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Nov 30 2007

Pope makes feeble, flailing attack on atheism

Pope Ratzo today issued an encyclical — a scholarly sounding term evidently used at the Vatican as a synonym for “overlong, ill-founded rant” — in which he purports to respond to the “new atheism” by drawing an oddly-reasoned equivalency between atheism and Marxism, and shoring up the theistic position with such empty, Hallmark-card platitudes as “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.” To which the rationalist can only respond with, “Speak for yourself, you weak-willed superstitious infant.”

Seriously, if the news release is anything to go by, Ratzo really does hinge a huge portion of his anti-atheist position on comparisons to Marxism, which appear to have little depth beyond “Marx was an atheist, so atheism = Marxism.” Using that logic, one could argue that because Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian who painted bad landscapes (not to mention a Christian), that being a vegetarian or a bad landscape painter (not to mention a Christian) invariably leads to Naziism and white supremacist beliefs. It isn’t exactly Mensa-level thinking.

Amusingly, a commenter over at RichardDawkins.net has already noted that Ratzo, who belonged to the Hitler Youth as a child, goes out of his way to stick to Marxist comparisons while avoiding the Nazi comparisons being made by evolution deniers. But if, as the pope’s defenders will doubtless claim, Ratzo’s membership in that august boyscout club was compulsory and in no way reflects approval of Nazi ideologies, then why shouldn’t Ratzo go ahead and own up to that and start throwing around Nazi straw men alongside his Marxist straw men? It wouldn’t make his blatherings any lamer than they already are.

And it’s a bit rich to have the pope attack atheism by saying things like “It is no accident that this idea [Marxism/atheism] has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,” given his own church’s bloody history. Hell, right up to this decade, we’ve seen the Vatican responsible for the enabling and cover-up of the largest and most horrifying pedophilia scandal in the history of western civilization. And yet, without a shred of irony, Ratzo can drone on sanctimoniously with such dreck as “We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil. If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s ethical formation, in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world.” Ah, blow it out your ass, gramps.

Sorry, Mr. Pope person, sir, but looking at the track record of your little cult, I really don’t care how shiny and expensive your robes and pointy hat are, but you’ve got no moral authority to lecture anyone on anything. And as for your invisible sky fairy, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell all of you lot. Prove it exists — hell, provide even a modicum of credible evidence it exists. But even if you do that, you’ve still got an uphill battle to convince me that without this being I have no hope, since the actual experience of my daily life tells me that goal-oriented rationalism and productive, positive humanism gives me hope to burn.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Ben

    97.8% off-topic:Hitler was probably not a vegetarian. According to wikipedia and others.

  2. 2
    Martin

    Well, maybe, maybe not. A lot of people will say Hitler was also not a Christian, because of his rejection of the Church’s dogma and authority. But that isn’t what makes you “not a Christian.” It’s clear from a number of sources Hitler never relinquished the Catholic theistic beliefs in which he was raised, even if he rejected the church’s authority and believed that he was the one appointed by “Providence” to create the Nazi utopia that would save the world. Adolf’s Christianity wasn’t mainstream, to be sure, but you could say that about Randall Terry and Fred Phelps (note: this is not an example of Godwining). That’s the wonderfully malleable thing about Christianity. One can find within its teachings all the justification one needs to pursue whatever ideology one has already decided is the best, from pure humanitarian goodness to the most narcissistic demagoguery and evil.But yeah, whatever the case may be, the overall point is that if Pope Ratzo thinks he’s nailed atheism by implying we’re all Marxists, he’s dumber than a sack of hammers.

  3. 3
    Rhology

    Thanks Ben, I was gonna say that (and did, actually ;-) ).There’s a big difference, as I’m sure Martin would have to agree, between using Christian words and such and actually being a Christian by conviction, which demonstrates itself by action.Martin,I’d agree – “rejection of the Church’s dogma and authority” isn’t what makes you a Christian. It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ Himself; any unity with a church is incidental and an EFFECT of that relationship with Christ. And you cite Hitler’s use of the word “Providence”; that’s part of it really. The way he used “Providence” is not the way one should use “God” biblically speaking. I of course disagree with this statement: One can find within its teachings all the justification one needs to pursue whatever ideology one has already decided is the best, from pure humanitarian goodness to the most narcissistic demagoguery and evil.1) Do you mean that one can do so by isolating individual statements from the Bible? (Ie, “Judas went and hanged himself”…”go thou and do likewise”…”what you do, do it quickly”)? 2) Or do you mean the entire thrust of the whole Bible? 3) If the former, couldn’t one isolate words unjustifiably from any document including your own bloggings and make it into an evil ideology?4) if the latter, how would you support the contention that, say, the entire thrust of the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was actually a malevolent space alien that feasted on human liver (since you said it can be used for ANYthing)?5) if you can’t support the contention in #4, do you modify your statement?Peace,Rhology

  4. 4
    Martin

    There’s a big difference, as I’m sure Martin would have to agree, between using Christian words and such and actually being a Christian by conviction, which demonstrates itself by action.But I thought “works” were irrelevant to one’s salvation. Or were the people telling me that not “true” Christians either?However it is that Christians use their Big Book of Multiple Choice to justify predetermined ideologies — whether through isolating individual passages or using the “the entire thrust of the whole Bible,” whatever that means (and I suspect not all Christians interpret that as you do either) — the point is, they do it. Those who oppose racism like MLK and like-minded groups and individuals boast of being guided by the Lord, while the most virulent racist groups in existence burn crosses and wave their Bibles and call themselves things like “World Church of the Creator” and “The Church of Jesus Christ, Christian” with equal histrionic conviction. Slavery supporters 150 years ago had Biblical backup for their position, as did those who preached equality.The issue here is not who’s using their Bible properly, as it’s all too easy (and is in fact what’s done) for one group of self-congratulatory Christians to look at another group of self-congratulatory Christians of whom they don’t approve and say, “Hey, you’re not interpreting the Bible properly!” (Indeed, that’s exactly what Adolf was saying about the Church. He felt they’d diluted Christianity and he was the one who was going to toughen it back up.) The point is that if Christianity is, as you’ve been claiming, the source of an unimpeachably sound set of objective moral absolutes, then why aren’t these objective absolutes abundantly clear to all who profess themselves Christian, through revelation or otherwise? And if they aren’t, why isn’t God doing a better job of coming down here and straightening his wayward and conflicted flock out? After all, he must be a clever enough deity to know full well that having guys like Hitler and David Duke around can’t be good for his divine mission. And yet he lets them wreak their havoc, including allowing those 6 million Jews to get slaughtered.So yeah, one sees people doing all kinds of horrible stuff throughout history and — however accurately or inaccurately (and frankly it’s not my job to assess which is which, after all, it’s your holy book) — using their Bibles and their religious convictions to justify it. If God didn’t like people doing that, seems he could get more proactive like he was back in the good old gory OT and do a little more smiting. But then, he’d have to exist first. And I suggest he’d have to have a holy book that was less rife with internal contradictions so that his followers would be less inclined to adopt wildly divergent moral stances.PS: As to your question #4: again, not my job, though I do like the liver-eating alien angle. I haven’t seen any examples of anyone going that far with their kookiness yet, though some have gotten pretty close!

  5. 5
    Rhology

    Hi Martin,Yes, you’re absolutely right. Works are irrelevant to salvation; works DEMONSTRATE one’s salvation. I suspect not all Christians interpret that as you do eitherWhy would I or anyone care how other people “interpret that”? It has a meaning. Your comment has a meaning – one can know it from determining the authorial intent. Same for the Bible. If someone “interprets” your post to mean that you are eating pancakes and believe you see the Virgin Mary in one of them, they’d be wrong, wouldn’t they?wave their Bibles and call themselves things like “World Church of the Creator”But why hold the Bible responsible when people misuse it? Can’t I, to take the previous example, start trumpeting you as the latest convert to the Church of the Holy Pancake Virgin (CHPV)? You’d tell me I was wrong to do so, and I would be. Same for these guys.Slavery supporters 150 years ago had Biblical backup for their position, as did those who preached equality.See above.Indeed, that’s exactly what Adolf was saying about the Church. He felt they’d diluted ChristianityOne doesn’t toughen sthg up by completely destroying it, as he explicitly said he was going to do. One would think that you, as a former public figure/radio host, would not want to advance opinions that show blatant ignorance of the subject matter. Have you read the texts I linked to?why aren’t these objective absolutes abundantly clear to all who profess themselves Christian1) Clarity and moral quality are 2 different categories, so don’t commit the fallacy of category error.2) The statement “everyone follows the Bible correctly” does not follow from “The BIble is clear”. This is the fallacy of non sequitur.3) They don’t follow it b/c they are sinful people. Everyone is, but some people do believe the correct thing about what the Bible teaches.But Rhology, are you saying you’re correct?!!!?Yes of course I am; if you think I’m wrong, present your argument. why isn’t God doing a better job of coming down here and straightening his wayward and conflicted flock out? 1) As demonstrated recently, you have no way of calling straightening HIs flock out a good or bad action. This is another fallacious argument; you guys can’t seem to get away from them around here.2) He has a plan and will straighten it out when He wants.3) And when He does, it will be revealed that it was a wonderful and brilliant plan. 4) He’s provided a clear revelation already; He’s under little obligation to do more. he must be a clever enough deity to know full well that having guys like Hitler and David Duke around can’t be good for his divine mission.That’s begging the question. The Bible reveals that part of His divine mission is to allow evildoers some free rein to do evil and so incur judgment and reveal the baseness and evil of evil – how bad it really is. And to demonstrate how depraved humanity is.yet he lets them wreak their havoc, including allowing those 6 million Jews to get slaughtered.Which is of course neither good nor bad in an atheistic worldview. Do try to remember what you yourself believe; I’m trying to help you keep track of your own worldview.less rife with internal contradictionsI’ve recently posted on the Bible’s infallibility. I challenge you to read the post (combox is optional) and present your 5 best “contradictions”, keeping within the rules of the post. Substantiate your claim.As to your question #4: again, not my job, though I do like the liver-eating alien angleSubstantiating your claim isn’t your job? OK, consider it ignored for so much fluff.You only “commented” (if one can call that a comment) on #4; what about the other points? 1) Do you mean that one can do so by isolating individual statements from the Bible? (Ie, “Judas went and hanged himself”…”go thou and do likewise”…”what you do, do it quickly”)?2) Or do you mean the entire thrust of the whole Bible?3) If the former, couldn’t one isolate words unjustifiably from any document including your own bloggings and make it into an evil ideology?4) if the latter, how would you support the contention that, say, the entire thrust of the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was actually a malevolent space alien that feasted on human liver (since you said it can be used for ANYthing)?5) Since you’ve admitted you won’t even try to support the contention in #4, do you modify your statement?Peace,Rhology

  6. 6
    Martin

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. Works are irrelevant to salvation; works DEMONSTRATE one’s salvation.Then the example of atheists and their good works ought to demonstrate that Christianity and its “salvation” are irrelevant to moral matters as they affect people in their day to day lives on this planet. To repeat, Christians engage in moral behaviors because they want to show off how pious and heaven-bound they are. Non-believers behave morally because that’s just the best and most rational way to behave.Seems we’ve been down this road before, and, predictably, you haven’t gotten the point, Rho. Why would I or anyone care how other people “interpret that”? It has a meaning.But I guess the meaning doesn’t matter to you that much, if you don’t care that a lot of people who profess to be Christians themselves are losing sight of the meaning.You’re an odd duck, Rho. You argue passionately for your religion, only to pop up at various points in the discussion to reveal you don’t really care about what you profess to believe after all, at least in the evangelical sense. As long as you have your golden ticket through the pearly gates, what happens in the end to anybody else doesn’t really matter to you very much, it would seem. Simple fact is: if you cared about Christianity and the influence you seem to think it has on determining whether or not a person can comprehend moral precepts and live life as an upstanding member of society, then you would care about people’s misinterpretations of what is supposed to be your God’s infallible word. If you admit you don’t care that people misinterpret the meaning of your god’s word, then you can’t claim to care about the meaning.If someone “interprets” your post to mean that you are eating pancakes and believe you see the Virgin Mary in one of them, they’d be wrong, wouldn’t they?Well, yes, but then because I care about a) facts and b) being understood, I would set about correcting them. As you stated yourself, you don’t care that people are out there misinterpreting the Bible you say you revere. So it seems that conviction is another area where we differ.But why hold the Bible responsible when people misuse it? Can’t I, to take the previous example, start trumpeting you as the latest convert to the Church of the Holy Pancake Virgin (CHPV)? You’d tell me I was wrong to do so, and I would be. Same for these guys.Hardly the same, in that when I write, I don’t claim to be an infallible divine source.Yes or no question: is the Bible the inspired word of your omniscient and omnipotent god or not? If so, then this god really ought to have left no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding of his word whatsoever. If god is perfect, his word should be perfect and leave no margin for error. No scribe being dictated to by such a perfect, supernatural source should have had any reason to omit so much as a comma. Yet here is the Christian faith, splintered into numerous denominations, all with doctrinal differences of varying degrees, referencing a holy book that has gone through dozens of translations and millions of “interpretations” by theologians eager to give their hermeneutics a workout. Who here is really “misusing” the Bible? The people who cherry-pick passages like Leviticus 20:13 to justify beating gay men to death? Or the ones who cherry-pick passages like John 13:34 to counter that? I know it burns you guys up when atheists point things like this out, that the Bible can be used to justify any moral position a believer has already chosen to take. But you know, shooting the messenger doesn’t change that.One doesn’t toughen sthg up by completely destroying it, as he explicitly said he was going to do. One would think that you, as a former public figure/radio host, would not want to advance opinions that show blatant ignorance of the subject matter. Have you read the texts I linked to?Have you read the texts I linked to? I think there’s ample historical evidence to show that Hitler never rejected theism itself while he was rejecting Catholic doctrines, and considered himself a messianic figure. He was profoundly inspired by Wagner’s Parsifal, about the knight on the quest for the Holy Grail, and identified with the character. Sure, he wanted destroy the church. Because, like all fanatics who set themselves up as messianic leaders, he was full of the attitude that the stodgy old orthodoxy had gotten it all wrong and they had to be kicked to the curb so that he could put everything to rights. Hitler’s Christianity may well have been perverted out of all recognition by his megalomania, just as moderate Muslims say that the jihadists are perverting Islam. But that’s the inconvenient truth about the dangers inherent in entire societies embracing supernaturalist beliefs that lack rational, evidentiary support. There aren’t any hard facts you can point to to say, see, that’s just not right. The other person is likely to come right back at you and say you’re the one “misusing” and “misinterpreting”.1) Clarity and moral quality are 2 different categories, so don’t commit the fallacy of category error.2) The statement “everyone follows the Bible correctly” does not follow from “The BIble is clear”. This is the fallacy of non sequitur.It would be if the Bible were clear.3) They don’t follow it b/c they are sinful people. Everyone is, but some people do believe the correct thing about what the Bible teaches.But Rhology, are you saying you’re correct?!!!?Yes of course I am; if you think I’m wrong, present your argument.Oh Rho, why should I have to present an argument that you aren’t the world’s best Christian? If you say you are, then that’s good enough for me! ;-DWhich is of course neither good nor bad in an atheistic worldview. Do try to remember what you yourself believe; I’m trying to help you keep track of your own worldview.No, you’re back to being a stupid and arrogant dickhead and trying to tell atheists what they think. Ordinarily I’d be getting a little steamed at you and accuse you of mere trolling at this point, as you’ve only had it explained to you about a million times by every atheist who’s commented here exactly how atheists do determine right from wrong. But I’ve realized something. Your indoctrination is so profound that to explain secular morality to you is like trying to explain tensor calculus to my cat. It’s not merely outside your experience, it’s outside your sphere of comprehension. So I’ll cut you a little slack here, since the only reason you seem to insist upon repeating your little straw-mantra of “atheists don’t know good from bad” despite so many corrections is that those corrections so painfully undermine the ideological edifice you’ve built up to convince yourself of your own Christian superiority that the mantra becomes a security blanket to cling to. It’s also why you seem to think we’ll let you get away with controlling the argument with such little rhetorical ploys as “no, your worldview isn’t what you say it is, it’s what I say it is, okay, so go along with that because I need you be my strawman in order to win!” It would be annoying if it weren’t such a transparently pitiable indicator of your limitations. So let me make myself clear, so there’s no room for “misinterpretation”. I don’t need you to help me keep track of “my worldview,” nor does any other atheist here, I would surmise. I can state my position as follows: No supernatural deities exist, and reason and empathy alone are both sufficient and superior foundations for morality. Simple for folks like me to understand, impossible for you — I know that now, and that it will continue to represent a gulf in our ability to communicate with one another. Which might be a good
    reason for you to consider pissing off at some point.1) As demonstrated recently, you have no way of calling straightening HIs flock out a good or bad action. This is another fallacious argument; you guys can’t seem to get away from them around here.2) He has a plan and will straighten it out when He wants.3) And when He does, it will be revealed that it was a wonderful and brilliant plan. 4) He’s provided a clear revelation already; He’s under little obligation to do more.1) Pot. Kettle. Black. You tried to demonstrate this. You were schooled. You’re now down to the old closing-your-eyes, covering-your-ears, singing-mary-had-a-little-lamb-in-a-loud-voice response whenever explanations of secular morality jump out at you from under the bed and go “boo!”2) Oh. Okay. (whistles, drums fingers)3) Will it also be a cunning plan?4) Nice thing about being God, I guess, you get to pick your own hours and kick off early for lunch.I’ve recently posted on the Bible’s infallibility. I challenge you to read the post (combox is optional) and present your 5 best “contradictions”, keeping within the rules of the post. Substantiate your claim.Hmm, let’s go have a look…[click]…dum de dum…okay…Now, given theism, why is the Bible infallible? Several reasons.1) Only 3 major theistic religions exist…- Christianity, Islam, Judaism. Okay, that’s one down. Jeez, Judaism isn’t even in the top five!2) The Bible claims itself to be breathed out by God, and on theism, God is perfect and omniscient, does not make mistakes. How then could what He says be a mistake? 2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 3:16, the very numerous “Thus saith the Lord”s.So the Bible is infallible because God wrote it and God is infallible because the Bible says so. And you’re saying we’re the ones who can’t get away from fallacies? I do believe I shalt lol.(EDIT): This is why I mentioned the presuppositions first of all. We believe that God is and that He is 100% trustworthy (being the Way, the Truth, and the Life and all that), that He knows everything, and that He does not lie.Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t you tell us before you weren’t a presuppositionalist? Hey, I’m just helping you keep track of your own worldview, you know?Let’s see. Onward through the usual claims about <A HREF="http://tinyurl.com/32gmll” REL=”nofollow”>prophecies and stuff…ah…9) The Bible is consistent with its own thought and ideas and information on every point despite its having been written over the course of centuries by ~40 different authors.Well, the two creation stories and the four conflicting accounts of the resurrection put that one to bed. But even if those inconsistencies didn’t exist, and claim #9 was accurate so far as it goes, you still haven’t presented an argument for infallibility here. After all, you could say much the same thing about the Encyclopedia Brittanica (except for the “course of centuries” part), and that still wouldn’t mean the Brittanica was infalliable. “Consistent with its own thoughts over time” is not a synonym for “infallaible.” And you seem to recognize a problem with arguing for infallibility in this closing passage: I told you that we don’t know infallibly that the Bible is infallible, nor do we know infallibly what books belong in the Bible (ie, the Canon of Scripture). But infallibility is not equivalent to a sufficient knowledge, to knowing with sufficient basis the answers to these questions.That brings up and interesting point (which you try to hand-wave out of existence in a cute way). If we as humans are fallible, then how can we claim to know that anything is infallible? You would argue, circularly, that we know the Bible is infallible because God says so and the Bible’s all about God so they both must be right. But as has been demonstrated, that itself is pretty fallible thinking, isn’t it?Anyway, I don’t have time to do my top 5 contradictions. But I do like the way the Gospels, presumably written by “men in a position to know with certainty,” make a real pig’s ear out of the resurrection accounts. Oh, and since, according to your point #7…The Bible accurately describes reality, including history as verified by archæological study……does that mean that you really believe that Jonah lived in the belly of a whale, or that the resurrection of Jesus prompted a zombie invasion of Jerusalem? This would be an “accurate” description of reality, I take it?Okay, almost done here, so to wrap up:Substantiating your claim isn’t your job?Uh, Rho, I never made any claim involving what you’ve termed the “entire thrust of the Bible,” except to say, I think correctly, that not all Christians will agree with you on what even that is. I claimed that people use the Bible to justify all manner of deeds, both good and bad. You responded to that by huffing and puffing over “misuse” of the Bible, and then pulled this whole distinction between “isolating individual statements” (which I think you seem to agree can lead to “misuse”) and “the entire thrust of the whole Bible” out of your ass, insisting I defend this distinction of yours as if it were the basis of my argument. Seriously dude, I’m starting to get a rash from all this straw you’re trying to stuff down my shirt.As far as I can tell, this whole thing about the “entire thrust of the Bible” is a feeble bit of equivocation you’ve come up with in an effort to make criticisms of inconsistencies and contradictions go away in a puff of irrelevance, as long as it can be shown that on the whole, the entire thrust of the Bible is good enough to gauge its divine authority, regardless of this or that or the other error that may pop up in its texts due to some inept scribe. This would seem to constitute to you “sufficient basis” for defending the Bible as infallible, in the overall, general sense. It doesn’t exactly reveal high standards of evidence.

  7. 7
    Martin

    A quick addendum, in case it seems I didn’t answer Rho’s question here:3) If the former, couldn’t one isolate words unjustifiably from any document including your own bloggings and make it into an evil ideology?I suppose they could, sure. But that presents a serious problem for your Bible. Because unlike just about any secular piece of writing in the world, the Bible, like the Koran, is a holy book that is the foundation of a global religion whose adherents believe, as you do, that it comprises the infallible word of an infallible God. Failure to believe in this God and his Bible furthermore warrants eternal punishment, because to disbelieve it could only be a sign of innate depravity. Only by following the teachings of this book can one comprehend the difference between right and wrong.And yet…with all this supposed divine infallibility shoring it up, it turns out the Bible is no better or worse than any other piece of writing in human history in that people can cherry-pick bits of it to support an evil ideology. Hmm. Not only that, but far from being miscreants who do this because they intentionally want to undermine the Bible and given everyone out there the wrong impression of what it’s all about so as to mislead millions into the arms of Satan, it turns out that the people most responsible for doing this evil cherry-picking are those who consider themselves the most devout right-hand-men of God alive. Whether slaveholders in colonial days, or modern-day white supremacists and homophobes, or, hey, even good old Martin Luther, whose book “On the Jews and Their Lies” is the great anti-Semitic classic of world literature, the most immoral and evil acts come from those who see themselves as the purest followers of their faith one can be. Which kind of says that, far from providing a clear and consistent objective framework for unimpeachable moral absolutes, Christianity sows a lot of deep moral confusion, replacing, as it does, rational altruistic motives for moral behavior with the desperate need to please a wrathful god and secure one’s place in the choir invisible.

  8. 8
    Rhology

    Hi Martin,Just to correct – SOME Christians might want to show off, but that is a behavior condemned multiples times by Jesus. I do good for several reasons, none of which is to show off and the foremost of which is to please my Master Jesus, Who saved me and Whom I love so much.Atheists behave “morally” b/c they’ve been socially conditioned to do so and don’t want to be punished for breaking the law. They don’t have any underlying reason to be good. Indeed, they can’t even give an objective definition of “good” and “bad”, as you yourself have admitted.if you don’t care that a lot of people who profess to be Christians themselves are losing sight of the meaning.It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I can’t do much about it right now except not repeat their mistake.I think you mistake me a great deal on what I care about. I didn’t know you claimed ESP.in that when I write, I don’t claim to be an infallible divine source.Well, I know, but you DO know the authorial intent to a sufficient extent to correct those who get it wrong.If so, then this god really ought to have left no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding of his word whatsoever.What is your argument for this assertion? You say “should” but have no way to make moral judgments, as we’ve gone over before. Maybe God prefers it this way for the time being. No scribe being dictated to by such a perfect, supernatural source should have had any reason to omit so much as a comma.Oh, b/c YOU say so? Why?Who here is really “misusing” the Bible? The people who cherry-pick passages like Leviticus 20:13 to justify beating gay men to death?Yes, and I’d be happy to explain why. The punishments for breaking the civil law for OT Israel are governmental and civil in nature. By definition, they apply to that community. The punishments for breaking the law are now the responsibility of the gov’t of the place where one lives (see Romans 13 and 1 Peter).I’d challenge you to try to pull a cogent argument beyond “It’s Gawd’s Werd!!!” out of those idiots. ‘Course, those who beat gay people to death are not too concerned with citing the Bible I don’t think; they’re often just hateful straight up. I leave open the possibility that I’m mistaken, of course, but I don’t remember ever hearing someone justifying HAVING BEATEN some gay person to death with Leviticus.the Bible can be used to justify any moral position a believer has already chosen to take. You already refused to substantiate this claim or answer questions 4 or 5 on this topic. This is a naked and pitiful assertion until you back it up.Hitler never rejected theism itself1) Theism doesn’t = Christianity.2) Where did I claim Hitler stated he wanted to destroy theism?3) You’re conceding that your original statement was wrong, since you’ve moved the goalposts without stating you were doing so.4) You concede the same when you say: while he was rejecting Catholic doctrines, and considered himself a messianic figure.I hope you don’t mind if I call you on that in the future, but I’m of course hoping you’ll be intellectually honest enough to learn from this and not make such ignorant claims in the future.he wanted destroy the church.Another admission that you were wrong. I’m cool with that.It would be if the Bible were clear.Your link begs the question. Present your best 5 “contradictions” and kindly follow the reasonable rules I’ve set out for doing so or stop making the claim.why should I have to present an argument that you aren’t the world’s best Christian? Strawman. The statements “I am the world’s best Christian” and “my position is by and large correct, and I’m happy to substantiate that” are not equivalent.You’re getting kind of sloppy, Martin. You seem emotional, like your anger or irritation is clouding your judgment.you’re back to being a stupid and arrogant dickhead and trying to tell atheists what they think.See what I mean?And you YOURSELF admitted this; don’t shoot the messenger.explain secular morality You’ve explained it many times. I’ve never asked, however, for you to explain it. I’ve asked you to explain your JUSTIFICATION for it. And to be fair, you’ve done so; you’ve said “it IS indeed personal preference, there is no further justification.” Again, I’m just offering friendly reminders.reason and empathy alone are both sufficient and superior foundations for morality. But there’s no underlying reason WHY they 1) should be a foundation for morality2) are superior.There’s just your ipse dixit. Pardon me if I don’t recognise your authority as Grand Pontifex of Morality.1) Pot.Kettle…early for lunchYou don’t even try here. You’re just emoting, so I’ll wait for a cogent response.Now you go after my post. Excellent, thank you. Tell you what, so as not to confuse the topic on this thread I’ll handle your objections elsewhere and we’ll see how they fare under examination.I’ll note that you still haven’t met my challenge to provide 5 “contradictions”. Until you do I’ll call attention to whenever you make that throwaway assertion. Make sure you do it right when you do it, though; if you give your 5 best shots and they all turn out to be pitifully inadequate, what should the reader think about any other “contradiction” you might bring up in the future?I never made any claim involving what you’ve termed the “entire thrust of the Bible,”That was one of my questions. Any reader can see I left it open for you to correct me and clarify your authorial intent.I claimed that people use the Bible to justify all manner of deedsAnd this is not specific enough.So what you mean is that one can do so by isolating individual statements from the Bible? (Ie, “Judas went and hanged himself”…”go thou and do likewise”…”what you do, do it quickly”), right?Given this, couldn’t one isolate words unjustifiably from any document including your own bloggings and make it into an evil ideology?Since the preceding statement is transparently obvious, why would any reasonable person take such an objection to the Bible’s infallibility seriously (though they might have others)?as long as it can be shown that on the whole, the entire thrust of the Bible is good enough to gauge its divine authorityStrawman. I’ve been challenging your wrong-headed notion expressed in this statement:One can find within its teachings all the justification one needs to pursue whatever ideology one has already decided is the best, from pure humanitarian goodness to the most narcissistic demagoguery and evil.To your credit, you at least add an addendum that tries to deal with this problem. Let’s see how you do.I suppose they could, sureAn admission that cripples your argument.it turns out the Bible is no better or worse than any other piece of writing in human history in that people can cherry-pick bits of it to support an evil ideology.And I’ve explained this to you as well. I’ll paste what I said (and in the same combox, no less! You seem either a bit lazy or forgetful):1) Clarity and moral quality are 2 different categories, so don’t commit the fallacy of category error.2) The statement “everyone follows the Bible correctly” does not follow from “The BIble is clear”. This is the fallacy of non sequitur.3) They don’t follow it b/c they are sinful people. Everyone is, but some people do believe the correct thing about what the Bible teaches.even good old Martin Luther
    , whose book “On the Jews and Their Lies”
    My friend and blogging partner is quite knowledgeable on Luther. If you’re interested in this, I recommend this base of articles to anyone.Peace,Rhology

  9. 9
    NAL

    But why hold the Bible responsible when people misuse it?Then why hold the Bible responsible when people don’t misuse it? If the Bible is a basis for morality when not misused, then it is also a basis for immorality when misused.

  10. 10
    Rhology

    NAL,What I take from your statement is that you’re offering me $10,000 to murder your family.I’m reporting you to the police; I wonder if the court would find you guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and thus hold you responsible..

  11. 11
    tracieh

    Rhology:I read your blog post on infallibility. Just a couple questions:You cited these verses as your basis for claiming that “The Bible claims itself to be breathed out by God”: “2 Tim 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20, 2 Peter 3:16In Timothy, it references “scripture,” but as Timothy was written before there was a Bible, what is your basis for the claim “scripture” in Timothy references New Testament works?In 2 Peter 1:20, it speaks of scripture concerning prophecies. The Law and the Prophets were claimed to be sacred by the Jews, of which Peter is one. What makes you think he isn’t referring here to the OT prophecy writings, rather than to NT texts that, again, did not exist at the time he wrote Peter.In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter does seem to claim (all/some of?) Paul’s letters are synonymous with “scripture.” Peter claims it, that doesn’t make it so—but OK, it’s in there. Can you show where Peter makes the same assertion about his own letters?Also, how do you then justify applying this claim to books such as Luke, where there is no such claim contained within the book itself, nor by any apostle, that it is scripture or inspired by god? In other words, you make a claim of inspiration for the “Bible”—but none of your verses appear to be concerning the entire anthology as it stands today.In your blog post you also state: “The Bible’s purpose is to reveal God, His commands, and His character and dealings with humanity”Martin stated before, as you quoted him, “then this god really ought to have left no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding of his word whatsoever.”And you replied, “What is your argument for this assertion? You say ‘should’ but have no way to make moral judgments, as we’ve gone over before. Maybe God prefers it this way for the time being.”In my view, there is nothing about Martin’s statement that represents a “moral” judgment on god.If I tell someone they should put a net around their trampoline to avoid potential injury—I’m talking in terms of efficiency and practicality and reasonableness if their goal includes “not getting hurt on the trampoline.”It’s a reasonable assertion that Martin is making, and it begs a reasonable question. If the purpose of scripture is to communicate god’s message to humans, on what grounds would you argue he plausibly intended it to be misconstrued? Isn’t the point to communicating a message–most specifically what you want from someone–to be understood? You’re saying that god sent a message to mankind, but that he might have intended for us to not understand it. That would make his point intentional confusion. You assert, then, that god could well be unreasonable, while you accuse Martin of a moral judgment, when all he’s doing in this statement is asking why your god isn’t making sense? Your response is, basically, to say, “My god doesn’t have to make any sense.” Well, OK then. But in that case we can’t make any rational assumptions about god—since god might be illogical on purpose in order to generate confusion. Of course, without a god to examine, we can’t confirm any claims at all about god—but saying, off the top, that in addition to not providing us with any direct manifestation of god to examine, you further want to assert there is no need for god to adhere to any sort of rational actions. I mean, that just makes it sort of un-discussable. I can’t confirm any claims about god, as I can’t examine god. And I can’t make any logical assumptions about god, as god might be illogical on purpose in order to confuse me.But back to Bible infallibility. Do you disagree with Bible translators that John 7:53 through 8:11 is a forgery? If you disagree, what is your explanation for why earlier versions of the manuscript, that are considered more reliable, do not include the verses, while they appear in later versions? There are other verses beyond this one example, but for now, I’d like to know your stance on the issue of forgeries as the translators identify them. If you’re not familiar with this claim, open an NIV or a NASB and review the marginal notes for these verses for verification/clarification.Also, how do you usually reconcile items such as Matthew 27 and Acts 1, where one verse says, concerning Judas, “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field” and the other says, “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself”?I think the answers to these questions might clear up some potential misunderstandings that you and/or Martin might be having. Although some, I admit, are just based on my own curiosity.Thanks.

  12. 12
    Rhology

    Hi tracieh,Good talking to you. The 2 Timothy psg refers to “Scripture” as being God-breathed. In direct allusion he was of course referring to the Old Testament, but the New Testament authors seemed to be aware that they were writing Scripture as well (such as in 2 Peter 3:16). The description carries over to whatever is Scripture.Same for 2 Peter 1:20. Good question.2 Peter 1:19 seems to have Peter referring to what he expresses about Christ as “the prophetic word”. Though, to be sure, not every NT author (or every OT author) refers to his writings as being Scripture or God-breathed or God talking or whatever. We trust God to faithfully and sufficiently reveal His revelation to His people. It’s not 100% cut and dry, it’s not step 1 step 2 step 3 we’re done, it’s accomplished by God working passively thru His people so that they come to recognise that which is Scripture.there is nothing about Martin’s statement that represents a “moral” judgment on god.He said, “God **SHOULD HAVE** done ___.” But OK, you have a point. Calling it a “moral” judgment is going too far.So I’ll abandon that point and fall back on the other argument against these types of assertions, that anything Martin has said about misinterping the Bible can easily be said about his own writings as well, and that it is a non sequitur to assert that every reader’s perfect understanding follows from the presence of perfect clarity. As a technical writer by vocation, I can guarantee you that no matter how illustrative and logical the flow of what I write, people miss it.You’re saying that god sent a message to mankind, but that he might have intended for us to not understand it. I’d say that you’re on to sthg, to be sure. Scr reveals that God intends greater revelation of truth to perform 2 tasks – to further enlighten the repentant and to further benight the depraved, who show their minds are so turned away from God that they understand truth less and less the brighter and brighter it is illuminated. Like when Jesus told parables.But let’s not forget the 1st part of that. And it does not lessen man’s responsibility. It is clear enough.You assert, then, that god could well be unreasonable…Your response is, basically, to say, “My god doesn’t have to make any sense.”…since god might be illogical on purpose in order to generate confusionNo, I wouldn’t say those things at all. They don’t follow from my position.in addition to not providing us with any direct manifestation of god to examineI’m sorry, could you elucidate your meaning here? Thanks.I can’t make any logical assumptions about god, as god might be illogical on purpose in order to confuse me.Given that this is not my position, it is not relevant.Do you disagree with Bible translators that John 7:53 through 8:11 is a forgery?I lean towards yes, it is a later interpolation but it’s no huge deal either way.I’d like to know your stance on the issue of forgeries as the translators identify them.No problem.There are some psgs that are of doubtful origin from the autographa (ie, the original texts as written by the hand of the Scripture author or his secretary). Only the autographa are infallible. The copies we have are highly excellent but there are a few uncertainties here and there. Given the strengths of the arguments to include them vs the arguments to exclude them, I judge each on its merits. The Comma Johanneum has a weak argument for inclusion. Luke 23:34 has a stronger argument but is not air-tight.Matthew 27 and Acts 1, where one verse says, concerning Judas, “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field” and the other says, “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself”?Judas was obviously not a very stable individual. Maybe he went back later to retrieve his ill-gotten gains. Maybe the high priests, who didn’t want it (as they called it “blood money”), sent someone to give it back to him. The text doesn’t tell us.Also, to forestall/explain the other thing about “he hanged himself” and “his body burst open”…this field that Judas bought possesses (apparently, still to this day) pretty rough terrain, overhangs, cliffs, etc. Judas probably hanged himself on a tree branch overhanging a bit of a drop; his body hung there, the branch broke, the corpse fell down a ways and burst open from the impact.Good talking to you.Peace,Rhology

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