couple of days ago, too, on our little blog — if anyone is interested. The post is called “Freefall” on rumpledforeskin.com.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Question-I-thority

    FREEWILL, FREEWON’T & DETERMINISM.

    Over on the previous voluminous forum (which now loads like a snail), Question-I-thority asked me to say something on the freewill and determinism issue. I suggested we bring it over here where it is more relevant and, equally important, won’t take till next week to load.

    Qu-I-T said that he “was especially intrigued by the tests where technicians were able to predict up to 10 seconds before subjects made conscious decisions and were able to do so with about 70% accuracy”.

    I am not familiar with this experiment. It does, however, remind me of the stuff which Derren Brown does by “reading” many subtle body language signs.

    BTW, have you seen Brown’s demonstration of how to instantly convert atheists to Christianity? In case the morality of this worries you, he insisted that he converted them back again after the show. You will find Derren’s comments about this sequence here: http://www.derrenbrown.co.uk/news/messiah

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Question-I-thority

    I’ve had time to read up of Libet’s stuff.

    The answer to the apparant conundrum is quite simple really. Libet forgot to account for something.

    He instructed his subjects to decide to move a finger whenever they decided and to note the time that they formed the intention to do so and report on this after they had performed the action. Libet’s instruments detected an intention wave seconds prior to the time the subject’s reported that they had first formed the intention. He concluded that they had begun to move their finger before they had formed the intention to do so.

    The flaw in the argument is that Libet failed to realize that the subjects were performing more than one activity.

    As well as form an intent to move their finger and then carry out this task the subjects had to form an intent to monitor their behavior, form an intent to notice the time, form an intent to concentrate, form an intent to direct their attention, decide on the priority in which these intentions were to be carried out and act on all these intentions in appropriate order.

    It would be impossible for Libet to tell the order in which those intentions were formed or the order in which the brain organized and directed the performance of these activities.

    In other words, Libet failed to realize that “noticing the time” was itself an action which required a motor activity, an act of attention and the formation of intents to do both. He simply lacked understanding of the way the brain works.

  • http://www.nullifidian.net/ nullifidian

    No.

  • DarkMatter
  • DarkMatter

    ——————————————————————
    Cory Tucholski said
    March 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm
    The best part of this argument is that I don’t have to respond to it. I’m saying that Daniel Florien gets his morals from the Bible. I don’t have to answer to other ancient cultures. This isn’t a point, this is misdirection.
    ——————————————————————

    Guess who is doing the misdirection? Cory is doing the misdirection because he may have seen a “truth” in the bible that is so shocking that he cannot let christians know.

    Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now,

    According to the bible, where does man get his morality from?
    He gets it from sinning against his “so-called God”.

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  • anti-supernaturalist

    Xianity can never be refuted; it can only be replaced.

  • Sunny Day

    Taurus, be careful today as the unseen forces are looking for an advantage,.

  • Jim H.

    •Morality predates the Bible:
    1.“Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” – Pittacus
    2.“Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.” – Thales
    3.“What you do not want to happen to you, do not do it yourself either.” – Sextus the Pythagorean
    4.“Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others.” – Isocrates
    5.“What thou avoidest suffering thyself seek not to impose on others.” – Epictetus
    6.“It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly (agreeing ‘neither to harm nor be harmed), and it is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.” – Epicurus
    7.“One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.” – Plato’s Socrates (Crito, 49c)
    8.“One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.” —Dhammapada 10. Violence

  • http://www.zeekeekee.wordpress.com isnessie

    Adamus, you’re such an immoral atheist… ;)

  • Viridid

    Don’t forget sulking for a whole war just because you lost your sex slave, letting your own side get trashed just because you were a bit peeved. Until your childish behaviour gets your boyfriend killed, at which point Oh look, suddenly we’re a hero again, are we Achilles?

    I feel sorry for Patroclus. He had sense, he just also had abominable taste in men.

  • Sock

    “To impersonate implies some kind of resemblance to actual character traits. His performance was too far fetched from reality to be good impersonation.”

    You’re almost right, except that you don’t realize that there’s a good percentage of Christians who DO hold the belief that atheists are just like how Pastor Chris portrayed.

    While he himself doesn’t have that mentality, some who share his “Christian” tag do.

  • shamelesslyatheist

    I like that description – ‘sockpuppetry’. But his intent was impersonation. He wrote what he thought was what atheists believed. That it was so ridiculous that what was written would itself expose him probably was never considered. Let’s call it a very failed attempt at an impression. Perhaps Fox will actually realize that maybe his caricature is wrong, but I doubt it. True Christians(TM) need this to be true in order to prop up the baseless assertion that they are morally superior. If their god is not required for morality, then why believe in god at all?That scares the bejesus out of them.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    I see no problem with killing, since I don’t believe in an afterlife.

    I see a problem with killing because I don’t believe in an afterlife.

    When someone dies, that’s it. They cease existing. Causing someone to stop existing seems like a horrific thing to do. On the other had, I could understand how someone who believes their victims are going to heaven might feel like they’re doing them a favour by killing them (obviously, most believers in an afterlife don’t, but I can see how it might be possible).

    But I’m curious: How do you go from “this is the only life we get” to “it’s OK to kill people”?

  • shamelesslyatheist

    Whether it is ‘dangerous’ or not is irrelevant. The truth isn’t about how we feel about it. Reciprocation has a lot of evidence in support, which is the only consideration when drawing conclusions.

    We do not actually consciously make the statement, e.g., “I don’t steal because I don’t want to be stolen from.” This is the kind of moral calculus which goes on in the background without conscious thought. We rationalize our behavior in this manner after the fact.

    No one has much choice in how we feel about our actions in a particular situation, though we can override this if their are competing interests. We do this rather complicated moral calculus in the background, completely unaware of the machinations. (I’ve blogged on this numerous times.) So do you, but you rationalize it away in your manner because you have to find some reason you came to your solutions to ethical situations. Some good starting points for educating yourself on the subject are Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good & Evil and Marc Hauser’s Moral Minds.

    “This has christian religion among its sources and it’s widely accepted by most atheists and agnostics.” By whom? I know of no such acceptance. The tenets of morality predate the Judeo-Christian version by far I do, however, know that the science of evolutionary behavior discussed in the two books I mentioned (especially the latter) is a far better explanation and is supported by a significant body of study. The idea that Christianity or any religion (or their literature) is the source of morality is spurious at best.

    Here’s a quote from an interesting article on a recent scientific conference which demonstrates where this field of study is taking us in our search for where morality comes from:

    Christopher Boehm, director of the Jane Goodall Research Center, part of the University of Southern California’s anthropology department, believes such humans devised codes to stop bigger, stronger males hogging all the food.

    “To ensure fair meat distribution, hunting bands had to gang up physically against alpha males,” he said. This theory has been borne out by studies of contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes.

    In research released at the AAAS he argued that under such a system those who broke the rules would have been killed, their “amoral” genes lost to posterity. By contrast, those who abided by the rules would have had many more children.

    Other studies have confirmed that the strength of a person’s conscience depends partly on their genes. Several researchers have shown, for example, that the children of habitual criminals will often become criminals too – even when they have had no contact with their biological parents.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but this kind of work is much more intellectually satisfying. Being based in evidence from anthropology and primatology, we can have greater and greater confidence that we are moving in the right direction. Proclaiming that our morals come from god or the bible is a science stopper, a just-so story. And it is soooooo banal!

  • Justin

    Yup, and many of those politicians are “Christian”…

  • randomcat

    I think perhaps the wording was ambiguous, but I think what he means is not dangerous at all.

    I don’t think Dan means that because doesn’t want to be stolen from, he doesn’t steal (like karma will come get him). I think he means that stealing is kind of a dick move, and we can put ourselves into another’s situation with empathy.

    Some philosophers argue that the highest form of morality – the reason for not stealing/killing/hurting etc is the social contract. The ‘broken windows’ effect is an excellent demonstration of this.

  • Sock

    Good point.

    Personally, I don’t like applying the golden rule to something like murder. That’s not the reason why I don’t go on a murderous rampage. I don’t kill people because the thought of it makes me ill.

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    Simply.
    I don’t see “ceasing someone to exist” as damaging him/her or cause suffering, exactly because he cease to exist and therefore, to suffer.

    Have you ever questioned why you see it as such a horrific idea?

    Don’t get me wrong.
    I have troubles killing even mosquitos.

    But I want to trust my brain more than my ‘gut feelings’, I want to go beyond what the people around me teach me.
    And I *AM* scared that I may find out that “killing is ok”.
    But I don’t hold back my thought only because it seems convenient.

    Luckily, so far, I found out that a crucial key to happiness is compassion.
    I don’t kill people because their happiness is my happiness.
    Am I a compassionate selfish bastard? =)

  • DarkMatter

    It is like saying killing “is” faith/religion because there is no historical proof atheists kill each other because of atheistism.

  • Sock

    Thank you. That is perhaps the most reasonable thing I’ve heard from a believer in a long time. :)

  • Frank

    hehe… not that I am reading anything into this or anything, but you turned Pastor Chris into Pastor “Christ” and said he was “ingenuous” instead of “disingenuous”.

    Your brain may disapprove, but your typing-fingers obviously have a different opinion.

    :)

  • Dan L.

    Right on, Pastor. I can’t say I know much about Christianity (besides the obvious stuff), but it strikes me that if the only reason you’re a Christian is because you think that’s where morals come from, you’re probably doing it wrong.

    The Bible is not the source of morality, it is not, after all a book of moral teachings primarily. Sure there are morals there, but it is really a record of how people have experienced God working in and through them.

    I especially like this sentiment.

  • Frank

    For more on TIT FOR TAT, and a pretty cool chapter on abiogenesis to boot, check out this book:

    “Complexity” by M. Mitchell Waldrop
    http://books.google.com/books?id=53Hlfg76sigC&pgis=1

    It reads like a novel, or a biography, so, even though it gets into some pretty heady science, it’s not like slogging through a textbook. I absolutely love this book, and think it should be required reading for everybody that can handle big words without moving their lips.

  • Sara

    “In the West we have a much higher view of man than in many places and I think that comes naturally from the Christian tradition where usually ideas of karma or dharma are foreign.”

    I’m sorry, I think I’m misunderstanding this last point. Would you mind explaining it a little further so that any atheists/human beings not from the Western world don’t feel insulted?

  • shamelesslyatheist

    “Christian theology, especially natural theology, shows why atheists must have some form of morality and also why they may differ in certain respects. Atheists have morality because of imago dei but their moralities may differ because of sin or because general revelation isn’t specific in regards to all actions.”

    And what is the evidence for such sophistry? This is a prime example of good logic based on bad premises. Please demonstrate that ‘sin’ exists, or imago dei. These are presumptions without supporting evidence. Read my comment above for a taste of the real explanation.

    “We don’t kill our family, but we can kill someone from another tribe, state, or nation. Those boundaries are defined within our cultural settings but the principle that we shouldn’t just kill anyone we want is still there.” Which shoots down your argument. The hoops that theologians go through to maintain their illusion is amazing. Step back from it a bit and give it a hard look – you will be amazed at how ridiculous the structure of the whole argument is.

    “In the West we have a much higher view of man than in many places and I think that comes naturally from the Christian tradition where usually ideas of karma or dharma are foreign.” A little elitist, are we? I think Christianity belittles humanity. It says we are worms with a disease that only unquestioning belief in nonsense will cure. It is the ultimate snake oil sales pitch.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    “Christian theology, especially natural theology, shows why atheists must have some form of morality…”

    Um … putting the cart some leagues before the horse, aren’t you?

    Evolutionary and behavioural biology provide examples and instances of the development of morality in animals. This explains quite well why Christians have a morality.

    That morality is largely poisoned by its insistence on a fictional outside arbiter, but it’s a structure of a sort.

  • boomSLANG

    Barry: “In the West we have a much higher view of man than in many places and I think that comes naturally from the Christian tradition where usually ideas of karma or dharma are foreign.”

    Interesting. The Christian philosophy and its redactors, upon which the “Christian tradition” is founded, makes very clear that “man” shouldn’t have a “high view” of himself. ‘Quite the opposite, actually. Yes, man should “view” himself as innately wreched, untrustworthy, and an over all unsatisfactory specimen, according to biblegod.

    So, if what you say is true, then Christians “in the West” are the ones who are “borrowing” from some *other* standard with which they view man, and themselves. Yes, cultural relativity plays a role in “morals”, or ethics, but we do not get any moral “standard” from biblegod, or any other “God”. Christians love to tout the “Hey!…with Atheism, anything goes!” soundbite. However, if the “Word of God” is supposedly intrinsically “moral”, then that may as well be “anything goes!”, as well. Yes, Mr. “All-Loving” could wake up one day and decide to reinstate his “kill all nonbelievers!” policy from days-gone-past, and Christians would have no choice but to see that as the “moral” thing to do.

    ‘Scary stuff…..thank reason Christians can compartmentalize!

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    ” (Is it only me who finds literary critical thinking skills lacking in some of the Christians posting here?) ”

    mark: Oh for sure, there logic is twisted. They claim god is good and love but when you ask them what do they base that statement on, they cant answer give you an answer.

    They make a lot of unproven assumptions then string them together into an incoherent belief system that is ridiculous but they a;ct as if it makes perfectly good sense.

    Another sign of their twisted thinking is the fact that they come to UF and claim that they are being persecuted. Let me get this straight an atheist cant get elected to most federal offices in the country but somehow us non believers have rigged the game against Christians. All of this in spite of the fact that christians out number non believers in this country.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Actually, I feel that his intent was to misrepresent atheist thought entirely.

    If he’d spent ten minutes here he’d be well aware that in fact there aren’t many atheists who believe themselves to be totally unconstrained by morality of any sort.

    We believe in subtleties, in shades of grey, and in reasoning morality from experience and knowledge.

    His attempts had the subtle flavour of Homer Simpson’s mockeries: “Look at meeee. I’m an athiest blah blah blah …”

    Of course, as a pastor, he should have been constrained not to sockpuppet by his Biblical morality. Yet somehow, oddly, he wasn’t.

    Pastor lies. God fail. Again.

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    However, it may be good manners to give the person who is incorrect a dope slap.

  • Michael

    “hat’s not the reason why I don’t go on a murderous rampage. I don’t kill people because the thought of it makes me ill. ”

    – Well, what if the thought didn’t “make you ill” – like is the case with a few people? What would be the motivation to not kill in this situation?

  • http://misterjebsblog.blogspot.com TinaFCD

    Man! You sound just like me.
    Yeah, what Sock said. :)

  • Alexis

    You sound like most xtians – they fall asleep during the begats and can’t read any further either.

  • Frank

    The morals in the bible always seem to need to be “unpacked” by a preacher in order for us to understand that the Bible isn’t actually saying what the actual words actually mean.

    That is my favorite word to hear a preacher use. I live in the mountains of Southeastern Tennessee, and I drive a lot, so I listen to a lot of Christian radio stations, because there aren’t a lot of alternatives, and I’m sort of sickly fascinated.

    Whenever a “difficult” (aka “morally repugnant”) passage is the basis of the sermon, I start my mental countdown to the word “unpack”, as in, “Now that seems pretty cruel to our ears today, doesn’t it Brothers and Sisters, but let me unpack this verse for you somewhat…”

    It’s a fun game; you can play along at home! Take a big drink of whatever you are drinking whenever you hear a preacher “unpack” a verse, so that it doesn’t mean what it says, or somehow doesn’t apply to us nowadays.

  • cello

    Yeah, Christians change their morality over time and culture just like everyone else. They used to kill heretics of all sorts – people not of their Christian “tribe” for centuries. It was humanist influences that moderated that behavior.

  • Michael

    I think there is a slight misinterpretation of what theists actually believe, Christians in particular. I don’t think we get our morals from the Bible. I’d like to think that pre-bible times people still acted somewhat morally in the context of their culture – or else we, as a species wouldn’t have gotten this far. Its just that without the divine there cannot be absolute morality. So saying something is wrong is just a matter of opinion.

    I am a theist, but I also refuse to believe that we get our morality from the bible.

  • Question-I-thority

    Christopher Boehm, director of the Jane Goodall Research Center, part of the University of Southern California’s anthropology department, believes such humans devised codes to stop bigger, stronger males hogging all the food.

    Game Theory also supports this.

  • Question-I-thority

    Thank you for the well thought out comment. Afaik however, we don’t yet have enough info on the extent to which consciousness can over-ride ‘decisions’ even in competing interests situations.

  • Viridid

    And then I scroll down and realise someone has said what I was trying to say in a much more succint and sensible fashion. I really should learn to read before posting…

  • shamelesslyatheist

    Indeed, reciprocation is integral to application of game theory in the context of evolutionarily stable strategies for human interactions. (Sorry about the convoluted application of jargon. Oooops! Did it again.)

  • cello

    believes such humans devised codes to stop bigger, stronger males hogging all the food

    …and probably all the women…

  • Sock

    Let me list of a few hypothetical responses.

    If I were a sociopath and had no emotional feelings about killing someone else, then I wouldn’t do it because of jail time.

    If I was a sociopath who only had a week to live (thus, wouldn’t be concerned about jail time), then I wouldn’t because of how that would make me look to my family and friends.

    If I was a sociopath with a week to live and had no close friends or family… then I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t, but that still doesn’t mean that I would.

    I would still need the urge to kill someone, and at that point… it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. If anyone lets the urge to kill actually lead them TO murder, morality doesn’t come into play at all for that person. God, heaven, hell, society, jail, family… none of that has any bearing on such an unbalanced person.

  • Frank

    Then he wouldn’t have a motivation not to kill, silly. That’s an easy question. What’s yer point?

  • Michael

    “Then he wouldn’t have a motivation not to kill, silly. That’s an easy question. What’s yer point? ”

    - That is my point, then there is no motivation to ‘not kill’ in the hypothetical situation. In an atheistic worldview, killing isn’t wrong, it just entails social consequences that would hinder our pursuit for pleasure, which makes us choose not to do it.

  • Mr Z

    I’m an atheist, and I see no problem with killing. The only ‘morality’ that might come into it is what you are personally willing to deal with afterwards. Just the thought of it makes some people ill, while others have no compunction.

    To me, the basics are simple: this life is the only one we have to work with as there is no afterlife. If you find someone so repugnant to yourself and society (on their behalf) why not kill? You don’t actually need a book to tell you someone is bad and deserves to die. All you need is anger or rage. If you are willing to deal with the likely consequences of being found out, no problem, fire away. Those likely consequences range from ‘nothing’ all the way up to ‘execution’ for the deed.

    Lets put some perspective on it: You live in the US, the dollar collapses, marshal law is instated but does not stop those gangs that will steal and kill for food and other items. How fast would you be ready to pull the trigger on someone endangering the lives of you or your family?

    Say that perhaps you don’t in the first couple of instances, but now your family is very hungry, ill, and getting worse for poor nutrition. When next someone comes to steal your food, what will you do? Will you continue to worry about your ethics or morality? or simply pull the trigger?

    In a civilized society, the consequences are generally too high for me to consider killing, but should they be lowered by circumstance, I have no compunction about it.

  • Frank

    yeah, I was afraid that was your point. Try this one. Your words, with only two changed.

    In an Christian worldview, slavery isn’t wrong, it just entails social consequences that would hinder our pursuit for pleasure, which makes us choose not to do it.

  • Mogg

    “That is my point, then there is no motivation to ‘not kill’ in the hypothetical situation. In an atheistic worldview, killing isn’t wrong, it just entails social consequences that would hinder our pursuit for pleasure, which makes us choose not to do it.”

    I’d have to disagree with you there. You are making atheism equivalent to sociopathy in that statement. I think that a lot of atheists would say that depriving someone of their one and only life is something not to be contemplated precisely because there is nothing else, no afterlife to compensate.

    As Sock said, there are several social motivations for a sociopath to avoid killing, even without a God-defined set of moral standards. Sociopaths are not usually devoid of feeling (unlike the stereotype), and generally want to avoid feeling bad just as much as anyone else, so they can understand that some actions have consequences that will make them feel bad. Their motivations to behave well in society might seem utterly selfish to normal people, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t do it, and even do it well sometimes. Even the stereotypical desire to kill can be sublimated into competitive sports or business practice.

  • Viridid

    - “That is my point, then there is no motivation to ‘not kill’ in the hypothetical situation. In an atheistic worldview, killing isn’t wrong, it just entails social consequences that would hinder our pursuit for pleasure, which makes us choose not to do it.”

    Ah yes, but in your hypothetical situation, the person does not feel an emotional response to watching someone die. That person would seem to be emotionally different to the vast majority of humanity, and is not a good example to use to discuss where individual morality is derived from, as they aren’t representative. Sociopaths are not what’s under discussion – atheists and agnostics are, and there’s no shame in saying you have a problem with performing an action because it would make you feel bad to do it.

    I wouldn’t kill someone except in self-defense or defense of my family and friends, and even then, it would have to be a very direct threat for me to even consider ending someone else’s life. I would be happier to cripple an attacker than kill them, because I believe that when you’re dead, you’re dead. That’s it, game over. Life is all we have, and to take that away from someone else without a damn good reason is something I find morally unconscionable.

    Most people have empathy, and it’s this empathy that keeps me from harming others. True, I could make my way in life by cheating, stealing, lying and murdering – but I can imagine what betrayal and pain feel like, and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on other people. Empathy is an excellent quality for a highly social species to have, as it prevents individuals from simply doing whatever is to their benefit at that moment, to the betterment of the whole species (see also: Altruistic behaviours!) Of course, social situation can warp and dilute that empathy, otherwise there would be no need for law and punishment, but it’s a good starting point when thinking about personal morality. And having empathy has nothing to do with religious worldview – it’s a general Human quality.

    In the event that I didn’t have empathy, I would still be unlikely to kill, rape or steal because of the social consequences of doing so, but I would not be representative of the large majority of the population. Respect for the lives of people within your social group is a thing more ancient than modern Homo Sapiens, if the flowers found in Neanderthal graves are anything to go by, or the skeletons of ancient hominids found that seemingly could not have survived to the age they died at without help from other members of their social group. Should we suggest that these hominids had a Christian morality, or that the only reason they would expend their own energy to keep a friend/relative alive is because they had strictly sanctioned laws about it? It seems unlikely, given that this is pre-settlement, pre-civilisation (by a VERY long time) and chances are we are dealing with ‘bands’ of hominids rather than formalised tribes at this time.

    Ok, I’ve rather strayed off topic, but my point is, there is evidence of empathy and altruism stretching back in our ancestral line to way before we could be considered modern humans. In my opinion, therefore, morality is something we have evolved as it has helped us to build our numbers and be more successful. From a purely utilitarian point of view, yes, it is useful to the group to keep Jimbo the Hunter or Sarah the Flint-Knapper alive, even if s/he has broken both his/her legs, because s/he has knowledge s/he can pass on. It’s also evolutionarily useful to look after your cousin’s child if s/he has an accident involving a lion, because you share genes with that child. But I don’t think our ancestors had quite the levels of knowledge required to understand this concept – chances are though, they did have empathy. They may have saved Jimbo because he was their friend, or Sarah because she was their sister, or the baby because he looked like the friend they had lost. There’s no need for someone to sit down and work out the pros and cons of smashing baby’s head on a rock for them to decide that that’s a ‘bad’ thing to do, and in the long run, it’s advantageous not to do it, so the people who instinctively feel that it’s ‘wrong’ are the one’s who more successfully pass down this morality, if that makes sense.

    So where do my morals really come from? Chances are, the most basic of my morals (don’t cause unnecessary suffering, love thy neighbour etc.) are part of my evolutionary heritage. And I’m pretty happy with that. It almost makes up for the dodgy knees and the inevitable back problems.

  • John C

    Morality is a fallacy, doesnt come from God, no such thing.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    John:

    You say that a lot. Who, exactly, are you trying to convince?

    Because if it’s not you… well, you might have noticed that people around here don’t find a bald assertion any more convincing on its 50th repetition than on its first. Can you provide evidence that would support your position?

  • shamelesslyatheist

    Yup, that’s pretty much the ridiculous train of thought.

  • Pastor Chad

    I suppose I was typing a bit too quickly. I noticed it after I had posted it, but of course at that point it is too late. :)

  • shamelesslyatheist

    “If he’d spent ten minutes here he’d be well aware that in fact there aren’t many atheists who believe themselves to be totally unconstrained by morality of any sort.”

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But never underestimate the power of blind faith to enable the believer to overlook reality. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt too, but I think we see this argument far too often to place our trust in him on this one.

  • Sock

    Here, we have a clear problem with definition.

    The word “Christian” is used to define a broad group of people, all with different ideas and opinions on how, exactly, to live.

    While you, personally, may call yourself a Christian, and claim that you do not get your morals from the Bible…
    There ARE a good many people, who also call themselves Christian, and claim that they do (and to the point of this thread, everyone does) get their morals from the Bible.

  • VorJack

    “But generally speaking, without the divine, morality is merely subjective – or an opinion.”

    I would argue that even WITH the divine, morality remains subjective.

    Or to put it another way, how do you know what the will of the divine is? How do you judge between competing claims of divine authority?

    I’d argue that there is no rational basis for doing so.

  • Frank

    I am sure in your line of work, you type “Christ” a lot, and it’s just “muscle memory” in action. No biggy, I just thought it was funny.

    I have an acquaintance whose last name is Dick, and he has a lot of trouble typing the word “disk” when, for example, emailing colleagues to ask that they stop by and leave their ‘disks’ in his mailbox. He works around computers, so he pretty much gets laughed at a lot.

  • Frank

    “humans who wander off by themselves get quickly picked off by predators.”

    Oh great. JUST when I thought I could go for a walk! I want my wife to come home now… I’m frightened!

  • Question-I-thority

    But he’s referencing The Christian Worldview (TM) which…errrm, he got by parsing the Bible. :)

  • Michael

    There is no clear problem with definition. Christians who claim morals are derived from the bible are speaking from ignorance of the true teachings of the bible.

    Take the story of the ‘good Samaritan’ for example, that story was about a person who acted morally without deriving anything from the bible since it was a story that, in it’s context, pre-dated the bible. Also, he was a Samaritan – his morals didn’t come from any OT teaching too because he wasn’t an Israelite. So this parable in itself shows Jesus implying that we don’t get our morals from the Bible or any of his or moses teachings.

  • xian-x

    As Sartre put it, “Even if God exists, God is still dead.”

  • Michael

    Well this is another topic for debate, but I would argue that we are logical, rational and moral beings because we are created in the image and likeness of God who is himself logical, rational and moral. So essentially what I’m trying to say is that we inherently know what is moral and what is not. Ofcourse some things are not generally agreed upon like, say, abortion – because we don’t know if the ‘thing’ being aborted already constitutes a human being, which makes such a topic a moot issue.

    But I believe there are moral absolutes, like, killing for fun is wrong. Such a thing cannot be argued both ways, because we inherently know that it is wrong.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Consult NCIS for animated examples.

  • Michael

    “But he’s referencing The Christian Worldview (TM) which…errrm, he got by parsing the Bible. :) ”

    Yes, which in now asserts that our morality is derived from it.

  • professoryackle

    aka the KryWo channel…

    (sorry, wrong thread)

  • Michael

    I meant to say :

    ‘in no way asserts’ not ‘in now asserts’

  • John C

    Boomslang…

    You said “Interesting. The Christian philosophy and its redactors, upon which the “Christian tradition” is founded, makes very clear that “man” shouldn’t have a “high view” of himself. ‘Quite the opposite, actually. Yes, man should “view” himself as innately wreched, untrustworthy, and an over all unsatisfactory specimen, according to biblegod”.

    How is it that you, the self-proclaimed unbeliever of said “BibleGod” should assume such understanding of the nature of these things? Isn’t this a bit presumptious in itself? You feverishly defend this bastion of unbelief against any and all intruders with the sword of error. You consistantly get it wrong and not mildly…sir.

    I could easily reference verse upon verse to counter your many innaccuracies but knowing your utter disdain for Holy Writ, I will respectfully temper my response. Given our numerous past discussions it appears you are quite content to continue in these falsities and presumptious doctrinal positions regardless of your admission to not knowing this “Bible” of said “BibleGod”. This is regrettable, but not surprising.

    In summary, regenerate man is not a “wretch”, nor a creature of ill-repute, quite the opposite. Man, made in the image and likeness of God is a high and esteemed being in the hierarchy of creation. As a Son of God, the Father has bestowed upon him great honor, glory, virtue and standing. He is restored unto his original intention.

    I would never presume to dictate to you the various points and precepts of your theory of evolution as if I were imminently qualified. The same courtesy extended toward said “Bible” and more importantly “God” is wise and appreciated on your part toward believers.

    JC

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Yes! Exactly! Thanks for that nice little list.

  • professoryackle

    Hear hear.

  • LRA

    rAmen RS, rAmen!

  • cello

    ITA that the Bible doesn’t support the depraved state of man but that is pretty straight up Christian theology, especially the Calvinist flavor of it.

  • boomSLANG

    Resident, proselytizing Christian, John C., brays…

    “How is it that you, the self-proclaimed unbeliever of said ‘BibleGod’ should assume such understanding of the nature of these things?”

    Firstly, you deliberately misrepresent my words(again). I did not/do not use an uppercase “g”, nor “b”, in the word “biblegod”. It’s amazing to me how you not only try to project your ideology on to your opponent, but also, even your use of the written language. This is what superstition does to people. Honestly now, I think if the “Creator of Universe” exists, and it is an infinitely intelligent, personal being, that it could excuse someone when/if he or she QUOTES someone else, even if that QUOTE happens to use a lower case letter in its supposed job-title.

    Now, on to your question:

    How do I “assume” an “understanding” of scripture? Simple—I read the language therein, the same way that you, or any other human being does, except, the crucial difference is that I don’t disregard, ignore, or circumvent the text that doesn’t appeal to my senses. I don’t throw out the, as you call it, “rule keeping” simply because the idea of a god who keeps commandments and rules doesn’t tickle my fancy.

    Notwithstanding, could I, a *fallible human being*, be misconstruing the language in the bible’s pages?(assuming it is actually god-breathed) Answer: YES!..of course! Why?… because I am a *fallible human being*.

    Now…..will YOU, John C., concede the same? I implore you to give a “yes” or “no” answer. Are you a fallible, human being?

    Continues…..”You consistantly get it wrong and not mildly…sir.”

    ::falls out of chair with laughter!!::

    Yoo, hoo? Pot?…I’d like to to meet Kettle, sir.

    Continues…”Given our numerous past discussions…”

    Excuse me?…. we haven’t had any “discussion”. You haven’t had a “discussion” with anyone on this blog, well, unless you define “discussion” as you telling everyone how “wrong” they are, while insisting you are right.

    As has been made very clear—-you are not here to “discuss”; you are here to proselytize. Frankly, it amazes me how the blog owner puts up with it, unless, again, he feels that your posts serve a reminder to those who left the Christian cult that they made the right choice. Amen, brother Daniel, in that case.

    Continues…..”it appears you are quite content to continue in these falsities and presumptious doctrinal positions regardless of your admission to not knowing this ‘bible’ of said ‘biblegod’.”

    Here, again, your circular premise pops into light. You are essentially telling me that I cannot “know” anything about “True Christianity”, because I don’t believe Christianity” is “True”. You have even gone on record to say that one must *first* believe the Christian philosophy is “Truth”, or one will never understand it.

    DiNg DoNg?….’got circles?

    You are pathetic. And BTW, your mild-mannered approach does not fool me; such is only a disigenuous tactic to ensure that you can hang around and minister.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    “The morals in the bible always seem to need to be “unpacked” by a preacher in order for us to understand that the Bible isn’t actually saying what the actual words actually mean.”

    Thanks for that gem. It explains a lot.

  • VorJack

    “So this parable in itself shows Jesus implying that we don’t get our morals from the Bible or any of his or moses teachings.”

    I would question that. The argument over “who is my neighbor” was a familiar one in ancient Judea. Jesus was siding with the School of Hillel, and then going a bit farther by including the apostate Samaritans as worthy of being considered neighbors.

    But the Hillel school, like all the other schools, based their arguments on interpretations of scripture. Hillel himself argued that the golden rule was the core of the teachings of the Torah. So it seems to me that Jesus would be understood in context as making an argument based on an (extremely liberal) interpretation of scripture.

    It’s only us, who are divorced from the context and with a monolithic understanding of Judaism, who treat this lesson as somehow separate from the Torah.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    “Christians who claim morals are derived from the bible are speaking from ignorance of the true teachings of the bible.

    I submit that Christians who claim that they, and like minded believers, are the best or only ones able to divine the True Teachings (TM) of the Christian Bible are speaking from unwarranted egocentric authority.

  • Mogg

    @Michael

    I agree with you that many (but not all) Christians believe that the Bible is the expression, rather than the source of morality. However, the parable of the Good Samaritan is not a good example of support for that belief. The Samaritans were an offshoot of the Israelites, and their version of worship was also based on the Pentateuch, so the Good Samaritan was not outside the OT context.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    In the Bible, the rules for acquiring and treating slaves are listed right after the ten (is it really only ten?) commandments. They are a continuation of “god’s message” which he insisted Moses relay to the people. How many people consider these rules to be important ones to follow in their everyday life? If it is no longer considered moral to sell your daughter into slavery or beat a slave only hard enough so that he lives for at least three more days, then why are is moral to love this divine law giver with all your heart and mind (Commandment 1 in all versions of the 10)?

  • VorJack

    Ah, the moral sentiments school. I’m skeptical.

    Take Jared Diamond’s observation in Guns, Germs and Steel that the highest cause of death in tribal societies in murder. Honor killings, vengeance killings, killings over disagreements, killings for resources. He mentions one poor woman who had a succession of half a dozen different husbands as they each killed the former husband off.

    It strikes me as unlikely that this could happen if we really had an ingrained moral code that says that killing is wrong. It seems more likely that this moral code is instilled through socialization. No civilized society can allow this kind of rampant killing, and so all civilizations create and instill rules banning certain types of killing on their members.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    “I would argue that we are logical, rational and moral beings because we are created in the image and likeness of God who is himself logical, rational and moral.”

    First you have to prove that your version of god is, in fact, “logical, rational and moral”. The actions he is reported to have performed or directed to be performed, do not paint a picture of a being who would be considered by any modern ethics committee as “logical, rational and moral” in the absence of identifying information.

    In other words, the only thing that makes these actions “moral” is the attribution of divinity to the perpetrator, when that attribution carries with it the a priori assumption that divinity implies exemplary morality. In simpler terms, the argument that god’s actions are moral because he is god is completely circular.

  • Question-I-thority

    I would argue that we are logical, rational and moral beings because we are created in the image and likeness of God who is himself logical, rational and moral. So essentially what I’m trying to say is that we inherently know what is moral and what is not.

    …the bug of theology heading for the windshield of science….

    But I believe there are moral absolutes, like, killing for fun is wrong. Such a thing cannot be argued both ways, because we inherently know that it is wrong.

    Can you explain what you mean exactly by ‘inherently’ especially as it relates to brain function and can you provide any physiological evidence of ‘moral inherentness’ as you define it? You are making a strong assertion here and need to back it up.

  • Frank

    Way up at the top of the thread, you asked sock why he wouldn’t kill “if the thought didn’t “make you ill” – like is the case with a few people?”

    What about those few people? Did God not create them? DO they get some kind of special pass from the “inherent knowledge” that God supplies everyone else with? Cause they obviously have no “inherent” moral compunction.

    NOTE: I am NOT talking about people who kill despite knowing (or feeling) it to be wrong, I am talking about those who would not feel troubled by it, during or after the fact. Those who would not be made to feel “ill”, like Sock and I would.

  • Ty

    “You consistantly get it wrong and not mildly…sir.”

    You are so blissfully unaware of your own hypocrisy.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Yeah, you have to remember that, to John C., Gen. 6:5-7, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9, and all the other verses which say that all humans are worthy of being destroyed like the scum they are is super-secret code of “free puppies for everyone!”

  • professoryackle

    This could be a whole new sub-thread – what wouldn’t jesus do? There must be all kinds of groovy things we can do ‘cos jesus never told us not to…

    chinese burns
    kicking in the goolies
    going “nur nur na nur nur”…

  • professoryackle

    Agreed. And even if God does exist, he’s illogical, irrational and immoral by his own commandments and the chronicles of what he gets up to in the Bible.

    If there’s a more III book, I’ve not read it.

  • Michael

    “n other words, the only thing that makes these actions “moral” is the attribution of divinity to the perpetrator, when that attribution carries with it the a priori assumption that divinity implies exemplary morality. In simpler terms, the argument that god’s actions are moral because he is god is completely circular. ”

    -No, Rosemary, that isn’t what was saying. If there is no God, then no man is in a position to force his opinion of morality upon another. One man’s subjective view of morality is equal to another man’s equally subjective view of morality. Thus, there is no reason to believe in any morality just because another man tells you that it is good.

    It would take an authority that was above having only a subjective view of morality to legislate that morality. God’s view of morality is objective, not subjective.

  • LRA

    Sorry. No. The moral authority comes from the law. We sure as hell can force our morals on people because we can arrest them and put them in jail. No god needed for that.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Michael:

    If there is no God, then no man is in a position to force his opinion of morality upon another. ….
    It would take an authority that was above having only a subjective view of morality to legislate that morality. God’s view of morality is objective, not subjective.

    Unfortunately the concept of what god’s “objective” moral rules are is purely subjective. Christians have not been able to agree about this for centuries.

  • Michael

    “Sorry. No. The moral authority comes from the law. We sure as hell can force our morals on people because we can arrest them and put them in jail. No god needed for that.”

    - Ok. That is also what they do in North Korea. Who are we to tell them they’re being immoral?

  • LRA

    We are rational thinkers who know that dictatorial regimes that are lead by a cult of personality who says that he is a god doesn’t fit into a modern world that has done away with such ridiculousness. We are people who can scrutinize moral claims and weigh the arguments, especially when there is psychological, anthropological, or sociological research behind them.

  • Michael

    “We are rational thinkers who know that dictatorial regimes that are lead by a cult of personality ”

    – You agreed that morality was subjective, so Kim Jong Ill shouts back at you “We are rational thinkers too, and I believe, more rational than you”

    You are still, essentially, forcing your moral opinions on them. Like we agreed: One man’s subjective view of morality is equal to another man’s equally subjective view of morality.

    You cannot logically argue that what he is doing is morally wrong, its just not possible.

  • Sock

    It’s my stance that the one with the authority to decide if an action is “moral” or comes from whoever or whatever is in the place of power, or dominance.

    Be it God, the Law, or the pack leader. Whoever (in the case of a person, or persons) or whatever (in the case of an idea or concept) is treated as a leading figure will be the ones that morality is checked against.

    In a primitive society, if you’re part of a group and your morality goes against the morality of the leader, then you will be beaten or killed for not following.

    In a more civilized society, if you’re not following the laws as set down years ago concerning how to act, then the police will deal with you.

    Personal morality is checked against whoever or whatever is in a position of authority over you.

    Heck ya, I’m brilliant.

  • LRA

    I CAN argue that it is morally wrong– from my culturally constructed perspective. I cannot argue from absolutes (and neither can you) because absolutes cannot be had by humans. We don’t have god-like minds. We do have power, though, and we enforce it within a cultural matrix. As the world globalizes, I have a feeling that societies that promote stability will be rewarded by the powers that be, and unstable regimes (like KJ-I’s) will be punished.

  • Michael

    @ Sock

    hmm.. Interesting. But I would add that whoever was the “leader” that had the power to enforce his morality on others, should have the ‘moral authority’ to be the ‘leader’ – maybe thru elections or something to that effect.

  • Sock

    @Michael

    That’s probably for the best, which is what democracy is supposed to do.

    However, humans are nothing if not ingenious. With the corruption within government, the morality of any government tends to lean towards whoever has the power within the government. In the case of America, for the past couple of decades (if not longer), it’s been whoever has the most money (big coal for example). Not always overtly, and not at the total expense of the common citizen, but there’s still been clear favoring of those with money.

    There are also other governments where there is no elected official. Dictatorships and monarchies, for example. Where the authoritative morality that personal morality is checked against ranges from evil to benevolent, depending on the personal morality of whoever is the ruler.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Not colouring outside the lines is a moral lesson? How so?

  • Ty

    This is why you see this particular religious set constantly talking about America being founded on Judeo-Christian values. It’s just a power grab.

    All your morals are belong to us.

  • Question-I-thority

    Its just that without the divine there cannot be absolute morality. So saying something is wrong is just a matter of opinion.

    So what? You’re making an argument from consequences. And responders have shown how each person’s moral opinion exercised in societies leads to moral systems.

  • claidheamh mor

    “The bug of theology heading for the windshield of science.”

    Oh, man, I have to quote that one.

    Excellent!

  • LRA

    Q-I-T…

    Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug…

    No, really… reason is the windshield to the bug of blind faith!

    ;)

  • Frank

    thanks! I’m gonna listen to it tonight!

  • DarkMatter

    So, he should fight for the sins of morality of christians to be judged under the law of the Spirit and not laws of the flesh, no more prison for christians who sin against their God, God wil send them to hell after they die.

    Cory Tucholski’s comment also deny Fox of lying, by the way.

  • Ty

    Which is why I generally prefer mockery to debate.

    The Christians can show up with their bag of logical fallacies and Pascal’s wager, and I can point at them and laugh.

  • claidheamh mor

    Excellent.

  • Roger

    Excellent comment. It amazes me to read comments from some folk who assume that the atheist denizens of this (and other) blogs have NO understanding of Christianity. Of course, when we present arguments that contradict the above assertion, we get the argument that we weren’t REALLY Christians to begin with–we just didn’t have enough faith, because if we had more faith (how much? Can you quantify that for me?), then we’d totally believe in the Imaginary, Petty, Vengeful, Spiteful Sky-Daddy (who needs serious anger management/abuse counseling).

  • Question-I-thority

    Cognitive dissonance makes it almost impossible for people to change in the short run. I know this was true for me. However, truth has a way of seeping down into the subconscious to be later revived and claimed as one’s own. The weight of evidence does make a difference over the long haul, at least for some. Also, remember that not everyone who is looking is also posting. Those caught in the existential crisis are unlikely to post.

  • Marley

    I’m just sick and tired of their shit. Spinoza they ain’t.

  • LRA

    Ty is my new best friend…

    ;) (from afar! Admiration does not = stalking!)

  • http://oceansdreams.wordpress.com Ocean

    Off topic, but I still find it hard to color inside the lines. Thank god (whichever one is a patron of the arts) for photoshop.

    Actually, isn’t Athena for wisdom and arts?

  • John C

    @Boomslang…

    The bottom line is that you keep misrepresenting the true character/nature of my Father, how can you not? You yourself say you dont know Him and dont believe He even exists.

    I, on the other hand have told the truth about Him, His nature, character because I know Him very well and have for the last quarter century despite your insistance otherwise.

    I have nothing against you Boomslang, I am merely holding you accountable for your own words. I think that’s fair in such a format as this? I do not berate or belittle you in any way.

    @Winter…

    The verses you referenced are tied to unregenerate man, the inherited adamic soul life prior to the Great Transaction, the Great Exchange. The Romans quote in particular is a direct OT reference for example.

  • claidheamh mor

    “Dishonest John”, you are doing some misrepresenting too. And, possibly, you are not telling the truth.

    Other posters and I are finding you lacking in credibility.

    e.g.:
    Were you misrepresenting yourself as having read an actual book by CS Lewis when you said, “I am familiar with Lewis”? Did you read an actual book, as opposed to a Wikipedia blurb or a quote on a tea box? Or are you misleading people into believing you read a whole book by him?

    No one living outside of your head knows, and you aren’t speaking directly or truthfully.

    Which is it?

  • boomSLANG

    “The bottom line is that you keep misrepresenting the true character/nature of my Father, how can you not?”

    No, John C., the bottom line is that you. do. not. listen….. nor do you have any intention of entertaining any POV that conflicts with your own subjective beliefs(including, answering questions in regards to this personal, subjective belief)

    For example, I admitted that I am fallible, just like all human beings, and thus, since there are innumerable ways to interpret this “Holy Writ” that you extol so much, that I cannot know, for certain, what biblegod(assuming it exists for sake of argument) meant in an objective sense, since again, to glean the text’s meaning depends on my limited mind, just as it depends on your limited mind. ‘Trouble is, you flat-out refuse to admit that you have a limited mind; you flat-out refuse to admit that you are no less prone to human error than anyone else. Will you?..will you admit it to the class?…..huh? huh? huh?

    **Here, again, is that simple, multiple choice question: Are you a fallible human being?

    a) Yes

    b) No.

    Continues….”You yourself say you dont know Him and dont believe He even exists.”

    No; here’s what I say:

    NO ONE – including you – has any objective way to show other human beings that they “know Him”(i.e..biblegod, or any other invisible being). Yes, you can BELIEVE that you “know Him” all you damned-well please, but if you expect *ME* to believe(and adopt) your belief, you’ll need to prove, what?…..Right!…you’ll need to prove that you are infallible, and thus, incapable of misinterpreting the “Holy Writ”….or, “the offer”.

    See here**, above.

    Continues….”I, on the other hand have told the truth about Him, His nature, character because I know Him very well and have for the last quarter century despite your insistance otherwise.”

    Prove it.

    Continues…”I have nothing against you Boomslang, I am merely holding you accountable for your own words.”

    I wouldn’t have it any other way. Re-read this post from the top. I’m not the one claiming to “know”, with absolute certainty, what I cannot know, due to my limitations. You are.

    See here**, above.

    Continues….”I do not berate or belittle you in any way. ”

    Liar. Telling me and other human beings who don’t believe your philosophy on life that we “live outside of it['love']” is surely berating, not-to-mention, arrogant and condescending.

    John C., I don’t believe you. You said I must *first* believe, before I can understand. Well, I stand my ground that that is circular and illogical. Get over it, would you?

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Oh no, Boomslang! You’ve got it wrong again, sir!

    Let me try to rephrase (with apologies to our resident religious expert).

    One can only believe that the Bible is true if you are first prepared to believe it is true and then you accept on faith that it is true. Then it is quite obvious that it is true. It all becomes clarifying clear.

    The circularity is really a singularity and the singularity is a circularity. It all become clear when you are singularly circling in the circularity.

    Get it, now?

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @ John C:

    “I, on the other hand have told the truth about Him, His nature, character because I know Him very well and have for the last quarter century despite your insistance otherwise.”

    That’s what the Imams say, too. But they insist that you don’t know the real god at all.

    In my professional life I have met many people who are absolutely convinced that they know all kinds of things which are either easily debunked or extremely unlikely. They get very irate when they are confronted with the truth because they insist that they “just know” in their hearts or minds that their delusional feelings, revelations, visions or insights are the Real Truth.

    I recall a nun who insisted that god had revealed to her that 1=2.

    People with a specific type of focal epilepsy believe that they have visions of the True God. Their visions are always consistent with their background and belief experience and frequently flatly contradict the visions of others from different backgrounds.

    Relatively recent research in the neurosciences have discovered that people report a “sensed presence” when a particular part of the brain is stimulated. Whether one attributes this sensation to the presence of a god, oneness with the universe or just an odd sensation depends entirely on the circumstances, the environment and the personality of the person doing the experiencing.

    Other research revealed that feelings of transcendence are associated with impaired or depressed functioning in another part of the brain which then induced over-activity in another part of the brain (the part which attributes meaning to sensations). This pattern of brain activity occurred regardless of whether the person was praying to the Christian god, meditating on the Buddah or attempting to be at one with the universe.

    I don’t have any reason to believe that your experience of “knowing” god is any different or has any more basis in reality. .

  • boomSLANG

    @ Rosemary LYNDALL,

    Yes, Ma’am……I’ve got it now. If I intepreted you correctly, you are saying….

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    In fact, I know I intepreted you correctly, Ma’am, because I believe it!

    There is more…..there is a Looking-Glass!

  • John C

    @Rosemary…

    I think you are going to fit in well here ma’am! Welcome, we have some spirited fun, and Boomslang despises me the most so I always love hearing from him!You remind me of Paul speaking to king (governor) Agrippa, after hearing Paul ramble on for some time he exclaims…”Paul (Rosemary), I think your great learning hath made you mad”. I’m being silly, but you get the point.

    Btw..that piece I shared with you last night that you claimed to be of a “jungian” sort is a quote dated 1624. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Jung was around back then?? Hang in there Rosemary…you are quite contrary! lol.

    @Boomslang…

    You know, if we keep this up long enough you’re bound to learn something at some point…I appreciate you. You are always good about communicating, that says a lot for you. I don’t care if we disagree, but when we get to the point that we can no longer talk…

    Big changes on the way…soon.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    My dear BloomSLANG,

    I do believe you have it exactly! The slithy toves are benificent in their praiseous applause.

  • boomSLANG

    “Big changes on the way…soon.”

    Nope; no changes—-only you, asserting your position true with zero objective evidence to substantiate it.

    And was that a “yes”?…infallible human? Or, a “no”?

    ________________________________

    There is more, Rosemary. Love is a slithy tove! It really is! Big changes! Woo!

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    I recall a nun who insisted that god had revealed to her that 1=2.

    Well, it does.

    For small values of 2, anyway.

  • slurms

    I’ve been reading the blog for a while now and just recently started posting comments. I think Daniel could make an entire post of all of the times John has neglected to give a straight answer or attempted to segway around it. It reminds me of when I would ask questions to pastors when I was growing up and got similar “answers”.

  • doesntworkthatway

    I don’t see “ceasing someone to exist” as damaging him/her or cause suffering, exactly because he cease to exist and therefore, to suffer.

    Avoiding suffering is not a person’s (or an animal’s) only interest.

    We also have an interest in continuing to live. Our lives are our own, and it’s not for anyone else to decide that our interest in continued life is not a sufficient interest.

    Your stance now essentially grants permission for another to murder you, as long as they ensure you do not suffer in the process.

    You are committing a fallacy of viewing everything teleologically, where only the future matters. This overlooks the fact that right now I am a conscious being with an interest in living, and you would be wronging me right now by depriving me of that.

    In your teleological fallacy, not even suffering can be said to really matter, because in the real end, we’re all dead, the universe is near uniform absolute zero, and there are no more memories, no way to even know that suffering or pleasure ever happened. But this is silly; of course suffering matters; it’s just that it matters now because there are conscious beings with interests in not suffering now. And just the same these beings have an interest in continuing to live now.

    Was this helpful?

  • DarkMatter

    It is like saying killing “is” faith/religion because there is no historical proof atheists kill each other because of atheism.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    If these pastors actually suffered from some kind of developmental disability I would feel sorry for them. Having a fully functioning adult brain, and still believing in imaginary friends deserves some ridicule though.

  • The Medium Lebowsky

    Not all adult brains are equal though.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    No doubt – but at a bare minimum an adult brain should understand the very high improbability of the existence of god.

    I’m no smarter than most and I get it. if I can anyone can.

  • Somegreencat

    I have had some christians claim that all those people who taught those morals before the bible were doing it because they were directed by god. I see this about the same as when some christians say all those other religions are actually worshiping god just doing it wrong.

  • http://blog.elliottcallahan.com Elliott

    Ty, you make my day.

  • LRA

    Yeah– according to christians, Greeks were *proto-christians*! Really! That is the bull they sling!

  • LRA

    Exactly. And Hindu wayyyyyyy pre-dates the bible!!!

  • Barry

    sorry i should have been a little more clear, because if I wasn’t a Christian I’d find Buddhism very attractive. My point was that atheist Westerners see finality in this life where as an individual in an “atheistic” system such a Buddhism seeks to detach from this world and overcome the wheel of suffering. Also from some of the atheists that I’ve known from other parts of the world, they definitely don’t view the world in Lockean or Hobbesian terms and I don’t think they would be offended for me to say that. I think as Westerners we tend to project our values on the rest of the world and assume they look at it in the same manner we do.

  • Barry

    I wasn’t trying to defend the premises in my logic, I was trying to show that from a Christian vantage point morality from all people is explainable. I know some people claim that atheists don’t have morals and that was the idea I was attacking.

    My point about killing isn’t off base at all either, history bears this out. Killing happens and people have different ideas about who we are allowed to kill, there’s no debate about that, is there?

    Forms of Christianity can belittle humanity, but an orthodox view affirms the value that God places on humans. The Bible does say we have a “disease” but the important consequence is that we have a hope and are not beyond redemption. We don’t die for worms, but God was prepared to suffer for us and that shows the worth he finds in us.

  • LRA

    Denis! Great gravatar (is that the word for your pic?) Anyhoo- I love my white cat… Isabelle.

  • Michael

    “NOTE: I am NOT talking about people who kill despite knowing (or feeling) it to be wrong, I am talking about those who would not feel troubled by it, during or after the fact. Those who would not be made to feel “ill”, like Sock and I would. ”

    - People form their own personality and behavior thru the many decisions they make in their life. Someone, for instance, can become desensitized to the “ill”[s] brought about by killing other people when he’s been thru, say, a war. Some, because of the hundreds of bad decisions in their life, lose the aversion for killing, and perhaps, crazily, begin to find joy in the act. If you are suggesting that there are people who have specific psychological problems – that somehow puts them under the impression that killing is ‘good’ and ‘fun’ – I don’t think such people exist. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe someone may, because of genetic predisposition, have unusual desires, but I don’t think ‘killing’ could be one of them.

  • LRA

    Wha? You need to read a scholarly account of serial killers (rather than relying on your uninformed opinion). These people often have trauma to their frontal lobes (which control impulses) in addition to their crappy childhoods. These “decisions” as you call them are impulses. Should they go scott free? Hell no. We have to protect ourselves. Yet, all criminals deserve compassion, not eternal damnation.

  • Michael

    “These people often have trauma to their frontal lobes (which control impulses) in addition to their crappy childhoods. These “decisions” as you call them are impulses. ”

    – Impulses that they ‘choose’ to act upon right? Are you suggesting that they have no choice? That they involuntarily act on such impulse?

  • LRA

    I suggest that choice is not a matter of simple black and white free will. People have choices to make within the matrices of their existences. Therefore, screwed up people are likely (but not always) apt to make screwed up decisions.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Michael,

    People who have damage to the frontal lobes of the brain have a disconnection between “knowing” and “doing”. They act purely on automatic impulse. If that has been well ingained then they will retain some appropriate social behaviours, but they cannot be counted on to adjust their behavior appropriately to new situations or to repress inappropriate impulses.

    Head injured ministers, priests, parsons, pastors and evangelists will swear, masturbate, attempt to rape nursing staff, hit people they don’t like, get angry with people for little reason or no apparent reason, and so on. If they pick up a knife I have one word of advice: run.

    The seat of our moral behavior resides in the pre-frontal and orbito-frontal areas of the brain. Once these are damaged no amount of previous piety will prevent these people engaging in socially unacceptable behavior. The so-called “fruits of the spirit” are impaired along with the cerebral cortex.

    Since such people are no longer responsible for their behavior this causes considerable problems for the moralist and the theologian. Medically, part of this person has died. Religion has no answer for how to treat a partially dead person, especially when what has died is the seat of that person’s moral personality.

  • Michael

    Then I suggest you reread my previous post. I did say that people, because of genetic predisposition, can have unusual desires. This doesn’t mean they had no ‘choice’ on the matter. They ‘choose’ to act upon a desire that they know is ‘wrong’ therefore they are morally culpable.

  • Michael

    @ Rosemary,

    That last post was for LRA.

    Thats an interesting post you just made. I would definitely try to read more on the matter.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    I should add that people with frontal damage can demonstrate, verbally, that they know what they should do, but they cannot translate that into appropriate action. T

    hey can also demonstrate, verbally, that they are aware that they about to make a mistake or that they are, in fact, in the process of making one. The problem is that they cannot effectively monitor their behavior or prevent themselves from performing in ways they “know” they should not.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    I forgot to add that people with severe frontal lobe damage do not feel guilt or concern about their behavior. In fact, they are generally totally unconcerned about things, even those that can kill them.

    One of my colleagues told me of a patient who sat in a chair day in and day out, watching the same TV channel for hours – even though he did not like the program. The same man had a heart attack while sitting in the chair but did nothing about it. The pain must have been excruciating, but that didn’t cause him to get up or call for help. Finally, someone arrived, noticed that he didn’t look well and asked him about it, at which point he admitted that he was in pain.

  • LRA

    Michael,

    You clearly don’t understand the difference between genetic predisposition (which is limited sometimes and strong sometimes), physical damage on a systematic level (which can’t be overcome as neurons don’t grow back), and environmental influence.

    Your rigid idea of moral culpability is cruel. If some one scrambled your brains (ie shaken baby syndrome), abused you, and you were born with a genetic difference, would you want to be judged by your standards?

    On the other hand, I don’t want dangerous people running free in our society. Just a thought.

  • LRA

    ps Interesting story… relating to Rosemary’s post about not caring.. I had knee surgery a few years back and after I awoke from the surgery, I was in excruciating pain. They admitted me for over night observation and put me on either demorol or darvocet (sp?). Anyhoo, the drug made me loopy to say the least. I was still in excruciating pain, but I just *didn’t* care! Hard to explain. I couldn’t even tell the nurse that I was still hurting, because I didn’t care.

    So the point is this, the brain is enormously complicated. Maybe we should stop being so black and white in our ideas about culpability and figure out a way to evaluate our prisoners for brain damage so that we may be more humane in our prison systems.

  • Michael

    “You clearly don’t understand the difference between genetic predisposition (which is limited sometimes and strong sometimes), physical damage on a systematic level (which can’t be overcome as neurons don’t grow back), and environmental influence. ”

    - Actually, I do. But we always assume that a genetic predisposition would abdicate anyone from responsibility, since its inborn. I was just arguing for the least defensible situation. If I bashed someones head, which turned him into a crazy killer of some sort (assuming this was possible), then the culpability could be on me.

    Well I have to say I’m somewhat enlightened by rosemary’s post, so I’ll concede this point.

  • LRA

    Well, I certainly don’t want dangerous people running around- regardless of how they got that way- but I don’t believe that they are going to burn in hell either. I don’t believe that screwed up people are sinners and horrible and deserving of eternal torture. I think their lives are miserable enough already.

  • LRA

    You know what I find strange about our criminal justice system…

    We have compassion for children who act out because of horrible life circumstances, but the minute they turn 18, they are the scum of the earth. I suggest that broken children become broken adults (sometimes not always). I think broken adults must be dealt with within the confines of our laws, but should also not be further traumatized by our cruel prison systems (in which gang activity and raping is rampant). I think prison (in America at least) needs to be hugely reformed. It hardens people, and I don’t see how prisons claim that they rehabilitate people when they don’t even protect them from the other prisoners. That being said, I still don’t want dangerous people running around loose.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    LRA: I don’t believe the US prison system does claim to rehabilitate prisoners.

    Any time a politician suggests that our criminal justice system should have any purpose other than vengeance, votes immediately get rid of them for being “soft on crime”.

    Which is why America has the highest prison population per capita in the world. Any attempt at actually preventing crime rather than punishing it is anathema to the voters.

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    @ LRA

    ” I think prison (in America at least) needs to be hugely reformed. It hardens people, and I don’t see how prisons claim that they rehabilitate people when they don’t even protect them from the other prisoners. ”

    mark: Not only that, but it is a well known fact that some folks go in for minor things like repeatedlly selling weed then are sometimes turned into hard criminals.

  • Michael

    But the type of people your referring to (with the damaged frontal lobes, or other mental limitations) represent a very very small percentage of the prison population, or of convicted felons in general (unless I’m mistaken here). Most criminals know what they ought not to do, but they do it anyway. I do agree, however, that prison systems simply “harden” criminals. I guess its not easy coming up with a system that would discourage crime while simultaneously not end up “hardening” criminals.

    And if we give considerations to “broken individuals”, there will be an upsurge of criminals who would claim they are “broken” – something very difficult to refute especially if their “broken[ess]” was, as they would say, due to environmental/social circumstances.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @LRA. Determining if prisoners had brain damage was one of my jobs in Australia. I can truthfully say that I have been admitted to every prison and most courts in Western Australia  The sad thing is that prisoners were only evaluated if they were on remand or appeal and the defense was aware of the possibility of brain impairment.

    In another Aussie State I got to see a lot of youths who had a torrid school and work history following a head trauma that nobody took much notice of.

    The average Jill and Joe have the false idea that brain impairment is always total. In the vast majority of cases the impairment is partial. The person can control themselves for part of the time. In the case of a head-injured adult behind a wheel the relevant question is: Is it advisable to let this person drive if they can stop at 9 red lights out of 10? In the case of a head-injured criminal the relevant question is more complex: Is there reasonable doubt that this person has total control over their behaviour and the expression of their impulses?

    @Michael
    And if we give considerations to “broken individuals”, there will be an upsurge of criminals who would claim they are “broken” – something very difficult to refute especially if their “broken[ess]” was, as they would say, due to environmental/social circumstances.

    How could we tell if someone who said they had a brain impairment was telling the truth? Competent neuropsychological examinations can tell the difference between a real syndrome and a dissembled disorder. I once examined a man who had been tested by one of my less competent colleagues and pronounced to be brain defective. The evidence for the deception was right there in his test results, but my colleague, who was not a neuropsychologist, had merely noticed the low overall score instead of noticing that the sub-test pattern made no anatomical sense. Even in severe generalized conditions, some tests “hold” while others do not. Further testing by me confirmed my colleagues mistake.

    It is true, however, that determining the impact of someone’s environmental circumstances and parenting experiences is a lot more subjective. It is not irrelevant, however.

    The overall problem with the US-type criminal justice system is that it is there to blame, not to rehabilitate.

    If the reason was to reduce crime then the system would address the causes of crime. These are many and varied http://law.jrank.org/pages/12004/Causes-Crime.html. Unfortunately a large number are sadly associated with social, educational and economic conditions (such as capitalism, health insurance tied to employment, gun ownership) which the average American considers to be part of the “greatness” of America, an essential and necessary part of the system and their right or priviledge to enjoy, possess or inflict. Others are the result of inescapable poverty, illness or genetic conditions which cannot be logically blamed on the perpetrator/victim and which are not addressed by society. In the US it is not only a crime to be poor, it is a crime to be too physically or mentally ill to work. The environment is not totally to blame. Studies of identical twins reared appart (with identical genetics but different environments) indicate that genetics has a greater influence than the environment in determining who will commit a crime. There are no programs which seek to offset these risk factors before they result in permanent damage.

    I think prison (in America at least) needs to be hugely reformed. It hardens people, and I don’t see how prisons claim that they rehabilitate people.

    I totally agree.

    I live in California. The system here is little short of the kind of hell which the Yahweh and Allah gods are believed to have devised. It is so overcrowded and underserviced that prisoners suffer excruciating pain from treatable medical conditions. There is worse. It is cruel and unusual punishment to wait until someone with a treatable condition reaches medical crisis and then put them on life support and leave them there for months so that they can be executed by the State on their due date. In another case, a group of prisoners were literally boiled alive in a non-air-conditioned prison van which got lost in the desert on its way to moving them to another facility. On the bright side, the State was able to save upkeep costs by relocating several of these victims to the morgue. /sarcasm

    And all this so that America’s Christian majority can reek vengence according to their godly beliefs. “Vengence is mine”, saith the Lord. (Romans 12: 19-21) But Americans believe that they are the instruments of the Lord.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Thank goodness they don’t come from the Bible.

    Considering the horrors which are condoned in that book I am amazed that anyone would want to imply that this is the entire source of their morals. Are we to see the reintroduction of Biblically based stoning for divorcees next Sunday, Pastor? All the forgiven and saved people ought to be sufficiently “without sin” to cast the first stones. Then the rest of congregation was join in. It should be good clean Biblical fun.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Jesus referred to the “law and the prophets”. What do these translate to in Jewish terminology? How many of the books in the Christian “Old Testament” are accepted by today’s Jewish clerics? When were they first acknowledged as sacred?

  • John C

    Morality, as we know it is a fallacy. Morality itself implies a choice, an either/or, good & evil. God is spirit (John 4:4). In the spirit there is no duality, no potential for good & evil, only good. The Lord is…One, not a plurality in nature. This is why Paul implores us to “walk in the spirit” and then we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (our lower, faulty, inherited adamic nature).

    When man(kind) chose to eat (live from) the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, the tree of Self within as opposed to the tree of life (Christ), our innocence was lost and the result is…morality. Morality is man’s desperate attempt at “knowing right & wrong”, being his own God. The problem is, since that it is now a divided mind we have so many different views of right & wrong. So conflicts and war’s break out, we are divided and a house divided against itself can not stand.

    Morality is like the left over fragments of the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, the pieces are everywhere. Religion, external rule keeping as opposed to a new nature, His within is also a product of this rotten, death bearing fruit. The admonition to “be renewed in the spirit of our minds” is an offer to return to the original paradaisical condition prior to the fall where there was no striation, no “apart” from.

    We don’t want morality, because someone else’s will always be different from ours, we want the wholeness, the oneness that Christ offers, that innocence we had in the beginning again. We want to abide in the vine, the one divine (spiritual) eternal, mind of Christ.

  • John C

    But where’d your gut come from? Did you make that too?

  • Frank

    My wife made it all the way to Job before throwing in the towel. I still admire that.

  • John C

    Should start with the NT, the words of Christ, the book of John.

    The OT will just seem harsh and irrelevant until you know…Him.

  • John C

    Frank…thx for the response, the history. Think with me for a minute tho’…how could she really ever have known Him and then said she…didnt? If you know someone you cant deny their existence? How could you, you KNOW them, that they…are.

    One could certainly deny religion, dogma, teaching, church’s etc, but not Him. Now one could reject Him, but I dont believe that is the case here.

    I have no doubt as to her sincerity, etc, its just been my experience that most “christians” never penetrate beyond the veil of the flesh into the realm of the spirit. Only in the last 5 years of my own journey have I myself experienced this unseen, eternal realm in the here and now.

    Nonetheless the journey continues, I wish you both all the very, very best.

  • Frank

    Yep. Every little bit of logic we can float out there has a “ripple effect”.

    I remember seeing one comment thread on here where an obviously young believer, who just hadn’t heard enough good arguments, left, after having his “down-pat” arguments politely but thoroughly disassembled, with something like, “Thanks, I’m going to have to go think about that” (I paraphrase) He really sounded like some great honking cracks had formed in the walls of his intellectual prison.

    It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and I really hope I can help somebody come around sooner, rather than later. The more of your life, culture, and relationships you invest in a false belief, the more painful and difficult the process of accepting the truth becomes, as I am sure many of you know all too well.

  • Frank

    It took me a long time to get it, and I AM smarter than most. Leaving a worldview you were raised in is really freaking tough.

    It’s hard to be humble when you are as fabulous as me.

  • http://billpost.blogspot.com/ Bill

    Not saying it’s easy, just that it’s a grown up thing to do though.

  • Frank

    Oh, She knew him, John. She totally knew him.

    When we first met, She had a “Christians aren’t Perfect… Just Forgiven” bumper sticker. She and I were both raised in devout (though very different) Christian households, and we met at Church.

    As a matter of fact, JC, you remind me a lot of her mother, who has a similar, patient, loving, and somewhat mystical approach to being a follower of Christ.

    My Dad, a Minister, who is being Ordained as a Methodist “Elder” this summer, married the two of us in her Hometown Church she had belonged to since way back when.

    My Enlightenment and De-conversion, 3 or 4 years later, was, as you might understand, very, VERY hard on her, but I was able to bring her around after only a few months.

    We let the subject alone for a while, as it was a very sore spot, but now we have found that, even here, in the heart of the Bible Belt, we are surrounded by several good friends who share our disbelief. (It’s not something you advertise this close to the KKK’s birthplace!)

    We now both share in the comfort that comes from allowing ourselves to not try and cram all of our real-world experiences into a shape that conforms with what we have been told is true, but we can easily see is not.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Sock.

    I am sure the Catholic Pope thinks it would have been more in line with his version of god’s will had she died and her developing twins had died with her. In a case like that there is probably no hope that the developing life forms could have survived anyway. In the Pope’s thinking it is better to lose all three than save one of them.

    Needless to say, I am disgusted and appalled by the Pope’s moral values.

  • Sock

    I agree. But the point I was mostly trying to get to is… well.

    The father having sex with his daughter is there, in writing, in Lev 18:6. That’s in the Bible, clearly. Abortion is not. Why did the Church (which is more than just one person, so someone SHOULD have caught that) react more strongly to something that isn’t in the Bible?

  • kiwisushi28

    You are sickening. What you just said is sickening. What you just said is so, so sexist it’s unbelievable. Okay, so what I hear from that post is “I want to be unfaithful to my wife, I want her to be okay with the fact that I’m cheating on her.” What kind of disgusting thing is that to think? And this line, “Learn to use it [polygamy] and women to your advantage.” Okay, in what universe do you live in? You think it’s okay to advertise something ILLEGAL in some countries, something many women across the globe would be disgusted at you for and would probably like to harm you, and look like you LIKE that idea? What you are saying just goes along with the old sexist theory that men are better than women which is untrue. Just because of someone’s sex you get this idiotic idea you’re BETTER than them? And what about this line telling people to use women to your advantage? I thought Christianity was about reaching the good in people, believing in God, and being a good person. Obviously, you didn’t get the lesson. I’m sorry, that needed to be said and I’m personally puzzled why no one replied to this.

  • LRA

    Umm. I think Alan was being ironic…

  • Sock

    Because it was satirical.

    His purpose was to point out what the Bible, specifically, states.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    You think it’s okay to advertise something ILLEGAL in some countries

    Being Christian is ILLEGAL in some countries. Does that mean that the Christians should immediately stop trying to convert people?

    Speaking out against the government is ILLEGAL in some countries, but I still think it’s a damn good idea to spread.

  • claidheamh mor

    You dumbass.

  • Frank

    The same way I once “Knew” Santa Claus, John. The same way I “knew” that 6th-Graders were some of the biggest, scariest people around! The same way I “Knew” that my Dad and Mom were pretty much all-powerful. The way I “Knew” that I was never going to be one of those idiots that rides a motorcycle without adequate protection.

    I “Knew” that I was going to let MY kids stay up as late as they wanted, and eat dessert before dinner, and I “Knew” that my dog would never bite anyone.

    Time has a way of humbling us before what we think we “know”. We grow, John. Some of us just resist it more strenuously.

  • John C

    Thx Frank…all the best to you and your wife.

    I appreciate you.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @John C

    If you don’t believe that you have Jesus in your literal heart then there is no reason to suppose that Starr has morals in her literal gut.

    Or do you actually think that you have a god living in your literal heart, like the literally correct Bible says in the KJV? Perhaps the word translates differently in the Greek and the KJV staff were not totally divinely inspired after all.

    How far do you take the idea of literal divination of the Bible, anyway? Is every translated jot literally God’s divine word, or is it only that way in the original language? Does it matter which committed Christian translates it or should it be plain for all to see? What happens to the divine word when fallible Christians disagree? How does anyone decide which Christian has the gift of infallible interpretation and can reliably determine the Real Truth (TM)?

    Did your preacher training provide you will infallibility in these matters? Or should be believe that the Pope has this ability sometimes, just like some of them have said. How would we know if these statements are themselves infallible?

    It’s all rather subjective, isn’t it? And that, of course, is where the whole damned argument falls flat on its face. Any decision about the objectivity and infallibility of the Bible has to be made by fallible people within a subjective framework. Interpreting the Bible is just not amenable to the scientific method. The closest thing to that would be the pronouncements of the scholars of the Jesus Seminar. I doubt you could accept that, right? Of course, it is your right to hold an entirely unsubstantiated subjective opinion on the matter. Just don’t expect me to find it plausable, please.

  • LRA

    this from the ID advocate who supposedly studies the biological sciences…

  • Sock

    Not impossible. Just difficult!

    I tend to keep my cool with anyone, unless they’re guilty of my pet peeve.

    Saying the same thing over and over and over again.

  • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

    lucidmystery,

    Please. You do realize how hard I’ve tried to have calm, rational discussions with you, don’t you? And yet we still never get anywhere…I don’t think you can pin all the blame on the “heated subject”.

    Many of us have tried to have a positive dialogue. I have tried to have a positive dialogue with you. But the intellectual discussion still doesn’t seem to work.

    Come on, I think you are not giving us enough credit or you are not really trying. Besides, I think these discussions are fairly civil most of the time.

  • John C

    Rosemary…thx for your response, you always put a good effort in them which I find rather dignifying.

    If I could paraphrase where you were headed with all that (imho, not meaning to take liberties with what you were saying, its just where I understood it to be going please correct me if I am wrong) I would say yes, the world is truly awaiting the unveiling of the (true) sons (offspring) of God.

    Here’s how I see humanity’s problem in my “unorthodox” way:

    In the original, the paradaisical, the utopian climate prior to death (the separation) we held to the image and likeness of Father. Since that image has been marred, perverted due to the sin scar’ing we no longer recognize Him in one another, in humanity at large resulting in a loss of brotherhood, true identity and paternity across mankind. This “perversion” of the true image of the Father lost in man has incurred the “wrath” of God on the “ungodliness” OF man, not on man(kind) himself. Romans 1:18.

    I am reminded of George MacDonald’s wonderful quote on the topic helping us to understand the true nature of God saying “the wrath of God will consume what we call ourselves so that the real self God made shall appear”. I just love that quote cuz it so clearly displays (what I believe to be) the true heart/nature of the Father. Now we can say…namaste, we honor the image/likeness of God in one another.

    Mankind’s story, the fairy tale is not over, we live in the adamic dream, the illusion of life. Its time for us to “awake and Christ (our true identity as sons of God) will shine on you”. Adam was put to sleep, those who are “in Christ, in the spirit” have awoken, are being awakened to the light.

    Its so good, so very good we have a hard time believing it, so must of us…dont cuz its not “plausible”. Love is not reasonable, its love.

    God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 Jn 4:16.

    Go

  • John C

    God loves Sock, God loves Sock, God loves Sock, God loves Sock….lol

  • LRA

    Ha! ;)

  • Sock

    Hah! I love it.

  • LRA

    The first ha was directed at Sock, but for JC I also say ha!

  • Sock

    I will strangle you with a kitten if you keep that up. >.<

  • LRA

    he he he!

  • John C

    Ok then I will just say it once then:

    GOD LOVES SOCK VERY MUCH!

    Is that better? lol

  • Sock

    Much better. Now never say it again, or else!

    :P

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Don’t sacrifice the kitten. Isn’t there something that could do the job better? A nice Sock, for instance. I say: Sock it to him, man.

    But I will not repeat myself.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Sock, goaded to despair by the repeating love mantra of JC, picks up the nearest kitten which has been carefully bred for this lapse of moral rectitude, and begins to wind it slowly about the ….

    But Wait! There’s More!

    For a few dollars extra we can watch while the Mighty Sock, Master of the Verbal Punch, Lord of the Logical Twist, stops in his fulminating tracks to consider his other alternatives.

    Finally, armed with his Arsenal, the maddened Stupid Hero slams himself towards his Repeating Nemesis until his Interminably Revolving Circles cease to spin about their divine axis…..(To be continued)

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @John C.

    I was heading for Mexico but is seems you are travelling to Canada. I just could not find anything in what you have just said which was relevant to what I just asked.

    Nevertheless, it was an interesting insight into the tangential nature of your thinking. It seems a bit like the knight’s jump in chess. Unless you are familiar with the game it is hard to see how the knight gets from one spot to the next.

  • John C

    Sorry…I thought you were essentially asking…how do we know who to believe??

    Hence my sharing bout the unveiling of the true son’s??

    My bad…

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    Because they are obsessed with abortion, that’s why. And they have a long history of exonerating or ignoring raping men and blamming their woes on wicked temptresses who they are too weak to resist. I imagine there is a lot of self-preservation in this attitude. If the Pope had excommunicated the father he would have opened the door for the reasonable argument that he should also excommunicate all of his own raping Father’s – and then where would the Catholic Church be? Who would run the parishes? Women?

  • Francesco Orsenigo

    “Your stance now essentially grants permission for another to murder you, as long as they ensure you do not suffer in the process.”

    Yes.
    I have no problem with this.
    If I died suddenly and (for me) unexpectedly, I do not consider that a damage.
    Then again, my family and my close friends wouldn’t be happy, my death would cause THEM to suffer.

    I couldn’t understand the wikipedia article about “teleology”, I’ll take my time to study it.

    “[...] not even suffering can be said to really matter, because in the real end, we’re all dead [...]“.

    Quite so, too.
    But as you point out, this is a future event, not something that happens in the present.

    No, not very helpful.
    Just because all the people around you agrees on your points doesn’t make them universal truths valid for everyone.

  • doesntworkthatway

    No, not very helpful.

    That’s fine, I can’t guarantee that what I say is helpful to everyone…

    Just because all the people around you agrees on your points doesn’t make them universal truths valid for everyone.

    … but you don’t have to be so condescending about it. I know people disagree with me, I am not surrounded by people who agree, and I’m okay with that. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean that they’re an idiot who lives in an echo chamber.

    If I died suddenly and (for me) unexpectedly, I do not consider that a damage.

    Okay, you don’t have to value your own life. You’re the one who gets to decide that, because it’s your life. Just the same, you don’t get to decide that that should apply to everyone else; you don’t get to decide that no one else’s life is of value.

    Other people have decided that they do have an interest in continuing to live. These people, then, would in sudden death be deprived of something of value.

    I couldn’t understand the wikipedia article about “teleology”, I’ll take my time to study it.

    Admittedly, teleology has been used to mean many things, and I wasn’t clear. I’m talking about the older sense of the word, referring to “final cause,” the notion that the future affects the past.

    Here you are advancing the idea that present value (like the value of continuing to live right now) is overruled by future value (eventually no value at all). In other words, that the future can reach backwards into the present and rob the present of its value.

    That’s a pretty big assumption, and you haven’t adequately supported it.

  • Sock

    I can quantify how much faith you should have in order to be a true Christian.

    It’s about as two and a half to three feet high. Anymore than that, and you leave behind child like faith and it just doesn’t survive past that.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Wisdom and war. The arts were the purview of the Muses rather than the gods. Though if you step away from the Greco-Roman pantheon, there’s Baldr, Thoth or Xochipilli.

    And I think that being required to stay inside the lines is a crime against artistic expression. I’ll colour wherever I damn well please, thank you very much.

  • claidheamh mor

    But never underestimate the power of blind faith to enable the believer to overlook reality.

    My vote for Best Bumper Sticker!

  • claidheamh mor

    @barry but God was prepared to suffer for us and that shows the worth he finds in us.

    Present shreds of evidence that this has anything to do with reality.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    For folks who don’t believe in God and who so disdain the Bible, you seem to spend a lot of time worrying about those of us that do believe, as evidenced by your sustained efforts to refute these things.

    (Some) Christians are trying to teach their religious beliefs to impressionable children as scientific fact. We live in a society where a non-Christian simply cannot get elected to public office, no matter how competent they are. People frequently claim that non-Christians must be amoral psychopaths who believe in god really, but pretend not to so they can rape kittens.

    Is it really so surprising that people object to this and try and fight against it?

    If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.
    If you’re wrong about God, at death, you’ve lost everything.

    That depends on exactly how wrong you are, doesn’t it? What if you get condemned to hell for not accepting Mohammed as the One True Prophet of Allah? What if the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right? And of course, if the Universalists are right, atheists get to go to heaven anyway, and you just wasted a whole bunch of lazy Sunday mornings for nothing.

    Based purely on a random selection, the odds of your precise set of beliefs being right and all others being wrong are so close to zero as to make no difference. Why should we go to the effort of acting as if it’s the correct religion when there’s no evidence that the payoff will be worth it?

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    ” If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.

    If you’re wrong about God, at death, you’ve lost everything. ”

    mark: Ahhhh Pascal’s wager. I am willing to accept the consequences of being wrong, I am not rejecting your invisible sky daddy because I don’t want to believe I’m rejecting Yahweh because I see no evidence of his existence.

    What if your wrong about the correct flavor of god, what if the flavor you are choosing is the wrong flavor. In that case you would loose everything as well.

    I have a question for you, why is Yahweh hiding from us.
    Why is Yahweh not leaving enough evidence of his existence for us to make an intelligent decision.

    Why is Yahweh so mysterious that some christians convert to faiths other than Christianity.

    Your Yahweh wants us to worship I would think that he would provide a little more evidence.

    Know what I mean.

  • http://progressatallcost.blogspot.com/ markbey

    ” I wouldn’t expect you to accept or respect it, but I sincerely believe that God is truth and freedom ”

    mark: What do you base this statement on.

  • Michael

    @ Mogg

    Interesting point. I have to tell you however that there are Bible scholars who would disagree with you on this. I don’t think I’ve done enough reading to refute what you just said, so I’ll just take your word for it. However, I still assert that people claiming morals are derived from the bible are talking from ignorance – this isn’t what Christianity or the bible teaches.

  • Mogg

    @Michael

    I’m no biblical scholar – I was one of those Christians who did take reading the Bible quite seriously, though. I even read the begats! I would be very surprised if there was were serious disagreement among Biblical scholars on the origins of the Samaritans and their beliefs, though. The origins of the Samaritans as mixed-race descendants of Israelites who weren’t deported during the first exile is considered sound enough to be contained in the notes of every study Bible I’ve come across. There’s even internal textual evidence for the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans, in that the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4, referred to Jacob as “our father”, and when talking about worshipping obviously thinks that her people worship the same God as the Jews. She even knew of the idea of the Messiah.

  • LRA

    ” If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.

    If you’re wrong about God, at death, you’ve lost everything.”

    Actually, are you sure about that? If you have chosen the wrong religion (and there are THOUSANDS to choose from), then you’ll lose a HELL of a lot upon death! ;)

  • DarkMatter

    “If I’m wrong about God, at death, I’ve lost absolutely nothing this life has to offer.
    If you’re wrong about God, at death, you’ve lost everything.”

    I hate it when Ray Comfort says”An atheist plays Russian roulette with fully loaded gun.”

    Let’s pretend I am a christian, so I don’t have to insert “so-called______”

    Is hell absolute without Jesus salvation on earth?

    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Rom 11:25-26)

    Do the verse mean that the dead jews who did not believe in Jesus from the birth of christianity to today are in hell?

    Let’s see what the bible says.

    As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.(Rom 11:28-29)

    It’s a no or possibly no.

    When Billy Graham reply on the absolute salvation of Jesus, christian sects rejected him, some with horrible accusations of his person.

    Why did Billy Graham come to such a conclusion? Did he saw something written in the bible apart from the verses I formentioned many christians do not see concerning gentiles? Maybe they are taught by the churches, not by the bible the so believe in.

    Back to Ray Comfort’s “words”, “An atheist plays Russian roulette with fully loaded gun.” shows his lack of understanding of the bible, but he definitely understand $$$.

  • DarkMatter

    Why did Billy Graham come to such a conclusion? Did he saw something written in the bible apart from the verses I formentioned many christians do not see concerning gentiles? Maybe they are taught by the churches, not by the bible they so believed in.

    Back to Ray Comfort’s “words”, “An atheist plays Russian roulette with fully loaded gun.” shows his lack of understanding of the bible, but he definitely understand $$$.

  • DarkMatter

    On Ray Comfort’s blog:
    An atheist is someone who pretends that there is no God.

    Anyone know who make this argument? I’d like to know the points of argument.

  • Question-I-thority

    I think that impulse to help others escape what I endured is the underlying reason I’m here.

  • Question-I-thority

    Pascal’s Wager is truly Lying for Jesus.

  • http://oceansdreams.wordpress.com Ocean

    Oh, thanks. It’s been years since I studied any Mythologies.

    Xochipilli sounds like a cool one, I’ll use that one if I need to reference a god of art from now on. :)

  • John C

    Morality is a fallacy, there is no such thing.

  • John C

    Actually, that’s not true cuz morlaity is a fallacy, no such thing exists.

  • John C

    Yea, that’s because we were originally made in the image and likeness of God, but “morality” as we understand it is a fallacy, exists in the realm of illusion, this adamic life. Was not in the original creation, there was only One, not a pluraility in nature, no division.

    Fallen fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil, left over’s, man’s desparate attempt at being “like God”, wanting to know good form evil on his own, apart from the knowledge of God. Its prideful, rebellious and keeps us outside of the One (divine) Mind of God.

    I dont want to know anything other than…Him in whom is all wisdom and Godliness.

  • http://avertyoureye.blogspot.com/ Teleprompter

    Brown, it appears to me, is actually just trying to show people how easily their minds can be manipulated in the propagation of superstition. I don’t think he is serious about it — now, if other people were to abuse this for nefarious purposes, then I would be worried.

    For all you IDers out there: why would a loving god design us to be so easily deceived?

  • Question-I-thority

    Fee Will / Free Won’t / Determinism

    Starting in the 60′s or 70′s Benjamin Libet began doing experiments that demonstrated supposedly conscious decisions were already settled before subjects became aware of the decision. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Libet.

    Researchers have followed up to show that decisions are being made up to 10 seconds before subjects are aware that they are making decisions. Researchers could predict with a 71% accuracy which decision would be made. See: http://www.consciousentities.com/?p=64.

    In the 90′s Libet theorized that consciousness did not ‘decide’ action decisions but had the ability to over-ride those decisions. He called this ‘free won’t’.

    Some scientists are leaning toward complete determinism based on such experiments.

    On a side note ToE would predict conterintuitively that consciousness is laid over the top of action decisions since animals have been making action decisions for hundreds of millions of years without consciousness. Looks like this research is powerful confirmation of the theory of evolution.

    I am not a scientist so my interpretation of the matter is subject to correction.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @Question-I-thority

    Fascinating stuff! I took a running glance at it just now. I will take a close look at it this evening, after eating and domestic stuff.

    First impressions are that the researcher is looking at muscle memory. This can, indeed, be sub-conscious and automatic. Learned activities like driving, walking, writing, etc, are examples.

    He may also be dealing with automatic reflexes. Examples of this are blinking when something comes close, removing one’s hand from a hot stove, starting at a loud noise and flinching or stepping backwards when touched. The reflexes can be prevented if you are aware that you are going to be stimulated, otherwise, not. So, if you like, here is behavior which is absolutely “predetermined”, given the right stimulus at the right time with no warning and no prior training. OTOH you can argue that part of the socialization process is to help us learn automatic responses to a variety of situations. Soldiers and martial arts experts have learned a number of these. Their bodies will react appropriately before they are even verbally aware of what has happened.

    That emphasized word is likely to be an important part of the puzzle. I will explain why later.

    I will be looking to see how he determined the point of commencement of conscious intent. There is a time delay in all neural activity and various feedback loops.

  • xian-x

    My favorite version of Pascal’s wager comes from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather:

    “…the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, ‘Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So, why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing right?’ When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, ‘We’re going to show you what we think of Mr. Clever Dick in these parts…’”

  • Frank

    I love the Roulette Wheel image on your site. Very nice graphic.

  • Frank

    hehe, Sartre AND Pratchett, in one thread! You are well versed in the Classics, sir. kudos!

  • http://www.curefiath.com Infidel

    That’s hilarious! Mind if I post it on my blog? Or should I be asking Terry Pratchett? : P

  • Viridid

    I think that passage was actually my first introduction to Pascal’s Wager, as I read Hogfather when I was fairly young, long before I sat down and worked out what exactly I believed and why. I do remember that a few months after reading it, I was involved in a discussion with a guy preaching on a train who brought up Pascal’s Wager (although he didn’t call it that) and I rebutted using that exact quote! I was a very annoying child, who asked far too many questions and drove her well-meaning but very Christian R.E. teacher to despair.

  • http://www.curefiath.com Infidel

    Thanks : ). I was thinking of changing it to “Gambling away your freedom of thought?” instead. Think that would be more effective?

  • Frank

    Naah. Doesn’t really need a change.

  • Question-I-thority

    Certainly not an expert here but doesn’t the multiple intents argument reinforce the idea that the decision is being made subconsciously? If the decision was conscious then shouldn’t the lag time come after the decision as the subconscious engages the various sub-routines necessary to carry out the action? We don’t consciously think these sub-routines into action. And how does this comport with the follow up experiments in which the build up for decisions took place up to 10 secs before apparently hitting consciousness?

  • John C

    All this focus on the physical, the brain, etc. One of the first revelations we receive is that our body is not us. Like CS Lewis said…you dont have a soul, you have a body, you are a soul.

    Why does Paul link the spirit & the mind imploring us to “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind”?

    There (really) is more folks…have I said that before?

  • Question-I-thority

    From an evolutionary theory model it might be important to survival that subconscious calculations and sub-programming be accomplished as much as possible before a decision is enacted so that less time is lost between deciding and acting. Many of the most important survival decisions we make appear to be snap decisions but those in fact engage very complex coordination and calculation sub-routines.

    Example: When a batter sees a 95 mph fastball leaving a pitcher’s hand it is in fact already 7 feet out of the pitcher’s hand. The calculations carried out subconsciously are enormously complex including adjusting for time lag. Researches state that the last third of the fastball’s trip to the plate is inconsequential in making the decision as there is not sufficient time to process any info picked up then. And yet Carl Yastrezmski states that when he wanted to hit a line drive he hit the middle of the ball and when he wanted to hit a fly ball he hit the bottom part, etc. His interpretation seems very simplistic yet is an example of how we nominally think about consciousness and decision making.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    We are looking at multiple routines here.

    The pattern would probably have been.

    1. Form intend to do as the researcher asked.
    2. Monitor the environment continuously to see when it is appropriate to carry out the instructions.
    3. Form an intent to move the finger.
    4. Fire the command to start the largely automatic sub-routine.
    5. Monitor the sub-routine.
    6. Form an intent to note the time.
    7. Send signal to start the “attend to clock” and the ” note time” routine.
    8. Process visual signals from the clock
    9. Interpret visual signals from clock and compare with knowledge of time.
    10. Commit time information to short term memory so as to be able to tell investigator later.

    The sequence, and hence what the investigator noticed, (or thought he did) could have been modified if the subject were asked to notice and recall the time immediately before moving the finger, while deciding to move the finger and immediately after deciding to move the finger. The instruction to do these things similtaneosly could prove interesting. I am skeptical that the brain could process these two things in true parallel. I think it would resort to serial processing.

    (There’s a research project for someone.)

    The bottom line is that the investigator was naive about the neural processing requirements of his experiment.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    1) God exists.

    2) It’s obvious.

    3) Therefore atheists are liars.

    4) therefore, god exists.

  • xian-x

    I don’t mind, but you’re right, Pratchett would be the guy to ask–although I didn’t ask before posting. I have the 2003 HarperTorch paperback edition. The passage I quoted is a footnote that appears on p. 52.

  • doesntworkthatway

    On a side note ToE would predict conterintuitively that consciousness is laid over the top of action decisions since animals have been making action decisions for hundreds of millions of years without consciousness. Looks like this research is powerful confirmation of the theory of evolution.

    Vertebrates have consciousness. All vertebrate consciousness may still be post-action like you’re suggesting, but it’s not accurate to say that animals don’t have consciousness. Sponges don’t. Insects may. Vertebrates do.

    António Damásio’s work is recommended to those who are interested.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    @John C

    First, the use of the inclusive “we” is inappropriate. In contradistinction to you most, if not all, of us have not received the same revelations which you assert belong to everyone. Remember, that most of us posting here are ex-Christians. Many of us could claim to have experienced a relationship with the same guy you think has contacted you. Many of us, including myself, studied theology and preached what we believed at the time to be the gospel.

    To continue, your revelation does not come from anywhere that, or anyone who, can be demonstrated to have a working understanding of modern neuro-science or even an unbiased brush with it.

    The Bible writers had no such understanding and made some embarrassingly glaring errors.

    Jesus thought that epilepsy was caused by the possession of “unclean spirits” and that the cure was to exorcize them. Any neurologist who told a patient that the cause of their fits was indwelling devils or who tried to treat a patient with exocism would be hauled up pronto before an ethics committee, on charges of stupidity, incompetence and unethcial behavior. Jesus avoids similar charges because he lived in an age of ignorance and shared this along with his peers. If his father was omniscient he didn’t bother to share it with his son.

    CS Lewis was not a neuro-scientist, either. He simply made up the idea you quote as “evidence” for your beliefs. He made it up to fit in with his personal religious beliefs and, like you, failed to provide any valid testable evidence for it.

    Paul was just as ignorant. During what appears to be one of his seizures he thought he met the long dead Jesus. Those of us who have worked with those who suffer from epilepsy are familiar with patient reports of this type of hallucination. It all seems very real to them. The medical team, on the other hand, find demonstration of lesions in a particular area of the brain to be rather more convincing that the patient’s experiences are the consequences of brain malfiring. The same neural pattern has been demonstrated to occur during phases of non-religious meditation where the practitioner senses an external “presence” which is not evident to anyone else who is observing them.

    You are welcome to believe this stuff but in order for most of us to believe it we would have to stop using our brains properly. We don’t think that’s a very good idea.

  • http://www.atheistnexus.org/profile/RosemaryLYNDALLWEMM49 Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM

    John C:

    Here is a link to a brief article describing a medical procedure, testing or the focus of seizure activity, which produced a sensation of “other presence”. If you have strong sensations of the presence of “god” that you experience to be as real as the presence of things that others can see and touch, it may be that you have an abnormality in that particular brain area.

    Have you considered that the difficulty you have persuading others that this presence is
    (a) real,
    (b) god and
    (c) your personal version of god
    is because they do not have this particular brain abnormality?

    http://www.livescience.com/health/060919_shadow_person.html

  • John C

    Thank you Rosemary for your professional opinion, I sincerely appreciate the time and effort you put into your numerous posts.

    I understand completely this reluctance, this hesitation to simply “believe” and override your “heads”. The invitation to walk by faith, to not lean (solely) on the faculties of reason & logic seems a risky venture…until you KNOW the character/nature of the Spirit Himself. Walking by the heart and not the head is an adventurous kind of lifestyle.

    The journey from Egypt (our own enslaving ways) into the “Promised Land” (both a geographic location and a high spiritual plane) could be summed up in one word…trust. The writer of Hebrews tells us those who didnt enter in missed out due to their “unbelief”, I dont want to miss out, I have come too far with Him, know Him too well. And how is it that I have come to this place of divine trust? Mine is a 25 year journey, a persevering (by grace) in the things of God…those who persevere with patience and faith will inherit the promises.

    He is the promise, its His very presence that satisfies, that brings such joy, such peace. Christ is the “promised land”. This promised land is within us, where no more darkness remains, only light.

    In summary, you don’t believe because you dont trust, how can you? Narrow is the way that leads to life and few be those that find it.

    It is really not my intention to “convert” anyone, I have no quota, no mandate as such. Truly the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehends it…not. Nevertheless, the light shines. Shine on.

    He is utterly trustworthy I tell you, utterly.

  • John C

    Thx, please see my above response. Btw…I have a significant clinical background, primarily in diagnostic imaging, fMRI, neuro research, published work in SPINE and other healthcare magazines. But…I dont rely solely on my human understanding for I have come/am coming like Paul says to the place where I no longer have any confidence in my “flesh”, that is my human qualifications, ancestry, pedigree, etc.

    “Former” Christians are those who never penetrated past the veil, into the realm of the spirit. If Christianity was dry and unsatisfying its beacuse it was an external experience, not a progressive revelation going from one level to another or from “glory to glory”. Leaving this dead thing called religion is a good thing. Unfortunately Christ gets associated with this rigid religion mess.

    As many as are led by the spirit, these are the sons (offspring) of God.

    All the best!!


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