Not Even Hitler Can Help This Christian Argument

Not Even Hitler Can Help This Christian Argument November 1, 2019

In my reading I occasionally come across an argument that makes simple and important observations about a familiar argument that I had missed. I love such occasions, and I wish it happened more often. Let me summarize one case for your benefit, a video and article by NonStampCollector. I’ve added a bit of my own material, but the credit for most of the good stuff goes to the original author.

He begins with a quote that is almost surely by William Lane Craig. (NonStampCollector uses a direct quote to show that he’s responding to authentic Christian arguments but keeps it anonymous to avoid tangents related to the source.)

Introducing Nazi World

William Lane Craig (WLC) uses Nazi Germany’s Holocaust as an example to argue for objectively true morality.

Say Hitler had won the war, and we now lived in a society where because of that, and the propaganda, everyone believed that anti-Semitism was good, and gassing Jews was fine. Would that mean then that that was simply the morality that we accept? Is morality simply, at the end of the day, what society thinks about a matter? Or would it still be wrong even though nobody thought it was wrong?

WLC wants to use our shared revulsion of mass murder and attempted genocide to argue for a God-based grounding of that shared morality, but ignore that. Let’s just use his thought experiment of Nazi World, where Germany’s victory plus propaganda has convinced everyone that the genocide of Jews was right.

Some people living in Nazi World might accept this worldview reluctantly. They might say that, though the Holocaust was a necessary evil, it was still evil. Nevertheless, in this world, the person who labels the Holocaust as irretrievably wrong would be like today’s Nazi skinhead—a member of a tiny, ridiculed, dangerous minority. In Nazi World, Americans would see Hitler as another Lincoln—a man who had the courage to make the tough moral call.

You can be sure that Nazi World historians and public intellectuals would have hammered together detailed arguments to justify the Holocaust. This is a crazy notion in the West in the 21st century, but it is an interesting thought experiment (indeed, more interesting than I’d realized).

I’ve responded to this argument of WLC’s in a prior post, but here’s where NonStampCollector’s argument moves into new territory.

Déjà vu?

Pause and take a long look at Nazi World. It’s outrageous and inconceivable at first glance, but is it really? Think about it. Some traits should seem quite familiar to us today. They surround us. Any Christian who remembers their Sunday School Bible stories will have come across this very thing.

Genocides as unpleasant but necessary? Tribes killed because they deserved it? Those wielding the sword held up as heroes doing unpleasant but necessary work? The Old Testament is full of this!

“[Joshua] left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the [Lord] had commanded” (Joshua 10:40).

“The Lord heard the voice of Israel and delivered up the Canaanites; then they utterly destroyed them and their cities.” (Numbers 21:3).

“[God said:] Strike the Amalekites and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant” (1 Samuel 15:3).

“David attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive” (1 Sam. 27:9).

“You shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them” (Deuteronomy 7:16).

“Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut. 20:17).

(I’ve written more about God’s passion for genocide and Christian apologists’ weak arguments in God’s defense here, here, and here.)

Christians like WLC tell us that mass murder and genocide are objectively wrong and that the Bible backs up that instinct. They point to the Bible when they say that the Holocaust was immoral, but look at where this takes them. With their blind defense of the Bible, Christians have created Nazi World, that terrible and inconceivable world in which genocide is accepted, both by them and their god!

Could a German victory plus propaganda really create a long-lasting and widespread assurance that genocide was correct? We have an example that’s already lasted longer than Hitler’s hoped-for thousand-year Reich—the widespread belief among the world’s 2.17 billion Christians that the Israelite genocides in Canaan were morally correct.

When apologists like WLC describe Nazi World, they describe Christianity today—a brainwashed dystopia in which genocide is accepted. They’ve simply replaced Göring, Goebbels, Himmler, and Hitler with Joshua, Moses, Gideon, and God.

At the risk of putting too fine a point on this (or perhaps luxuriating in schadenfreude), let’s rewrite the WLC quote above.

Say the Israelites had driven out the inhabitants of Canaan, and we now lived in a society where because of that, and the propaganda, everyone believed that genocide was good, and killing Canaanites was fine, would that mean then that that was simply the morality that we accept? Is morality simply, at the end of the day, what society thinks about a matter? Or would it still be wrong even though nobody thought it was wrong?

“Killing Canaanites was fine” is indeed the morality that Christians typically accept.

Christian rebuttal

In response, Christian apologists demand to know the standard by which we atheists judge the Bible wrong. They’ll charge atheists with appealing to an objective moral standard and so acknowledging an Objective Moral Standard Giver. If instead atheists reject this Morality Giver, they’ve lost their moral foundation. They’re left with whatever morality they can cobble together themselves, but all that gives you is a subjective, changeable, culturally specific morality. (I respond to apologist Greg Koukl trying this trick here and here.)

But whatever reasoning an atheist uses to conclude that Old Testament genocides and murder are barbaric is already better than basing any reasoning on the Bible, because that reasoning is circular: the moral decisions made in the Bible are right because the Bible’s morality says they are. Judging the god who ordered genocide by the standards given by the god who ordered genocide is like saying that Hitler was moral because Hitler said so. The atheist is able to make the obvious call and declare genocide wrong. The Christian response: “It’s complicated.”

Where could you find justification for the Holocaust? Today you find that only in ancient holy books that justify genocide. NonStampCollector ends with this observation: “If there’s a worldview that leads people to excuse and condone appallingly cruel behavior, it’s not atheism, it’s theism.”

Religion is a byproduct of fear.
For much of human history,
it may have been a necessary evil,
but why was it more evil than necessary?
Isn’t killing people in the name of God
a pretty good definition of insanity?
— Arthur C. Clarke


(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/13/15.)

Image from Wikimedia, CC license


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  • Jim Jones

    1. If none ye harm do as ye wish.

    2. Do the most good and the least harm as you can.

    Are those objective moral standards? Or reasonable positions to take?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      1. Be excellent to each other
      2. Party on, dudes!

      • Greg G.

        I thought Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was like Jesus saying, “Love one another” and influencing future generations. Then they did Bill & Ted’s Bogus Adventure where they returned from the dead and I was sure they were parodying Jesus.

      • LastManOnEarth

        “You ditched Napoleon?”

    • Raging Bee

      And the OP didn’t even mention the (alleged) global flood.

    • Something like the Golden Rule or similar dictates seems pretty universal and if objective morality does exist, a good candidate for it. However, theists are mostly unsatisfied with that alone since it doesn’t require God’s command.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    “[God said:] Strike the Amalekites and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant” (1 Samuel 15:3).

    Oh, and look at the justification for that attack: because the Amalekites ancient ancestors opposed being overrun by the Israelites generations ago.

    So Genocide is OK because God holds a grudge.

  • Raging Bee

    Would that mean then that that was simply the morality that we accept?

    Not really. It’s a pretty safe bet that huge numbers of people would STILL consider genocide to be wrong, even if their teachers and newspapers didn’t tell them the whole truth about it. Those who lived through it would remember how horrific it was, and those who didn’t would likely as why THAT MUCH savagery was so necessary, especially as the memory of “how bad things were back then” fades. This is, after all, what happened in totalitarian states that DID win their wars, particularly Stalinist USSR and Mao’s China.

    ETA: Also, most of the propaganda WLC mentions would consist of covering up and minimizing the true extent of the atrocities, not actually admitting everything and then saying it was all justified. They’d NEVER get people to accept genocide — the best they could do is convince them there was much less of it.

    • I have read that studies show this is indeed the case. Regardless of supposed doctrine, theists when pressed will generally say they would still oppose murder etc. even if God didn’t forbid them, or even exist. This is not very surprising to atheists, but undermines theistic claims.

      • Alitheia

        But what happens when that innate moral sense gets mangled beyond all recognition as in the case of those like you who approve of expectant mothers murdering their children? What then?

        • Well, you’d first have to show this is a “mangling” of it. Assuming it is, you try to persuade others their view is wrong or whatever you’d normally do I assume. Please don’t presume that you know my views as well.

        • Alitheia

          An exceptional instance of this can readily be observed with child soldiers. They are demonstrably much more coldblooded and ruthless when compared to their older counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18.“

          Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters, and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone.

          Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported:

          “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.”

          The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

          And so we arrive at the heart of our exchange. Whether or not someone possesses a conscience isn’t truly the issue. It’s if or not an individual possesses a reliable one and particularly if they honestly obey it.

          This predicament calls to mind a timeworn Cherokee lore. It goes, roughly speaking, like this:

          “An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

          One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

          The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

          With that in mind, take into consideration what another equally wise and ancient passage reveals:

          “This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” – Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

          As would any caring mother or father, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being. To this end, he instructs us on the best ways to preserve and also make full use of the conscience he produced us with.

          To close, here’s a remarkable example of this loving guidance at work as reported in a well-known intercontinental journal-

          “In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

          Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?”

          Has it become apparent to you now exactly why each of us needs to scrutinize and make use of what the Bible teaches?

    • Lord Backwater

      Would systematic elimination of cockroaches or venomous snakes be considered wrong?

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        No, and it’s not equivalent to crimes against humanity and you know it.

    • NSAlito

      ETA: Also, most of the propaganda WLC mentions would consist of covering
      up and minimizing the true extent of the atrocities, not actually admitting everything and then saying it was all justified. They’d NEVER get people to accept genocide — the best they could do is convince them there was much less of it.

      Hence the Holocaust apologists we have today.

  • Raging Bee

    Another thing to remember: Hitler’s playbook was written by a CHRISTIAN religious leader, Martin Luther.

    • Michael Neville

      While Luther supported antisemitism and wrote a book promoting it, he was following an old Middle European tradition dating to medieval times.

      • Yes. During the Nazi rule, they liked to post a quote from the Gospel of John publicly where Jesus says Jews are “children of your father, the Devil” (of course, ignoring that any historical Jesus was also a Jew-they had crackpot theories claiming he “really” was Aryan).

        • Steven Watson

          That, unfortunately, is a fudging in translation. The Greek at Jn 8.44a reads “You are from the father of the Devil”. The Johannine Jesus’ God, his father, ISN’T Yahweh. See April D. DeConick “Why are the Heavens Closed? The Johannine Revelations of the Father in the Catholic-Gnostic Debate” in John’s Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic, Eds. Catrin H. Williams and Christopher Rowland, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013.

          This is one of Xtianities “Dirty Little Secrets”: unknowingly perhaps, the Nazis actually had the right of it. Why do you think JC gets plonked in Galilee “of the Nations” i.e. gentiles? The area had been conquered and forcibly converted little more than a century earlier. It was still awash with Syrians and Greeks. G.Jn doesn’t have a nativity and the text has him show up by the Jordan apparently straight from heaven as the glorious opening prologue would lead you to think.


        • Interesting, though I don’t think it quite equals to “Aryan Jesus” even so.

        • Steven Watson

          It allows for not-Jewish Jesus and not-Jewish God; and that Yahweh is the font of evil and chaos in the world. Which we do not dispute; our standard response to the Judeo-Christian is to point to where Yahweh is genociding, encouraging genocide, and hardening the heart of whoever so they commit evil . Most of Xtianities problem elements arise from being entangled with Judaism and keeping things that might be fine in a context of Rabbinic halacha and midrash but simply fail when transposed into another cultural context. It is a logical conclusion that Judaic elements have to be expiunged from Xtianity and that , if your mind is prone that way, those people need killing.

        • Okay, but that still is pretty broad. It doesn’t necessarily equal to “Aryan Jesus” or “kill all Jews” (many were not even religious, or prone to behave anything like Yahweh-ironically some who took this line, the Nazis, were much closer in that way).

      • Steven Watson

        Luther was more complicated than that:

        Absurd theologians defend hatred for the Jews. … What Jew would consent to enter our ranks when he sees the cruelty and enmity we wreak on them—that in our behavior towards them we less resemble Christians than beasts?

        – Martin Luther, in 1519, condemning the doctrine Servitus Judaeorum (“Servitude of the Jews”).

        If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian. They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property. When they baptize them they show them nothing of Christian doctrine or life, but only subject them to popishness and mockery…If the apostles, who also were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles … When we are inclined to boast of our position [as Christians] we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are…If we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them not by papal law but by the law of Christian love. We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, that they may have occasion and opportunity to associate with us, hear our Christian teaching, and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either.

        Martin Luther, 1523, That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew

        • Raging Bee

          If Luther cared so much about Jews, then why did he publish “On the Jews and Their Lies” in the first place? There’s nothing at all “complicated” about that inexcusable hateful incitement to genocide.

        • Steven Watson

          He was dead three years later. I’d say mental decline. By then he was attacking everyone that wasn’t of his persuasion. Things aren’t all black and white. Luther’s Sola Scriptura, putting the Bible into the people’s languages rather than Latin, letting people read it without priests spinning it… No Reformation; no us. He was a cranky bugger at the end; but without him… ?

        • Raging Bee

          …possibly no Hitler?

        • Steven Watson

          Would you really want several centuries more of the Inquisition over ALL Western Europe? A Spanish North America ? Or the Reformation led by Calvin? I give the man credit where credit is due. Warts an’ all.

        • Raging Bee

          Would you really want several centuries more of the Inquisition over ALL Western Europe?

          That wasn’t nearly as bad as the bloody genocidal civil wars caused (or at least made worse) by the Reformation and the Church’s response to it.

          A Spanish North America?

          What makes you think that would have happened without the Reformation?

          Or the Reformation led by Calvin?

          Why would that have been bad?

        • But let’s just remember that one “wart” is the Jewish Holocaust.

        • Steven Watson

          Why that genocide in particular? The majority of the Genocide Top Ten have Karl Marx at their root. We don’t hear people banging on endlessly about how awful he was and the crimes he generated. The Fasc are fringe everywhere; Marx’s bastard children are still mainstream going concerns. It isn’t my history and I’m not going to obsess about it; particularly as its main purpose these days seems to be to act as a get-out-of-jail card for a not particularly nice rascist ethno-state.

        • “But he was just crazy” doesn’t help much. Luther’s reasons for writing hateful propaganda don’t matter. What matters is that he did, they were accepted within Lutheranism, where they grounded the antisemitism that made the Jewish Holocaust.

        • Steven Watson

          There was a millenia or more of anti-Jewish Xtian spleen before that and AH was a Catholic, as was about half of Germany. There is a lot of blame to go about. I’m making the point that Luther refutes himself and his earlier writings are far more reasoned. If you plump for On the Jews and their Lies as your go-to argument; you most probably already had hate in your heart to begin with.

        • Interesting. What role do you see Luther’s influence playing (maybe as a percentage) for grounding the antisemitism in Germany that supported the Holocaust?

          Of course, to your point about Hitler not being Lutheran, you don’t need Luther to be antisemitic as a Christian. In John, the Jews in the audience said, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

        • Steven Watson

          G.Jn is anti-Judaic. G.Jn. 8: 44 is “botched”, for want of a better word, in translation. The Greek actually says the Jews’ father ie Yahweh is the father of the devil, not the devil is their father. The god of this gospel, the fictive father of Jesus, is another god entirely. This is the endpoint of historicising the allegory/meta-parable that is G.Mk.

          Once you come to think myth is history you have a story jam-packed with contradiction. “God” sets all this up; it is “God”‘s “Plan” to get “The Jews” to kill Jesus and Jesus sets about fulfilling the “Plan”. If you read G.Mk as history , the Jesus story is the tale of an elaborate “Suicide by Cop” and you get scholars like Hugh Schonfield writing such as The Passover Plot.

          If this is actually “God” breaking into history, a lot of folk are not going to be able to get their head around a “good” “God” making people commit murder. Evidently the Johannine community were trying to get around this by hiving off all the mistakes JC was to put right onto, not an evil “God” per se but an ignorant “God” that JC is sent by a higher power to set the work of to rights. The result of this division is the Jews being all to easily being seen as evil because they are following and are children of this ignorant “God” who was a “liar from the beginning.”

          It is time to chuck Tanakh, OT&NT, and Koran in the trash and grow a pair. We have, each of us, Agency; we have, each of us, Morality. We must own our own crimes and our own responsibilities.

          I don’t go handing off blame for crimes in the now to people half a millenia dead. The Germans of the Thirties and Forties were the guilty parties. We had had the Enlightment and universal education. They could all read; they all knew right from wrong. There are no excuses.

          The massacre of the Herero in the German colony of South West Africa (Now Namibia) can’t be palmed off on Luther. German atrocities in WW1 can’t be palmed off on Luther. I’m afraid all that is apparently the German bent. But the evils are owned by the particular generation that commited them.

          Mea culpa ’til the end of time is a bit rich coming from people who set out in 1939 and ’41 to save Eastern Europe and were not batting an eylid less than five years later at their enslavement by similar monsters. Who couldn’t actually be bothered bringing most of the criminals to book because they were more interested in exploiting the fruits of the Nazi’s evil “science”. We have met the enemy and he is us.

        • David Cromie

          The Roman church was anti-semitic long before Luther, and remained so long after him, which is why the RC hierarchy actively supported Hitler’s grab for power (he promised to do ‘god’s work’ by attacking the Jews as the murders of JC) in the 30s.

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry but I’m not buying your attempt to mitigate Luther’s bone-deep antisemitism. The author of On the Jews and Their Lies (Von den Juden und ihren Lügen) argued that Jewish synagogues and schools be set on fire, their Torahs destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, Jewish homes destroyed, and property and money confiscated. “They should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and these poisonous envenomed worms should be drafted into forced labor or expelled from Germany for all time.” He also seemed to advocate their murder, writing “[W]e are at fault in not slaying them”.

          I’m aware that Luther made considerable effort to convert Jews to Christianity, or his particular version of it, and didn’t denounce them and urge persecution until his attempts at conversion failed. His antisemitic writing is considered by historian Marc Ellis to have had a significant impact on the Holocaust.

        • Steven Watson

          Mitigate? I’d rather present a fuller picture; and I’d rather remember the man in his pomp than in his bitter dotage. He was only a man; and a man of his day. But without him I think the world would not be half as well off.

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, I think mitigate is the right word. I don’t think you were trying to excuse or deny Luther’s antisemitism but rather lessen its effects. However someone who expresses regret about not killing Jews cannot be described as even being neutral about them.

    • Lark62

      Hitler is said to have admired the U.S., basing the Nuremburg Laws in part on Jim Crow. Indian Reservations inspired concentration camps.

      Makes one feel so proud of our “great” nation. /s

      • Yes, they also took their eugenics laws directly from the US ones (which the Supreme Court upheld in Buck vs. Bell). There’s an incredibly awkward scene in Judgment at Nuremberg, a film about German judges being tried for the crimes they sanctioned under the Nazi regime, in which this is brought up due to some charges being that they approved eugenic sterilization. A lot of these ideas were very common at the time, it’s just not everyone got to enact them so far as Nazi Germany eventually did.

    • Hitler was inspired (negatively) by many sources. Luther was indeed cited though.

  • 3vil5triker .

    This other Patheos article is rather timely: The Real Scandal in Ukraine Involves, You Guessed It, Nazis.

    In a very real sense we do live in Naziworld…

  • Anri

    I would tend to look at things this way:

    Imagine we’re in a world in which something that the vast majority of us humans consider either good or at least morally neutral is, in the future, considered a repulsive and obvious evil.

    Here’s the thing: we’re in that world. We always have been. We almost certainly always will be.
    I guarantee that things we consider core principles of good and moral behavior today will be seen – and correctly so – as terrible moral failings in the future. I don’t know what these are (I have a few guesses – and I guarantee I’m wrong about some, maybe most, maybe even all of those as well), but I am utterly certain there are things like that.

    The gravest crime in all of this, as far as I can see, is assuming we’ve got all the answers now, or have been given the answers in some neat, compact package. When we think that, we stop trying to improve – how can we improve on a perfect moral message, right? – and will slow down progress towards a better morality. Still flawed, still imperfect, still with miles to go, but maybe just a little tiny bit better than yesterday’s.

    It’s easier, I should imagine, to believe we’ve been given a perfect moral message and to hold to that regardless of anything to the contrary.
    It’s also easier to delude ourselves into thinking that our moral code was for all of the good things and against all of the bad things in the past, even when it’s clear it wasn’t.
    But the hard thing, to my mind the honest thing, is, when confronted with sensible moral change, to spread our hands and say, “Yeah, I thought that. I believed it was good. And I was wrong. It might not have been entirely my fault, but I still believed in bad ideals, and I was wrong. I’ll try to change, and try to do better.” This hurts like all get-out. But it’s the only way forward.

    • Even if you think an objective morality out there exists, it’s pretty clear there is widespread disagreement about it. Thinking we know its content with perfect knowledge is a dangerous idea, as you said, and we should stay open to correction. What you see with many theists though is their belief in God having indeed provided such knowledge overriding that. If there is any objective morality however it seems obvious we are often mistaken about it (and basing that on the supposed orders of a deity is deeply problematic regardless). If it exists, this may be like science-more something to continually discover, and revise old theories. That however is not what many people want, as it’s far less certain or definitive.

    • gusbovona

      One of the prime candidates will be eating meat.

      • Anri

        I would think that’s almost certainly one.

    • NSAlito

      Any ideology or social structure that doesn’t take into account the way human brains really work is bound to fail. Hence the many wrongful decisions made by jury trials.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I guarantee that things we consider core principles of good and moral behavior today will be seen – and correctly so – as terrible moral failings in the future.

      And even in the unlikely event that we’ve funnelled down on optimal morality, your point can be made equally well simply by pointing the binoculars backward, as Non-Stamp Collector did.

  • It’s happening as we speak. *points at Palestine*

    • NSAlito

      Points at northern Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Iraq, DRC, Philippines….

      • Sure, but everyone ignores Palestine.

        • NSAlito

          I tend to think of the Gaza Strip like NYC in Escape from New York.

          Beyond that, there are “refugee camps” in the Middle East that are generations old.

        • How many of those are the result of US monetary aid going to the invading country?

        • NSAlito

          The flip side is the practice of sending American cereal grains to countries struck by famine in lieu of cash-backed programs promoting a better local agricultural economy.

          It’s all a mess.

        • Cynthia

          Well, Saudi Arabia is playing a role in Yemen’s ghastly humanitarian disaster…

  • WallofSleep

    “In response, Christian apologists demand to know the standard by which we atheists judge the Bible wrong.”

    That one’s simple. I slavery wrong? Because the bible not only says it’s “right”, the bible endorses it and even has biblical instructions for how to beat your slaves.

    • Illithid

      I’ve recently had a Christian say that in that time and under those circumstances, chattel slavery was right. I asked if that would be okay today and what had changed.

      Then the combox host removed the whole discussion. Bleah.

      • Susan

        Then the combox host removed the whole discussion.

        I’ve seen that happen so many times, under vague charges of snark. And lies about it. And lies about the lies.

        You’d think “Truth” could do better.



      • Michael Murray

        Right. But changes in sexual morality, contraception, masturbation, marriage equality are still wrong because the Church stands firm on the everlasting principles of morality. Not for it popular accommodationism etc, etc. It’s amazing there are any cherries left on the tree.

        • Believe it or not, that’s actually somewhat consistent (though not in a good way). In the era when slavery was legal, natural law theorists of the Church were at pains to argue that keeping slaves didn’t violate it. They prefer to forget all that now of course.

      • That is the definition of moral relativism, which theyotherwise condemn. None seems to know or care however.

      • Carol Lynn

        I have a friend – a liberal, LGBTQ+ positive, feminist Christian – who still swears that, while slavery is wrong now because morality has evolved, slavery was morally correct in Biblical times. um… what? The Israelites were not particularly thrilled with slavery as a group, were they? Leaving slavery was the whole excuse for the “Exodus”. If slavery was so morally fine in Biblical times, they should have just stayed in Egypt as slaves. What right had they to insist they should be freed?

        • Illithid

          Have you asked her about that? Nothing like patient, reasonable questions to drag logical contradictions into the foreground.

        • Carol Lynn

          him, but yes. He just retreats into “Bible,” “god had to work with the culture as it was then”, and ‘of course, it’s different NOW”.

      • “Whenever I hear anyone arguing over slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” — Abraham Lincoln

      • Alitheia

        And kidnapping anyone and then selling them was punishable by death in ancient Israel. (Exodus 21:16 cf. 1 Timothy 1:8-10)

        • Illithid

          Unless it’s a woman whose family you’ve killed in war, and you think she’s hawt. Then you can marry her after a month, if you want. Her wishes don’t come into it (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). But if you haven’t slept with her, you can sell her.

          So yeah, the Bible has some good stuff, some bad stuff, and a lot of nonsensical and boring stuff. Almost as if it were the traditional mythology of a bunch of desert goatherds, rather than the words of an all-knowing deity.

        • Alitheia

          You’re getting ahead of yourself. After all, on what objective moral basis do you dare condemn anyone’s moral values? Who made you God Almighty?

        • Illithid

          I am a moral agent, capable of making moral decisions, just as you are. There are no gods, as far as I can tell; it’s just us.

          I do consider my morals to be objective, though not absolute. It’s a system of conditional statements: if you want a certain result, you ought to behave in this manner. If you don’t want to be murdered, you should promote social consensus against murder. Same goes for theft. It can get complicated, but the basis is simple: morality is a system of behavioral norms that, when promoted, lead to a functional and flourishing society. The problem is that we have to figure out for ourselves what those norms should be, and we sometimes disagree.

          Do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him? Or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia

          I do consider my morals to be objective, though not absolute.

          If they’re not universally applicable, exactly how are they truly objective? This is to say, how are these not anything more than your own glorified opinions?

        • Illithid

          They are objective in that they have verifiable application to the observable world. If murder at a whim is allowed in a society, many people will likely die, and that is an objective consequence. As a counterexample, many religions claim that masturbation is immoral, yet there is no demonstrable harm attending this practice.

          Now, it is a matter of personal preference that I want to live in peace and security. The universe doesn’t care if I live in happiness or die in misery, but I do. Presumeably you care about that for yourself, as well, but this is a subjective goal.

          But once that goal is given, there are some moral codes that make it objectively more or less likely that we will be able to achieve it. If we are among other people who share that goal, we can work out between us what types of conduct will make it more likely that we can all achieve it. With experience, we will have objective data on what works and what doesn’t.

          Oh, you didn’t answer: Do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him, or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia

          Thank you for sharing that.

          Now, if you’re personal moral ethic is not universally applicable, exactly how is it truly objective? This is to say, how is it not anything more than your own glorified opinions?

        • Illithid

          The trouble stems from a difference in definition of the word “objective”. I’m using it to mean “having demonstrable effects in the observable universe”. If you run your car’s engine with no oil, it will overheat and burn up. This is an objective consequence. But the question of whether that’s “good” is subjective. Maybe you want to burn your engine up, if you’re working in for a car company and testing engines or oil, for example.

          So, our desire to live is subjective; there may be no absolute reason that we should want that. But since we do want that, there are societal norms which will objectively (demonstrably, capable of being shown to anyone) help bring that about. Much like if you want to win a chess game, exposing your king is (probably) an objectively bad move.

          Do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him? Or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia

          Just how does any of that answer my simple query?

        • Illithid

          Well, what do you mean by “objective”?

          And, speaking of simple queries, do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him, or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia
        • Illithid

          That’s … a previous comment in this very exchange. Not very helpful. I’ll give it a final try.

          When I say a moral norm is objective, I mean that it has verifiable, demonstrable benefit in the reaching of a certain goal. So, as I said, if my goal (which is subjective) is to not be murdered, then promulgating a social ethos that says “don’t murder people” can be shown to make it less likely that I’ll be murdered. That’s all I mean.

          Oh, BTW, a question just occurred to me. Do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him, or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia

          If you weren’t actually interested in the definition of “objective” I’ve been employing, why ask for it in the first place?

        • Illithid

          I was and am interested. I guess I didn’t understand. So, if I’m reading you correctly, by your definition morality is universal, applicable in all places and times, is that right?

          And if so, do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him, or sell her as a slave?

        • Alitheia

          if I’m reading you correctly, by your definition morality is universal, applicable in all places and times, is that right?

          Correct! Which is why, for instance, Jehovah God prescribed death to anyone in the nation of Israel found guilty of kidnapping someone and then selling them off. (Exodus 21:16 cf. 1 Timothy 1:8-10)

          The same held true for rapists as stipulated at Deuteronomy 22:25-27.

        • Illithid

          And yet capturing a woman in war and marrying her (without her consent, which is rape) is expressly allowed in Deut 20:10. Weird, huh? Let’s try an abridged version of my question:

          Do you think it’s morally correct for a soldier to capture a woman in war and force her to marry him?

    • NSAlito

      The Bible has a magical recipe for abortion and situations where soldiers are to plunge swords into the bellies of pregnant women. That means it’s OK, right?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      I’d like to know what standard theists use to judge god’s standard as being good.

    • Alitheia

      Which is why God has expressed his hatred for all forms of exploitation and abuse (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 10:1, 2; Exodus 21:16 cf. 1 Timothy 1:8-10) … oh… wait …

  • Michael Murray

    Growing up in Australia I remember wondering as a kid in primary school why the aboriginals only wanted to live in the desert parts of central and northern Australia not the nicer parts were I lived. Silly of course but it wasn’t for a while that I discovered the truth. You can go a long way even in a non-totalitarian society by just telling the truth selectively. Sorry not quite what the article was about.

    • NSAlito

      Selective history is exactly what the article was about.

    • HFR

      Dictators using religion to usurp secular Govt.
      Morrison and his dark secretive shadowy cabal of scheming evangelical fanatics does come to mind Michael! Thats if the ruthless Dutton and the Catholic Taliban fanatics don’t roll him first? They hate Morrison even more than we do!

    • Cynthia

      It’s a good and relevant point. To what extent do we have cultural blind spots that prevent us from seeing atrocities for what they are? You don’t need to go back to some very likely fictitious stories in the Book of Joshua. We are dealing with cultural blind spots TODAY. I’m generally a proud Canadian, but I’m not proud of our actions with First Nations. I’m not talking about a legend from 3,000 years ago, I’m talking about using children as unwitting human guinea pigs for starvation experiments and the wholesale destruction of cultures and families via the Indian Residential schools – which continued until only a couple of decades ago, and still has a devastating impact on survivors. I’m talking about appalling conditions TODAY where communities lack such basic services as clean water, and where there is a vastly different response in the media and police departments to a missing white girl vs. an indigenous girl.

      I think the thought experiment is useful, although I don’t think that the automatic answer is “Christian God exists”.

  • This is a particular problem with defining objective morality as simply independent of human opinion. We are then left with what God commanding as good, according to divine command theorists. Even aside from the Euthyphro Dilemma (I don’t think saying it’s based God’s nature alone solves the issue) whatever God wills as good reduces to arbitrariness. We could easily imagine a deity who willed the opposite from God is said to, and then made creatures that match those intentions. Objective morality would have to be independent of any being’s opinions to be meaningful then (whether or not it exists). The justifications which they give for why God has been exempted from the morals he commands could apply to any deity, no matter how cruel or vicious (even more than the Old Testament, I mean).

  • gusbovona

    I think Sam Harris’ definition of morality as that which encourages the well-being of conscious creatures is the thing that really ends the objective/subjective argument. Once that definition is accepted (and not accepting it leads to a reductio ad absurdam, by having morality also be about things like wearing two different types of fabric, or eating meat on Friday, etc.), everything falls into place. But because it can be a very difficult task to tease out exactly what is the best thing for well-being (like most healthy thing can be difficult to figure out sometimes), there will still be disagreement even though the question is an objective one. That disagreement doesn’t mean the issue is a subjective one.

    • Lord Backwater

      Once that definition is accepted…

      So after we sneak in our value judgement, we can focus on the other parts of the procedure that are about objective evaluation. And why do unconscious creatures get overlooked?

      and not accepting it leads to a reductio ad absurdam, by having morality also be about things like wearing two different types of fabric, or eating meat on Friday, etc.)

      How is that reduction ad absurdum? That is a specific technical term, not just your personal judgment that something is silly. It is difficult to have meaningful dialogue when you don’t use language correctly.

      • gusbovona

        I don’t see the value judgment in that definition, as nothing in it says that you should care about the well-being of others. You just can’t claim to be moral if you don’t. This reduces to just semantics, but the other part that is more functional is the part that eliminates moral judgments that aren’t concerned about well-being.

        I admit I stretched the reductio a bit, so I’m happy to edit that. But, at least, we can objectively differentiate morality that concerns well-being and morality that doesn’t. You’re welcome to make moral judgments about behavior that doesn’t concern well-being, but I sure won’t care. Although, perhaps this issue is better discussed via a specific example. I mentioned two specific examples above, and if you’d like to discuss one of those, or another one of your choosing, that’s fine.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I don’t see the value judgment in that definition, as nothing in it says that you should care about the well-being of others. You just can’t claim to be moral if you don’t.

          Well said. When someone tries to build “morality” absent concern for the well being of others, what they are *really* doing is proposing that they be exempt from moral obligations.

          “Why should I care?” is a red herring anyway, since no form of morality obliges caring for its foundation. It only comes into being once we agree that we do.

        • gusbovona

          And, furthermore, God-given moralities generally recognize that a person has free will to decide to follow or ignore that morality, so it’s always and individual’s choice.

      • NSAlito

        I think the term “conscious” is often used to represent “capable of suffering”. A tree burned in a wildfire is not conscious, and may even benefit in terms of its cones being split open to germinate offspring in the post-fire landscape.

        • Lord Backwater

          and may even benefit in terms of its cones being split open to germinate offspring

          How is “one’s offspring doing well” a tangible benefit for an organism?

        • NSAlito

          It isn’t tangible, any more than the amount of resources it expended in producing all those cones was a “tangible” benefit.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          It’s a benefit to me to have my offspring doing well. And it is pretty easy to illustrate how societal health can benefit individual members of that society.

          Edit: I didn’t notice when I posted the above that the “parent” was dead in this scenario. My apologies.

    • eric

      So, it’s okay to torture non-conscious animals, as long as I do it in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the well-being of other humans? I don’t think that’s right.
      It’s a decent starting point, but I wouldn’t end there.

      • Pofarmer

        What would be a “Non-conscious” animal?

      • gusbovona

        Not the well-being of other humans solely, but the well-being of, for instance, the animal.

        The animal is not going to understand, nor even perceive, that it is being tortured, so I don’t see what the problem would be. Can you articulate exactly what the problem would be? Maybe I”ll see the difficulty in it that way.

      • gusbovona

        Also, it would not be OK to torture a non-conscious animal if you look beyond those immediate circumstances. Someone who tortures something might well be displaying tendencies we should be concerned about for their potential to harm creatures that could suffer.

    • Michael Murray

      Don’t we have to all accept the same understanding of the natural world though ? If some of us believe in eternal suffering in Hell then you have an infinite amount of suffering entering into discussion and that outweighs anything else like the occasional stoning.

      We’d need a working definition of what it means to be a conscious creature as well.

      • gusbovona

        You don’t need a perfect definition of a concept in order for the concept to be useful and to work with it effectively. Sam Harris uses the concept of health to illustrate this. Exactly what is healthy for a person can be a tricky thing to state precisely, but this doesn’t stop us from understanding the concept and working to increase it. Similarly, it may be difficult to state exactly which creatures are conscious, and to what extent, but that shouldn’t stop us from using the concept, as in defining morality to be enhandcing the well-being of conscious creatures.

        • Michael Murray

          But if that is your criteria for which creatures you can throw alive into a pot of boiling water and cook it makes a difference if you have it right though.
          If it is your criteria for when abortion illegal you also need to know it with some precision. You’d also want to know if there are gradations of consciousness or if it is a light coming on. I’m just reading Mrs H’s new book.

        • gusbovona

          Please tell me what the actual issue is with throwing a creature into boiling water is the creature doesn’t experience anything negative.

          And as for abortion, of course the potential for a conscious creature is there.

          Lastly, do you agree that we don’t need a perfect definition in order to use it? Or do you think some morality has to be defined so that in any circumstance, it is clear and obvious to anyone what should be done? If perfection is the standard, please tell me what moral system in the entire history of the world has ever been like that.

        • Michael Murray

          Maybe I should back up and ask you what you meant originally by a “conscious creature”.

        • gusbovona

          I guess the definition that uses the standard definition of conscious and creature. I also think any creature who would not or could not perceive the boiling would be excluded. For instance, bacteria, or plants. Creatures who are capable of being conscious but are not yet (fetuses, coma victims, etc.) should be considered conscious creatures.

        • Michael Murray

          Ah so google says “1. aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.
          So doesn’t have to have self-awareness ? I was assuming consciousness. My misreading. But what’s a non-conscious animal ? Even amoeba respond to their environment and you could make an argument for plants as well.

        • gusbovona

          Amoebas are not aware, neither are plants. You need a brain for awareness. Also, boundary cases do not invalidate the central concept, so if you find an organisms for which it’s hard to say whether it is conscious or not, it doesn’t matter.

          I’m still honestly appreciate someone telling me exactly what the moral problem is with harming the well-being of, say, a plant, in and of itself (disregarding some ad hoc circumstance that implies other considerations).

        • Michael Murray

          Ameoba’s react to food in their environment. So satisfy the definition “1.
          aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.”

          I can’t tell you what the moral problem I have is (if I have any) until you can be precise about what you mean by conscious.

        • gusbovona

          Ameboas respond, yes, but are not aware, as far as anyone knows, and there’s good reason to think they are not aware. Any harm to them won’t matter like it wouldn’t matter to a plant. Or a rock, for that matter.

          As I’ve said earlier, I think the problem of precision is a red herring. If you feel like you can’t contribute until that definition is precise enough, I understand. But I’m not in a position to make it any more precise, nor do I think there is a real need to in order to accept that morality is about the well-being of conscious creatures (see Sam Harris’ analogy to health in one of my posts above).

        • Michael Murray

          I never asked for a precise definition. My very first comment was about a “working definition”. Now I’d just be happy for any definition at all. Even the secret “standard one” you don’t want to divulge. Sorry I’m done here. Thanks.

        • gusbovona

          I see that you said you’re done here, so it looks like Michael won’t be reading this, but for anyone still reading, let the minutes reflect that I already gave my reason above as to why I didn’t want to get bogged down in definitions, and instead of addressing the reason I gave, Michael repeated his request. That sort of circling around a topic never gets anywhere.

          And, actually, it’s worse than that. Directly above Michael said h never asked for a precise definition. Yet his very comment previous to that exactly (or – heh – precisely) said “. . . until you can be precise about what you mean by conscious.” I could not have asked for a more clear or obvious case of flip-flopping, which is usually a sign that thoughts are not really in order.

        • Michael Neville

          If you use a term in an idiosyncratic manner it’s quite reasonable to ask you to define that term. Michael did ask you for a definition which you went out of your way to refuse to give.

        • gusbovona

          The one statement I made in regards to my definition of “conscious” was the exact opposite of idiosyncratic – I referred to the standard definition. Where did you get that I was using the term in an idiosyncratic way, given my reference to a “standard” definition?

        • Michael Murray

          OK that a mistake. I wasn’t looking for precise. I’ve stuck an edit in that comment. I’m also not making any claim to having thought particularly deeply about this. And yes my thoughts are not in order. I was trying to have a discussion but IMHO that is useless if we can’t get the definitions at least roughly agreed upon at the outset. I guess that is a prejudice I carry from a lifetime of mathematical arguments and too much time wasted with Catholics whose definitions move continually.

          Now I’m done. Probably.

        • gusbovona

          No worries. I guess my reluctance to offer a definition beyond the “standard” one is that I don’t see it relevant to my position. Especially given others’ clarification about suffering and my own clarifications above about plants and rocks. The substantive and essential part of my position does not depend on any more precise a definition beyond what we already have in replies to my comments. I’m happy to consider the alternative, though (If definition X is used, then consideration A applies, but definition Y doesn’t entail consideration A.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          He did offer a working definition… or, at least a standard… awareness. This criteria alone allows us to dispense with things like plants, cells, amoebas, etc.

        • Michael Murray

          So the idea of awareness rather just reacting is that there is some kind of internal representation of things ? So my analogue thermostat is not aware of the temperature of the room for example ? Is my digital thermostat which keeps a record of the room temperature of the room and checks in software against the setting for turning on the heater ? Or is there a better way to come at this ?

          I was also not sure if in this case there was meant to be a difference between awareness and self awareness. Like Catholics I’ve met who want to argue that only humans suffer because suffering isn’t pain it’s mental distress and only humans have the self awareness needed for mental distress etc, etc.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, awareness and reaction are distinct concepts. The former requires the latter, but it isn’t the totality of it. Your thermostat example illustrates nicely why this is the case.

          Your question about the contrast between awareness and self-awareness is a good one. It’s harder for me to parse, and I’m not sure there even is a distinction.

          Perhaps the disagreement could have been avoided by using self-awareness from the start. It makes me wonder, though, is it possible to suffer without at least a rudimentary sense of self?

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Reacting to an environment is not a meaningful threshold because even inorganic chemicals do that.

        • Michael Murray

          You keep saying “standard definition”. Why not just state it.

        • gusbovona

          Because it doesn’t matter, in my opinion. To bring up the issue of exactly what the definition of conscious creatures is to obscure the larger point, which is that morality, when defined to be about well-being, solves a lot of problems about subjective and objective morality that lots of people spend a lot of time on.

          The other point that needs to be said here is it’s not like the well-being of conscious creatures is such a radical idea for morality to be at least partially, and perhaps in the main, about, if not totally about. So where is the discussion about what well-being means when other things besides well-being could be included in morality? That same issue of defining conscious creatures would be in play there, too.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      From what I have seen, “well being” is a necessary foundation for all forms of morality. There could be dispute over whose well being or how the pie is divvied up, but that it’s grounded in well being is unavoidable. I’d go as far as saying if it isn’t grounded in well being, it cannot be morality.

  • Lord Backwater

    Oh for bleep’s sake, another comment held up by the Patheticos nanny filters, and I have no idea which word might have set it off.

  • Alan Mill

    William Craig Lane’s apologetics approval of OT genocide is gobsmacking to say the least.

    But its what happens when you try to use a 3,000 year old despotic and totalitarian ordering principle 3,000 later when it is well past its use by date and moral standards have changed and social and political equity exists to a large degree that was unimaginable to the OT writers.

  • HFR

    In 1937, Hans Kerri Riech Minister for religious affairs proclaimed Adolf Hitler the new Jesus Christ and that Hitler’s word was that of Christ himself.
    How to weaponise religion. In the 20th century we saw it over and over. Franco fascist Catholics in Spain, again the fascist Catholics of Mussolini in Italy creating the Vatican State in 1929. Then after WW2 the Vatican ran a rat line to Sth America and created the fascist dictators there.
    Look at the extremist Catholics and evangelicals moving on our Govt’s today in the USA, Australia and elsewhere. They are just another breed of Neo-Fascists using religion to usurp the secular Govt. We already have religious extremist threatening violence if their man Trump is not re-elected.

    • Michael Neville

      I was agreeing with you until the last sentence. True, there are Christian conservatives prophesying a civil war if Trump is not re-elected. Those are the same people who claimed that when Bill Clinton and Obama were elected that Christians would be sent to The Camps™ where they would be executed, that Operation Jade Helm 15 would result in Chinese troops disarming all civilians in seven states and imprisoning all civilians in vacated Walmarts, and that Justice Scalia, an obese 79 year old smoker, was murdered.

      • Well, yeah, but on the positive side, now that Christian America has seen all these misfires, they’re inoculated. They won’t be susceptible to this bullshit any more.

        I’m so confident I’m right, you can give me $100 if there are any more instances of conspiracy thinking.

  • Chuck Johnson

    What is truth ?
    Truth is those stories that best explain the available evidence.
    As the available evidence changes, the truth changes with it.

    What are good and evil ?
    Good and evil are those human perceptions as to what people should do or should not do.
    As the available evidence changes, good and evil change along with it.

    It is more than just ignorant and foolish to expect that there are perfect, God-given answers as to what is true and false, good and evil.
    It is evil to expect perfect answers from God.
    It was evil to expect perfect answers from Hitler.

    • RichardSRussell

      What is truth ?

      “Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?” —Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar

      “Truth isn’t truth.” —Rudy Giuliani, lying in support of the Liar in Chief

      “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” —Philip K. Dick, science fiction writer

    • Michael Neville

      +1 for Bronowski

  • Gord O’Mitey

    Y’all proberly remember that I’m omniscient an’ omnipotent, oh yeah, an’ just, eh. So, ya mebbe thinkin’, why the feck din’t I do summat ter stop the Holocaust, an’ all the other feckin’ genocides? Well, My ways are feckin’ mysterious, eh.

    • Pofarmer

      Just a little Facebook story. Facebook friend of mine recently rolled a semi load of bean son it’s side. A cattle truck coming the other way strayed in to his lane so he ditched it to avoid a head on collision between two loaded semi’s. He had his seatbelt in and was uninjured. Of course the comments are “Thank God for keeping you safe.” “God truly guided your hand on the wheel.” And I’m thinkin’ why didn’t God guide that other guys hand on the wheel so there wouldn’t have been an accident at all?

  • epeeist
  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    What I like about this argument is that it negates the need for secular standard; Christians are merely shown their own reflection.

    It’s their own worldview under the microscope and no amount of whining and wailing stops them from being measured against their own standard. To the contrary, the more belligerent they become, the further they box themselves in, with “god can do anything he damn well pleases” as the only escape hatch.

  • evodevo

    See: Man in High Castle ….

  • Steven Watson

    No guns but Labor managed to blow their own foot off. That mine; that rugby player. Morrison should be long gone; but no, Labor just had to pee-off enough of their own voters to screw it all up.

  • Kaja

    The bigger question is if god wanted the Canaanites, Midianites, etc. out of the way for “God’s chosen” (err… “master race”) to obtain the “promised land” (err…”living space”), couldn’t god have just caused the native inhabitants to just migrate elsewhere to free up the land or humanely cause them to just drop dead without the Hebrews butchering them (a horrible way to die) and losing some Hebrew soldiers in the process ? The fact that the Hebrews had to butcher them just shows that their god was impotent, inhumane, or simply didn’t exist. It’s very telling that the Hebrews had to get rid of their enemies in exactly the same way that the pagans did – go to war and take casualties . I take this as evidence that the Hebrew god and pagan gods simply don’t exist. Why would you need to go to war if god was really on your side ?