155

I received this message on facebook yesterday from a person I used to get into long religious debates with back when my blog was on xanga.

JT – I was perusing my old stomping grounds on Xanga the other day when I came across your old site on there and was reminded of all the good debates about science and religion that we used to have on Xanga. Ironically, I suspect that now, all these years later, we would actually agree about more things than we would disagree about. I’m no longer a Christian apologist. Infact, I’m no longer a Christian at all. I have “seen the error of my ways” so to speak and am an agnostic these days. I see that you are still an avid atheist and pastafarian these days. Anyway, I just wanted to drop you a line to say hello and to apologize for all of those asinine comments I used to post on your Xanga about Answers in Genesis which I have now come to realize is total bollocks. Hope you have a Merry Christmas…err…or Saturnalia…or whatever it is that you atheists celebrate this time of year

####### ([online handle by which I knew him])

Don’t let the fact that believers seldom change their minds during the course of one conversation make you jaded.  Sometimes it takes seven or eight years.

This marks the 155th such email that will go into my saved folder.  How many more never write anything?  We are changing minds, not at the point of a sword but with the sharpness of our wits and our ability to speak candidly and rationally.  I love what we are doing.

  • MM

    “…will go into my saved folder.”

    Pun intended?

  • Negasta

    This once again puts the lie to the often trotted out retort “You can’t argue anyone out of their faith”. Even the mightiest redwood has to start from a tiny seed, just as this person was led to freethought by the tiny grains of doubt planted by JT and others.

    • Jasper

      I concur wholeheartedly, even if it feels like arguing with a brick wall at the time.

      That’s what I try to put my effort, not so much into merely debunking their claims, by trying to frame the discussion in terms of providing a basic education on epistemology, logical fallacies, standards of evidence, cognition errors, etc.

      … the rest they can work out for themselves.

  • iknklast

    I don’t even know why people want that sort of instant argument response. That’s what you see going the other way. Someone says something, a “light” comes on, and zing, they’re saved by faith. Actual thought and skepticism should be a process, not an instantaneous, oh of course, how come I never saw it before? Let the saved have the sheep; we should prefer those who take some time to study it out and think it through. Isn’t that what we’re trying to promote?

    • Artor

      True, but sometimes it happens. Someone can have all the data, but they look at it through a flawed lens. When things are finally explained from a different perspective, the light goes on, and you have an “AHA!” moment.

  • neatospiderplant

    Congrats!

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    You do know this works both ways of course? That those of us who blog and speak on Christianity often get emails about how we have helped someone make their decision? Usually they are related to a particular niche. I’m sure someone like Tom Gilson gets letters that his brand of interweaving Christianity and philosophy has finally helped themto embrace Christ. Mine are typically regarding how my writings as a Christian and a scientist have help them “come out” as Christians.

    I couldn’t say how many; I don’t, nor does any other Christian blogger that I know, share your peculiar (and unseemly, in my opinion) practice of keeping count of the notches his/her belt. Of course we would not say that we are changing their minds–it would be more accurate to say that at most we provide a context for which they can understand what has already happened.

    • Nate Frein

      Yeah, but at least the empirical evidence we have says that we’re winning.

      Have a nice day!

      • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

        Nate Frein,

        Are you sure? I assume you are referring to higher numbers of “nones” and lower church attendance. But have you factored in how much of that is due to the new atheism making it less of a stigma to claim atheism and to leave the church? In that sense it is a win-win. Every time a cultural Christian leaves the church because he can finally resist the family, peer and societal pressure to claim Christianity– well that’s not a loss for us, that’s an improvement. It would be good for the church if everyone who was just there because it was the path of least resistance would stay away.

        That is a trend we are seeing: smaller numbers, but more 20-somethings who are more religious or at least more serious about their religion than their parents. We are seeing young people come without their parents, as opposed to being dragged in by their parents. And a higher fraction of new members which (compared to ten years ago) do not come from Christian homes.

        So no, I don’t think you are winning.

        Have a nice day!

        • Nate Frein

          Really? Because it seems like the church crowds are continuing to age. In fact, I’d say that it’s precisely the younger generations that are drifting away from the church. All the statistics I can find support this; church attendance drops as age goes down.

          • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

            It depends entirely on the denomination and theology. In the classic mainline liberal denominations you are correct. For Catholicism you are correct. Some of the what is usually called fundamentalist (dispensational and Arminian) to a lesser degree. But some of the charismatic denominations are most certainly getting younger. As are the hard core “reformed” churches. As are many non-denomination churches, especially those that are highly missions and community-service oriented.

          • Nate Frein

            Sounds to me like those churches are just the last stop to true freedom.

            But you didn’t exactly link any cites. Or give any indication at all that you’ve seen actual proof of this.

          • Compuholic

            I would agree that a part of our success has to do with the fact that atheism is getting more socially acceptable. But if that is true it means that the many people who are now identifying themselves as atheists were not believers to begin with so it would have been unfair to count them as religious. And it would demonstrate once more that religion fosters peer pressure and oppression.

          • Stogoe

            Forget it, Jake, it’s heddle.

            (my sister! my daughter! my sister! my daughter!)

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    But you didn’t exactly link any cites. Or give any indication at all that you’ve seen actual proof of this.

    Um, neither do you.

    The denominational numbers are indeed hard to come by because they are held close. Some of what I assert is anecdotal, some based on insider data and reports. You can, of course, look at pew forums. They provide some data that, on the surface, you could use for support–if you cherry pick. But they don’t drill down enough to answer detailed questions. Still they have some interesting tidbits that should make you at least somewhat less willing simply to shout “game over man, we won!”

    For example (here is hoping links work here) this report does indicate that millennials attend church less than the older generations, but again–it doesn’t drill down enough to refute or confirm what I said. It does, however, tell us this:

    young adults’ beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people today. Though young adults pray less often than their elders do today, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades. And though belief in God is lower among young adults than among older adults, Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago.

    So in that last decade of new atheism and fighting religion “tooth and claw” (so scary!) there has been little or no decline in believe in heaven, hell, prayer, miracles, or absolute belief in god as compared to previous generations in their youth. You would think with all the noise there would some more there there.

    Color me unimpressed with your declaration of victory.

    • Nate Frein

      Um, neither do you.

      Your response indicated that you were aware of the statistics I referenced and did not dispute them. Are you now disputing them?

      Still they have some interesting tidbits that should make you at least somewhat less willing simply to shout “game over man, we won!”

      I didn’t say that. I said we were winning. Slowly, but secularism on the whole is increasing.

      In the last century, we’ve seen:
      -Unprecedented scientific progress
      -Unprecedented progress in civil and human rights
      -Unprecedented low rates of infant mortality

      These are not the fruits of religion. These were won in spite of religion.

      So in that last decade of new atheism and fighting religion “tooth and claw” (so scary!) there has been little or no decline in believe in heaven, hell, prayer, miracles, or absolute belief in god as compared to previous generations in their youth. You would think with all the noise there would some more there there.

      You misunderstand. The fight here is to get religion out of government and the daily running of human affairs, and on that front we are winning. Hell, Bill O’reilly himself is declaring that you can’t use the bible to argue against gay marriage.

      • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

        I, along with some other Christians (not all, of course) are with you on the separation of church and state. (I’m a good Baptist. We lay claim to having invented the concept.) I, along with some other Christians (not all, of course) are fully behind full civil rights for all people.

        However you seem to shifted the goal posts. Your original claim that “we are winning” was clearly, in context, about numbers, not about winning political battles.

        These are not the fruits of religion. These were won in spite of religion.

        The first sentence, at least when applied to science, is obvious. The second–the best you can say is that these were won in spite of some religions. They were also won, in many parts of the world, in spite of some atheistic governments.

        • Nate Frein

          However you seem to shifted the goal posts. Your original claim that “we are winning” was clearly, in context, about numbers, not about winning political battles.

          In what way? The numbers are clearly pointing to increased secularism. That’s what matters. That you keep trying to label JT (and others) as some sort of evangelical atheist doesn’t make the accusation any less false. If you really want, say evangelical skeptic. The point isn’t to spread atheism, but skepticism, and nothing you’ve posted as refuted the idea that skepticism is spreading.

          (I’m a good Baptist. We lay claim to having invented the concept.)

          Funny. It took deists to implement it.

          The second–the best you can say is that these were won in spite of some religions.

          In every civil rights battle fought, the primary opponent has been the religious moderate. In the battle to keep religion out of school and state, the primary opponent is the religious moderate.

          They were also won, in many parts of the world, in spite of some atheistic governments.

          And those countries would be…which, exactly? I remind you that a country built on a cult of personality is every bit as “secular” as a country built on any other kind of religious fundamentalism.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    That you keep trying to label JT (and others) as some sort of evangelical atheist doesn’t make the accusation any less false.

    I never used the phrase evangelical atheist. But if I were to use it you are correct, I would probably indeed apply it to a guy who keeps a numerical tab of the number of deconverts who thank him and who is fighting religion “tooth and claw” *eyeroll*. OK what is an evangelical atheist? And would that be bad to use that term? Would he consider it a pejorative charge? I don’t see why.

    And those countries would be…which, exactly? I remind you that a country built on a cult of personality is every bit as “secular” as a country built on any other kind of religious fundamentalism.

    Ahh, I’ve seen that before. I have a number of internet atheist maxims listed here.. The applicable one is:

    The Ipso Facto No Atheist Is That Bad Law: Stalin and Mao were not atheists. They were demigods of the religions Stalinism and Maoism. We know this because mass murder on such a scale can only be committed by religionists.

    Anyway, it was fun chatting with you (I mean that sincerely.) I’m off on a bike ride. Maybe we’ll talk some more. Peace.

    • Nate Frein

      The Ipso Facto No Atheist Is That Bad Law: Stalin and Mao were not atheists. They were demigods of the religions Stalinism and Maoism. We know this because mass murder on such a scale can only be committed by religionists.

      Stalin (nor Mao) did not personally kill every single person executed by his government. The framework by which he was able to effect genocide on that scale was a cult of personality based government. What Stalin or Mao personally believed is irrelevant. How they motivated their people is what is relevant here. The governments were just as theocratic as any Islamic country today; they simply replaced “god” with the head of state.

      This has been repeated because it has yet to be refuted. Your presentation of the argument is a straw-man; no atheist that I know of cares what the personal beliefs of Stalin were, nor claims that he could not have been atheist (in fact, I’m sure you’re aware that many atheists speculate about the actual beliefs of many “christian” leaders). What is germane to the argument is the framework they set up to effect the carnage for which we (rightly) hold these leaders responsible.

    • Nate Frein

      Interesting link…

      The amount of straw there gave me hay fever.

      • Stogoe

        What do you expect? It’s heddle. Years and years ago, he used to infest Pharyngula, and I think I’ve seen him other places. If heddle thinks you’re worth descending upon like a plague of locusts, it means you’ve made it in secular blogdom.

        Welcome to the big leagues, JT!

        • Loqi

          Oh, I’m sure several of us recognize heddle. It was the same “you just don’t understand” song and dance back then, followed by accusing everyone of misrepresenting and strawmanning him (project much?). It apparently never occurs to him that if nobody gets what you’re saying, chances are your ideas are incoherent or you are doing a poor job of communicating them. Kind of like god, really. If billions of people over several millenia read your book and only a small sect for a small subset of time gets it right (while everyone else argues over it my slaughtering each other), perhaps it’s time to get out of the writing business and go back to “intelligently” designing turtles who can’t right themselves when they flip over. Seriously, more people understand Pynchon’s writings than god’s.

    • Loqi

      Just looking at the text of your link, I suspect the author is either misrepresenting an argument or is projecting. I certainly hope that nobody is out there arguing that atheists are necessarily good, because it’s an asinine idea. Honestly, I hate when people get dragged into that discussion, because it’s at least a red herring and often a strawman. The whole mess conflates religion and totalitarianism. If you want Stalin/Mao to be a nice gotcha, you first need to show me an atheist who is in favor of totalitarianism. Many of us left faith precisely because uncritical following of a figure is repulsive. That holds true whether it’s god or Dear Leader.

      • Jasper

        To-reiterate…

        If we look at history and sort murderous nations based on associated theism/atheism, it’s a mixed bag. If, however, we sort them based on totalitarian versus non-totalitarian, it’s very much one-sided.

        Christianity is an intrinsically totalitarian concept. God orders, the followers obey. There is no democracy. There is no freedom of religion. There isn’t even a freedom of thought of conscience. God is King Shit of Fuck Mountain, and you do NOT fuck with him.

        Atheism, on the other hand, is not intrinsically totalitarian. “I don’t believe you” has exactly zero influence on whether one is totalitarian/authoritarian in nature. There is about as much valid relationship between Stalin and atheism as there is between Stalin and those who have mustaches.

        • Loqi

          Thank you for that. I had to reply hastily, and I didn’t think I did a good job of communicating. You said what I meant to say.

        • Andrew Kohler

          Jasper offers a fine reply to the “atheist states = totalitarian” canard that really gets to the heart of the matter, to which I offer the following additions:

          1. The issue here is not just what beliefs the government does not espouse (i.e. whether or not it’s a secular state–I don’t think “atheist state” really even makes sense as a term), but rather what beliefs it *does* espouse. The problem with the governments of Stalin and Mao weren’t that they didn’t endorse theism, but rather that they did endorse the absolute authority of the state at the expense of the freedom and wellbeing of the people. Lack of belief in God is no more an indication of a person’s morality than lack of belief in unicorns. Most of the conservative Christians in America who point to Stalin and Mao as examples of evil “atheist states” (also Hitler, even though Nazi Germany was hardly an atheist state) act as though not believing in God leads to evil, when the real problem is governmental coercion in matters of conscience. This brings me to:

          2. When people point out that it’s very bad when governments don’t allow freedom to practice a theistic religion, they are correct; this is no better than any other form of government coercion in religious practice. What some of these people (the ones who say things like “millions killed in the name of atheism”/”this is what happens when you banish God from public life”/etc.) don’t seem to notice is that what atheists of today are advocating is freedom of or from religion, as each person chooses for him-/herself. This is the very opposite of totalitarianism, whereas theocracy is totalitarian in nature.

          3. The reason that totalitarian states based on an ideology other than theist religion are so hostile to theistic religion is that totalitarian states, by definition, cannot tolerate any competition. Either they have to declare that there is no God, thereby eliminating the competition, or to say that there is a God and they are agents of divine will (eg. the Taliban or Christian Dominionists). This is very different from “God: good, totalitarianism: bad.”

          4. Dinesh D’Souza deserves to be called out at every opportunity for defending theistic totalitarianism by saying that it has a lower body count historically. It’s not like these people had a lower body count because they were less barbaric; they had a lower body count because they weren’t as successfully barbaric (as they lacked the technology and military power of 20th-century totalitarian states). And even if they had had a policy of capping the number of their victims in the tens of thousands rather than the tens of millions, I would question the morality of anyone who found that to be impressive.

          5. And of course, D’Souza et al are just assuming that theism is a morally righteous position, and ignoring all of the immoral teachings that various iterations of theism have espoused over the ages, as well as all of the evil that theism did not necessarily cause but failed to prevent.

          I am writing a dissertation on a German composer from the Third Reich era, and so of all the anti-atheist fallacies the one about totalitarianism makes me the most cross.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    I am writing a dissertation on a German composer from the Third Reich era, and so of all the anti-atheist fallacies the one about totalitarianism makes me the most cross.

    Oh, don’t be so sensitive. I committed no such “fallacy.” I made no claim that there is a causal connection between atheism and totalitarianism or between atheism and anything else. I stated nothing beyond essentially this: some totalitarian mass murderers were atheists. I do so enjoy seeing to what great lengths people will go to try to avoid the honest and only meaningful answer of: “yeah, so what?” Or, in more modern lingo, “yeah, they might have been A’s but they were clearly not A+’s”.

    • Compuholic

      So if you only wanted to say that “some totalitarian mass murders were atheists” but did not mean to imply that there is a correlation between atheism and totalitarian regimes, what exactly was your point? Or are you saying that you were just babbling incoherently?

    • Loqi

      I do so enjoy seeing to what great lengths people will go to try to avoid the honest and only meaningful answer of: “yeah, so what?”

      I believe I said something along these lines above. This whole chain of responses is a giant red herring. And you’re admitting it here. What’s the name for people who throw out arguments they know to be pointless in an effort to derail conversation? I can never remember. I remember it having something to do with a goat.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    Compuholic,

    My point was: I was countering the naive generalization in a previous comment that progress in civil and human rights came in spite of religion. Nobody could support such a generalization. You can only give specific examples where people used religion to hinder human rights. But for every Christian that supported slavery in the 19th century, I can find a Christian abolitionist. And that humans rights were greatly curtailed in some countries lead by atheists. It doesn’t take religion to be a mass murderer. End of point.

    Or are you saying that you were just babbling incoherently?

    So I was either trying to make the point you say I was trying to make, or I am babbling incoherently! Gee, are those my only choices? Now, do you think arguing by presenting a false dilemma is valid, or are you just an idiot?

    • Compuholic

      I was countering the naive generalization in a previous comment that progress in civil and human rights came in spite of religion.

      Ok, I still don’t see how that relates to “some totalitarian mass murders were atheists”.

      So I was either trying to make the point you say I was trying to make, or I am babbling incoherently! Gee, are those my only choices?

      Yes in fact this are the only two choices. Either you see a connection between them or you don’t. If you don’t: There is no point in bringing it up. Which means it is incoherent babble.

      And that humans rights were greatly curtailed in some countries lead by atheists. It doesn’t take religion to be a mass murderer. End of point.

      There we go again. So you do think that there is a connection between atheism and those regimes. Otherwise this statement is completely devoid of any meaning. You could as well say “[...]humans rights were greatly curtailed in some countries lead by vegetarians” or “[...]humans rights were greatly curtailed in some countries lead by people who wore hats”. Those statements are certainly true but completely meaningless (-> see incoherent babble).

      And I don’t remember that anybody claimed that it takes religion to be a mass murderer. But it certainly helps. If you think you have a divine mission you can excuse pretty much anything. And we see that especially in the religious extremists who actually think that they are doing gods work by flying planes into buildings. It is exactly the same mindset that motivates catholics to oppose contraception and to deny equal rights to gays. There is no rational reason for any of those actions listed above.

      And here is a thought experiment for you: Try to think of something evil that was done in the name of religion. And now try to think about something evil that was done in the name of atheism. One of those tasks should be considerably easier than the other.

    • Nate Frein

      My point was: I was countering the naive generalization in a previous comment that progress in civil and human rights came in spite of religion. Nobody could support such a generalization

      Except that Jesus’ teachings were decidedly anti-civil rights. His instructions boiled down to “if life gives you a shit sandwich, chow down and thank the chef”. I challenge you to show where Jesus supports any kind of civil right’s movement.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    And now try to think about something evil that was done in the name of atheism.,

    I don’t think any evil was done in the name of atheism because atheism is nothing more than disbelief in god(s). There is nothing else. Virtually any political philosophy or any morality, can be consistent with atheism–because it only says there is no god–it says nothing else. No evil can be done in the name of atheism. That is true, and trivially so. For the same reason, no good can be done in the name of atheism. It’s only rule, that there is no god, implies neither good nor evil by its adherents.

    • Nate Frein

      You’re decidedly missing the point. The goal isn’t an “atheist” government but a secular one. You have yet to demonstrate that any totalitarian government has been secular.

  • Compuholic

    For the same reason, no good can be done in the name of atheism.

    I absolutely agree. That being said, I like the challenge of Chrisopher Hitchens: Name me a moral principle or teaching that can only be made by a religious person and not by an unbeliever.

    Both good and evil character traits are human character traits. Both are here to stay and will exists independently of religion but they can be amplified by religion. And as religion can be used to motivate evil things it can also be used to motivate good things. But this is basically the “ends justify the means” defense. Sure, a lie or delusion can motivate people. But as usual (and evidenced by history) this can (and will eventually) blow up pretty bad because it needs to rely on people who “know what is best for other people”.

    And this is the part of religion that I absolutely despise. Their god (or more accurately the person who thinks he/she is his representative) tries to influence the behaviour of other people by means of extortion (“don’t do X because god will punish you” or “do Y and god will reward you”). I personally prefer that the only value should be truth and let people make their own decisions based on it.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    And this is the part of religion that I absolutely despise. Their god (or more accurately the person who thinks he/she is his representative) tries to influence the behaviour of other people by means of extortion (“don’t do X because god will punish you” or “do Y and god will reward you”).

    That would be a horrible religion. I’m glad Christianity is salvation by grace not by works. It would horrible to be under the kind of pressure you describe. To keep a ledger of credits and debits, and hope at the end to be in the black. I would despise that religion too.

    • Compuholic

      I’m glad Christianity is salvation by grace not by works.

      This is definitely not true of all christianity. Some christian denominations would disagree wildly. If I remember it was Luther who came up with the “sola gratia” doctrine. And the catholic church for example uses a very different version of this thought.

      But then it does not really matter. It is all equally made up. You don’t have any more evidence for your interpretation than the Catholic church has for theirs. But at least it makes your religion a little less despicable.

      But I would like to know because I have never understood the doctrine: “If you are saved by grace: Why does religion impose all those laws if in the end everything is solved by god”.

    • Nate Frein

      I’m glad Christianity is salvation by grace not by works.

      Well then…it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I pledge my life to Jesus! I can rape children, but as long as I beg Jesus for forgiveness, I’ll go to heaven! Because our actions mean nothing; we’re saved by His grace.

      • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

        Compuholic,

        And the catholic church for example uses a very different version of this thought.

        You are wrong. If you go to a Catholic and say your religion teaches “salvation by works” (s)he will (properly) accuse you of slander.

        Nate Frein,

        I can rape children, but as long as I beg Jesus for forgiveness, I’ll go to heaven!

        Is this brilliant rebuttal an example of this site’s fighting religion “tooth and claw?” I see the, um, reputation is well deserved!

        • Compuholic

          You are wrong. If you go to a Catholic and say your religion teaches “salvation by works” [...]

          No, I am not. This was a huge point of disagreement between the catholic church and the protestants at the council of Trent.

          The catholic church say that they believe in “sola gratia” but effectively they don’t. Their official position is that salvation comes through the grace of god but that the grace of god enables mankind to work towards salvation (It’s in the decree concerning justification from the Council of Trent). In other words: The grace of god is to allow people to save themselves. This completely undermines the original idea.

          And you did not answer my question: “If you are saved by grace: Why does religion impose all those laws if in the end everything is solved by god”.

          Is this brilliant rebuttal an example of this site’s fighting religion “tooth and claw?” I see the, um, reputation is well deserved!

          He does have a point. That is the logical end result of the “sola fide” doctrine. I guess it was just a snarky way of asking: How does that fit with the notion that god is just?

          • Compuholic

            err of course I meant “sola gratia” (but it applies to “sola fidae” es well)

    • Nox

      “I’m glad Christianity is salvation by grace not by works.”

      Salvation from what?

      Salvation from god punishing you for being born guilty or salvation from god punishing you for not doing what the church says?

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    No, I am not. This was a huge point of disagreement between the catholic church and the protestants at the council of Trent.

    Sorry, you are wrong. The primary distinction made at Trent was not about salvation by works, it was between justification by faith (RCC) and sola fide, or justification by faith alone (the Reformers). Neither side proclaimed salvation by works–both sides to this day deny salvation by works. This is Reformation 101.

    Why does religion impose all those laws ?

    What laws? In the New Testament there are but two commandments. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.

    How does that fit with the notion that god is just?

    Nobody receives punishment they do not deserve. That would be injustice. There is, however, a form of non-justice: some receive mercy, i.e., reprieve from punishment they deserve.

    • Loqi

      There is, however, a form of non-justice…

      I’m laughing so hard right now. Nothing god does is unjust, it’s just sometimes non-just!

    • Joe

      What laws? In the New Testament there are but two commandments. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.

      Then why all the uproar about homosexuality, pre-maritial sex and contraception? If there are no laws other than the two you mentioned, then surely these are alright. They can still be done while loving God, and don’t hurt my neighbour at all.

      • Nate Frein

        No, see. Those are those other, non-true versions of Christianity that totes get Christ wrong and therefore don’t count.

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

      But if people do not receive the punishment they deserve, that is unjust to the victims. Thus, your god is being unjust. And a perfect god can’t be unjust. So … you deal with that paradox.

    • Nox

      “What laws? In the New Testament there are but two commandments.”

      There are a lot more than two commandments in the new testament. Everything Paul writes is stated as a commandment and these are all claimed to come directly from god. Jesus issues around fifty direct commandments to his followers (and many ultimatums about who will or will not inherit the kingdom). And he says the law of Moses (that means the six hundred thirteen commandments in the Torah) still applies and will apply forever.

      If you read the rest of the two passages where Jesus refers to ‘love god’ and ‘love your neighbor’ as the two most important commandments, what he actually says is that following the law is what’s important. ‘Love god’ and ‘love your neighbor’ are just Jesus’ wildly inaccurate summary of the jewish law.

      On top of that every church has developed their own set of rules. Some based on the new testament. Some made up far later. And all those churches are in the business of telling people that you can only serve god by doing what that particular church says. Catholics and protestants agree that only by submitting your will to the ownership of priests can you qualify for this grace.

      When christians want to sell christianity it is called a free gift. It’s after someone accepts this free gift that the small print kicks in and the true cost starts to be revealed.

  • http://helives.blogspot.com heddle

    Loqi,

    Then you are laughing at yourself for not recognizing that mercy is a positive form of non-justice while injustice is a negative form.

    • Loqi

      I don’t think you get what I’m laughing about. Normally I’d clarify at this point, but I think it will be more fun to leave it vague.

    • Loqi

      Though I will say I find your distinction funny as well.

    • Compuholic

      I laughed as well: So according to you: God is not just. But it is not that he is injust, just non-just. Great entertainment…

      • Compuholic

        Just to clarify before I get the predictable “but it is logically consistent” comment. Yes you position is logically consistent. But I would assume that you (as all believers) say that god is just. And that is not possible any more under your model. Not unless you redefine “just” to mean “non-just” which of course leads to contradiction.

      • Loqi

        Aside from the epic “non-justice” ass-pull, the funny part is that the single event that christianity reveres above all else is punishing the only “innocent” in the entire universe. If god was not unjust, christianity wouldn’t exist.

      • IslandBrewer

        And don’t forget, “justice” according to Heddle would be everyone tormented in hell for eternity.

        Yup, God’s justice. And we’re supposed to be grateful that god doesn’t torture us for eternity after we die if we buy into the whole jebus thing, and that makes him SOOO wonderful, the not torturing for eternity.

        … I won’t get into how that makes me a billion times more compassionate than that pouty tantrum-throwing god of his.


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