Missionary John Chau Died for Nothing: Why the Great Commission Didn’t Apply to Him (or to You)

Missionary John Chau Died for Nothing: Why the Great Commission Didn’t Apply to Him (or to You) December 3, 2018

John Chau, missionary killed Great Commission

John Chau, the missionary who was killed a few weeks ago by the inhabitants of a small island in the Indian Ocean, was arguably brave and selfless in his desire to spread the gospel. The tragedy was that his sacrifice was for nothing, even within a Christian context. The Great Commission, the charge Jesus gave to spread the gospel, wasn’t given to him. In fact, it wasn’t given to anyone now living, and the Bible makes that clear.

Here are six reasons why Christians should ignore the Great Commission.

1. Jesus wasn’t talking to you.

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), but he was speaking to his disciples. Don’t flatter yourself—you’re not Luke or Peter or John.

Some might assume Jesus had more in mind. After all, he had to be thinking about who would carry on the evangelical task. Who would take up the challenge in the next generation and the next? The answer: nobody. Jesus wasn’t thinking about Christian evangelism centuries in the future. He saw the end within the lifetimes of his hearers.

Other chapters in the Bible make clear that Jesus was not addressing today’s Christian. An earlier commission also charges the disciples to spread the word, but this time Jesus gave them superpowers. They had “authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (Matthew 10:1).

Jesus also said to his disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Binding means to forbid and loosing means to permit, both by an indisputable authority. We see something similar in another gospel, a power you’d think would be reserved for God himself: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23).

If the commission comes with superhuman powers to help carry it out but Christians today weren’t given those powers, then they probably weren’t given the commission either.

2. Christian leaders acknowledge the difference.

The Bible shows the disciples performing healing miracles. The book of Acts has Paul healing a lame man, Ananias curing blindness, and Peter raising the dead. “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles” (Acts 2:43). In John, Jesus said, “He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.”

Another aspect of miracles is the amazing claims made for prayer. In Matthew, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In Mark, Jesus says, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

But it doesn’t work that way for Christians today, and everyone knows it. Christians can’t reliably heal, and prayer doesn’t “work” like a light switch or a car works. To get out of this bind, Christian apologists sometimes sidestep the problem by saying that times have changed, and these remarkable abilities were available only to the disciples.

That works, but then the Great Commission reasonably falls into the same category. Only the disciples had these amazing abilities, and only the disciples were given the burden of the Great Commission.

3. You can’t have confidence that your interpretation is correct

Christianity has 45,000 denominations, and it’s budding off new ones at a rate of two per day. There are a lot of fundamental doctrines that separate these denominations. You may be confident in the rightness of your views on those important matters, but you can have no certainty that you’re right. There is no objectively correct way to interpret the Bible. When your Christian views differ from your neighbor’s, how can you prove which one is right? How can you insist that yours are correct?

4. It’s not everyone’s job to evangelize

Paul says that we have different gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4–11). Yours isn’t necessarily to evangelize. And don’t take on the teaching role lightly: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).  

5. When the Bible makes a crazy demand, Christians ignore the demand

Christians casually dismiss aspects of the Bible that don’t translate well into modern Western society—God’s support for slavery, polygamy, genocide, human sacrifice, and so on. The Bible makes God’s position clear, but loftier principles override the Bible, and Christians (correctly) take the sensible approach where there are conflicts. If pushing your beliefs on others also doesn’t feel right, maybe that’s because it isn’t.

And what’s the point of evangelization anyway? Fundamentalists will tell you that it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work, not your evangelization, “so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Surely the omnipotent Holy Spirit has the capability to save souls and isn’t constrained by what people do or don’t do.

6. There’s no need for the Great Commission

Christians have been told that it’s their duty to save people. Just imagine if your neighbor went to hell simply because you were too lazy to convince him that he was a broken sinner who needed what your church was selling.

Paul makes clear that this fear is unfounded. Comparing the symmetry of Adam’s sin with Jesus’s sacrifice, Paul said, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). The price has been paid, so you’re good.

We see a similar attitude in the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. The King gives eternal life to those who lived honorable lives on earth. Evangelism and mandatory beliefs aren’t necessary.

Christians, discard the great baggage of the Great Commission. There’s work enough to just live your life as a good Christian. If someone asks, you can give the “reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

If you want to more closely follow the lead of Jesus, he spoke at length about helping the disadvantaged. That’s a charge that makes a lot more sense.

When Christians tell you that they’re confused
with how the Bible seems okay with slavery and polygamy,
don’t tell them not to worry and that 2+2=5 after all.
2+2=4, and the work of Christianity
is learning how to deal with 4.
— Laura Robinson, quoted here

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/2/15.)

Image from Wikipedia, public domain
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  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Depending if/when the fundies find this post, it’s gonna be so…much…fun!!!

    • If you know any ways to promote this, let me know!

      • Susan

        If you know any ways to promote this, let me know!

        The “Recent Comments” feature was a useful part of Patheosdisqus but they removed that to make more room for Russian porn hubs to hack people’s old accounts.

        Greg G. created a workaround that no longer works. Before it no longer worked, Greg G.’s workaround kept the conversation alive. It allowed theists and atheists to discuss the topic of christianity.

        You write so well on the subjects, in a manner that invites discussion and you have worked so hard to create a space in which open discussion is invited.

        But Patheosdisqus has created a system in which there are no workarounds available for people interested in the subject. Unless they are Patheosdisqus savvy/code trained geeks.

        And they don’t provide reasonable reporting methods.

        For instance, the first option (when one is trying to let them know about old accounts being hacked to sell hot Russian girls who want to love you) is “I don’t agree with this user”.

        Other options are just as useless.

        After all this time, it seems reasonable that they would provide something like “This upvote seems to have come from an old account that was hacked to sell hot Russian girls and other hot girls”.

        They don’t seem to care about discussion.

        That is, all the hard work you do and all the hard work your commentators do isn’t important to them.

        Promoting thoughtful ideas seems to have become almost impossible here.

        The comment count has plummeted since the last revision.

        I think Patheosdisqus isn’t about discussing “faith” any more.

        Interesting that its entire structure (though christian based) is not very concerned about discussion of faith issues and not very concerned that its users are being hacked to sell sex.

        It’s the modern day version of the early RCC.

        If you want to promote your discussion, I think Disquspatheos isn’t the way to do it any more.

        =====

        ETA: Or if it is, please provide clear instruction on how to do it. It’s never been easy. Now it seems almost impossible. If there’s a simple solution, someone please provide it.

        In the meantime, the numbers seem to have plummeted from over a thousand in many discussions to way less than a hundred now.

        • Pofarmer

          And to add to that, when you go to the Disqus Nonreligious homepage, you’re as likely to get a 2 year old article as to get something relevant. Why they made that change is beyond me, especially with the number and quality of bloggers they have.

        • Greg G.

          I have found this to be the simplest form for the recent comments:

          <html>
          <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://crossexamined.disqus.com/recent_comments_widget.js?num_items=25&hide_avatars=0&avatar_size=32&excerpt_length=400″></script>
          </html>

          It even works in Chrome on my phone. You just have to save it to your computer or phone.

          Copy the text and paste it into a text editor like Notepad. Save the file as “CErc.html” or anything you like as long as your browser can recognize it as HTML. Patheos or Disqus abbreviates the URL so you will have to replace the shortened text with the real URL by right-clicking and copying or perhaps clicking the link and copying it from the browser address line. Make sure the quotation marks are at each end of the URL.

          Below is an attempt to defeat the URL abbreviation by adding spaces. The spaces after src= have to be removed.

          <html>
          <script type=”text/javascript” src=”h t t p : / / crossexamined . disqus.com / recent_comments_widget.js?num_items=25&hide_avatars=0&avatar_size=32&excerpt_length=400″></script>
          </html>

          This should work on any non-Patheos site.

        • Otto

          Thank you for trying to explain this to us non-html people. I tried the last work around and couldn’t get it to work. I will try this one and hopefully have better results.

        • epeeist

          This is my script for the latest comments on Cross Examined. Save the text between the ==== symbols as “recent-comments.html” and then edit the file (something like Notepad will do) and replace ‘[‘ by ”. Save the edited file and then open it in your browser:

          ====

          [html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" lang="en-US" xml:lang="en-US"
          xmlns:og="http://opengraphprotocol.org/schema/"]
          [head profile="http://gmpg.org/xfn/11"]
          [title]Recent Comments on Cross Examined[/title]
          [meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8"/]
          [style]
          header, footer {
          padding: 1em;
          color: white;
          background-color: black;
          clear: left;
          text-align: center;
          }

          button {
          background-color:#e7e7e7;
          color: black;
          border: 2px solid black;
          margin-top: 25px;
          padding: 15px 40px;
          text-align: center;
          text-decoration: none;
          display: inline-block;
          font-size: 16px;
          border-radius: 10px;
          }
          [/style]
          [script]
          function rightnow(d) {
          d = d || new Date();

          return d.toLocaleDateString() + ' ' + d.toLocaleTimeString();
          }
          [/script]
          [/head]
          [body]
          [header]
          [h1]Recent Comments on Cross Examined -
          [script]document.write(rightnow())[/script]
          [/h1]
          [/header]

          [div]
          [button type="button" onclick="location.reload(true)"]
          Refresh
          [/button]
          [/div]

          [div id="recent-comments"]
          [script type="text/javascript"
          src="http://crossexamined.disqus.com/recent_comments_widget.js?num_items=25&hide_avatars=0&avatar_size=32&excerpt_length=400"]
          [/script]
          [script type="text/javascript"
          src="http://js.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/dsq-recentcomments.js"]
          [/script]
          [/div]
          [/body]
          [/html]

          ====

        • epeeist

          Hmm, this might be easier:

          ====

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined

          header, footer {
          padding: 1em;
          color: white;
          background-color: black;
          clear: left;
          text-align: center;
          }

          button {
          background-color:#e7e7e7;
          color: black;
          border: 2px solid black;
          margin-top: 25px;
          padding: 15px 40px;
          text-align: center;
          text-decoration: none;
          display: inline-block;
          font-size: 16px;
          border-radius: 10px;
          }

          function rightnow(d) {
          d = d || new Date();

          return d.toLocaleDateString() + ' ' + d.toLocaleTimeString();
          }

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined -
          document.write(rightnow())

          Refresh


          ====

          Yep, save the text between the “====” lines as something like “recent-comments.html” and open it in your browser.

        • MR

          Might I suggest two buttons:

          Refresh

          Comments

        • epeeist

          First of all can I acknowledge that this isn’t my script, I ripped it off from Greg G. and simply tidied it up and (IMHO) improved the CSS.

          Yes, agree that the extra button would be good, however I think the layout could be improved:

          ====

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined

          header, footer {
          padding: 1em;
          color: white;
          background-color: black;
          clear: left;
          text-align: center;
          }

          .button-container {
          display:inline-block;
          margin-bottom: 5px;
          margin-right: 10px;
          }

          button {
          background-color:#e7e7e7;
          color: black;
          border: 2px solid black;
          margin-top: 25px;
          padding: 15px 40px;
          text-align: center;
          text-decoration: none;
          display: inline-block;
          font-size: 16px;
          border-radius: 10px;
          }

          function rightnow(d) {
          d = d || new Date();

          return d.toLocaleDateString() + ' ' + d.toLocaleTimeString();
          }

          Recent Comments on Cross Examined -
          document.write(rightnow())

          Refresh

          Following/Followers


          ====

        • MR

          Oh, you know, I assumed that was something of a combined effort. I should have given Greg a shout out, too. Sorry, Greg.

          Thank you both.

        • Susan

          This is my script for the latest comments on Cross Examined.

          Thank you! It works!

        • Greg G.

          If someone wants to tinker with parameters:

          num_items=25

          That is the number of posts displayed and 25 is the maximum.

          excerpt_length=400

          That is the maximum number of characters of each post that is displayed.

        • ildi

          Oh, thank you! I finally got around to figuring out how to use the script and I love it!

        • Susan

          Thanks Greg for your efforts.

          I ended up going with epeeist’s version because the instructions were the clearest and I am dumb as a post in this area.

          It worked. I’m sure yours does too and more competent people have made use of it already.

          I’m grateful that you take the time to help us out.

        • Otto

          Very well said and I concur.

        • Thanks for that. I can’t do anything about it, but it is good to hear how things look from the standpoint of a long-time reader.

        • ildi

          I’ve found that once the comments get above the 400 or so range it becomes unmanageable in desktop Chrome. Comments don’t show up when I click on new comments; I have to reload the entire comment section page by page to see them and I search by time stamp to find the new ones. Also, if I try to comment I have to type in it Word and copy/paste because the lag time typing directly into the comment box becomes untenable. Unfortunately, I don’t understand how to use the html hack suggested by others or if it even fixes the problems I’m having.

        • Greg G.

          The browser has to run scripts for each open comment to check for up arrows, new replies, time, and who knows what else. With a few dozen, the browser can handle the load but that is a lot to do when you have several dozen comments opened.

          Then there is the problem that in a busy comment section, opening to a comment usually will not load the replies to it, only the upstream thread.

        • epicurus

          Well that explains a lot. My Ipad air 2 is often basically unusable on bigger threads on patheos.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Hmmm, post a link to one of the fundamentalist blogs that allows commenting, asking for a dialogue?

        • Inspired by my own question, I sent links to 3 or 4 Patheos religion bloggers. (One replied, “Puckish as ever!” which I took to mean “No thanks.”) Also to a few fundamentalist ministries.

          Tangent: I’ve recently corrected an error* repeated twice by Greg Koukl. There’s no real way to give feedback or engage in conversation (comments aren’t allowed) at his site. I do have a way of contacting one of his associates, and she did reply (good). To my correction, the best she could offer is that I call in on his live show (not so good). Unfortunately, that tells me a lot about how eager he is for finding a correct argument as opposed to a useful argument.

          * The error was the oft-used “we [scientists] cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” by Lewontin (to which I respond at the link below).
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/01/bad-atheist-arguments-science-can-explain-everything-2-2/

    • Ignorant Amos

      Or atheist Gary Whitenberger could find this post and fuck everyone right off with the same fuckwittery he’s been peddling about Chau’s “murder” elsewhere. Demonstrating that even atheists can be idiots.

      • Kevin K

        He’s just in love with his own voice. I blocked him ages ago, after he argued with me vociferously for agreeing with him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh….he’s defo an A1 contrarian for the sake of it.

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, I’m a contrarian, but at least I don’t piss off people who agree with me for no reason.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…a bit of a contrarian maself, but not on just about everything…and yeah, not with those who agree with me….as far I can remember anyway.

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, I’m a contrarian,

          No, you aren’t.

        • Kevin K

          Misanthrope?

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “arguably brave and selfless” Yup I will sure argue about that. He was NOT selfless, his whole mission was about HIM. About how HE would bring the ‘word’ to ‘lesser people’ that ‘last bastion of satan’. Those evil evil savages. HE wanted rack up jesus points. to make HIMSELF look better.

    As far as brave goes. Sorry, bravery is when do the RIGHT thing even when you know it can hurt you. Even when you are scared. Instead, this thug for jesus knew damn well that it was both illegal, immoral, and possibly genocidal to go to that island. He wasn’t brave. He was almost totes positive that the Jeez was gonna make him a superstar.

    So yeah, I sure as hell will argue about his ‘character’.

    • Lark62

      He’s exactly as “brave and selfless” as the stalker who breaks into your house and threatens to kill your family unless you agree to marry him.

      In other words, zero bravery and zero selflessness.

      • John Grove

        I wouldn’t go that far. Brave, perhaps. But clearly misled.

        • Lark62

          Stalkers are neither brave nor selfless.

          Sincerity does not excuse assholery.

        • John Grove

          I see absolutely no similarity between a predator and an evangelical Christian. As I stated, I think the Christian is misled and clearly foolish and naive. But I don’t think the kid was “evil”

        • Lark62

          I hear what you’re saying, but I disagree.

          One can be smiley and friendly and sincere and see oneself as a hero and yet still perform evil.

          I think Chau was exactly like a stalker. He was obsessed with the object of his obsession. He told himself his actions were loving and that they really needed him. Yet he brought only fear and potential death to his victims.

          Chau did it all for Chau. The fact that he deluded himself and was totally unaware of his own selfishness makes his actions no less evil.

        • John Grove

          You are entitled to your opinion. But if you think devoted Christians are evil people rather than people who are just misled as I do, it seems to me the label of many believers charging non-believers with a certain sectarian fundamentalism seems quite accurate.

        • Lark62

          What!? When did I say devoted christians are evil people?

          Please learn to read. Devotion does not stop an evil person from doing evil, but that in no way creates a one to one relationship between “devotion” and “evil.”

          Duh.

          Stalkers are selfish. Stalkers are all about fulfilling their own needs. A stalker does not give a shit about what their victim wants or needs. They tell themselves (i.e. believe) that they are doing it all for their victim, but their actions prove otherwise.

          Chau was obsessed with the Sentinelese, but that did not cause his actions to be anything but harmful.

          There is no reason to think that the Sentinelese are evil. Killing an intruder in self defense is not evil.

        • John Grove

          Can you differentiate between what this missionary did differently from historically other missionaries by attempting to evangelize a tribe who never heard of Christianity? Or do you think just missionaries are evil? Clearly you think this Chau is evil, you said so plainly, but I cannot find anything distinctive about him and an ordinary Christian except perhaps more zeal.

          Hence I infer you think Christians are not just misled people but evil, since you think this Christian is. There is nothing about Chau that makes him unorthodox in any way that I can see.

          You can’t see that people killing a man who wished them no harm is evil? And please stop the condescending remarks. Act like a gentleman, I’m readying what you write quite accurately. You compared Chau to that of a stalker and said he is no less evil for doing what it is Christians do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you think someone carrying HIV that knowingly has unprotected sex with unsuspecting partners and doesn’t tell them ahead of time. because he believes that the someone and those partners will enjoy the sex better, is morally repugnant?

        • John Grove

          Absolutely repugnant and morally inexcusable. But I don’t find a moral equivalence in the scenario under question. I find a stupid kid who is mistakenly misled into believing he can evangelize a ruthless barbaric tribe.

          There are morals questions here. For example, why illegally come to an island to evangelize? These are not prisoners on this island, so I don’t see a moral basis for him coming. He has a misguided belief he is doing the right thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Perhaps that’s where we differ.

          John Chau knew he could be carrying a pathogen that could, at the extreme, potentially wipe out the inhabitants of the island. But the thrill of bringing Jesus to those islanders was second to that thrill…he obviously didn’t care enough…he thought the islanders would get just as big a thrill at him bringing Jesus to them, that all other considerations would be ignored. They didn’t, they weren’t taking any risks…they decided to abstain from the sex just in case.

        • John Grove

          You are assuming he is as intelligent as you are. (I think we both agree that is not true!!)

          I don’t think being the Christian he was, believed that. Most likely he didn’t seriously consider that at all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He was intelligent enough…he took a training camp on the subject and the data confirms that he had researched the island ahead of time.

          Also…

          And if, as reported, Chau studied to be an EMT, how could he not have known that he risked killing the people he purportedly wished to save, considering that they likely have no immunity to viral illnesses like measles, influenza, and the common cold?

        • John Grove

          How can a bible thumping Christian ever become a biologist when they openly reject evolution? People can be contradictions…

        • Ignorant Amos

          What?

          Not all bible thumping Christians reject evolution, and there are bible thumping creationists that are biologists.

          Ever here of the psychological condition known as compartmentalization?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compartmentalization_(psychology)

          One doesn’t even need the level of nous of a biologist to know or be aware of the risks involved…Chau could not have been unaware that he poised a risk to the tribe. He didn’t go in blinkered. The information is out there.

          The tribe have made it clear that they do not want contact. It is a wise choice. Neighboring tribes were wiped out after the British colonized their islands, and they lack immunity to common diseases like flu or measles, which would decimate their population.

          https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/sentinelese#

          But let’s not pretend Chau didn’t know the risks he posed….it just doesn’t fly.

          John Chau, the missionary that gave his life to reach a remote tribe with the love of Christ, took every precaution to avoid any health dangers to them, including a self-imposed quarantine and 13 immunizations.

          “He was wilderness EMT trained and was trained in health,” says Joshua Johnson, executive director of All Nations, the missions organization that supported Chau. “He took as many immunizations as he could before he went. He put himself in a self-imposed quarantine before he went. He did not want to endanger the tribe.”

        • John Grove

          Look at the last sentence you just quoted me.

          “He did not want to endanger the tribe”.

          So, I think as I said, he probably felt he would not endanger them. Else he would not have made that trek. I think we are dealing with a stupid kid.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whether he wanted to endanger life or not, is irrelevant. His action are seen as endangerment, because they put the tribe at risk.

          It wasn’t his call to make. I’ve no doubt that he hadn’t the intention to cause harm, well not the sort of harm we are considering here anyway.

          But he knew those intentions could cause catastrophic harm, but still went ahead. At that point he shouldered the moral responsibility for his actions.

          By the way…that sentence was made by the Christian group that trained Chau…they wouldn’t lie about it, would they? /s

        • John Grove

          “he knew those intentions could cause catastrophic harm”

          If true, the discussion is moot. That would be evil. But really the whole question on intent was trying to determine if he believed it. If he did, evil absolutely. If not, careless and stupid.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well the discussion is moot then, because we know for a fact Chau knew the risks, because he went to some lengths to do what he thought or believed would minimize any potential impact. He did that knowing he was breaking the law anyway, because it wasn’t his call to make.

        • John Grove

          Thanks again Amos for the discussion

        • Greg G.

          Didn’t Jonathan Wells or Kurt Wise get a PhD just to be able to refute evolution?

        • John Grove

          Excellent point. I think Christians do this all the time to appear more credible.

        • Jonathan Wells did. “[The words of my spiritual leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon], my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.”

          Source: https://www.tparents.org/library/unification/talks/wells/DARWIN.htm

        • al kimeea

          There are plenty of medically trained people we call nurses who believe they have healing hands of various kinds – HT, TT and the ancient art of reiki. One of those woos was invented by a nurse. Reiki is approaching its centenary. As John Grove pointed out, people are often contradictions.

          Two brain mechanics were reading of the wonders of probiotic bacteria and decided it would help one of their patients with a lesion(?) of some kind on the brain. The resulting bacterial meningitis may have killed the man, the memory is muddy (these idiots did the same BS science this CRISPR idiot has recently shat into the world).

          The Dr. (of) Oz is a good heart surgeon, by all accounts, and will include a laying on of hands in your surgery, expertly executed by his wife… For a fee.

          Are these people evil? They all, including the martyr, have good intentions for what they consider to be a good idea. The martyr is obviously blinded by faith, the others by their experience and with a similarly tragic outcome a very real possibility, despite being grounded in science…

          This martyr pointedly shows there is no virtue in faith in religion as it trumped germ theory. The other examples display the folly of faith in scientific authority based on “in my experience”.

          It seems this martyr had just enough knowledge to be dangerous, while the bona fides of the others would seem to legitimize their claims for pseudo-scientific numbnuttery…

          Good ideas and bad ideas all possibly resulting in evil outcomes… too bad we have no means to separate the wheat from the chaff, the snake-oil from the Salk, knumbnuttery from knowledge, at least as far as medicinal matters are concerned.

          Religion as an idea, is clearly evil, despite the historic marketing campaign. The martyr is a clear example of a religious poisoning, while the others are a strain of Nobel Disease in a noble cause.

          People are strange…

        • And if they died, that can easily be rationalized–it’s part of God’s plan, they’re in heaven now, etc.

          So you see, it’s all good.

        • Greg G.

          Jared Diamond wrote about tribes in the mountains of New Guinea, where protein foods were hard to come by, who considered it immoral to not kill a stranger in your territory, as their only business would be to plan an attack on your family or take food from your family.

          They may not have ever seen someone of Far East Asian descent. They may not have recognized Chau as a normal human.

        • John Grove

          I have read several of his books. Great author.

        • Lark62

          Do you think genocide is evil? I do.

          Chau and his arrogance could have brought about the death of every man, woman and child on that island. That would be genocide. And yes, I think Chau’s choices and actions were evil, despite the fact that he thought of himself as kind. He may not have “wished” them harm, but he nonetheless brought harm.

          In general, I think missionaries and proselytizers are annoying and/or obnoxious. But people knocking on my door to tell me about Jesus are not evil, just annoying. Ordinarily christians do not bring diseases to my door that I have no immunity against.

          If you bring a deadly disease to my door as you tell me about your invisible friend, that is where it becomes evil.

          Let’s say your child is immune compromised due to cancer treatment, and visitors are restricted to protect your child’s life. Now let’s say a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness decides that your child needs to hear about their religion. So they spend weeks figuring out how to bypass hospital security and sneak into your child’s room without any protection. They don’t consult you or ask your permission. They just do it. Would you say “No problem. They are sincere about their religion and mean well.” Would you say “They didn’t bring an Uzi, so no problem.” I don’t think so. They ignored all precautions put in place to protect your child, and put your child’s life at risk to fulfill THEIR OWN NEED to spread their religion. I would call someone who did that evil – based on their own actions.

          All the sincerity in the world does not stop microbes.

          Chau is not all christians. Chau was extreme. Chau’s choices and behavior were evil.

          Most humans, including most christians, are better than that.

        • John Grove

          This is interesting, before I initiated a conversation with any of you almost all of you didn’t mention the fact he may bring some unknown virus to them (Except maybe one person in passing) as the main reason for this missionary as the reason for why you find him so revolting.

          BTW, these people have had contact with many people before, there are even YouTube videos on this. Most of you at the onset were simply disgusted by the fact he wanted to preach to them. If truth be told, that is what you found disgusting about him.

          In fact, the comment this whole conversation is under was by Cozmo the magician who said this:

          “HE wanted to rack up jesus points. To make HIMSELF look better”.

          Now, like most of you, I don’t agree with missionaries or Christianity, the only reason I stepped in is because many of you thought this kid was evil. And when that was stated by several of you, the subject of this remote possibility of making them sick was not central to the conversation. It was simply the fact he was preaching to them.
          It was only when I asked what is evil about the man that some of you bring up this. You guys are as shape shifty as Christians are when cornered.

        • Lark62

          What have you been reading? The fact that Chau could expose these people to diseases that they have no immune response for has been front and center in all discussions of Chau.

          Here is a comment I made over a week ago https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/378ca69a95434704fc8d519bcaef15389f72ad4616224bd72c183eb9d855e4d8.png

          The fact that Chau endangered the lives of an entire population so that he could satisfy HIS OWN RELIGIOUS NEED only makes his despicable behavior worse.

          Edit to add
          And these people have not had contact with other people. 100 years ago, a britsh seaman kidnapped some islanders. 15 years ago or so, experts tried to make contact by giving them gifts of coconuts, but that effort ultimately failed.

        • ildi

          BTW, these people have had contact with many people before, there are even YouTube videos on this.

          Not really.
          • In 1967, the Indian government initiated contact with Sentinelese in association with anthropologist T. N. Pandit. They tried extending a hand of friendship by leaving gifts for the tribe and beckoning them. However, the tribesmen would turn their backs on the government delegates and sit on their haunches in a defecating posture. This gesture was obviously meant to insult.
          • Again, in March 1970, when Pandit’s team made another attempt to befriend the Sentinelese, the tribesmen hurled cryptic words at them. When the group signalled and spoke to make them believe they wish to buddy up, the tribe threw another shocker at the unassuming party. A woman from the tribe joined a warrior man and sat on the shore in a cosy embrace; other women of the tribe followed suit.
          • After the 2004 Tsunami which wreaked havoc in South India and parts of the Indian Ocean, the government had sent helicopters from the Indian Coast Guard to render aid to the Sentinelese and drop food packets. At this sight, a member of the Sentinelese tribe reacted by shooting arrows at it.
          • In 2006, they showed their strong aversion to foreign contact by killing two Indian fishermen who accidentally went too close to the island in their boat while hunting for mud crabs.

          https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/destinations/know-how-60000-year-old-human-tribe-of-secluded-north-sentinel-island-behaves-with-outsiders/as62566496.cms
          Only video I found of actual contact (from 1971):
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExdEHU02Zk0

        • Ignorant Amos

          He was clearly misled…that goes without saying…the 9/11 bombers were misled…Nazi soldiers were misled…the Knights of the Crusades were misled.

          Foolish…of course…hardly the actions of the smarter among us.

          But as for naive…not so much.

          He was misled by the arseholes at All Nations…but to pretend he was naive and was unaware of what he was getting into, appears to be naive thinking itself.

          Chau trained for this journey, he was well aware of the risks to himself, and no doubt what he posed to the tribe.

          Chau wrote this a few days before getting offed…“Remember, the first one to heaven wins.”

          One evangelical response a criticism of Chau by a cleric fearing the fuckwit would be seen as a martyr was….

          Unfortunately I don’t agree. The young man was willing to give his life so these unreached people could here [sic] about Jesus. There [sic] eco system means nothing in comparison to eternity.

          The response at the FA is on point…

          Well, there you have it. An isolated tribe’s ecosystem “means nothing” — and neither, ultimately, do their lives; because to some Christians, if it takes killing people to save them, that’s not only justified, it’s noble and necessary.

          I’m with the North Sentinelese: such piety-peddling cut-throats are dangerous and abhorrent, and I want them only as close to me as the distance that a bow and arrow — or the modern equivalent — can almost bridge.

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/12/03/john-chau-went-to-missionary-bootcamp-to-learn-to-convert-wild-heathens/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=44

        • John Grove

          As far as our atheism is concerned, we agree. I just don’t find it helpful to think of evangelical Christians as “evil” as you do. That’s your prerogative I suppose.

        • Greg G.

          I just don’t find it helpful to think of evangelical Christians as “evil” as you do.

          What is an evil person? Is it a person who does evil things or does it have to be a person who does evil things with evil intent?

          The folks who flew planes into buildings were convinced that they were doing good, yet what they did was evil. Chau was convinced he was doing good but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing evil.

          A person’s right to swing a fist ends at the next person’s nose. A person’s right to practice their religion ends when they try to practice it on someone who is unwilling to participate. It can be anywhere from annoying to evil.

        • John Grove

          Misled does not equate to evil. Some beliefs certainly do as you clearly pointed out. But a missionary, annoying as they may be, is merely trying to persuade with words.

          This poor chap thought he could live with them long enough to establish communication to evangelize. He got killed for that. And it seems you are defending the tribe. If that’s the case, why not defend the terrorists who flew planes into buildings? Because the same rationale you are using to defend the tribe could be used to defend the terrorist.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Except that in his attempt to persuade with words, he threatened the life of every islander and he knew it.

          Furthermore, the islanders had no idea if he was armed only with just words, nor to them, did it matter. There is a precedent of invaders coming with words and causing death in the progress.

        • John Grove

          “the islanders had no idea if he was armed only with just words, nor to them, did it matter. ”

          Does intent matter when determining whether an action is moral or not?

          I think we all agree on one thing. This kid was stupid. The tribe perhaps view intruding as hostility so the killing may be deemed arguable permissible (I guess). Is Chau evil for coming to the island? I still don’t buy that he was. A fucking idiot? Yes, but there are no laws against that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          To the islanders every stranger is a threat. Their actual intent is irrelevant. Chau knew this, yet he persisted.

          And Chau’s primary intent was to proselytize…not in and of itself immoral, bad, unethical, evil….but he knew these intentions were dangerous. The tribe is designated a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), and Chau knew it, which means whatever his primary intentions, they are irrelevant His actions were immoral, bad, unethical, evil because of his prior knowledge.

          Human rights group Survival International said it was possible that Chau had infected the tribe with pathogens to which they have no immunity, “with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe”.

        • John Grove

          “..but he knew these intentions were dangerous”

          To whom? To himself? Surely not to the tribe. Maybe he saw himself in danger, but clearly he didn’t want to in danger them.

          Intentions are not irrelevant. They are the very bedrock of understanding ethics or moral theory and even our judicial system.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, dangerous to the tribes people and he knew it. He didn’t just go there on a whim, he did his homework. He knew he wasn’t supposed to go there and the reasons were because as much as it is dangerous to any visitor, the tribes folk are also at risk.

        • John Grove

          Thanks for the good conversation gents. Hope it was stimulating

        • Ignorant Amos

          Intentions are not irrelevant. They are the very bedrock of understanding ethics or moral theory.

          They are irrelevant when there are other considerations to consider.

        • John Grove

          “They are irrelevant when there are other considerations to consider.”

          No, not irrelevant, just perhaps not the deciding factor.

        • Ignorant Amos

          To use the HIV analogy…even though the intention is to give everyone involved a fucking good time, the action is still morally repugnant.

        • John Grove

          What if I wanted to drive you to a concert to have a good time and we get killed in a crash. Is that morally repugnant? And if not, why. You see, it goes back to intent…

        • Ignorant Amos

          If we get killed in a car crash, it’s an accident. If we get killed in a car crash because you are pished, speeding, reckless driving. on drugs, etc….you will be culpable for my death, whether you intended it or not. You will likely go to jail. Causing someone else’s death by drunk driving is morally repugnant, whether that was the intention or not, knowingly drink driving and causing someone else’s death…or serious injury, is morally repugnant. And most societies agree. To use your analogy more accurately, Chau was drink driving to the concert intending that everyone have a ball, but he was driving at innocent bystanders…the local police stopped him from potentially killing the innocent bystanders.

        • John Grove

          So to sum ( and correct me if I’m wrong)

          Chau was evil not because of the evangelizing. But because there was a remote possibility when he landed on the island he may infect them with some unknown pathogen that he was immune to that they were not?

          Were all the people coming to America to escape Britain immoral because they may have infected the Indians? Just curious on your thoughts.

        • Greg G.

          Were the people coming to America to escape Britain immoral because they may have infected the Indians? Just curious on your thoughts.

          They might be forgiven for not knowing about how disease was spread and that they were bring diseases the locals were not resistant to.

          But when they were providing smallpox-infected blankets to the natives, it was certainly evil.

        • John Grove

          So here we are back to intent.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Chau was evil not because of the evangelizing.

          Correct. Not in and of itself. Though if someone comes to my door evangelizing and I give them fair warning they are not wanted and they persist anyway, they will feel the wrath and it will be their own fault, they have become the “evil” at that point.

          But because there was a remote possibility when he landed on the island he may infect them with some unknown pathogen that he was immune to that they were not?

          You are not taking on board what is being said. Your caveats “remote” and “unknown” flies in the face of the data. The possibility isn’t remote and the pathogens that could wipe them out are not unknown.

          Neighboring tribes were wiped out after the British colonized their islands, and they lack immunity to common diseases like flu or measles, which would decimate their population.

          Were the people coming to America to escape Britain immoral because they may have infected the Indians? Just curious on your thoughts.

          If they knew ahead of time that they were committing genocide, but they came anyway…fucking hell yeah. But get this, that analogy still fails, because Chau wasn’t going to NS for the reason the founding fathers were…so a false equivalence imo.

        • John Grove

          So the immigrants coming to America can be excused for endangering the Indians with their pathogens because they wanted to come to America to live and Chau wanted to evangelize?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, now you are getting disingenuous.

          Did the invaders of America know the risks they posed? I doubt it. Did they care, I doubt it.

          The founding fathers came to America to evade hardship, persecution and tyranny at home. I doubt it was an easy decision.

          Chau was invading for an entirely different reason and he knew fine well he was breaking laws and risking the lives of others.

        • John Grove

          I’m not being disingenuous. I’ve been talking about the importance of intent the whole time while trying to figure out why you thought Chau was “evil”

          So now the story changes. He is evil because he is an invader. But as long as you invade to avoid hardship that is permissible? Is this what you are defending?

        • MR

          Yeah, there’s a certain arrogance in that. My visceral reaction is, “How dare you!” You feel bad for the guy, but he took a risk that not only endangered him, but endangered them as well. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that course hasn’t already been determined now, one way or another.

        • John Grove

          I never said I felt bad for the guy. Note, all I have said was Chau was not evil.

        • MR

          Depends on one’s definition of evil, I suppose.

        • John Grove

          True of course.

        • ephemerol

          You claim that John Allen Chau was not evil. You mention “bias” and “rational understanding.” So where is the rational basis to support this claim?

          I think you’re laying yourself wide open to charges of being disingenuous because you make this claim, seemingly, in a bubble free of definitions, principles, or widely reported facts.

          So let’s start with a couple of definitions:
          evil: 1.2 Harmful or tending to harm.
          moral: 2 Holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct.

          Ignorantia juris non excusat is the legal principle that establishes that ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. So his ignorance would not be a mitigating factor in establishing his criminality at law. Could ignorance be a defense against charges that his actions were evil or immoral? Maybe.

          A second legal principle at issue here is duty of care. Chau owed the Sentinelese a duty of care, and the obvious logic behind the Indian law prohibiting travel to the Nicobar and some Andaman islands is among other things aimed squarely at that duty of care owed to the 6 indigenous tribes who live there, especially in regard to the risk of communicating infectious disease to which they wouldn’t have immunity. He was clearly in violation here.

          Note that I’m not unsympathetic to your philosophical position, but I would argue that intent must be subordinate to results. That people who came to New World spread disease and resulted in the extermination of indigenous tribes is “evil,” according to the definition, in terms of the harm evaluated on results alone. However, in the absence of a good history of contact between New and Old worlds, or of the germ theory of disease, it is unreasonable that anyone at the time could have known about these risks, so that is a mitigating factor in how much we can assign blame for this evil. In the absence of any reasonable expectation of causing this evil, there could not have existed at that time any “moral” principle that was violated in this. Sometimes bad things happen unexpectedly.

          However, that was then. In the light of a great deal more water under the bridge, now moral principles around these things do exist. Based on reports, this was John Chau’s fifth visit to the the Andaman and Nicobar Islands since 2015. Chau also has a history of doing missionary work connected with his alma mater. You can’t reasonably plead that Chau did not have all the background necessary to be fully expected to know that he was violating Indian law and disregarding the duty of care he owed to the Sentinelese. Furthermore, his diary indicates he paid local fisherman to take him out there to protect his other missionary buddies from the legal jeopardy he knew he was incurring, and that he took pains to evade the Indian coast guard, so his behavior, by his own account, exhibits indications of guilt. Because he had reason to know about all of the risks, there are no factors to mitigate the assignment of blame for it if those evil results came to pass.

          Chau knew his behavior was likely to result in evil, he knew he was violating the principles of moral conduct, and he chose to do it anyway. So Chau’s behavior is at minimum criminally negligent and immoral. I wouldn’t argue that his intent was specifically to do evil, which is where I think you’re coming from, but still, if that was the result, on the basis of his willful negligence, I don’t think the blame for it can be successfully deflected away from him. So on that basis, I think the claim that his behavior was not evil fails. He may not be as evil as some others we could point to, but I don’t think we can fully exonerate him either. Certainly his character doesn’t come out of this unscathed.

          And you might say that there was no harmful (evil) result, except to himself. We don’t know this. Unless the evil is catastrophic, we probably will never know that.

          You might also say that his expectation of evil was reduced by the anticipation of Jesus magic. There is no end of delusions that could be invoked and thrown against the wall. I don’t think any of them would or should stick.

          You mention “bias,” but you’re the one who appears to be biased because your unsupported claim that Chau was not evil appears to be dependent on disregarding many things that you don’t have a reasonable excuse for being ignorant of.

        • MR

          Nicely laid out, ephemerol.

        • ildi

          But, but, but SOCRATIC METHOD

        • ephemerol

          …in other words, JAQing off! lol

        • John Grove

          I’m not interested in legal laws, we both admit he broke those laws to get to the island. I was attempting to understand did he do anything morally wrong to be labeled “evil”.

          So the consensus I have heard so far only was he because he had the “possibility” to endanger them with some germs and possible kill them.

          Using that rationale, is a gun owner “evil” because there is always the possibility another person in the house, say the son, can get to that gun and kill people? It is a possibility after all. Even if the owner takes measures to secure the weapon.

          Possible doesn’t mean probably. I’ve really not gotten any further than that from any of you. BTW, if I am biased as you assert, clearly you are too. Most of the atheists on this forum clearly do not like Christianity and probably have dealt with too many irrational Christians that it would take to long to list. Believe it or not, this does start to affect how you view Christians. You may be as rational as they come, you certainly pawn yourself as a man of reason.

          I just in my reasoning from what I could tell couldn’t call this kid evil. BTW, I cannot see your link where you got those definitions of evil, perhaps my browser will not open them? but the dictionaries I consulted evil was much more sinister: “Profoundly immoral or wicked”.

          The definition you so conveniently cherry picked out to suit your narrative (which was one of the last nuanced definitions) was analogous to Isaiah 45.7, where the subtlety is not referring to moral evil but disastrous outcome.

          Yes, that was latent (i.e,, a possibility), but that is a possibility every time you drive your car. So I am not convinced. I do agree with you when you refer to criminal neglect. Yes, absolutely.

          You say, “I wouldn’t argue that his intent was specifically to do evil, which is where I think you’re coming from”

          Isn’t intent everything or a large part of the equation when talking about moral behavior? If a lion eats me, it is not morally wrong to do so. It is incapable of knowing right from wrong. If you or I do this, clearly it is immoral and evil.

        • ildi

          Hey Mr. Socrates, you’re the one who brought the murky concept of evil to the table (and inaccurately accusing others of calling him evil) without defining your term first:

          I see absolutely no similarity between a predator and an evangelical Christian. As I stated, I think the Christian is misled and clearly foolish and naive. But I don’t think the kid was “evil”

        • John Grove

          You’re right ildi, probably should have defined my terms better.

        • ephemerol

          My arguments in no way hinge upon the purpose of his visit, so you can throw accusations of anti-christian bias at me all day long but none of that has the power to blunt the force of my argument. Furthermore, it hasn’t been all that long since I was a christian myself, and I still know and have to interact with a lot of people in my life who are still devout christians.

          Seriously? You’re going to accuse me of “conveniently cherrypicking” my definitions? Your browser can’t open the Oxford dictionary site? I just went to Oxford. You have a problem with Oxford? That’s my standard go-to dictionary because I figure people are going to have a hard time arguing with the publishers of the OED. Leave it to to you to attack Oxford. You sound like Rudy Guilani accusing the internet of editing his twitter feed.

          Seriously? You’re going to accuse me of a possibiliter ergo probabiliter fallacy? Your insistence here that the probability is merely “latent” or theoretical or negligible that a random outsider contacting the Sentinelese “long enough to establish communication to evangelize” (your words) would result in one of more deaths due to a contagious pathogen is surely a product of your bias. And I don’t say that lightly, I say it because you contradict yourself when you agree that he was criminally negligent. Why was he criminally negligent? Because that risk is not negligible and by doing so you’ve conceded that he violated his duty of care to them and recklessly endangered their lives. If the probability were 1 in 6, that’s not neglible, that’s Russian Roulette. So don’t bother trying to recast my argument as one of mere “possibility.” That’s not anybody’s understanding of the risk level, it wasn’t Chau’s understanding of the risk level, and if he’s trained as an EMT, that training ought to render him all the more acutely aware of all these issues and the moral and ethical obligations he bears. But he disregarded all the principles of his EMT training as well.

          Also, you’re conflating “evil” and “immoral” when those are not interchangeable. The reason why I thought it was worth it to bring the law into the discussion is not because I wanted to debate his criminal guilt directly, but because it establishes clear and unambiguous lower bounds for the standards by which we can judge proper conduct persuant to issue of whether his behavior was moral. If he’s violating the law, then there ought to be a pretty compelling justification if you want to argue he’s still acting within a valid moral framework. Perhaps there’s something wrong with the law, or perhaps there’s some unusual circumstance that renders technical obedience to the law harmful. I just don’t see a reasonable case for any of that. The laws were obviously intended to protect outsiders just as much as the 6 indigenous tribes against reasonable expectation of practical harm.

          Yeah, I get that you’re not convinced and that neither I or anyone else will ever convince you. To quote Ignorant Amos, “You are not taking on board what is being said.” While I come down clearly one one side in regards to what the facts say about the morality of his behavior, I was nuanced about designating them “evil” and dealt with blame and intent. You don’t appear to be capable of taking any of that on board either.

          You talk about “looking at facts,” trying to come to “rational understandings” to potentially “change your views,” but I’m not convinced. I’m not convinced you care about definitions, principles, probabilities, or widely reported facts. I don’t think you need a rational basis. All you need is something you feel, and you’re content to equivocate over definitions, discount probabilities, and otherwise move the around the goalposts. You don’t need an argument, you’re content to just find ways to cast doubt on anything that doesn’t match up with your feelings, and that’s it. Anyone can do that. You don’t need to have any valid or substantial points to do that. To quote you, You’re “as shape shifty as Christians are when cornered.” So that’s all the time I’m prepared to spend on you and your biases.

        • John Grove

          As I was getting ready for a lengthy response, I couldn’t manage to get past the tone, conceited arrogance and condescension from you. For example, at the time I wrote what I did, I was at work. I work for the federal government doing secret work. The computer I am on has huge security measures. So as I attempted to click your link, it was prohibited. And to that I get such a nasty condescending response from you.

          You are hardly with the time I spent just writing what I did. I sense a real heightened arrogance with you that I definitely didn’t get from the others here. Definitely made me feel unwelcome and you seem like a person I am not interested in engaging anyhow.

          Most of the commentators here I agree with on nearly everything, so to on one subject of evil which I didn’t find helpful I dissented. Freon this and only from you, I get what looks like a diatribe of vitriol.

          Civility, if you learned it, would serve you well. I often connect and make progress sharing my atheism with believers in humility, something you desperately lack.

        • MR

          Ephemerol is well worth the time. The sting you’re feeling is just cognitive bias.

        • John Grove

          Hardly.

          Now, it may be true that on this subject and l freely confess I may be entirely wrong. I have no real dog in this fight. In fact, admitting I was wrong and this kid was ” evil” because of the potential of what he could of done, I’m nearly there in agreeing. Most of the quibble is definitional.

          The thing I cannot stomach however is being treated with condescension and arrogance in the pursuit of arriving at a honed, well reasoned position.

          In fact, no other commentor did this nor made unfounded assumptions about me, for example, belittle me about the link not working and then using that as a way to suggest perhaps how stupid I am. (Hence the Giuliani comparison).

          So no thanks. I’m through on this forum. I’ll stick to the others where I am treated with respect.

        • MR

          It could be that you are particularly sensitive, I personally don’t find ephemerol’s “tone” offensive. Or it could be your cognitive dissonance kicking in and sending you into retreat. You made some insinuations of your own, you made some statements that appear disingenuous, and he called you out for it. Plain and simple. Who could blame him if he took on a little tone, but it sure seems pretty mild to me. I’ve certainly seen a lot worse. Then, you later seemed to accuse him of link sabotage, when you could easily have verified the legitimacy of the link. Just because your workplace doesn’t allow access to a site, doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimate. Even I’m beginning to question your sincerity. Whatever his tone, it seems to me both mild and justified. It would be nice if everyone could see past “tones” and focus on the argument part. Sometimes smart people use stupid arguments, and just because someone challenges or even ridicules a stupid argument doesn’t necessarily mean they think the people themselves are stupid.

        • John Grove

          Look MR, I realize you are his cheerleader, and if you approve of his tone and think it’s ok to disparage people, that is your prerogative. And if it makes you feel better about yourself to accuse me of being riddled with cognitive dissonance and being disingenuous, doubting my sincerity and whatever else you were saying about me, so be it. But your bizarre statements indicate to me you really weren’t paying all that much attention anyway. Let’s takes one zinger:

          “you seemed to accuse him of link sabotage”

          What the hell are you talking about man? Do you even know? Do you even care? All I said was I couldn’t open his link because of the security of my system. I didn’t say the definition he selected was incorrect. I said it was low on the list, therefore wasn’t the prominent definition I was considering when calling a person evil. If he wanted to use that as the primary definition, I was about to say we have no real disagreement.

          By the way, your pal was ridiculing me personally, not merely my argument. I was going to respond to his argument(s) in kind with some agreement with him on certain points but when he resorted to disparaging me, I was no longer interested. The minute people start attacking someone, when it devolves to that level, to me it seems at that point any discussion really has just died. You can believe whatever you want about me, I’m not bothered by it in the least. I don’t assume anything about you or your friend. All I was doing mostly was asking questions about intent and moral theory and evil.

          This discussion went to bizarro world. Seriously, I’m done man. Never again on this forum.

        • ildi

          I wouldn’t give up so quickly if I were you; it can be hard to join discussions with a bunch of regulars.

        • MR

          Shrug. There’s the door.

        • ildi

          Socratic method: you’re doing it wrong.

        • John Grove

          How so? It’s based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. It is a dialectical method, involving a discussion in which the defense of one point of view is questioned; one participant may lead another to contradict themselves in some way, thus weakening the defenders point.

        • But you said your questions were to educate yourself.

        • John Grove

          These are not mutual exclusive ideas. In ones pedagogy, one can learn as will as instill ideas.

        • Nope. You can’t both know the truth and use questions to guide someone to it and not know the truth and ask honest questions to help understand it yourself. Gotta pick.

        • John Grove

          “You can’t both know the truth and use questions to guide someone to it”

          And why not? Sometimes getting people to think for themselves is better because it causes them to use their brain more effectively. And in situations where one doesn’t know the truth, questions and digging deeper is better than no questions and not going anywhere.

          If you want to say that’s not strict Socratic, sure guy, I was using the term loosely anyway. But you kind of made it be about the theatrical performance of Socratic rather than actually listening to the questions I was asking.

        • And why not?

          Because you can’t know the answer and not know the answer at the same time.

        • Chau was evil not because of the evangelizing.

          I’ve not followed this conversation, so maybe you’ve already covered this. But if Chau succeeded according to his plan (no infection, he learns to communicate, he gets them all on board with Jeebus), then he would’ve seriously changed their society, right? Arguably, he would’ve destroyed it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And if he had succeeded in conveying the message, but they rejected it, by his own faith, he has condemned them to an eternity in Hell. That to me is evil, even if I don’t believe the bullshit. Chau did. Not accepting the tribes repeated rejection and insisting they listen, makes it all the more worse.

          They’d have went from their “ignorance is bliss” to knowing about Jeebus, and in not believing the BS, getting a one way ticket to Nastyville on death. That’s why missionaries and evil.

        • Yup. Maybe the Reverse Great Commission–deliberate silence–is the way to go. No one arguably rejected the Good News since they didn’t know about it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But, but, but…then what would we do for chew toys around here?

        • Pofarmer

          then he would’ve seriously changed their society, right? Arguably, he would’ve destroyed it.

          And in certain circles he would have been lauded as a hero for it and he would have considered himself most successful.

        • al kimeea

          Is there a scale of evil? I thought it was a line crossed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course there is a scale…and depending on who ya are, depends if there is even a scale to be on.

          Even the RCC recognizes there is a scale…where on the scale depends on the penance met out.

          But in the scientific world there is a scale…even when it comes to murder.

          Inspired by the structure of Dante’s circles of hell, Stone has created his own 22-point “Gradations of Evil” scale, made up of murderers in the 20th century. “I thought it would be an interesting thing to do,” he says.

          https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129175964&t=1544623826682

          Then there is the concept of “Crime of Passion” which results in a homicide being treated with leniency…a defence where murder being reduced to manslaughter.

        • al kimeea

          Hmmm. Some of the things, like the CoP you mention, in the linked list I wouldn’t classify as evil. Dahmer, that landscaper fucker in Toronto recently, Uncle Joe,,, Hilter,,, evil no doubt.

          This martyr? If it weren’t for his faith, he’d be alive today. The real evil are the religious ideas that drove him to recklessly endanger these people and pay with his life at their hands.

          There is no benefit to the island people, none, even if he didn’t infect them. Immoral action from an evil idea for this martyr. Religion is taught from conception for most, so it has staying power. I can see how hard it might be to take that sweater off.

          I dunno, ‘evil’, as mentioned, has a lotta baggage. This martyr would be of the least class of evil as would the ‘Good Germans’ I guess – they being victims of nationalism, patriotism & Gott’s favour… Depending on their actions, of course. That era taught my parents to question authority.

          I wonder where raping children falls on the RCC scale of evil…

        • Derrik Pates

          But “evil” is a meaningless oversimplification anyway. What is “evil”? Really?

          Was John Allen Chau a Snidely-Whiplash-esque mustache-twirling villain trying to plot a Rube Goldbergian end to the tribe’s way of life? No. He was a deluded, overenthusiastic young man (hahah, me saying “young man” seems ridiculous, I don’t feel old… but I’m 40 and just finished dealing with cancer… </tangent>), whose head was filled with visions of being a Christian hero by his religion and this “All Nations” outfit. Is even “All Nations” evil, really, though? I disagree with what they do, and question their motivations, but even they, at the end of the day, believe what they’re doing is a net good. We may object to their actions and their methods – but they still think they’re doing something that’s a net positive in the world.

          Everyone’s the hero of their own story. No matter how twisted their actions, they think they’re doing what they’re doing for good reasons.

        • ildi
        • Derrik Pates

          Hell, of course, being a place a bunch of atheists don’t even believe in.

          I’m just saying dismissing things we don’t like as “evil” is easy, simple, and ultimately wrong. As well as being unhelpful. While it may make people feel better, it doesn’t address the problem, just waves it away. And the Christians supporting actions like Chau’s will simply reply in unison “Nuh uh! You’re evil! Our book even says so!”

        • ildi

          We’re saying the same thing, my point being that even Christians have acknowledged that one’s intentions don’t define whether a behavior is ultimately good or bad.

        • Derrik Pates

          Right, but plenty of Christians also agree his intentions were good. Other Christians disagree. So saying “intentions don’t determine goodness” is again true, but ultimately pointlessly reductive. How do we get the Christians who side with that sort of thing to understand why it’s a problem?

        • ildi

          Well, if Christians haven’t listened to their own Christian aphorisms, I don’t know what would make them understand that good intentions can still have bad consequences (I assume those are the Christians you are referring to when you say ” who side with that sort of thing?”}

        • Grimlock

          But a missionary, annoying as they may be, is merely trying to persuade with words.

          Jumping in on a piece or your exchange here, and wanting to dig into something you wrote. I realize what you wrote probably ain’t as nuanced as you would’ve been if you’d elaborated on the topic.

          I don’t think that quoted statement is entirely accurate. While I’m not intimately familiar with too many missionaries, it seems reasonable that many of the employ (consciously and unconsciously) various manipulation techniques. (Like other sales folk.)

          Furthermore, I suspect a lot of missionaries engage in some bribery, and implicitly or explicitly attach gifts to their message of Good News.

          Note that I’m not saying that this makes them evil. It makes them human.

          Do you think this is a reasonable view of missionaries?

        • John Grove

          I grant that, but for discussion sake I was taking the Socratic approach to dig deeper at understanding why people viewed Chau as “evil” rather than grossly misled or stupid

        • This is a tangent, but has the Socratic method been productive for you in the past? Unfortunately, I’ve always found it annoying.

          I was taking the Socratic approach to dig deeper at understanding why

          If you’re actually curious about it, then I think just a discussion is best. A Socratic dialogue is when you set yourself up as Socrates and use questions to coach students to understand an issue. Most people don’t like being put in the student position.

        • John Grove

          Is asking questions to get people to get above superficial reasoning been productive for me? Why yes.

          I do this all the time for myself to eliminate bias and dig further at a rational understanding. This forces me to look at facts and change my views.

        • Honest questions are one thing. Rhetorical questions to which you know the answer is another. If you’re doing the former, I don’t think that’s the Socratic method. And if you’re doing the latter, I find that annoying (just one man’s unsolicited feedback).

        • John Grove

          Bob,
          Definitely not trying to be annoying. I really couldn’t agree that Chau was immoral or evil. So in all sincerity I wanted to hear the rationale. Apologize if you think I’m obnoxious.

          Perhaps that’s my cue. I’m out.

        • Just sharing some feedback on the Socratic method. No, I don’t think you’re annoying.

        • merely trying to persuade with words.

          I quibble with “merely.” Hitler was trying to persuade with Mein Kampf, and Marx with The Communist Manifesto. I’m sure we can think of others who’ve convinced others in a bad way–Jim Jones, David Koresh, and so on.

          why not defend the terrorists who flew planes into buildings?

          I think harm is the way to judge these things. The terrorists caused harm, and Chau caused harm with his attempt at evangelization and would’ve caused more harm if he’d succeeded.

        • John Grove

          The difference is, notably, the terrorist “intended” to cause harm. Chau did not.

        • Greg G.

          But the terrorists often think the harm done is a good thing in the long run. They believe they do things according to the will of their god thingy. Chau was doing the same thing, oblivious to the possibility of the harm he might cause.

        • John Grove

          And based on the harm principle, we know that doesn’t fly. That they are in fact immoral with intent to harm.

        • John Grove

          Doesn’t matter what the terrorist thought. They intended to kill. Chau did not.

        • Greg G.

          Chau tried to impose himself on people who had tried to get him to stay away. They likely didn’t know that he didn’t have a modern weapon. If they were protecting their wives and children, or if just one of them did that, Chau forced that action. They might have interpreted his actions as a dangerous threat. What might seem harmless to you in modern society which involves interactions with strangers continuously would not be seen the same way by people who seldom saw strangers except those who kept their distance.

        • John Grove

          If your description of these people are true than they have about as much rationality as that of a lion or hippo. If every person they see who comes to their island they believe is out to get them or do them evil, than seems to me they don’t even have the qualities of a homo sapien

        • MR

          That’s very much a quality of homo sapiens. Considering that his mere presence could endanger them, rightly so, let alone the uncertainty of him having some malicious intent to do harm.

        • Greg G.

          The fact that they stay to themselves on the island shows that they do not want to interact with other people and are not curious about other people. They appear to be quite adamant about that. Chau did not take that as a reason to not approach them.

          If your description of these people are true than they have about as much rationality as that of a lion or hippo.

          I think there are many gun owners who would fit that description as well. They fear strangers and feel the need to protect themselves. Several years ago, some Louisiana high school students were going to a Halloween party and had a foreign exchange student with them. They weren’t sure which house was correct so they stopped at a house to ask directions. The exchange student apparently didn’t understand that they were not at the right address. He walked in with his camera over his head to take pictures and the homeowner shot him dead. Under Louisiana law, the homeowner did nothing wrong.

          John Wayne appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. He said that his father told him to shoot first and ask questions later. He shot him before he could ask him “Why?”

          The natives were no different than John Wayne or the gun owners.

        • MR

          I sometimes marvel at how isolated some people’s thinking can be. And I don’t mean that natives.

        • The terrorists intended to cause a greater good than any harm, I suspect.

        • John Grove

          Its the intent to harm that makes it immoral. Whether they believe it is good or not is not the question. Else we can thus argue the Jehovah god meant a greater good by performing the genocide action he took.

          You and I both agree these are immoral.

        • Does the person with good intentions but bad ideas (that would be exposed if he gave them a little critical thought) commit immoral acts when he implements those bad ideas?

        • John Grove

          That can definitely be the case. Think of a Jehovah’s witnesses denying their child a blood transfusion.

        • al kimeea

          The JWs ignoring medical knowledge is immoral, while the martyr doing the same is not? Both intend the best for their actions…

        • John Grove

          “The JWs ignoring medical knowledge is immoral, while the martyr doing the same is not? Both intend the best for their actions.”

          Yes, we agree. Ignoring medical advice to immediately save someone who will most assuredly die without a such a procedure because of religious reasons is immoral.

          However, the Christian did no such thing.

          In the example of a missionary visiting an island the likelihood the islanders would die by some unknown pathogen they were not immune to was “extremely” remote. They are modern humans after all. They have been visited many times before. Sometimes they responded hostile, sometimes they did not. So the analogy you are making is not identical.

        • MR

          Seems to me even our man-made laws hold people responsible in such circumstances.

        • Greg G.

          Its the intent to harm that makes it immoral.

          Disregarding the potential harm is also immoral. Chau certainly tried to minimize the risk of harm as much as he could but he disregarded the potential harm that he could not control. He knew they might kill him but he disregarded what that might unleash upon them.

          Perhaps he tried to proselytize the wife of a jealous man who took it differently.

          According to the Bible that Chau was trying to push on them, they did the Biblical thing:

          Deuteronomy 13:1-11 (NRSV)1  If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents, 2 and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, “Let us follow other gods” (whom you have not known) “and let us serve them,” 3 you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. 4 The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast. 5 But those prophets or those who divine by dreams shall be put to death for having spoken treason against the Lord your God—who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery—to turn you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.6 If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, “Let us go worship other gods,” whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, 8 you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. 9 But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10 Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 Then all Israel shall hear and be afraid, and never again do any such wickedness.

        • John Grove

          I think bunkum like that is why I am not Jew or a Christian.

        • John Grove

          “Disregarding the potential harm is also immoral. Chau certainly tried to minimize the risk of harm as much as he could but he disregarded the potential harm that he could not control”

          Back to my gun owner analogy which went without a response. Is a gun owner “evil” because he is quite aware of the potential harm owning weapons can bring? Even if he takes measures to secure the weapon? People are quite resourceful and the possibility someone, maybe the son can take the weapon and do something harmful is not just possible but probably in todays world.

          If you say the gun owner is not immoral than I cannot agree with you that Chau was immoral or evil. Remember, the definition I was looking at by the usage of evil was its primary definition, “Profoundly immoral and wicked”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is a gun owner “evil” because he is quite aware of the potential harm owning weapons can bring? Even if he takes measures to secure the weapon? People are quite resourceful and the possibility someone, maybe the son can take the weapon and do something harmful is not just possible but probably in todays world.

          The analogy is not representative of what Chau did. Legally owning a gun is not against the law. To make the analogy work, the gun owner would have to leave the gun lying around where children play, loaded with one up the spout. That would be immoral. Chau’s evangelizing ain’t the problem, illegally going somewhere he was warned not to go and wasn’t wanted, which he knew, but did it anyway. That’s the problem.

          While on Nuke site guard in Germany back in the 80’s a person crossing a knee high single string of wire was warned with a challenge. If that person continued to advance, ignoring the warning, lethal force was authorized to be used. It mattered not if they were armed. Any soldier not opening fire was liable to Courts Martial. The site’s were US run nuclear warhead storage facilities. Us Brits did the lacky work of guarding them. They were very strictly run establishments and all guards had authorization for shoot to kill. We were issued duress codes that if given when challenged, the person beside the person giving the duress code was to be shot. In a particular incident where a guard was given the duress code, but refused to open up because he recognized the officer accompanying the guy giving the duress code, was charged because he didn’t shoot the officer. Go figure.

          Then there is this… https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-38909512

          The world is a strange place.

          If you say the gun owner is not immoral than I cannot agree with you that Chau was immoral or evil.

          The gun owner is breaking no laws. Consider swapping out a gun for a very sharp carving knife. See why the analogy doesn’t work?
          Storing a carving knife in a knife block isn’t immoral. Intentionally leaving a carving knife on the floor where an unattended toddler is playing would be.

          Remember, the definition I was looking at by the usage of evil was its primary definition, “Profoundly immoral and wicked”

          Yeah…so whose usage of the word in that way are you kicking back against? I haven’t seen anyone using the word in that manner, but a coulda missed it.

        • Pofarmer

          Absolutely he intended to cause harm, his intended purpose was to change the historical beliefs of these people to worship his Jesus. He, essentially, intended to destroy their society. Nothing less.

        • John Grove

          So, according to you, Christians are immoral because they intended to evangelize and share their faith. According to you, any Christian attempting to evangelize to someone of another faith make them a priori immoral and evil?

          Most of the atheists in this room don’t even confess that. The more I interrogated them, it really came down to the fact he could have killed them by their possibility of lack of immunity and his knowledge of that possibility.

        • Pofarmer

          The stated aim is to destroy their culture. How is that no immoral?

        • John Grove

          So, just want to make sure I’m are clear on what you are saying, Christians who evangelize to people of other faiths “aim” with conscious intent to destroy their culture? What if their culture is detrimental to their flourishing? Most modern Christians go to the doctor when they are sick. Many accept the theory of evolution.

          Many chumash Indians are Christians but retain many elements of their culture in open displays and demonstrations to the public, by song and dance to honor their culture. Many people who converted to Christianity who were Jewish do the same thing oftentimes to honor their Jewish tradition. Many missionaries bring medicine to sick people. People who would otherwise die without the medicine.

          I think you and I agree that our culture has elements far superior than a culture living like those in the bronze age. Would you agree with that? Some religions are more benign than others. Would you be stressed out walking past a group of Christians coming back from a bible study or a very strong Islamic fundamental group who espoused jihad?

        • ildi

          Professor James H. Cone, founder of black liberation theology:

          “When it became clear to me that Jesus was not biologically white and that white scholars actually lied by not telling people who he really was, I stopped trusting anything they said,” he writes in his posthumous memoir, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian,” published in October.

          “White supremacy is America’s original sin and liberation is the Bible’s central message,” he writes in his book. “Any theology in America that fails to engage white supremacy and God’s liberation of black people from that evil is not Christian theology but a theology of the Antichrist.”

          White supremacy “is the Antichrist in America because it has killed and crippled tens of millions of black bodies and minds in the modern world,” he writes. “It has also committed genocide against the indigenous people of this land. If that isn’t demonic, I don’t know what is … [emphasis mine] [and] it is found in every aspect of American life, especially churches, seminaries, and theology.”
          https://www.alternet.org/activism/theology-antichrist-closer-look-heresy-white-christianity

        • Pofarmer

          Christians who evangelize to people of other faiths “aim” with conscious intent to destroy their culture?

          That’s rather the point, yes.

          What if their culture is detrimental to their flourishing?

          Who gets to make that determination? The people in question have made it tens of thousands of years.

          I’m gonna quit here for now as disqus has fritzed out my ipad.

        • John Grove

          Yea, we beat this subject to death. Thanks for your comments

        • Agreed. If you didn’t convert them to Christianity (which is another way of saying that their culture has been largely supplanted by another), you would’ve failed.

          Reminds me of the story of a tribe on an island that was a protectorate of Australia. The authorities were horrified to discover that they made a kind of beer and that everyone drank it, kids included. After prohibiting it, they later discovered that beriberi (caused by a lack of vitamin B) was now a problem. Turns out that the beer had been the source of their B vitamins.

          The government admitted their mistake and reversed the prohibition.

          This is another example of a heavy-handed “you’re doing it wrong” imposition of an outside culture. Sometimes, it doesn’t go well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The problem is, the fuckwits believe what he was doing by bringing Jesus to the ignorant, is improving their society beyond limit.

        • Greg G.

          Misled does not equate to evil.

          At some point, I think it does. We can forgive children for doing bad things when they didn’t know any better but that only goes so far for adults. Voting for the deniers of global warming for religious reasons is an evil thing, for example. Trying to persuade with words is one thing but doing that in person when you are contagious (or might be) is another. Acting on beliefs held due to deliberate ignorance is not a good thing and should be discouraged.

        • John Grove

          Note “deliberate” ignorance. Willful with intent.

          Yes. Ignorance is forgivable but the avoidance of illumination is not.

        • al kimeea

          The martyr deliberately ignored medical knowledge with the intent of infecting the tribe with a clearly harmful mythological mind virus…

        • John Grove

          Ah, so here it is, as I have suspected from the start. The Christian should die according to you because he was preaching the Christian gospel. That’s what your remark clearly says.

          The medical community did not say he would in fact infect and kill the islanders. You speak as if this was a mathematical certainty. These are modern humans we are speaking about not Neanderthals.

        • al kimeea

          “The Christian should die according to you…”

          WhereTF did I say that? Tsk, tsk

          Please show us how the isolated modern group is immune to any disease at all… you speak as if it is certain they are.

          Also, show us the morality of preaching xian gospel or at least how teaching the mythological mind virus to this isolated people trumps ANY chance doing so may decimate them…

        • John Grove

          You seem to be justifying the fact that Chau was immoral and/or evil and correct me if I am wrong did he get what he deserved for being that way? In other words, should a man die for trespassing or preaching? Has every historic missionary been immoral and/or evil in your book when they have attempted to share their faith with people in remote places?

          I am not a Christian, so I would not defend whether or not that is correct, because I happen to believe it is in error. As I have plainly stated on multiple occasions, I think they kid was stupid, reckless and broke some civil laws getting to the island.

          Whether or not they are immune to everything we are I have no way of knowing. If the kid went to this island with Hepatitis A, B, or C or HIV or any known diagnosis, clearly what some have said about Chau would be true and we would not be debating this.

        • ildi

          He spent years planning a stealth campaign to illegally enter a war zone with the full knowledge that there was a high probability this would result in his death. He himself said not to blame the tribe for this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Has every historic missionary been immoral and/or evil in your book when they have attempted to share their faith with people in remote places?

          Christian missionaries certainly, if they really believe Hell is a real place. And if they don’t, then they are still.

          Whether or not they are immune to everything we are I have no way of knowing. If the kid went to this island with Hepatitis A, B, or C or HIV or any known diagnosis, clearly what some have said about Chau would be true and we would not be debating this.

          The problem is, we don’t know what they are not immune to, or how devastating it could be. What we do know is, that because they’ve lived in such isolation, they won’t have built up any resistance to common ailments the rest of us have. That is a reason why it is illegal to visit the island. What is a common cold to us, has the capability of effecting the tribe like the Spanish Flu…which wiped out millions in Europe in the early 20th century.

          When Columbus landed on the New World, he brought more than European civilisation.

          When the Taino gathered on the shores of San Salvador Island to welcome a small party of foreign sailors on 12 October 1492, they had little idea what lay in store. They laid down their weapons willingly and brought the foreign sailors—Christopher Columbus and his crewmen—tokens of friendship: parrots, bits of cotton thread, and other presents. Columbus later wrote that the Taino “remained so much our friends that it was a marvel.”

          A year later, Columbus built his first town on the nearby island of Hispaniola, where the Taino numbered at least 60,000 and possibly as many as 8 million, according to some estimates. But by 1548, the Taino population there had plummeted to less than 500. Lacking immunity to Old World pathogens carried by the Spanish, Hispaniola’s indigenous inhabitants fell victim to terrible plagues of smallpox, influenza, and other viruses.

          https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/06/how-europeans-brought-sickness-new-world

          This didn’t matter to Chau enough to obey the laws maintaining quarantine for the islanders. He thought he knew better, but it really wasn’t his call. He didn’t mean malicious intentions, but by breaking the law and knowing the potential of his actions, his intentions were indeed malicious. Regardless of whether the tribe had knowledge of the risk or not.

          GW’s assertion of murder just doesn’t cut it. At the very most it was manslaughter and even then. Even in the UK a belief is enough defence.

          In Beckford v R the defendant police officer was told that a suspect was armed and dangerous. When that man ran out of a house towards him, the defendant shot him because he feared for his own life. The prosecution case was that the victim had been unarmed and thus presented no threat to the defendant. Lord Griffiths approved a model direction to juries, laid down by Lord Lane in R. v Williams:

          “Whether the plea is self-defence or defence of another, if the defendant may have been labouring under a mistake as to facts, he must be judged according to his mistaken belief of the facts: that is so whether the mistake was, on an objective view, a reasonable mistake or not.” — R. v Williams

          The defendant, therefore, had a defence of self-defence because the killing was not unlawful if, in the circumstances, as he perceived them to be, he had used reasonable force to defend himself.

          If the firer of the lethal shot, presumably with the authority of the tribe, had the safety of the tribe at heart and believed Chau, by his actions, a threat…it matters not a jot if Chau actually was a threat. Chau’s behavior was threatening. He continually ignored warnings.

          Now, GW wants a court to decide, but the Indian authorities have deemed that to be totally impracticable on a whole litany of reasons and on the balance of probability, they are spot on.

        • John Grove

          I think Christian missionaries who believe in hell are wrong, not immoral. However, if we were talking about the doctrine itself, I would obviously agree, it is immoral, but those harboring that belief of what God does after this life is really irrelevant to me.

          You may be correct that they don’t have the same immunities we have. That is usually true between say your average American and someone from China.

          You say he didn’t have malicious intent (That is a big one for me in understanding moral theory), but he broke the law (Civil law mind you not criminal law), and you further say that breaking this civil law and “knowing” the potential of his actions he was evil. That is just it. I do not think he thought it was a real concern. It may have been at some level a mental tacit assent but whether he believed it I’m not so sure.

          You may be right, but I think most missionaries, annoying as they are, would not venture into an area if they consciously believed they may kill them. Chau may be like that or he may be what you claim, someone who perhaps thought their souls were more important than their lives?

          I have no way to know. We are just guessing here. But, I just think they were extraordinarily violent on an unarmed man and we are not discussing that, we are discussing the moral actions of a guy who got killed.

        • al kimeea

          They were violent in a way known to the eedjit that was trying to spread the evil good word of jebus. No sympathy for this victim of his evil religion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think Christian missionaries who believe in hell are wrong, not immoral.

          They are both wrong and immoral. The concept of Hell is immoral and those that hold to it are immoral for adhering to a worldview that invented or promotes the concept. An infinite punishment for a finite crime is abhorrent. Worse still, is if that misdemeanor is a thought crime.

          Sometime ago I wrote an article that was posted on the Richard Dawkins forum. It was about the evil concept of Limbo…not as bad as Hell I’ll grant you, but nevertheless, the untold suffering that nonsense has caused is without a doubt, evil…and those immoral evil monsters that promoted such a concept are worse than dogshite on the sole of my shoe.

          The OP was inspired by a BBC documentary that got me so incensed I was ready to kill dead things.

          The babies ended up buried in these graves because of a piece of Catholic theology according to which babies who were stillborn or who died shortly after birth and that had not been baptised could be denied a cemetery burial. Their souls could not go to heaven but would remain in a place called Limbo. These are the so-called ‘Limbo babies’, stillborn babies born to Roman Catholic families who could not be buried in consecrated ground.

          However, if we were talking about the doctrine itself, I would obviously agree, it is immoral, but those harboring that belief of what God does after this life is really irrelevant to me.

          The doctrine is immoral and anyone who thinks that people will be, or should be, burned for all eternity for something like having an abortion is an evil cunt. Whether it actually happens or not, is academic. Whether it is irrelevant to you is of no consequence to my opinion on the matter.

          You may be correct that they don’t have the same immunities we have.

          That’s all it needs…a “maybe” and an imposed restriction of travel.

          [T]he Akuriyo people in Suriname, who were contacted by missionaries in 1969. Within two years, Mr Plotkin says, “40 to 50% of the Akuriyo were dead” due to respiratory diseases, but also due to what Mr Plotkin suspects could be stress or “culture shock”.

          That is usually true between say your average American and someone from China.

          Huh? Usually true? Usually the more mundane pathogens between those two countries is not life threatening. The risks are deemed acceptable…but get this…as part of my visa and green card application for the US, I had to travel to London and undergo an extensive medical including a variety of inoculations at the behest of the US consulate, but at my own expense. Had I been found to have had a variety of pathogens, including hepatitis or HIV…I wasn’t getting in.

          Also, should an incurable virus that proved deadly to either country break out in either, you can bet the other would impose a quarantine and restriction of movement between both.

          You say he didn’t have malicious intent (That is a big one for me in understanding moral theory), but he broke the law (Civil law mind you not criminal law), and you further say that breaking this civil law and “knowing” the potential of his actions he was evil.

          His intentions were malicious nevertheless. And he knew he shouldn’t be doing what he did. He was not acting out of ignorance.

          Since when was trespassing and bribery not criminal.

          Speaking about the Sentinels, Sekhsaria said all that is known about the community is based on assumption, as no real contact has been made with the tribe, up until now. Further, he said the Sentinel tribe live on the island of North Sentinel with a special status and that it “is a tribal reserve under the provisions of the Andaman and Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation (ANPATR) of 195.”

          What made Chau’s actions immoral was his premeditation. He was fully aware that he wasn’t supposed to go there and that he posed a risk to everyone involved in one way or another, including himself. But he went anyway. He is recorded as stating that no blame be apportioned to the tribe in the event of the worst outcome. Illegal stuff is usually illegal because it is bad. Doing bad stuff knowing it is bad, is deemed immoral. Doing immoral stuff while knowing it is immoral is deemed evil, depending on ones definition of evil of course.

          That is just it. I do not think he thought it was a real concern.

          But he did. Enough to ignore all the warnings and to write about the potential outcome ahead of time…he just didn’t care enough…the great commission trumped all else.

          It may have been at some level a mental tacit assent but whether he believed it I’m not so sure.

          Yeah…he knew it alright…”You guys might think I’m crazy in all this… But I think it’s worth it to declare Jesus to these people.”…wrote in a final letter to his parents just before he was killed.

          Proselytizing is a criminal offence in some places.

          Proselytising is illegal in Nepal, and in August the law reportedly changed to state that foreigners convicted of the crime can be deported after a maximum jail sentence of five years.

          Maybe the punishment for proselytizing on NS is death.

          Even by Christian standards, Chau broke the rules in his proselytizing endeavor…

          * extending explicit or implicit offers of education, health care or material inducements or using financial resources with the intent of making converts;

          * manipulative attitudes and practices that exploit people’s needs, weaknesses or lack of education especially in situations of distress, and fail to respect their freedom and human dignity.

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Pu3uUd-csnIC&pg=PA895&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

          You may be right, but I think most missionaries, annoying as they are, would not venture into an area if they consciously believed they may kill them.

          Therein lies the problem. Chau knew exactly that…he was fired at and chased off the island prior to the faithful day. He wrote to his parents stating that he was aware of the risks…he obviously had a martyr complex going on. Experts have claimed that Chau was not a missionary, he was “anamolous”.

          Chau may be like that or he may be what you claim, someone who perhaps thought their souls were more important than their lives?

          There is no doubt that religious commenters have come out and stated just that after hearing of Chau’s ordeal.

          Dead Missionary John Chau’s Last Letter Home Reveals Outsized Zeal and Naiveté

          Look, trespassing is illegal and ill-advised in the United States, too. Keep traipsing onto property whose owners have repeatedly indicated they wish to be left alone, and chances are good you’ll end up in the hospital … or worse. The risk is obviously much greater when, on top of that, you go up against bands of seriously inbred tribespeople in a part of the world you’re entirely unfamiliar with.

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/11/24/dead-missionary-john-chaus-last-letter-home-reveals-outsized-zeal-and-naivete/

          Whatever Chau was, ignorant of the predicament he placed himself in, he wasn’t.

        • John Grove

          I think we are beating a dead horse on this. An extensive response will get us no where so thank you for your time in providing your views on this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s okay.

          Just answer me this…is it a justified moral action to intentionally break the law and in doing so knowingly put others at risk…either physically or mentally?

        • John Grove

          I suppose there are variations to this type of question. For example, have you ever jaywalked? If so, you knowingly broke the law and possibly put drivers at risk. Some rogue driver whom you didn’t see makes a swerve to avoid you, they risked possible death or death to others. Is this morally bankrupt? Since this fits the question you just posed.

          The primary definition of evil universally according to any dictionary is “Profoundly immoral and wicked”. Chau doesn’t fit that category. If harm is latent but not guaranteed, it could be argued that person may fit the lesser definitions of evil (not moral evil but disastrous outcome).

          I am not a moral theory professor, just someone like you who takes an interest from a secular point of view of morality. The view point I generally favor is that of Shelly Kagan. You may know him as the guy who really destroyed WLC in a debate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I suppose there are variations to this type of question. For example, have you ever jaywalked? If so, you knowingly broke the law and possibly put drivers at risk. It could have ended up that they may have been driving a speed that had they made a swerve to avoid you, they risked possible death or death to others.

          What happens to the driver of a car that hits a jaywalker?

          Jaywalking isn’t an offence where I live. But charges can be brought if an accident is caused by my irresponsibly stepping onto a road into traffic and causing a crash. It would seem the law in the States is dealt with similarly.

          Jaywalking is considered an infraction, but in some jurisdictions, it is a misdemeanor or requires a court appearance. The penalty is usually a fine. In some cities (e.g. New York City, Chicago, and Boston), although prohibited, “jaywalking” behavior has been so commonplace that police generally cite or detain jaywalkers only if their behavior is considered excessively dangerous or disruptive, such as running out in front of a moving vehicle, or crossing after the light is about to change to allow cross traffic to proceed.

          But the analogy only works if I knew that my action was probably going to cause an accident, that I’d been warned not to step onto that particular road because it would lead to me getting run over or causing a crash, but I did it anyway.

          Is this morally bankrupt? Since this fits the question you just posed.

          In my revised version of your analogy, I’d say I had a moral obligation not to walk onto the road.

          The primary definition of evil universally according to any dictionary is “Profoundly immoral and wicked”. Chau doesn’t fit that category.

          No, he certainly doesn’t. But when someone else uses the term “evil”, why do you presume that is how they want it defined?

          If harm is latent but not guaranteed, it could be argued that person may fit the lesser definitions of evil (not moral evil but disastrous outcome).

          Indeed.

          What’s your thoughts on the morality of a person who is a vociferous proselytizer for a god who is defined as both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but permits unnecessary harm, misery, suffering and evil to exist?

          I am not a moral theory professor, just someone like you who takes an interest from a secular point of view of morality. The view point I generally favor is that of Shelly Kagan. You may know him as the guy who really destroyed WLC in a debate.

          I’m aware of him. I seem to remember the debate you are referring to, but the auld memory is shot. What is it about Kagan’s view point that you generally favor?

        • al kimeea

          What the martyr was attempting to do doesn’t justify risking the isolated group’s lives or way of life. It is the history of the Abrahamic Stooges which are replete with evil acts that overshadow any perceived goodness of these bad ideas.

          This idiot acting immorally is not saying he is evil. He is recklessly endangering the lives of a group of people he knows will more often than not, react with deadly violence. All for an evil idea with fresh lipstick. Would he be immoral for spreading the good words of Odin? Of course.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And we punish children for allowing themselves to get misled on lots of occasions.

        • ildi

          “Because the same rationale you are using to defend the tribe could be used to defend the terrorist.”

          For one, the terrorists are the ones to left their country and attacked citizens in another country. The tribe felt attacked by this schmo and it wasn’t like he didn’t have previous warnings – he wrote about an arrow piercing his bible on a previous visit.

          “Misled does not equate to evil.”

          The rationale you are using to defend the missionary could also be used to defend the terrorist.

        • John Grove

          How can a tribe feel attacked by a single unarmed man who had no intention on harming anyone? And why would a tribe of I think 400 be threatened by one unarmed man who is not aggressive towards them in the slightest?

          The harm principle suggests that the harm with intent that terrorist do make it an immoral action. That’s the difference. They are immoral whether they know it or not.

        • ildi

          So, you assume you know better than the tribe how they should feel about him invading their territory?

        • John Grove

          No, I already conceded that the Christians death may be argued permissible by the tribes standpoint.

          I pretty much agree with everyone here on most things except that Chau was “evil” or immoral.

          For the record, I’m not suggesting it is never permissible for someone to kill someone else with conscious intent. I’m saying terrorists explanations based on religion is not one of those reasons. Self defense is one permissible reason, thus perhaps this tribe is extremely a fearful people that any invader poses a threat to them. Or perhaps their rationality level doesn’t give them the ability to understand certain things.

        • Greg G.

          How can a tribe feel attacked by a single unarmed man who had no intention on harming anyone? And why would a tribe of I think 400 be threatened by one unarmed man who is not aggressive towards them in the slightest?

          Perhaps they have a stand-your-ground law. If someone keeps coming toward you when you have warned them to stay away, that would be easy to interpret as a threat.

        • John Grove

          Definitely hard to know what they think. I think I have work out my welcome here. So I’m out.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A person’s right to swing a fist ends at the next person’s nose. A person’s right to practice their religion ends when they try to practice it on someone who is unwilling to participate. It can be anywhere from annoying to evil.

          Especially when ya know it ain’t welcome, threatens the well being of those ya are attempting proselytize, and ya go ahead and do it anyway.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well it depends on what one means by “evil”? It’s not a word I favour.

          If malice is a knowing result of their actions. and all that.

          Good or bad…moral or amoral…ethical or unethical…have less a religious flavour.

        • John Grove

          The things we are discussing are not easy things. Is a Christian who fights against the facts of evolution “evil” or just misled? I’m not sure. I’m really just goading you smart guys for rational reasons for what seem like dogmatic responses.

          I think the case could be made that the tribe has made countless attempts to keep intruders away. And this incessant intruding could be counted as hostility? I can definitely see that..

        • Is a Christian who fights against the facts of evolution “evil” or just misled? I’m not sure.

          If they succeed and get public school curriculum changed, isn’t that a pretty bad outcome?

        • John Grove

          To that I think we both agree.

        • Chau wrote this a few days before getting offed…“Remember, the first one to heaven wins.”

          That makes him look like a Jihadi.

          Awk-ward …

        • al kimeea

          good catch

  • ThaneOfDrones

    You didn’t mention Acts 16:6, which can be paraphrased as never get involved in a land war in Asia

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LUUk6wVNrY

  • Herald Newman

    I brought this point up on an article from the Friendly Atheist blog.

    Why would Jesus, being God, have ever needed the great commission in first place? This is supposed to be the most important message for humanity, so why trust it to fallible, stupid, schlubs like humans? God is supposed to be omnipotent, so it’s not like it would have been a challenge to make this happen. God is supposed to be omniscient, so it’s not like it’s a challenge to know who hasn’t heard the message yet.

    Frankly, if God has such an important message, but relies on humans to deliver it, it only shows that the message is probably human made in the first place!

    • Joe

      God showed up, “in person”, in the location where his religion was already established, and where offshoots such as Christianity were already starting to emerge. He failed to convert more than a minority even in the location he showed up in. Not exactly an impressive feat.

      • Herald Newman

        So God is incompetent and we have to pick up the slack. Is this the Peter Principle in action?

        • Joe

          He just lacked a bit of imagination, is all.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yep.

          Failing upward.

        • Len

          The Saint Peter Principle, perhaps.

      • After Jesus’s ministry and just after Jesus went up in to heaven (y’know, after people witnessed him resurrected), the number of Christians was 120 (Acts 1:15). Not much of a harvest for the Son of God.

        If no one much cared after those miracles, why should we believe at all given that we’ve seen zero miracles?

      • Susan

        Not exactly an impressive feat.

        Yes. It looks exactly like all mundane superstitious claims made by humans that eventually became dominant because of other mundane human cultural factors.

        Not the least of which is by the sword.

    • Otto

      Everything that is ‘known’ about God comes from other people.

      • Herald Newman

        Exactly. Why is God so unwilling to tell us anything itself? If you’re a Christian you believe that at least some people in history got a direct experience with God, but those people constitute a vanishingly small portion of the number of humans who have ever lived.

        If this is supposed to be the best that God can do, color me unimpressed. And if God does exist, then it’s doing his a fine job of making itself hidden from us.

  • I disagree, if Chau was basically a kamikaze who went there with the hopes of exterminaing the Sentinelese then he may have died for a purpose.

    Not to mention someone brought somewhere in the comments of Patheos a paper that suggested Matthew 28:19 (?, maybe more) was a later addition. It would explain why things are not just limited to Israel as in other parts of the OT.

    • ephemerol

      For myself, I wouldn’t bother speculating about what his hopes were, because if history indicates that’s a probable outcome of his actions, then it doesn’t really matter what his out-of-touch-with-reality intentions might have been…

    • Greg G.

      Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica 1.4, quotes Matthew 28:19-20a as, “Go ye, and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” He doesn’t have “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” which is an indication that the Trinity language was inserted after Eusebius’ time, which was the early 4th century.

  • ephemerol

    Grand Theft Kingdom

    1. Let’s say that you found a note written to your grandpa from one of his neighbors saying that he wanted your grandpa to take these keys for his Chevy Suburban to go run an errand for him while he was out of town, though he didn’t say where he was going or when he’d be back. You visit your grandpa’s house and see the note, but not the keys. You don’t know if your grandpa has run the errand for him already or not, but you decide to make sure by breaking into the Suburban, hotwiring the ignition, breaking the steering pin, taking the note with you, and driving around town, during which time you get pulled over for a routine traffic stop. When Officer Smokey asks for your license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, you can’t find the vehicle registration or proof of insurance. You explain that you’re just trying to do your grandpa’s neighbor a favor, and here’s the note he left you. Officer Smokey notices the note is written to someone with a name that differs from the one on your license, and asks to see the keys, which you also fail to produce. Now Officer Smokey asks why you’re driving what appears in every way to be a stolen vehicle. Smokey arrests you on suspicion of the felony of Grand Theft Auto.

    2. Jesus leaves a note for his disciples in which he says, I’m going away, not sure when I’ll be back, here’s the keys to the kingdom, go make some disciples for yourselves in foreign countries, a task which, looking at the facts on the ground, has arguably been completed by now. But anyway, 2000 years later, a foreigner who does not have the keys to said kingdom grabs his bible and decides to and take the kingdom out for a spin anyway in a bid to go make some disciples for himself. He gets pulled over by Officer Hades who asks to see his license, registration, and proof of life insurance. Instead, the foreigner opens up his bible to the gospels and shows him the great commission, but Officer Hades can’t help but notice he’s not even Jewish. Hades arrests him and takes him off to his jail from which no one we know of, not even Jesus by the looks of it, has ever escaped.

    3. I had meant to write a brief story here about a nice guy who travels to a foreign country just trying to do a good deed and is hard-done-by, totally not deserving the fate that befalls him there, but I couldn’t come up with anything.

    • Ficino

      Your 3. reminds me of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Moralistic nice guy American travels to Vietnam when it’s still French, sets about trying to do good. Turns out he is CIA …

  • JBSchmidt

    Before I critique your piece, let me say this about John. Having good intentions doesn’t mean what you are doing is right. He broke the law, bribed others to break the law and in the end was engaged in a self serving act, not preaching God’s word. If he felt the call to tell others about Christ, why not start in his own community? My guess is that kind of preaching has far less social media penetration. Again, he was self serving, not God serving.

    To your objections:

    1) Where does it say only that only the disciples were awarded the great commission? The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was seen by hundreds of people post-Crucifixion. Further if the charge was to make disciples, isn’t there an assumption that at some point the disciple becomes the teacher? That is the expectation when we teach, right? In my response to #6 you will see that we are not all called to preach.

    As for ‘superpowers’, there was a recent piece in the Atlantic about present day exorcism. Further, ‘superpowers’ were never granted as grandiose displays, rather designed as personal presentations of God’s power. Can you be sure they don’t exist?

    2) If Ananias cured Paul’s blindness, doesn’t that disprove your own point? He was not one of the 11.

    You have no understanding of of prayer, how it works or how it is used.

    3) Point? If 100% consensus is required for something to be true, what is true? For example, science has a multiple theories for the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life. Since they don’t agree are none correct?

    4) True. Though, this isn’t a reason not to believe, just an understanding of your skill set.

    5) Blah, Blah, Blah. You believe the Bible to be fiction, yet demand it be held to your understanding.

    6) There is to much wrong with this to even find a good place to start. Being good is not enough (John 3:16) and spreading the truth of Christ extends beyond preaching (Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12).

    • Greg G.

      1) Where does it say only that only the disciples were awarded the great commission?

      Matthew 28:16-20 says that Jesus was speaking to exactly 11 disciples and to nobody else. The fact

      The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was seen by hundreds of people post-Crucifixion. Further if the charge was to make disciples, isn’t there an assumption that at some point the disciple becomes the teacher? That is the expectation when we teach, right? In my response to #6 you will see that we are not all called to preach.

      The Gospels do not have the Great Commission anywhere else. As to the word “disciple”, it is never used in the Epistles.

      As for ‘superpowers’, there was a recent piece in the Atlantic about present day exorcism. Further, ‘superpowers’ were never granted as grandiose displays, rather designed as personal presentations of God’s power. Can you be sure they don’t exist?

      The Atlantic has been doing stories on exorcism for over five years.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/catholic-exorcisms-on-the-rise/573943/

      It is a shame they are treating Louisa with exocism instead of taking her to a professional.

      2) If Ananias cured Paul’s blindness, doesn’t that disprove your own point? He was not one of the 11.

      You have no understanding of of prayer, how it works or how it is used.

      It is a fictional story. Prayer doesn’t work. That is why Christianity has so many excuses for its failures, even with such low standards for a successful prayer.

      3) Point? If 100% consensus is required for something to be true, what is true? For example, science has a multiple theories for the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life. Since they don’t agree are none correct?

      100%? 45,000 is 0.0022% agreement. Jesus was the greatest prayer failure of all time with his John 17:20-23 prayer for unity among Christians to be so impressive that the whole world would believe.

      4) True. Though, this isn’t a reason not to believe, just an understanding of your skill set.

      Bob’s point in the article is for Christians to not follow the Great Commission.

      5) Blah, Blah, Blah. You believe the Bible to be fiction, yet demand it be held to your understanding.

      Have you plucked out an eye or cut off a hand?

      • richardrichard2013

        “Jesus was the greatest prayer failure of all time with his John 17:20-23 prayer for unity among Christians to be so impressive that the whole world would believe.”

        you know , if jesus came back and world peace did not come, christians will be killing and butchering alongside jesus and say “give it another 2000 years”

        if it works for the failed prophecies in mark, why not use apologetic excuses for failure of world peace even if jesus was present ?

        • Greg G.

          There is a Bible verse to say almost anything. For the failure of world peace, there is Matthew 10:34 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

        • richardrichard2013

          yes, avalos discusses this in his “bad jesus” and how christians try to make PURPOSE clause into a result clause.

        • The Skeptics Annotated Bible gives verses on many topics in two columns, verses for an idea and verses against it.

          The Bible makes a quantum mechanical wager on both outcomes, figuring that regardless of the one that wins, they win.

        • Greg G.

          Ah, Schrödinger’s Wager!

    • He broke the law, bribed others to break the law and in the end was engaged in a self serving act, not preaching God’s word. If he felt the call to tell others about Christ, why not start in his own community?

      I have complaints about it, but not quite this. From the standpoint of evangelism, why is telling fellow Americans about God any better than telling a primitive tribe?

      1) Where does it say only that only the disciples were awarded the great commission?

      Jesus gave the great commission to his audience, the disciples.

      Further, ‘superpowers’ were never granted as grandiose displays

      Tell that to the author of Acts. Healing people sounds pretty grandiose to me.

      Can you be sure they don’t exist?

      Sure that what doesn’t exist? Healing miracles?

      2) If Ananias cured Paul’s blindness, doesn’t that disprove your own point? He was not one of the 11.

      Well, maybe I’m wrong–show me that people outside the 11 can do healing miracles. Maybe you can do so? Or you know someone who reliably does this?

      You have no understanding of of prayer, how it works or how it is used.

      I can read what Jesus claims in a half-dozen places. If you’re saying that I don’t understand that it really doesn’t work like that, actually I do.

      3) Point? If 100% consensus is required for something to be true, what is true?

      I’m making a simple point, that any Christian’s stance on points of dogma might be correct or might not be. Let’s dial down our confidence when we evangelize and realize that it’s all just a best-intentioned guess.

      5) Blah, Blah, Blah. You believe the Bible to be fiction, yet demand it be held to your understanding.

      And my point stands: God says crazy stuff, and Christians (sensibly) ignore him. I’m just saying that they do the same for the Great Commission.

      Being good is not enough (John 3: 16) and spreading the truth of Christ extends beyond preaching (Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12).

      Huh? Perhaps you didn’t notice: I quoted the Bible. That’s God’s infallible Word®!

      I win.

      • JBSchmidt

        “Why is telling fellow Americans about God any better than telling a primitive tribe?”

        -Why do you write your blog in this community versus telling primitives? Maybe because you understand that preaching to your fellow Americans about your belief is better than ignoring them and going to a remote village?

        “to his audienace”

        -So only a person in attendance to a speaker/teacher can hold the knowledge? Instead that speaker/teacher must tell everyone personally or it doesn’t count?

        “Tell that to the author of Acts”

        -My point was more about how it was displayed. We only have a small number of recorded miracles. John speaks to this in his Gospel. Their power was not to be used in a grand display. My point is under that proper context we might not know how many miracle were/are performed.

        “Show me”

        -Will it help? If I raised the dead, cured blindness or made the lame walk; would you suddenly follow God and adhere to his commands?

        “I can read”

        -Good, but can you understand. God is not a genie and never claimed to be used like one. That theme is throughout the Bible.

        “dial down our confidence when we evangelize”

        -I am not in total disagree with that, humility is an important part of Christian teaching. My larger point is that secularist should take some of that medicine as well.

        “Ignore”

        Not quite, there is plenty of scripture and study to point out that your stance in incorrect. However, if your coming from the idea this is fiction, your rejecting the most important piece and wouldn’t grasp the rest.

        “I quoted the Bible”

        -Yes you win. Congratulations, you can pull a quote. Can I do the same with your work? Pull a group of words that satisfies my point, but ignores the rest of your body of work?

        • Otto

          >>>”Why do you write your blog in this community versus telling primitives?”

          Umm…because this blog is a response to Christian claims and to try and explain to primitives (who have never heard of Christianity) why those claims have serious problems would be more than a bit unwieldy…dontchathink?

          >>>”Will it help? If I raised the dead, cured blindness or made the lame walk; would you suddenly follow God and adhere to his commands?”

          But doesn’t the Bible, and those who hold that the claims of the Bible are true, use those very same miracles (raising from the dead, cure blindness, etc.) as validation that Jesus is/was God and should be followed as such because of the miracles being used as proof? I mean you seem to be talking out of both side of your mouth…Miracles = Jesus/God….but at the same time you are saying miracles wouldn’t make a difference. Huh?

        • Lark62

          -Will it help? If I raised the dead, cured blindness or made the lame walk; would you suddenly follow God and adhere to his commands?

          If you could demonstrate actual supernatural intervention and/or the bypassing of physical laws, and produced evidence that the event was not a scam or a parlor trick or a “realio trulio true story told by your friend’s second cousin’s pastor whose name you don’t know, but would never lie” then I would consider the evidence.

          Seeing as how christians have had 2000 years and haven’t produced squat, I won’t hold my breath.

        • Lark62

          -Good, but can you understand. God is not a genie and never claimed to be used like one.

          God actually claimed exactly that. You really ought to read your book.

          A few examples of many:

          Matt 18.
          19 Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

          Matt 7
          7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?

          Matthew 21
          22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

          John 14:13-14
          “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

          John 15:7
          “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

          John 15:16
          “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

          In case you haven’t noticed, your deity lied.

        • It’s like Christians haven’t read their own book.

        • John Grove

          I’m no Christian, but reading from the gospels is clearly Old Testament ground. This was preaching to the Jew first and was before the mystery given to Paul. So, the verses you just cited were clearly in the dispensation before the gospel of the grace of God. Just my atheist biblical interpretation.

        • Lark62

          No matter who he was preaching to, the promises of magic answered prayer are pure bullshit.

        • John Grove

          Agree, but my point was doing you one up. He is also biblically wrong.

        • Greg G.

          James 1:5-6 (NRSV)5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. 6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;

          James 4:3 (NRSV)3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

          James 5:15-16 (NRSV)15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

          1 John 3:22 (NRSV)22 and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

          1 John 5:14-15 (NRSV)14 And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.

        • John Grove

          James was speaking to Jews and John clearly is not the apostle of the gentiles. I think both Greg and Lark misunderstand me. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I was also saying this missionary was theologically and dispensationally in error from a biblical perspective to think he should labor under the so-called “great commission”.

        • Greg G.

          I think Galatians is an attack on James and Cephas. Calling James the Lord’s brother is mocking him for sending people places the way the Lord sent Paul according to Galatians 1:1. Paul thinks he is doing what the Lord says but James is doing things on his own, as if he is on the Lord’s level, like a brother. He uses a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 9:5 after quoting OT passages for support for whatever support the Corinthians were providing him. Three verses later he brings up “human authority” as he did in Galatians 1.

          The Epistle of James is addressed to various churches and is written as “a servant of Jesus Christ”. James 2:8-11 is a direct response to Galatians 5:14 and James 2:17-26 is a response to justification through faith, such as when Abraham was justified. Paul responds to those arguments in Romans 13:8-10, where he shows that one doesn’t murder, steal, or commit adultery if one loves, and in Romans 4:1-3, 10-12, where he points out that Abraham was justified by faith before he was crucified which was before Isaac was even born. (James argued that Abraham was justified by works with the Binding of Isaac.)

          I agree with you that the prayer stuff comes from the OT, for example:

          1 Kings 3:5 (NRSV)5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”

          But so does nearly everything else, except what comes from Greek philosophy and literature. Everything Paul says about Jesus can be found in the OT. Paul didn’t know anything about Gospel Jesus. Paul didn’t think the other apostles knew anything about Jesus that he didn’t know.

        • John Grove

          Yes, Galatians was an attack because Paul is asserting his superior apostleship over them. He essentially is claiming advanced “revelations” that they don’t have because of his unique position as the “Apostle of the Gentiles”. In other words Paul is saying, your message is obsolete, God is doing something else and I am the man he chose to give this secret to.

          An interesting dispensational perspective can be found in the book, “Things that differ” by Cornelius Stam.

          I say interesting because out of all the scenarios of doctrines within Christendom, this seems the most plausible intellectually. Though, like you, I still think is rationalized bs.

        • Greg G.

          Paul’s revelations from the Lord came from reading the OT. He speaks of “hidden mysteries” which seem to be reading the Suffering Servant in Isaiah as actual history disguised as a metaphor. Much of Christianity derives from Isaiah 53.

        • John Grove

          If you read Ephesians 3, Paul is saying essentially God gave me a mystery (secret) to dispense. That mystery is that Jews and Gentiles would be together in the body of Christ. For an undetermined time, salvation and blessings were not through the Jews, but despite the Jews through believing the message that Paul was delivering. I think the apostle Peter later writes about things hard to understand from Paul. Clearly Peter didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come back. Paul was explaining that God was temporarily doing something else.

        • Greg G.

          If you read Ephesians 3, Paul is saying essentially God gave me a mystery (secret) to dispense. That mystery is that Jews and Gentiles would be together in the body of Christ. For an undetermined time, salvation and blessings were not through the Jews, but despite the Jews through believing the message that Paul was delivering.

          Ephesians is a Deutero-Pauline epistle but I think it does represent what early Christians thought Paul meant. Paul wrote about Jesus a lot. He mentioned “Jesus”, “Christ”, or either combination about once every five or six verses. But when he mentioned something like a historical factoid, it has an Old Testament basis.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12* > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10*
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26*, Habakkuk 2:4*, Leviticus 18:5*
          Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
          Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9*
          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49*, 2 Samuel 22:50*, Deuteronomy 32:43*, Psalm 117:1*, Isaiah 11:10*
          Became Wisdom of God > 1 Corinthians 1:30 > Isaiah 11:2

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 3:13* > Deuteronomy 21:23*
          Died for sins > 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:12
          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8*

          (* indicates that New Testament passage contains a direct quote from the Septuagint.)

          1 Corinthians 11:23-25 appears to be part of an interpolation.

          But the Deutero-Pauline Epistles do the same thing:

          Past
          Cornerstone > Ephesians 2:20 > Psalm 118:22-23
          Apportioned gifts > Ephesians 4:7-8 > Psalm 68:18
          The firstborn of all creation > Colossians 1:15 > Psalm 2:7, Psalm 89:27, Proverbs 8:22
          All things in heaven and on earth were created before all things, > Colossians 1:16-17a > Proverbs 8:22-30
          Forgave us all our trespasses > Colossians 2:13 > Isaiah 53:12
          Came into the world to save sinners > 1 Timothy 1:15 > Isaiah 53:12
          Raised from the dead > 1 Timothy 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:8 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Descendant of David > 1 Timothy 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:8 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10
          He was revealed in flesh > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 49:5, Isaiah 53:2
          Vindicated in spirit > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 52:13
          Seen by angels > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Psalm 91:11
          Proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Psalm 9:11, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 49:22
          Taken up in glory > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 52:13
          His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession > 1 Timothy 6:13 > Luke 3:1, John 18:33-37

          Present
          The image of the invisible God > Colossians 1:15 > Genesis 1:26, Exodus 33:20
          In him all things hold together > Colossians 1:17 > Psalm 89:28

          Future
          Will shine on you > Ephesians 5:14 > Isaiah 26:19, Isaiah 60:1, Malachi 4:2
          Coming > 2 Thessalonians 2:8 > Isaiah 26:19-21a, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8
          Coming and Judging > 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 > Psalm 96:13, Daniel 12:2

          The other General Epistles do the same.

          Past
          Came by water and blood > 1 John 5:6 > Zechariah 13:1
          Blood, lamb without blemish > 1 Peter 1:19 > Exodus 12:5, Exodus 12:13
          Rejected by mortals > 1 Peter 2:4 > Isaiah 53:3
          Chosen and precious in God’s sight > 1 Peter 2:4 > Isaiah 42:1
          Suffered > 1 Peter 2:21, Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 4:1 > Isaiah 53:3
          Abused, didn’t return abuse > 1 Peter 2:23 > Isaiah 53:7
          Bore our sins > 1 Peter 2:24 > Isaiah 53:12
          Put to death > 1 Peter 3:18 > Isaiah 53:8-9
          Laid down his life > 1 John 3:16 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:12

          Present
          Gone into heaven > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 53:12
          At the right hand of God > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1
          Angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him > 1 Peter 3:22 > Isaiah 45:22-25
          Advocate for sin > 1 John 2:1 > Isaiah 53:11-12

          Future
          Will come > James 5:7-8, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 4:7, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 John 3:2 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Isaiah 25:8
          Will come judging > James 5:9, Jude 14-15 > Psalm 96:13; Daniel 12:2

          * 1 Timothy and 2 Peter appear to be a late forgeries that rely on the gospels.

          I think the apostle Peter later writes about things hard to understand from Paul. Clearly Peter didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come back. Paul was explaining that God was temporarily doing something else.

          2 Peter was a second century forgery. 2 Peter 1:16 appears to be responding to accusations that they were following a myth and the next two verses appeal to one of the most cleverly devised myths in the gospels which is Matthew’s version of the Transfiguration that borrows wording from Jesus’ baptism scene. That epistle was indeed written by a generation that should not have been there, according to Paul who always included himself and his readers regarding those who would be alive when the Messiah came by using the first person plural every time he discussed it.

          ETA a missing comma and some HTML

        • John Grove

          Good comment thanks. Yes, of course what you write is most likely correct. Clearly this Paul was probably a Jew who was trying to find these correlations as someone who knew the old testament well being a very zealous Jew.

        • Greg G.

          -Why do you write your blog in this community versus telling primitives?

          When “primitives” start trying to impose their religion on our society, then there will be blogs opposing them. Nobody opposes Christianity because it is the one true religion. Christianity is opposed because it is just another religion with no evidence to back it up that tries to force itself on everybody.

          The freedom to swing your fist ends at the next person’s nose. The freedom to practice religion ends when you try to practice it on someone else. When you can show that your religion is not just another made up religion and your god thingy is not a figment of your imagination, then come give us the proof.

        • -Why do you write your blog in this community versus telling primitives? Maybe because you understand that preaching to your fellow Americans about your belief is better than ignoring them and going to a remote village?

          When everyone in America understands the failings of Christianity, my work here will be done and then I can set my sights on remote islands. Alas, I’m nowhere close.

          For the Christian, however, everyone in America has heard the message. Of course, they may not have heard the particular spin of any particular evangelist, but these two viewpoints are radically different.

          -So only a person in attendance to a speaker/teacher can hold the knowledge? Instead that speaker/teacher must tell everyone personally or it doesn’t count?

          When I say, “I want you to go out and sell the product!” to an audience, what does “you” mean? On rather obvious meaning is that it’s those people in the audience. If I was actually speaking to the whole world (or a good fraction of it), that needs to be made clear.

          John speaks to this in his Gospel. Their power was not to be used in a grand display.

          John ends with this sentence: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

          Sounds grand to me.

          -Will it help? If I raised the dead, cured blindness or made the lame walk; would you suddenly follow God and adhere to his commands?

          It’s weird that the atheist needs to teach the Christian how to evangelize, but OK. Step 1 is to show that your god exists. No Christian evangelist to date has gotten past step 1. But if you performed miracles, and this was validated by skeptical observers, you’d have provided more evidence for God’s existence than all Christians to date.

          And why do Christians at this point always ask, “would you suddenly follow God and adhere to his commands”? Your performing miracles would be a long way from showing that this supernatural force wants to be followed and is worth following. (Read the OT, and whoever that guy is is an asshole.)

          Just step 1, remember?

          “I can read”
          -Good, but can you understand. God is not a genie and never claimed to be used like one.

          I can’t read good? Homework: find the half-dozen places in the New Testament where Jesus says how prayer works and then correct my reading. Show me how those passages should be interpreted.

          If you’re saying that Christians know that prayer doesn’t work like that, yeah, I get it. But that’s not the issue.

          “dial down our confidence when we evangelize”
          -I am not in total disagree with that, humility is an important part of Christian teaching. My larger point is that secularist should take some of that medicine as well.

          Expand on this. Where do secularists go wrong?

          “Ignore”
          Not quite, there is plenty of scripture and study to point out that your stance in incorrect.

          Show me how Christians reliably do all the things God either commanded them to do (genocide, stone homosexuals to death) or allowed them to do (rape, slavery). I’ve seen a couple of examples, but I suspect that you’re as horrified at these nutjobs as I am.

          However, if your coming from the idea this is fiction

          “Fiction” isn’t what I’d call the NT. “Legend” fits better.

          “I quoted the Bible”
          -Yes you win. Congratulations, you can pull a quote.

          And what you can do is find a contradictory quote from the Bible to rebut mine. But then you’re simply arguing that the Bible is contradictory. I’ll accept that.

          Can I do the same with your work? Pull a group of words that satisfies my point, but ignores the rest of your body of work?

          My humble work is favorably compared against the holy Word of God®? I’m flattered!

        • Ignorant Amos

          When everyone in America understands the failings of Christianity, my work here will be done and then I can set my sights on remote islands. Alas, I’m nowhere close.

          Ya do realize you are posting on the World Wide Web….right? Some of the regulars here attend and participate from further afield than America. Your work on remoter islands is somewhat greatly appreciated already, though for a lot of the part, we are way aheada ya…still.

        • Northern Europe is a marvel to me. It shows how dramatically Christianity can drop in society. That it eclipses the US’s social metrics is also important.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…it amazes me that in the short time I’ve been on the internet, the transformation in Ireland has been astronomical in change.

          Though the Catholic bit has wised ta fuck up….the Protestant bit where I am is still in the dark ages ffs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Fiction” isn’t what I’d call the NT. “Legend” fits better.

          Fiction is good too….by definition.

          Fiction broadly refers to any narrative that is derived from the imagination—in other words, not based strictly on history or fact.

          For example….if the two Nativity Narratives are not fiction…I’ll eat my hat…other narratives apply. So am alright with fiction. It fits perfectly well.

        • Greg G.

          Gospel Jesus began as fiction and the legend came from it.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Right from your first question, it’s obvious you didn’t bother to read the explanation for that point (either that, or your antiprocess shields are so strong that you’re a danger to yourself and society…)

      I won’t waste my time with the rest of your wall of text.

  • epicurus

    I like the last paragraph in the news story on this topic from The Globe and Mail:

    “But there’s also a social lesson to be found here. In rejecting Mr. Chau’s offer to join our dysfunctional culture, as extended by a dominant religion that has too often flirted with the very corruptions we once preached against, the North Sentinelese might just be the last sane people alive.”

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-an-isolated-tribe-killed-a-us-missionary-but-his-wayward-church-is/

  • RichardSRussell

    “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”—Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • eric

    I’ve occasionally snarked about missionaries that go ‘mission’ to African communities which have been Christian for over a century. But, frankly, I don’t wish death on anyone; I’d rather the Chaus of the world go to safe communities where their biggest crime is ignorantly assuming third-world black people must be heathens because of race or poverty or country of origin, than to be killed by tribal peoples like this.

    • Michael Neville

      Most of the Christian missionaries going to mish at the Africans know that Christianity is widespread there. But they’re the wrong sorts of Christianity. Do you realize that many Africans are Anglicans and some are even (gasp) Catholics? That’s pretty much the same as them being pagans.

      • And those danged Mormons and JWs are busy in the third world as well!

        Seems like missionaries converting people back and forth spend a lot of effort just running in place.

        • Greg G.

          The ability to brainwash others validates a religion.

        • sandy

          and a prerequisite.

    • About 30 years ago, before I was an atheist, I remember trying to get my head around what my neighbor told me. Her brother was going to be a Baptist missionary in Portugal.

      (But aren’t they already Christian? Apparently not the right kind.)

  • skl

    You’re overcomplicating things. Your message to Christians
    is simply this:

    You don’t need to follow the Great Commission, because Jesus
    wasn’t god.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      I’d say almost.

      Following the ‘great commission’ can wait on evidence that ‘jesus’ even existed, much less that he was a ‘god’.

    • Otto

      All this time here and you still don’t get the point of this blog, why am I not surprised.

    • You don’t need to play anymore. It’s clear that you’re never going to win.

      The message of this post is: Christians, following what Jesus said in your own holy book, the Great Commission was not aimed at you. Stop pretending that you need to follow it.

      • skl

        But the foundation of your post is that
        Christians don’t need to follow Christ’s commands because Christ wasn’t god.
        For example, you write:

        Who would take up the challenge in the
        next generation and the next? The answer: nobody. Jesus wasn’t thinking about Christian evangelism centuries in the future. He saw the end within the
        lifetimes of his hearers.

        In other words, you’re saying Christ was mistaken about the
        future and so was not omniscient and so was not god.

        • Don’t quit your day job to become a blog post summarizer. You suck at it.

          But thanks for playing.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘jesus’ preached that the world was soon to end.

          that was about 2000 years ago.

          the world is still here.

          So your ‘jesus’ *was* wrong.

          Why do you resist it, or attempt to use it to strawman Bob’s position?

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob, I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Christians believe their worldview is correct and useful to others. They don’t need any biblical justification for educating others about it and trying to persuade others of its truth and usefulness. Any person with any worldview has a right to reach out to others and communicate about it. However, others are not obligated to listen. They can say “No thank you. I’m not interested.”

    In the present case Chau was attempting to evangelize. The Sentinelese made it clear that they wanted no part of it. In fact, it was unehicall, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island. There is no dispute about this. But the islanders murdered him because he trespassed. This itself is unethical, illegal, and foolish. Murderers should be punished. In this case, the Indian government should do the punishing.

    • John Grove

      In all humility, I agree with this.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        Our view is unpopular, even among secular humanists, but I think it is the correct one.

        • John Grove

          Thanks Gary.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Several times Jehovah Witnesses have come to our house to evangelize. My wife and I invite them in and usually we offer them a nonalcoholic drink and talk for 30 minutes. We share contrasting views. We sometimes have a friendly debate. And that is the end of it. No harm, no foul. We don’t shoot and kill them. If we told them to not come back and they came back, we still wouldn’t shoot and kill them. That would be murder.

        • I also invite missionaries to come in and chat further. I do my best to be polite, but I push back where appropriate.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Well yes, I “push back where appropriate” also, but we don’t MURDER them! We don’t murder them, or we shouldn’t, if if they come back when we’ve told them we don’t want to hear anymore foolishness. The islanders murdered Chau because he trespassed. This is wrong!

        • We don’t kill them … unless they sneak into my house at night, carrying a gun, when I’m present. In that case, it would be self-defense.

          That is plausibly how the Sentinelese saw Chau. I don’t think you’re trying very hard to put yourself in their position.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS: We don’t kill them … unless they sneak into my house at night, carrying a gun, when I’m present. In that case, it would be self-defense.

          GW: I agree, but those implied criteria for self-defense were not met in the Chau case. Chau was murdered by the islanders.

          BS: That is plausibly how the Sentinelese saw Chau. I don’t think you’re trying very hard to put yourself in their position.

          GW: I have already succeeded in putting myself in their position, vicariously. The Sentinelese were angry with and/or fearful of Chau, based on an irrational assessment of him, and they acted violently on the basis of their irrational beliefs. They had not always reacted that way. In 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers.

        • BS: We don’t kill them … unless they sneak into my house at night, carrying a gun, when I’m present. In that case, it would be self-defense.
          GW: I agree, but those implied criteria for self-defense were not met in the Chau case.

          Must we agree to disagree? When I attempt to put myself in the islanders’ shoes, this is exactly what Chau looks like.

          Chau was murdered by the islanders.

          You don’t like “might makes right,” but you seem to be getting pretty close here. You think it was murder, you can find support from your Western perspective, and you’re eager to impose your viewpoint on these Stone Age people.

          The Sentinelese were angry with and/or fearful of Chau, based on an irrational assessment of him

          . . . according to Gary. From their standpoint, they (obviously) wouldn’t think it was irrational.

          , and they acted violently on the basis of their irrational beliefs. They had not always reacted that way. In 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers

          So you imagine them have a Town Hall meeting where they list the prior incidents, both in the recent past and in their lore and objectively weigh the imagined threat, the consequences of that meeting, the response to their response (either hostile or friendly) and then use Bayes Theorem to figure out how to respond? Un, no—when some dude is coming through your broken window carrying a gun, you blast away at him immediately.

        • ildi

          “I have already succeeded in putting myself in their position, vicariously. The Sentinelese were angry with and/or fearful of Chau, based on an irrational assessment of him, and they acted violently on the basis of their irrational beliefs. They had not always reacted that way. In 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers.”

          I’d be interested in how it played out as you vicariously put yourself in their position. I don’t see, for example, how your description of the Jehovah Witness coming to your house tracks any experience the Sentinelese would have. You’re implying that this interaction was different from the ones where they weren’t aggressive? What was different about this one?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          ‘Irrational’

          The last time the Sentinelese had contact with the outside world that we know of, 2 elders and 2 children were taken, and the elders never returned…and who knows what happened to the kids.

          Anybody did that to me, I wouldn’t just keep them off my property, I’d hunt the fuckers down and kill every mother-loving one of them.

          Such is a RATIONAL response to evidence of attempted genocide and actual murder.

        • Otto

          >>>”The islanders murdered Chau because he trespassed. ”

          You don’t know what their motivation was…none of us do. You are making yourself look silly.

        • John Grove

          I get the feeling from several members here that their strategy would be to insult them and tell them how stupid they were.

        • Otto

          I get the feeling you are making a broad unwarranted assumption.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Maybe. But even that would be better than murder.

        • ildi

          A better comparison would be if you had an extensive security system and “NO TRESPASSING” signs all over the place and the missionaries tried several times to break into your property. At that point shooting at them and killing them the second time they broke in could reasonably be justified as self-defense.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          That would not be a better comparison (analogy) than the one I gave, but still in your example killing would not be justified. That is not self-defense. That is still murder!

          Your definition of self-defense must be very broad, too broad. Please give us your definition.

        • ildi

          Why is your analogy better? This wasn’t some neighborhood knock on the door where everybody shares the same customs and speaks the same language – they made it clear from his previous attempt that they considered him a threat, but he wouldn’t back down. His actions of continuing to invade their country was a declaration of war and they acted accordingly.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          My analogy is better because it has more elements in common with the Chau incident than your analogy does.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Wrong.

          You’re factoring in the violator’s ‘intent’, which has NO place in a discussion of consent.

        • What is “our view”? You’ve touched on several very different points in your comment above.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          “Our view” refers to the view that John Grove and I have about this matter, which was summarized in my post with which John agreed. See above.

        • You made several points:

          [Christians] don’t need any biblical justification for educating others about it and trying to persuade others of its truth and usefulness.

          it was unehicall, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island.

          the islanders murdered him because he trespassed. This itself is unethical, illegal, and foolish.

          The first two aren’t “unpopular, even among secular humanists.” That’s why I asked for clarification.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I am trying my best to clarify in numerous responses.

      • Damien Priestly

        No, the islanders had every right to kill Chau. It may be how their moral system works when outsiders approach them.

        Also, the Sentinelese have been hostile to outsiders for centuries — which makes what Chau and other missionaries are doing immoral. They already know Christianity was not welcome there, yet they trespass.

        I agree with with what Capt. Cassidy says over at the Patheos “Roll to Disbelieve” blog…Chau and his missionary cohorts are trying to masturbate with somebody else’s hand !!

        • ildi

          He was essentially a stalker. In a rom-com he would have gotten the girl…(in this case the souls)

    • Christians believe their worldview is correct and useful to others. They don’t need any biblical justification for educating others about it and trying to persuade others of its truth and usefulness.

      Which is obviously not what I’m talking about. If you’re bubbling over with the Good News®, that’s great. Share it with someone curious about it or wait for them to ask.

      What I’m talking about is the obligation that many Christians are told they have by their churches to get out and evangelize.

      it was unehicall, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island. There is no dispute about this.

      We’re now on a very different topic, but yes, I agree.

      But the islanders murdered him because he trespassed. This itself is unethical, illegal, and foolish.

      If it’s murder in your eyes, that’s fine. It wasn’t in theirs, I’m guessing. The West can certainly impose its morality using a might-makes-right principle, but let’s not imagine that the islanders were objectively wrong to kill him.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        GW1: Christians believe their worldview is correct and useful to others. They don’t need any biblical justification for educating others about it and trying to persuade others of its truth and usefulness.

        BS2: Which is obviously not what I’m talking about. If you’re bubbling over with the Good News®, that’s great. Share it with someone curious about it or wait for them to ask.

        GW2: I disagree. You usually don’t know if somebody is curious or interested in a topic unless you present a quick summary. And you don’t need to wait for them to ask. There is nothing wrong at all in approaching people and telling them something you passionately believe is true and/or useful. Have you never introduced the ideas of secular humanism or science in a discussion? In a casual encounter?

        BS2: What I’m talking about is the obligation that many Christians are told they have by their churches to get out and evangelize.

        GW2: I know that is what you are talking about. There is nothing wrong with a religious, political, or other similar group imposing such a duty, whether it is based in the Bible or not.

        GW1: it was unethical, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island. There is no dispute about this.

        BS2: We’re now on a very different topic, but yes, I agree.

        GW2: No, it’s the same topic. We are both criticizing Chau for his behavior. You are just disturbed by a different behavior than I am.

        GW1: But the islanders murdered him because he trespassed. This itself is unethical, illegal, and foolish.

        BS2: If it’s murder in your eyes, that’s fine. It wasn’t in theirs, I’m guessing.

        GW2: Isn’t it murder in your eyes? I think it would be murder in the eyes of anyone thinking rationally about the incident.

        BS2: The West can certainly impose its morality using a might-makes-right principle, but let’s not imagine that the islanders were objectively wrong to kill him.

        GW2: You aren’t going to buy into relativistic morality are you? I hope not. Might does not make right! Reason makes right! Let’s imagine that the islanders were wrong to kill him by a universalist morality. If the islanders tortured him or enslaved him, that would be wrong too, wouldn’t it? William Lane Craig may be right about one thing — a universal code of ethics. But, it is not handed down by God (who doesn’t exist), but it is derived by reason.

        • BS2: What I’m talking about is the obligation that many Christians are told they have by their churches to get out and evangelize.
          GW2: I know that is what you are talking about. There is nothing wrong with a religious, political, or other similar group imposing such a duty, whether it is based in the Bible or not.

          What is wrong is saying, “Jesus wants you to get out and evangelize” when that statement is false.

          GW1: it was unethical, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island. There is no dispute about this.
          BS2: We’re now on a very different topic, but yes, I agree.
          GW2: No, it’s the same topic. We are both criticizing Chau for his behavior.

          Chau trespassing is a very different topic than the Bible not having a Great Commission that applies to you.

          BS2: If it’s murder in your eyes, that’s fine. It wasn’t in theirs, I’m guessing.
          GW2: Isn’t it murder in your eyes?

          1. Who cares? I don’t impose morality or legality on the world (which is probably a error on the part of the world, but that’s another story).

          2. Nope, I don’t see it as murder. They killed an invader. And this isn’t just a context-free killing; they had had unpleasant dealings with outsiders in the past and they had warned him away with arrows before.

          BS2: The West can certainly impose its morality using a might-makes-right principle, but let’s not imagine that the islanders were objectively wrong to kill him.
          GW2: You aren’t going to buy into relativistic morality are you? I hope not.

          I see no evidence for objective morality. If you do, I’d be happy to go there. (1) Define what you mean by objective morality (definitions vary), (2) show us that objective morality exists, and (3) show us that we fallible humans can reliably access it.

          Might does not make right!

          Why did the Nuremburg trials use laws imposed by the winners? There were German lawyers and judges available—why not use them?

          (Hint: the fact that the Germans lost is relevant.)

          Reason makes right!

          I like reason. I’ve just not seen how objectively true reason convinces everyone. Perhaps you can demonstrate this as well.

          Let’s imagine that the islanders were wrong to kill him by a universalist morality. If the islanders tortured him or enslaved him, that would be wrong too, wouldn’t it?

          Huh? If X is wrong, how does that inform the wrongness of Y and Z?

          William Lane Craig may be right about one thing — a universal code of ethics.

          He’s right about very little, and the existence and accessibility of objective morality is one of those things he’s wrong about.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS2: What I’m talking about is the obligation that many Christians are told they have by their churches to get out and evangelize.

          GW2: I know that is what you are talking about. There is nothing wrong with a religious, political, or other similar group imposing such a duty, whether it is based in the Bible or not.

          BS3: What is wrong is saying, “Jesus wants you to get out and evangelize” when that statement is false.

          GW3: That may be, but it is so trivial compared to “Your religion or church want you to get out and evangelize.” There is nothing wrong with doing that.

          GW1: it was unethical, illegal, and foolish for Chau to trespass on the island. There is no dispute about this.

          BS2: We’re now on a very different topic, but yes, I agree.

          GW2: No, it’s the same topic. We are both criticizing Chau for his behavior.

          BS3: Chau trespassing is a very different topic than the Bible not having a Great Commission that applies to you.

          GW3: Ok, I’ll back off my claim a little. It’s not the same topic, but a related topic. You are mainly focusing on Christians having put a “false duty” on Chau. However, I’m pretty sure the Christians would use other verses to encourage evangelizing, if not the “Great Commission.”

          BS2: If it’s murder in your eyes, that’s fine. It wasn’t in theirs, I’m guessing.

          GW2: Isn’t it murder in your eyes?

          BS3: 1. Who cares? I don’t impose morality or legality on the world (which is probably a error on the part of the world, but that’s another story).

          GW3: I care and many people care! If you don’t care, then that is a real shame. Where is your compassion, sense of justice, and idealism? “Impose” is such a harsh word in this context. Secular humanists, like us, should recommend and push for the implementation of a rational morality and legal framework for the entire world.

          BS3: 2. Nope, I don’t see it as murder. They killed an invader. And this isn’t just a context-free killing; they had had unpleasant dealings with outsiders in the past and they had warned him away with arrows before.

          GW3: I totally disagree with you on this point. Chau was not an invader; he was a trespasser. “Invader” implies a trespasser who uses force or the threat of force, and this was not the case with Chau. Of course, this isn’t a context-free killing! Here is some more context to consider: In 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers.

          BS2: The West can certainly impose its morality using a might-makes-right principle, but let’s not imagine that the islanders were objectively wrong to kill him.

          GW2: You aren’t going to buy into relativistic morality are you? I hope not.

          BS3: I see no evidence for objective morality. If you do, I’d be happy to go there. (1) Define what you mean by objective morality (definitions vary), (2) show us that objective morality exists, and (3) show us that we fallible humans can reliably access it.

          GW3: Those are reasonable requests, we have discussed those issues before on your blog, and I really can’t do them justice here. However, I will give succinct replies: 1) Objective morality is a moral code with high expert agreement and high stability over time. 2) Objective morality exists to a moderate degree, but could exist to a great degree with proper investment. “Any person should not rape any other person” is an example of a rule in objective morality. 3) The evidence that fallible humans can reliably access objective morality is that “moral experts” randomly selected from all over the world reach a consensus on moral rules.

          GW2: Might does not make right!

          BS3: Why did the Nuremburg trials use laws imposed by the winners? There were German lawyers and judges available-why not use them? (Hint: the fact that the Germans lost is relevant.)

          GW3: The laws of powerful winners are not necessarily correct, but they mostly were at Nuremburg. Right is more highly correlated with reason than with power. In fact, the former may be a causal relationship. Reason produces correct morality and law.

          GW2: Reason makes right!

          BS3: I like reason. I’ve just not seen how objectively true reason convinces everyone. Perhaps you can demonstrate this as well.

          GW3: I know you like reason. Most of your essays are quite reasonable. Reason does not convince everyone, but it still produces correct morality and law. Our job as secular humanists is to become more persuasive.

          GW2: Let’s imagine that the islanders were wrong to kill him by a universalist morality. If the islanders tortured him or enslaved him, that would be wrong too, wouldn’t it?

          BS3: Huh? If X is wrong, how does that inform the wrongness of Y and Z?

          GW3: Reason informs all three! If reason is applied to the moral domain, then thinkers will conclude that murder, torture, and slavery would all be wrong for the Chau incident.

          GW2: William Lane Craig may be right about one thing — a universal code of ethics.

          BS3: He’s right about very little, and the existence and accessibility of objective morality is one of those things he’s wrong about.

          GW3: I disagree. It is one of the very few things Craig is right about (although he is mistaken on the source). But there are atheists too who lean toward objective morality or moral realism – Harris, Shermer, and Pinker.

        • BS3: What is wrong is saying, “Jesus wants you to get out and evangelize” when that statement is false.
          GW3: That may be

          Good; then let’s stop right there. That’s my point. You can say it’s trivial, but it seems significant to me that the claim “Jesus wants you to evangelize” is false, and yet it’s the motivation for millions of people to get out an evangelize even though they don’t want to and tens of millions more who feel guilt for not doing anything and making baby Jesus cry.

          You are mainly focusing on Christians having put a “false duty” on Chau. However, I’m pretty sure the Christians would use other verses to encourage evangelizing, if not the “Great Commission.”

          Then let’s have that debate. If my argument in the post is incomplete or wrong or there’s another side to it, let’s hear it.

          Hearing nothing, my hypothesis that the Great Commission wasn’t aimed at modern Christians stands, but I’m always ready to hear new data. I’m no Bible expert.

          GW2: Isn’t it murder in your eyes?
          BS3: 1. Who cares? I don’t impose morality or legality on the world (which is probably a error on the part of the world, but that’s another story).
          GW3: I care and many people care! If you don’t care, then that is a real shame. Where is your compassion, sense of justice, and idealism?

          We must be talking about different things. You and many people care about my opinion on this one matter? Surely you’re not kept awake at night fretting about my opinion about the rightness of Chau’s killing.

          “Impose” is such a harsh word in this context.

          And since I’m not imposing anything, that seems to be irrelevant.

          BS3: 2. Nope, I don’t see it as murder. They killed an invader. And this isn’t just a context-free killing; they had had unpleasant dealings with outsiders in the past and they had warned him away with arrows before.
          GW3: I totally disagree with you on this point. Chau was not an invader; he was a trespasser.

          That’s cool. You can have whatever interpretation you want. But “Yeah, but Gary thinks Chau was only trespassing” doesn’t count for much. You’re not the world’s morality judge.

          “Invader” implies a trespasser who uses force or the threat of force, and this was not the case with Chau.

          . . . from your viewpoint! Yeah, I get it. Not really relevant.

          1) Objective morality is a moral code with high expert agreement and high stability over time.

          Since same-sex marriage is a newcomer, it doesn’t have high stability. So “SSM should be allowed” is not objectively correct but “slavery is wrong” is?

          Also note that this definition is different from the one Christians use, where they imagine objective morality grounded outside humans. With their definition, SSM and slavery would be right or wrong now, and this was true a million years ago before there were humans.

          2) Objective morality exists to a moderate degree, but could exist to a great degree with proper investment. “Any person should not rape any other person” is an example of a rule in objective morality. 3) The evidence that fallible humans can reliably access objective morality is that “moral experts” randomly selected from all over the world reach a consensus on moral rules.

          Why not just call this “morality”? This is pretty much what I’d say. Since Christians define objective morality in important different ways, you just confuse things by using their words.

          GW3: The laws of powerful winners are not necessarily correct

          Of course.

          , but they mostly were at Nuremburg.

          According to Gary “I know everything” Whittenberger? Sorry for the mocking response, but that’s what you sound like.

          If you liked the approach used at Nuremburg, that’s great. Me, too. But it’s still significant that, given the choice, the military winners chose their own legal approach, not that of the Germans.

          We see “might makes right” in our legal system as well. Accused and convicted people are held against their will. And they aren’t necessarily guilty! But that’s the best we can do.

          Right is more highly correlated with reason than with power. In fact, the former may be a causal relationship. Reason produces correct morality and law.

          So you’re saying that we imperfect beings who kinda want to do the best will bumble along, often making good moral progress but not necessarily? I agree. It’s confusing to call this “objective morality.”

          GW3: I know you like reason. Most of your essays are quite reasonable. Reason does not convince everyone, but it still produces correct morality and law. Our job as secular humanists is to become more persuasive.

          You look back on Georgia in 1840 and you applaud reason for stopping slavery. But within that culture, they had their thinking that seemed reasonable to them. And the Creator of the Universe as documented in the Bible was on their side. It’s easy to fault them from Gary’s Standpoint, but it’s hard to fault them from an absolute standpoint.

          We delude ourselves when we imagine that we humans are so much higher or more morally advanced than the humans from some earlier period in time.

          BS3: He’s right about very little, and the existence and accessibility of objective morality is one of those things he’s wrong about.
          GW3: I disagree. It is one of the very few things Craig is right about (although he is mistaken on the source). But there are atheists too who lean toward objective morality or moral realism – Harris, Shermer, and Pinker.

          You can say this because each of you pick from one of the several options for the definition of “objective morality”! You do know that your definition is very much unlike WLC’s, right? I suggest you let Christians have their definition and describe yours another way.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS3: What is wrong is saying, “Jesus wants you to get out and evangelize” when that statement is false.
          GW3: That may be
          BS4: Good; then let’s stop right there. That’s my point. You can say it’s trivial, but it seems significant to me that the claim “Jesus wants you to evangelize” is false, and yet it’s the motivation for millions of people to get out an evangelize even though they don’t want to and tens of millions more who feel guilt for not doing anything and making baby Jesus cry.
          GW4: Ok, that is your point, but why stop right there when there are so many important points to make about the Chau incident?

          GW3: You are mainly focusing on Christians having put a “false duty” on Chau. However, I’m pretty sure the Christians would use other verses to encourage evangelizing, if not the “Great Commission.”
          BS4: Then let’s have that debate. If my argument in the post is incomplete or wrong or there’s another side to it, let’s hear it. Hearing nothing, my hypothesis that the Great Commission wasn’t aimed at modern Christians stands, but I’m always ready to hear new data. I’m no Bible expert.
          GW4: I have no interest at all in finding other verses to support Christian evangelizing. Maybe some Christians will take up your challenge. I am satisfied with a secular motivation for marketing different worldviews. Chau was just marketing his own worldview. Nothing wrong with that in itself. The mistake he made was trespassing.

          GW2: Isn’t it murder in your eyes?
          BS3: 1. Who cares? I don’t impose morality or legality on the world (which is probably a error on the part of the world, but that’s another story).
          GW3: I care and many people care! If you don’t care, then that is a real shame. Where is your compassion, sense of justice, and idealism?
          BS4: We must be talking about different things. You and many people care about my opinion on this one matter? Surely you’re not kept awake at night fretting about my opinion about the rightness of Chau’s killing.
          GW4: Here, I am talking about your apparent lack of concern that another human person was murdered! I believe that secular humanists need to speak out against acts like this, even when the victim was a Christian acting foolishly.

          GW3: “Impose” is such a harsh word in this context.
          BS4: And since I’m not imposing anything, that seems to be irrelevant.
          GW4: But you used the word and implied that others were imposing their morality. I don’t think either of us is imposing our morality. However, the Indian government should impose its morality and laws on the Sentinelese to the extent of enforcing justice.

          BS3: 2. Nope, I don’t see it as murder. They killed an invader. And this isn’t just a context-free killing; they had had unpleasant dealings with outsiders in the past and they had warned him away with arrows before.
          GW3: I totally disagree with you on this point. Chau was not an invader; he was a trespasser.
          BS4: That’s cool. You can have whatever interpretation you want. But “Yeah, but Gary thinks Chau was only trespassing” doesn’t count for much. You’re not the world’s morality judge.
          GW4: Well, that’s pretty snarky and not helpful to the discussion. Who should be the world’s morality judge? What would the judge/s say about this incident? How do you define “murder” and why does the killing of Chau not meet your definition?

          GW3: “Invader” implies a trespasser who uses force or the threat of force, and this was not the case with Chau.
          BS4: . . . from your viewpoint! Yeah, I get it. Not really relevant.
          GW4: Yeah, I get it – it wasn’t murder from your viewpoint. But please explain and defend your viewpoint. My goodness, why do you not see it as murder?

          GW3: 1) Objective morality is a moral code with high expert agreement and high stability over time.
          BS4: Since same-sex marriage is a newcomer, it doesn’t have high stability. So “SSM should be allowed” is not objectively correct but “slavery is wrong” is?
          GW4: I think you make a good point here. I’ll modify my definition to leave off the high stability part, but will predict that because affirmation of same-sex marriage belongs in a rational and objective morality, it will achieve high stability like the prohibition on slavery.
          BS4: Also note that this definition is different from the one Christians use, where they imagine objective morality grounded outside humans. With their definition, SSM and slavery would be right or wrong now, and this was true a million years ago before there were humans.
          GW4: Well, we know that Christians are mistaken on the grounding. Morality comes from the minds of persons. Without persons, there can be no morality. Christians believe there was at least one divine person (mind) before there were human persons (minds), but of course they are mistaken about that also.

          GW3: 2) Objective morality exists to a moderate degree, but could exist to a great degree with proper investment. “Any person should not rape any other person” is an example of a rule in objective morality. 3) The evidence that fallible humans can reliably access objective morality is that “moral experts” randomly selected from all over the world reach a consensus on moral rules.
          BS4: Why not just call this “morality”? This is pretty much what I’d say. Since Christians define objective morality in important different ways, you just confuse things by using their words.
          GW4: Because it is not objective unless it is produced by the consensus of experts. “Objective” has at least four different meanings. I am just using one meaning that they are not using, one which makes more sense in this domain of morality.

          GW3: The laws of powerful winners are not necessarily correct
          BS4: Of course.
          GW4: Good, we agree.

          GW3: …,but they mostly were at Nuremburg.
          BS4: According to Gary “I know everything” Whittenberger? Sorry for the mocking response, but that’s what you sound like.
          GW4: That’s a snarky straw man argument, totally useless. I am comparing my ideas about morality to your ideas about it and to Christian ideas about it.

          BS4: f you liked the approach used at Nuremburg, that’s great. Me, too. But it’s still significant that, given the choice, the military winners chose their own legal approach, not that of the Germans.
          GW4: You are still missing the point. The outcome wasn’t right because it was imposed by the more powerful group. It was right in this case because it was derived from reason.

          BS4: We see “might makes right” in our legal system as well. Accused and convicted people are held against their will. And they aren’t necessarily guilty! But that’s the best we can do.
          GW4: Might can lead to right or wrong, but might does not make right. I think you are confusing correlation with causation here. A correct universal moral rule is probably “Persons X should hold other persons Y against their will, if persons Y are given due process and the evidence points to their probable guilt for a serious crime.” If you think otherwise, then explain and defend your position.

          GW3: Right is more highly correlated with reason than with power. In fact, the former may be a causal relationship. Reason produces correct morality and law.
          BS4: So you’re saying that we imperfect beings who kinda want to do the best will bumble along, often making good moral progress but not necessarily? I agree. It’s confusing to call this “objective morality.”
          GW4: No, we are doing better than bumbling along. For more on this, read recent books by Steven Pinker and Michael Shermer. You are confusing “objective” with “correct,” and the two are different ideas. A moral code can be objective and incorrect.

          GW3: I know you like reason. Most of your essays are quite reasonable. Reason does not convince everyone, but it still produces correct morality and law. Our job as secular humanists is to become more persuasive.
          BS4: You look back on Georgia in 1840 and you applaud reason for stopping slavery. But within that culture, they had their thinking that seemed reasonable to them. And the Creator of the Universe as documented in the Bible was on their side. It’s easy to fault them from Gary’s Standpoint, but it’s hard to fault them from an absolute standpoint.
          GW4: There you go again – promoting relativistic morality. I hope you will trade in that obsolete concept for Correct Universal Morality (CUE). “Seemed reasonable to them” does not necessarily correspond to “reasonable.” We know they were mistaken about the existence of a Creator. It’s easy to fault them from the position of CUE.

          BS4: We delude ourselves when we imagine that we humans are so much higher or more morally advanced than the humans from some earlier period in time.
          GW4: I totally disagree. There has been moral progress, but we might disagree on the degree.

          BS3: He’s right about very little, and the existence and accessibility of objective morality is one of those things he’s wrong about.
          GW3: I disagree. It is one of the very few things Craig is right about (although he is mistaken on the source). But there are atheists too who lean toward objective morality or moral realism – Harris, Shermer, and Pinker.
          BS4: You can say this because each of you pick from one of the several options for the definition of “objective morality”! You do know that your definition is very much unlike WLC’s, right? I suggest you let Christians have their definition and describe yours another way.
          GW4: There are similarities and differences. Harris, Shermer, Pinker, and I need not cede the words “objective,” “universal,” and “realism” in the morality domain to the Christians. I think one major similarity among all five of us, however, is the idea that morality is or should be cross-cultural, applying to all persons under the same or similar circumstances. Even Craig seems to go along with that.

          GW4: I wish you’d write an entire essay about morality or about an incident to which you apply your views about morality.

        • Just because you have a fancy name–Correct Universal Morality (which has the puzzling though perhaps bowdlerized acronym CUE)–doesn’t make it true. Seems to me that your arguments are all various interpretations of “Gary’s instincts are right, so let’s rearrange the facts to support that.”

          GW4: I wish you’d write an entire essay about morality or about an incident to which you apply your views about morality.

          I’ve written many posts about “objective” morality.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS5: Just because you have a fancy name–Correct Universal Morality (which has the puzzling though perhaps bowdlerized acronym CUE)–doesn’t make it true.

          GW5: That’s a straw man argument. But the name is fancy and clever.

          BS5: Seems to me that your arguments are all various interpretations of “Gary’s instincts are right, so let’s rearrange the facts to support that.”

          GW5: No, the presumed facts of the Chau case are in four or five reports we have from the media. I believe instincts are a good start for developing morality, but they are insufficient. Reason should be the final arbiter of morality. If you think otherwise, then propose a substitute and we can discuss it. According to CUE, Chau was murdered and the murderers should be punished. I don’t know why you’d think otherwise.

          GW4: I wish you’d write an entire essay about morality or about an incident to which you apply your views about morality.

          BS5: I’ve written many posts about “objective” morality.

          GW5: Please present some links to those posts.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • I gotta admit that I thought I had Gary on the ropes, but when he called it “Correct Universal Morality” I had to throw in the towel. I mean, seriously, where do you go from there? It’s both correct and universal–he’s got all the bases covered.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          LOL.

          Poor Gary doesn’t understand ‘misnomer’

          🙂

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I didn’t ask you. I asked Bob.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I don’t care.

          It was as much an expression of contempt and derision on my part at your arrogant assertion (without bothering to research) as it was an informational reply.

          Stop being arrogant and ready to assert your position without evidence, even AGAINST THE evidence (much less compassion), and you might find a more measured response to your hidebound idiocy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh fer feck sake…wise ta fuck up.

        • Use the “Search this blog…” box to search for “objective morality” and you get this:

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined?s=objective+morality

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Weird…I thought I did, but got bupkus even for the word ‘objective’.

          Must practice my search-fu…

        • The search box will search just within the blog. But if you want google to do the same thing, you can use the “site” command and give this to google:

          “objective morality” site:https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Thanks, Bob. That’s very useful. I think I responded to some of those posts, but I’ll take a look at some of them.

        • ildi

          “Reason should be the final arbiter of morality.”

          I think we mean something different by reason, because for me a big element is laying out what the facts are, and using logic and so far you haven’t demonstrated what facts you’re basing your opinion on that Chau was murdered, not the victim of his own death-wish by entering a known war zone You tack on the additional opinion that murderers should be punished (all under the label of Correct Universal Morality (hubris much?) and your punishment is genocide. Very Biblical, kudos!.

          You have opinions about why punishment is part of your Correct Universal Morality, but haven’t offered any data to support your opinion. Not very reason-based, more Gary’s-gut-tells-him-so based.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW: “Reason should be the final arbiter of morality.”

          I: I think we mean something different by reason, because for me a big element is laying out what the facts are, and using logic and so far you haven’t demonstrated what facts you’re basing your opinion on that Chau was murdered, not the victim of his own death-wish by entering a known war zone

          GW: No, it sounds like we mean the same thing by “reason.” The facts about the incident have been presented by several reports. My analysis leads to the conclusion that Chau was murdered. Chau may have had a death wish, but that is irrelevant to the nature of the actions of the islanders. They shot bows and arrows at him, and he died as a result. If you believe this was self-defense, then present your case for that.

          I: You tack on the additional opinion that murderers should be punished (all under the label of Correct Universal Morality (hubris much?) and your punishment is genocide. Very Biblical, kudos!.

          GW: If you think that murderers should be forgiven (very New Testament, much hubris?), then present your case for that. The response I advocate has nothing to do with genocide.

          I: You have opinions about why punishment is part of your Correct Universal Morality, but haven’t offered any data to support your opinion. Not very reason-based, more Gary’s-gut-tells-him-so based.

          GW: Punishment lowers the probability of the same behavior by an offender in the future and also deters others who contemplate similar behavior. The data for this is overwhelming in the fields of psychology, child development, and criminal justice. I won’t present that data to you; you can look it up for yourself. Decreasing harmful behaviors is part of morality. If you believe that proper punishment should not be a part of Correct Universal Morality, then present your case.

        • Pofarmer

          Chau was murdered and the murderers should be punished. I don’t know why you’d think otherwise.

          Chau was essentially invading a sovereign nation. He had been warned not to do it. The people who helped him had been warned not to do it. The people who helped him should be charged with a crime. The Islanders should go on about their business. Why should they be punished for Chau’s stupidity?

        • Ignorant Amos

          The people who helped him should be charged with a crime.

          Some of them have been arrested.

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/108841164/seven-people-have-been-arrested-for-helping-missionary-john-chau

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Think of morality as the survival instincts of a *society*, and a lot of your nonsense and inability to get out of your own head and consider how others think will evaporate.

          YOU don’t get to judge morality for anybody but yourself, and definitely not for a society that could be collectively seen as having PTSD from its last encounter with the outside world, no doubt magnified by embellishments in oral history retellings.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          H: Think of morality as the survival instincts of a *society*, and a lot of your nonsense and inability to get out of your own head and consider how others think will evaporate.

          GW: Think of morality as a set of rules regarding how persons on the Earth should behave and not behave, and then your relativistic nonsense will evaporate.

          H: YOU don’t get to judge morality for anybody but yourself, and definitely not for a society that could be collectively seen as having PTSD from its last encounter with the outside world, no doubt magnified by embellishments in oral history retellings.

          GW: I totally disagree. We all get to judge morality for all persons. Some people have correct ideas about it, and others have incorrect ideas about it. “Murderers should be punished” is a correct idea.

          GW: In 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “GW: Think of morality as a set of rules regarding how persons on the Earth should behave and not behave, and then your relativistic nonsense will evaporate.”

          Demonstrate any validity to such an assertion of morality as a (single, implied) set of rules.

          You can’t even rule out rape if the choice is imposed from the outside and the choices imposed on the subjects are rape or being murdered by those outside forces.

        • ildi

          William Lane Craig may be right about one thing — a universal code of ethics. But, it is not handed down by God (who doesn’t exist), but it is derived by reason.

          Based on your comments here, it sounds like your universal code of ethics would include the concept that certain behaviors require punishment. What is your reasoning behind this?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Good question. Yes, people who behave badly should be punished by reasonable people in positions of authority. Why? Because proper punishment decreases the probability of similar behavior by the offender himself and by others who contemplate the same thing in the future. Proper punishment teaches and deters.

    • M2V

      The North Sentinelese culture is still in the Stone Age. They have no concept of murder in the contemporary sense. The Indian government knows this which is why even going near the island is prohibited, which Chau knew full well. They had every right to protect themselves from an intruder. It could even be looked at as the equivalent of the Stand Your Ground law. They probably had no idea what this guy was capable of. He foolishly put himself in harm’s way and he paid for it. He’s responsible for his own death.

      • MR

        He’s responsible for his own death.

        Yes, I think most people would agree. Even most of Christians I know. He did something dangerous and foolish and he paid for it with his life.

        No doubt he went in believing the power of Jesus would protect him. But the power of Jesus was either wanting or nonexistent.

        • Reminds me of the early days of the Pentecostal movement (~1905). They were speaking in tongues, and someone identified another’s speech as Chinese. Convinced that God would put the right words into their mouths, that person went to evangelize to the Chinese.

          You can imagine the hilarity that ensued.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        M2V: The North Sentinelese culture is still in the Stone Age.

        GW: They are not animals. They are still moral agents.

        M2V: They have no concept of murder in the contemporary sense.

        GW: They almost certainly have a concept of murder, but they have the wrong concept. If the Indian government enforces justice in this case, then they will probably modify their old concept.

        M2V: The Indian government knows this which is why even going near the island is prohibited, which Chau knew full well.

        GW: Chau’s behavior is not in dispute here. What is in dispute is the behavior of the islanders. I claim they committed murder and should now be punished for that. I don’t know why anybody would disagree with that.

        M2V: They had every right to protect themselves from an intruder.

        GW: Not by murdering the trespasser! No, they had no right to deter or punish a trespasser by killing him under these conditions!

        M2V: It could even be looked at as the equivalent of the Stand Your Ground law.

        GW: The Stand Your Ground law, at least the one in Florida, is not worth the paper it is written on. From the moral perspective, it is invalid, and it should be repealed. Under what conditions do you believe it is morally correct to kill another human person? Were any of those conditions met with Mr. Chau?

        M2V: They probably had no idea what this guy was capable of.

        GW: Was he carrying a weapon? No. Was he engaged in aggressive gestures? No. Was he wildly charging another person? No. They had no good reason to kill him.

        M2V: He foolishly put himself in harm’s way and he paid for it. He’s responsible for his own death.

        GW: No, he is not responsible for his own death. Had the islanders behaved properly, Chau would still be alive. They murdered him!

        • Otto

          >>>”Under what conditions do you believe it is morally correct to kill another human person?”

          If the person or persons felt they were in physical danger, i.e. self defense. Do you know that they did not feel they were in danger? A stranger lands on their island covertly and then starts yelling at them in a language they don’t understand. Do you think that could be perceived as hostile? The islanders know that there are flying machines and all kinds of stuff that they don’t understand or grasp beyond their borders…do you think it is possible they they thought this guy might have some ‘magic’ that could overcome their own capabilities, would it be unreasonable for them to think that it is a distinct possibility?

          >>>”No, he is not responsible for his own death.”

          Yes he absolutely was, he knew the risk he was taking, he went back after they fired arrows at him the day before. He knew it was illegal to go there and why. He is responsible.

          >>>”They murdered him!”

          Poppycock. You would need to know their mindset to make such a conclusion and you don’t have that.

        • ildi

          Was he carrying a weapon? No. Was he engaged in aggressive gestures? No.

          This is how Chau described his interaction the day before he was fatally shot, from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/22/john-allen-chau-man-killed-by-tribe-north-sentinel-island-declare-jesus

          ]Spoiler: he took a football with him (wtf?) How are they supposed to know what a football is? Yelled their own insults back at them. Threw a fish at them. Pretty aggressive behavior.]

          Chau repeatedly tried to contact the tribespeople and managed to reach the island the day before he was killed. He tried to offer gifts of fish and a football, he wrote in his diary.

          “I heard the whoops and shouts from the hunt,” Chau wrote in an entry that was given to several media outlets by his mother. “I made sure to stay out of arrow range, but unfortunately that meant I was also out of good hearing range.

          “So I got a little closer as they (about six from what I could see) yelled at me, I tried to parrot their words back to them. They burst out laughing most of the time, so they probably were saying bad words or insulting me.

          “I hollered: ‘My name is John, I love you and Jesus loves you.’ I regret I began to panic slightly as I saw them string arrows in their bows. I picked up the fish and threw it towards them. They kept coming.

          “I paddled like I never have in my life back to the boat. I felt some fear but mainly was disappointed. They didn’t accept me right away.”

        • Gary Whittenberger

          This account supports my claim that Chau was not an aggressor. Thanks.

        • Topsy was an elephant who killed someone who burned her trunk with a lit cigar. So she was executed.

          Justice?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrocuting_an_Elephant

        • Gary Whittenberger

          The Sentinelese are not animals. They are “moral agents.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The Sentinelese are rational actors responding to stimuli…including that those who appear uninvited are likely, statistically, to have hostile intent, from the point of view that for a pre-literate society, emotional impact of an event will make it more memorable (and often more scarring) than another such event without a poor outcome (this still happens today in *literate* society when people claim their ‘feelings’ make something right because of great emotional impact)

        • Greg G.

          The Sentinelese are “moral agents” with Stone Age morals. They have lived on an island that is 23 square miles so nobody has lived more than about five miles from everybody else. They have no morals regarding people they don’t know except as considering them to be probable invaders..They likely consider everyone from anywhere else as barbarians because they can’t speak their language, just like the Greeks did.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          But Greg, in 4 of 7 documented incidents (57%), the islanders have not been aggressive to trespassers. It is possible that one or a few islanders went rogue. It is also possible that the islanders have a mistaken rule with respect to trespassers, i.e “Trespassers should be killed when they are alone.” I don’t think it really matters. They still murdered Chau and should be punished for that. By proper intervention they will learn a new moral rule with respect to trespassers.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Pre-literate society, remember? (So far as we know, anyway)

          They have only oral history to determine their history and course, and the current leadership could be those who advocate a harsher course against foreigners.

          And it’s STILL not the place of YOUR KIND to tell them how to run their society from your comfy privileged armchair.

        • Greg G.

          If someone came to your rural home uninvited, keeps returning after you have told him to stay away, and continues to speak gibberish to you, at some point you will consider this person as a threat to your family and your friends’ family. At some point, it becomes self-defense. The Sentilese don’t call 911.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Come on, Greg, you are not a mind reader! You do not know what I would do. I would not shoot and kill the person you describe. Even repeated trespassing does not warrant a death penalty or murder!

          What can be done to deter or punish a trespasser short of killing him? Please be clever.

        • Greg G.

          At what point do you take action against a trespasser? Do you wait until the trespasser has a knife at your child’s throat? What if your actions are limited to Stone Age tactics?

          I cannot think of any idea worse than killing a tribe member to teach them about modern morality, unless it would be killing two members, or even genocide.

          Chau did take his life into his own hands and put it in the hands of a Stone Age culture. It is not that much different than entering a war zone where you understand the risks.

          Consider what happened within the past few centuries to the native North, Central, and South Americans, and the Australian Aborigines. We are not far removed from bounties for scalps. Perhaps we are still not advanced enough to deal with the Sentilese. Chau certainly was not.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GG1: At what point do you take action against a trespasser?

          GW1: Immediately! You just don’t attack (murder) them when they are not aggressive.

          GG1: Do you wait until the trespasser has a knife at your child’s throat?

          GW1: No.

          GG1: What if your actions are limited to Stone Age tactics?

          GW1: Were the Sentinelese limited to Stone Age tactics? Do those tactics include dealing with nonaggressive trespassers by actions other than killing?

          GG1: I cannot think of any idea worse than killing a tribe member to teach them about modern morality, unless it would be killing two members, or even genocide.

          GW1: Here you must be complaining about option #2 I presented. Do you really think option #2 is worse than option #1? If so, explain yourself. Killing two members and genocide are not on the table.

          GG1: Chau did take his life into his own hands and put it in the hands of a Stone Age culture. It is not that much different than entering a war zone where you understand the risks.

          GW1: This is irrelevant to the two main issues we are now discussing. Did the Sentinelese murder Chau? If so, what should be done about it?

          GG1: Consider what happened within the past few centuries to the native North, Central, and South Americans, and the Australian Aborigines. We are not far removed from bounties for scalps. Perhaps we are still not advanced enough to deal with the Sentilese. Chau certainly was not.

          GW1: Scalping is not on the table as an option.

          GW1: Why are you treating the Sentinelese as sacred – above criticism, investigation, challenge, interference, restraint, and punishment?

        • A guy’s coming in through your window carrying a gun, and shooting to kill is off the table?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Bob, I think that is a straw man argument.

          Chau was not carrying any weapon.

        • ?? In the mind of the Sentinelese, he might as well have.

          Are you just making this hard on purpose, or are you really this confused?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Bob, the reality is that Chau was not carrying a weapon, regardless of what was in the minds of the Sentinelese. Also, Jesus did not come back to life, regardless of what is in the minds of Christians.

          I’m trying to make it easy for you. I’m not confused, but I think your opinions on this issue are wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A large dollop of both.

        • The Sentinelese are not Westerners. They may have a different (and not inherently wrong) opinion about correct human interaction.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS: The Sentinelese are not Westerners.

          GW: That is a fact, but you are using it to reach the wrong conclusion, i.e. that the Sentienlese should not be held accountable to a correct universal morality or to usual Indian law.

          BS: They may have a different (and not inherently wrong) opinion about correct human interaction.

          GW: Well, they apparently do have a different opinion about murder. It is not inherently wrong. It is wrong because it is irrational. It is contingently wrong.

        • ?? There is no correct universal morality! At least, you’ve given us no reason to think so.

          Sure, let’s follow Indian law. Indian law says stay the hell away from that island–good law.

          It is wrong because it is irrational

          … according to Gary. You keep missing that little caveat. That’s the core of your problem.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS: There is no correct universal morality! At least, you’ve given us no reason to think so.

          GW: Of course there is! “Correct Universal Ethics” is just my term for a concept that has been around for hundreds of years. Let’s look at the main premises:
          1. Ethics (or morality) is a set of rules for how persons should behave and not behave.
          2. Ethics (or morality) should be formulated with respect to all persons, not just persons within a particular geographical area, culture, religion, nation, state, era, etc.
          3. Ethical rules (specified with respect to circumstances) are correct or incorrect.
          4. Correct ethical rules are derived from reason, but incorrect ones are usually based on thinking errors, the wrong goal, emotionalism, prejudice, bias, religion, supernaturalism, etc.
          5. CUE would have the highest possible degrees of clarity, specificity, rationality, objectivity, scope, stability, and universality.
          6. CUE is not fully developed or written down, but could be with proper investment in time and resources.
          Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer, and William Lane Craig all support something quite similar to this, with variations on the theme. (Deviation — Craig does believe that CUE comes from God, and he is mistaken about that, of course.)

          BS: Sure, let’s follow Indian law. Indian law says stay the hell away from that island–good law.

          GW: Actually, the Indian law against trespassing on the Sentinelese island was repealed in August before Chau’s visits, and thus he was not legally guilty of trespassing. But let’s apply India’s law against murder on the mainland to the island.

          BS: It is wrong because it is irrational … according to Gary. You keep missing that little caveat. That’s the core of your problem.

          GW: I don’t have a problem here. All my opinions are “according to Gary,” just like all your opinions in your essays are “according to Bob S.” So what? The debate is about which of conflicting opinions is correct or more probably correct, if either. So far, I have heard nothing persuasive for me to change these opinions:
          1. Chau acted unethically and foolishly in trespassing on the island.
          2. The Sentinelese murdered Chau.
          3. Murderers should always be punished, so the Sentinelese should be punished.
          4. The Indian government should punish the murderers, but if they don’t then the US, other countries, or the UN should step in to do it.
          5. There are two viable options for satisfying justice, which I have fully described.

        • GW: Of course there is! “Correct Universal Ethics” is just my term for a concept that has been around for hundreds of years. Let’s look at the main premises:

          Can it give us the single correct resolution to any moral question—abortion, euthanasia, SSM, etc?

          Your rules sound fine. They’re also not new. Show me that something beyond relative conclusions will result.

          Example: we’ve come to different conclusions about the wrongness of Chau’s death (murder vs. justifiable homicide). Does your approach get us on the same page. You’ll say that it does and that my resistance is my problem. I say that you’re simply using it to justify your moral opinion.

          GW: I don’t have a problem here. All my opinions are “according to Gary,” just like all your opinions in your essays are “according to Bob S.” So what?

          So the “universal” in your CUE vanishes.

          So far, I have heard nothing persuasive for me to change these opinions:

          Danged relativistic opinions, eh? Whatcha gonna do?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          GW1: Of course there is! “Correct Universal Ethics” is just my term for a concept that has been around for hundreds of years. Let’s look at the main premises:

          BS2: Can it give us the single correct resolution to any moral question-abortion, euthanasia, SSM, etc?

          GW2: Yes.

          BS2: Your rules sound fine. They’re also not new. Show me that something beyond relative conclusions will result.

          GW2: Thank you for the compliment. I said that CUE has been around for hundreds of years. I have made some refinements, but the framework is stable. Be more specific with your “show me” question. I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

          BS2: Example: we’ve come to different conclusions about the wrongness of Chau’s death (murder vs. justifiable homicide). Does your approach get us on the same page. You’ll say that it does and that my resistance is my problem. I say that you’re simply using it to justify your moral opinion.

          GW2: I think my approach (not just mine) would get us on the same page, if we put in enough time and effort in discussing the example and were free of most distractions. But those conditions are unlikely to be met. (Of course, I tend to think the same about reaching atheism.)

          GW1: I don’t have a problem here. All my opinions are “according to Gary,” just like all your opinions in your essays are “according to Bob S.” So what?

          BS1: So the “universal” in your CUE vanishes.

          GW1: No, it doesn’t. The “universal” means that the moral rules are applicable to all persons rather than subsets of persons. In contrast, you seem to believe that moral rules are or SHOULD BE applicable to subsets of persons, perhaps countries or cultures.

          GW1: So far, I have heard nothing persuasive for me to change these opinions:

          BS2: Danged relativistic opinions, eh? Whatcha gonna do?

          GW2: You are confounding different opinions about morals with the concept of relativistic morality. I’m going to keep slogging away, along with Harris, Pinker, Shermer, and Craig who hold similar views to mine.

        • BS2: Can it give us the single correct resolution to any moral question-abortion, euthanasia, SSM, etc?
          GW2: Yes.

          Then do so. And show that this is more than just Gary’s opinion.

          BS1: So the “universal” in your CUE vanishes.
          GW1: No, it doesn’t. The “universal” means that the moral rules are applicable to all persons rather than subsets of persons.

          So it doesn’t mean that one conclusion will be reached.

          How is this noteworthy? You have a moral opinion and so does everyone else. I see no progress in getting everyone on the same page.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS3: Then do so. And show that this is more than just Gary’s opinion.

          GW3: I’ll choose the abortion issue. For my analysis and for what I believe to believe are correct moral rules about abortion, please read my article “Personhood and Abortion Rights” in the upcoming issue of Skeptic magazine. Then we can discuss it if you wish.

          BS3: So it doesn’t mean that one conclusion will be reached.

          GW3: No, it doesn’t. You are confusing “correct” with “universal.”

          BS3: How is this noteworthy? You have a moral opinion and so does everyone else. I see no progress in getting everyone on the same page.

          GW3: I don’t think it is possible to get everyone on the same page. (You can’t get everyone to agree that men landed on the moon!) I think it is possible to get a consensus of moral experts to agree on a universal code of ethics. This is what I mean by a code with high objectivity. (This is similar to scientific conclusions of high objectivity reached about climate change.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Death occurred by Pasola is acceptable…really….a mean GW and JG…really????

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasola

          Don’t impose your not so great culture on that of others…ya knuckle dragging fuckwits….[apologies…copious drink taken]

        • ildi

          OMG those poor fucking prisoners…

          Gary Whittenberger is a free-lance writer and psychologist, living in Tallahassee, Florida. He received his doctoral degree from Florida State University after which he worked for 23 years as a psychologist in prisons. He has published many articles on science, philosophy, psychology, and religion, and their intersection.
          https://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-08-19/

        • I guess skepticism is a big tent.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I know right? I’m kind of appalled this guy is a psychologist.

        • John Grove

          You are quite the narcissist Bob. You seem to have quite a uplifting feeling about yourself. I personally think you are disingenuous, just stirring the pot. You are not a rigorous thinker. You appear to be a Ben Shapiro, just a fast talking, shallow thinking guy. I’m an atheist, but through listening to you, I can see why people hate atheists……you seem to draw that in people. Yes, everyone has moral opinions, but so you think all explanations are logical or valid? If not why? You seem to think, it’s all good, do you really believe that?

        • You are quite the narcissist Bob. You seem to have quite a uplifting feeling about yourself.

          Thanks for the house call, Dr. Freud.

          I personally think you are disingenuous, just stirring the pot. You are not a rigorous thinker.

          Are you going anywhere with this? Or is your brain idling with your mouth in gear?

          If you have constructive criticism, you need something constructive. I assume you’ve found a flaw in my comments to Gary W.? Then share it. If you think my comments are objectionable, point out the problem.

        • John Grove

          I think Gary laid it out very nicely enough. He needs no help.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So the “universal” in your CUE vanishes.

          GW nonsense that Pofarmer pointed out a week ago.

        • Yup. I’m often trailing behind …

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • ildi

          He’s the aggressor when he comes back, despite the clear indication that he was not welcome. He ignored the arrow shot. He came back because he was obsessed with the tribe, a delusional stalker.
          https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-missionary-killed-tribe-20181128-story.html

          But in reality, the missionary harbored a deadly obsession with an isolated tribe in India he’d first read about as a teen.

          Chau spent years planning to travel illegally to remote North Sentinel Island on a mission to convert its residents to Christianity. Though he knew the islanders had long violently resisted outsiders, he conducted a covert mission to the protected island this month.

          What police now believe is that Chau was on a reconnaissance mission, one of at least three times he visited the area to learn how to circumvent military patrols and reach the island.

          Chau had a “very meticulous plan to camouflage his expedition as fishing activity,” said Dependra Pathak, the director general of police for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

          A friend, John Middleton Ramsey, 22, recalls that in 2016, Chau stayed with him in Bellingham, Washington, and that the island in the Andaman Sea was much on his mind. Chau confided that he was avoiding romantic attachments because of his planned mission.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Chau was not an aggressor; he was a trespasser. All this supports my position about the case.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The criminal does NOT get to choose how the society he attacks condemns him.

          Armchair theorists halfway around the world don’t get that privilege either, knothead.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          There you go a third time — making ad hominem attacks.

          Because you continue to make personal attacks against me and/or others, to make flawed excuses for your misbehavior, to fail to take responsibility for your misconduct, and/or to enable others to do the same, I’m not going to waste my time with you any longer. In the future I will not read, think about, or respond to your posts. I will devote my time to others who are both able and willing to have a civil and rational discussion of controversial subjects. You are blacklisted and blocked.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          An ad hominem is calling an argument invalid *because* of the attribute one is attacking.

          You’re wrong, and also a highly-insultable presumptuous git (which *does*, apparently, lead into why you advocate so terrible a position), so why shouldn’t I both note that you’re wrong and stomp on your ego the same way you’re blithely discussing snuffing out a human life to assuage your intolerable sense of wrong and right?

        • Don’t you see that all this has “in my opinion” as a qualifier? You seem to imagine some absolute authority making these conclusions. No, it’s just you.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Not “all this.” I present facts and opinions. I believe my opinion is correct and your’s is incorrect, and you believe the opposite. So what? That’s the nature of debate. BTW, some other people agree with me, so it’s not just me.

          Here you have presented nothing new to defend your position.

        • Yeah–the way it works is that you give your opinion and the facts that back them up. Your approach is that as well as incredulity mixed with horror that the other guy doesn’t share your opinion.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          BS: Yeah–the way it works is that you give your opinion and the facts that back them up.

          GW: Not quite. I read about the available facts. I reach opinions about the facts. I present my opinions and point out the facts most relevant to my opinions. You do that too. You did it in your original article here.

          BS: Your approach is that as well as incredulity mixed with horror that the other guy doesn’t share your opinion.

          GW: Occasionally. But I am shocked that you do not share my opinion on universal morality vs. relativistic morality.

        • Susan

          I present facts and opinions.

          Who doesn’t?

          I believe my opinion is correct and your’s is incorrect

          Hmmmm…

          And you believe the opposite.

          No. It’s just that you don’t seem to understand your obligation to demonstrate the correctness of your opinion. And you like to suggest it’s univeral and objective.

          So.. meh.

          That’s the nature of debate.

          The nature of debate is that if one wants to assert the correctness of one’s “opinion”, one has to show one’s work.

          some other people agree with me.

          So? Every crazy position can make that claim.

          Here you have presented nothing new to defend your position.

          He has simply pointed out that you have provided nothing to defend your position.

          Come on, Gary.

          You can’t just make bald, unsupported claims with impunity and block people if they say “fuck”.

          Is that how you think this should work?

    • Otto

      I know the Indian Gov’t considers the island their jurisdiction…do the Sentinelese know that? If they don’t know that and don’t agree that it is under the Indian rule of law, how can you say what they did was illegal? If the Indian gov’t came to the island and tried to ‘punish’ them for laws they don’t know exist what outcome would you expect? I would guess it would be “No, thank you. We’re not interested.” with a volley of arrows. Your idea of the Indian gov’t punishing them is ridiculous. And I don’t agree that your view on this is humanist.

      Additionally you seem to be suffering from the same misconception skl below does regarding the aim of this blog.

      From Bob’s About page: “This blog explores intellectual arguments in favor of Christianity (Christian apologetics) from an atheist perspective and critiques Christianity’s actions in society.”

    • Damien Priestly

      Ughh, you are not serious…one of the world’s last Neolithic people, protected by law. So let’s throw some of them in a 21st century jail, perhaps?

      No, the missionary mindset and its representatives that would endanger these isolated people is who should be punished The best of a set of bad outcomes occurred…The fool, Mr Chau is dead. Leave it at that.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        DP: Ughh, you are not serious…one of the world’s last Neolithic people, protected by law. So let’s throw some of them in a 21st century jail, perhaps?

        GW: Yes, I am serious. Yes, perhaps. Jail is one good option.

        DP: No, the missionary mindset and its representatives that would endanger these isolated people is who should be punished The best of a set of bad outcomes occurred…The fool, Mr Chau is dead. Leave it at that.

        GW: Chau was punished for trespassing by being killed. This is wrong, plain and simple. Chau did act foolishly, but I won’t “leave it at that.”

    • ildi

      Murderers should be punished. In this case, the Indian government should do the punishing.

      Damien Priestly brings up a good point – how do you see this playing out? How would the Indian government even be able to establish who shot the fatal arrow? How would they find and charge and try the defendant in court without destroying their entire culture in the process? Genocide seems a bit of an extreme punishment for stalker dude getting himself killed.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        GW1: Murderers should be punished. In this case, the Indian government should do the punishing.

        I2: Damien Priestly brings up a good point – how do you see this playing out?

        GW2: I disagree. Priestly does not bring up a good point. I see it playing out in favor of justice!

        I2: How would the Indian government even be able to establish who shot the fatal arrow?

        GW2: Use of modern investigative techniques — interviews, plea deals, stings, autopsy, DNA analysis, etc.

        I2: How would they find and charge and try the defendant in court without destroying their entire culture in the process?

        GW2: By using the least amount of force necessary to achieve the objective of justice. Using expert consultants.

        I2: Genocide seems a bit of an extreme punishment for stalker dude getting himself killed.

        GW2: Chau acted foolishly and he was murdered. After proper intervention genocide would be very unlikely and would not be a punishment since it would not be intended even if it were to occur.

        GW2: Maybe you’d favor this alternative:
        2) “Approximate Justice” Option: Select an islander for sacrifice – the person who is more likely than others to have been one of the original murderers. Recruit a special marksman to shoot this individual in the head and kill him from about a mile away with a high powered rifle. After the execution, drop leaflets on the island to try to explain the execution with the use of a photo and diagrams. The best name for this option is “approximate justice” because the outcome would approach but not match justice. Then increase subsequent surveillance to deter other trespassers.

        • Otto

          >>>”GW2: Use of modern investigative techniques — interviews, plea deals, stings, autopsy, DNA analysis, etc.”

          You are so clueless as to this situation and the limits of criminal justice that your response is laughable. Additionally your ethnocentrism is off the charts.

        • GW doesn’t even acknowledge that we have no shared language. There’d have to be years of anthropologists and linguists studying them to be able to communicate with them and to explain what “legal system” means.

          That would indeed likely be genocide. Imagine putting one of these people into a modern jail cell.

          Jeez–let’s just leave them alone.

        • Otto

          Gary’s idea of justice is not anything I recognize and while I don’t claim to be an expert I do have an undergraduate in Criminal Justice so I have studied it a bit. Even in our system of law if a person does not understand that what they did was actually wrong, i.e. they are insane or mentally deficient, they are not considered culpable. To say that what happened was unequivocally ‘murder’ without knowing how these people view their world is just being obtuse. Then to say we should sort this out by sending in CSI Bombay is just mind-numbing and bizarre.

        • To say that what happened was unequivocally ‘murder’ without knowing how these people view their world is just being obtuse.

          Obtuse or is it arrogant? I get the impression that Gary has a strong instinctive moral response that he’s determined to rationalize, so he justifies it. It’s Shermer’s Law in action.

        • Otto

          Obtuse: 1. annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand.

          But yeah, arrogant works as well.

        • ildi

          I was thinking colonialism pretending to be reason.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Better still, let’s impose the sentence on some privileged asshole who would advocate murder against OUR laws for a person who was trying to protect his land and society.

          I nominate YOU for the skull ventilation.

          Not so much fun NOW, is it, laughing-boy?

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Your response includes an ad hominem attack. If you continue down that path, then I will discontinue conversing with you.;

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          So did your proposal…except you’re such a freaking coward (or such an uncaring poltroon) that you don’t care WHICH of them were killed as long as YOUR contemptible and fragile ego is soothed.

          If you don’t like personal attacks, don’t execute them upon others.

          And how would my proposal be any less valid than yours, considering that I’m operating under much of US law, in allowing a death penalty for a conspiracy to commit murder?

          What you’re advocating is no less than a revenge killing, Hatfields v. McCoys-style. Feuds like that have been known to endanger entire societies as both sides respond to what they see as an aggressive attack, while the attacking side sees it as ‘redemptive retribution’.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          There you go again — making ad hominem attacks. You even admit it. Either you don’t know how to civilly disagree or you’ve lost control of yourself. Please try to stick to the topic at hand or I will stop talking with you.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Uh, I offered a modest (if contemptuous) conterproposal.

          Why is mine any less valid than yours?

          I’m advocating a death for a conspiracy to commit murder under US law.

          YOU are advocating an extrajudicial killing in contravention to the greater number of soi-disant ‘first world’ countries that forbid the death penalty under any circumstances, and which you would emotionally associate yourself with in your (mistaken, here) belief that you’re ‘civilized’.

        • ildi

          Select an islander for sacrifice – the person who is more likely than others to have been one of the original murderers. Recruit a special marksman to shoot this individual in the head and kill him from about a mile away with a high powered rifle. After the execution, drop leaflets on the island to try to explain the execution with the use of a photo and diagrams. The best name for this option is “approximate justice” because the outcome would approach but not match justice. Then increase subsequent surveillance to deter other trespassers. Now you’re advocating for war crimes? What the hell, dude.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Please don’t call me “dude.” You don’t agree with this option? Please tell us why.

        • ildi

          Ok, you sick fuck (actually my first choice) I’m not interested in engaging further with your sick revenge fantasies. Your morality is not based on facts and reason (your assertion to that effect is not sufficient -SHOW YOUR WORK, oh, you can’t because that’s rank bullshit) but on your rudimentary eye for an eye response after having watched too many Rambo movies/payed too much Call of Duty.

          Neither correct, nor universal: CUE 1 out of 10 – would not recommend

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Now you’re making an ad hominem attack, totally uncalled for. If you continue down that path, I won’t have a conversation with you.

          Try to explain and defend your position without making uncivil remarks which are irrelevant, mean, self-righteous, and unproductive.

        • ildi

          Sorry (not sorry) you don’t like my tone, asshole. Advocating for the horrific crime you described above, then ASKING WHY it’s abhorrent tells me you’re either trolling or seriously fucked up. Engaging with a sociopath like you is like wrestling with a pig-I feel dirty while you’re having a grand old time.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree with you in many ways. I don’t mind your tone. I like assertive, blunt, straight-forward tones. It is your uncivil remarks which I object to. They are totally out of line.

          An expression of an opinion different from you own (e.g. on what should be done to punish the Sentinelese) isn’t itself an uncivil remark against you and should not be a pretext or an excuse for making an uncivil remark by you. You should learn how to express your difference of opinion without being verbally aggressive. Hiding behind a nickname, i.e. “ildi,” gives you the anonymity you need to be aggressive.

          Because you continue to make personal attacks against me and/or others, to make flawed excuses for your misbehavior, to fail to take responsibility for your misconduct, and/or to enable others to do the same, I’m not going to waste my time with you any longer. In the future I will not read, think about, or respond to your posts. I will devote my time to others who are both able and willing to have a civil and rational discussion of controversial subjects. You are blacklisted and blocked.

        • ildi

          pretentious asshole

        • Otto

          Gary is the kind of passive aggressive shitheel that thinks if he doesn’t use naughty words it means he is being nice.

    • Sophotroph

      Incorrect. The Sentinelese own their land, and despite not sharing our languages, they have made it quite clear that their law, which is the law that applies on their island, specifies summary execution for trespassing.

      Harsh, but it’s their island. It does not belong to India, and no Indian laws therefore apply.

      • Gary Whittenberger

        Incorrect. They own their own land, but they fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian government. They are not a sovereign nation, according to the UN. You might own your own land too, but you fall under the jurisdiction of the state or nation in which your land is located.

        But even if their island were sovereign (it isn’t), if they had no law against killing nonaggressive trespassers, they would be morally deficient. Murderers should be punished. Chau was murdered. And so, another nation or the UN should intervene to enforce justice. Chau was a US citizen, so if the island were sovereign, then maybe the US should intervene to punish the murder/s.

        Why are you treating the Sentinelese as sacred – above criticism, investigation, challenge, interference, restraint, and punishment?

  • Damien Priestly

    All of this shows that there is no objective morality revealed by any deity. The Sentinelese, isolated for tens of thousands of years on an island — do not share any morality with the idiotic John Chau and his ilk. So let’s throw out Christianity’s arguments for objective morality and Natural Law.

    If Christians were correct, none of this would have happened. The Island tribe would have followed the Ten Commandments when they met Chau — and he would still be alive due to Commandment number six…( number five if you are a Catholic — God didn’t even make clear the numbering of his basic laws to all of his sects and tribes! ).

    • Greg G.

      In the first set of commandments that Moses threw down and broke included “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” That rules out cheeseburgers. Of course, bacon cheeseburgers are forbidden in Judaism anyway.

      • I believe you have that backwards. Moses got one set of commandments in Ex. 20 and smashed them. Then he got another (different) set in Ex. 34, and that’s the one that has as #10, don’t eat kid boiled in goat milk. 2 verses later, these are labeled as the “Ten Commandments,” the first time that label is used in the Pentateuch.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. Let’s see how long I can remember that.

      • Otto

        I can’t remember which commenter that would use it but the Cheeseburger argument against objective morality is classic.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Hindus aren’t fond of hamburgers in general, no?