A thumb to suck, a skirt to hold


That was Isaac Asimov’s blunt dismissal of religion. And its appropriateness is never more evident than in this pitifully sad article currently on CNN.com, in which the point is made that “when it comes to saving lives, God trumps doctors for many Americans.”

More than half of randomly surveyed adults — 57 percent — said God’s intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand that treatment continue.

When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.

Here’s the utility of religion spelled out: it continues to persist, more than anything, as an anodyne against the fear of death. Say what you will about its role in building a sense of community for its followers, or the repeated testimonials from believers about God giving them a sense of direction and purpose in life. What it boils down to is that religion is mostly used by people to manage their most profound insecurities and fears. And nothing is more devastating than the loss of a loved one, except perhaps, for some people, the prospect of their own eventual death.

In a sense I can understand the desperation here. There are harsh truths few people have the courage to face. But where I think believers would tell you that their faith gives them the courage to face those truths, I see the opposite in play: they’re clinging to their faith like a drowning man clutching at a reed, to justify their ongoing denial of truth, simply because facing it involves taking an emotional body blow that the thin shield their faith provides really would buckle under the force of it. And they know it, deep down.

What, apart from people’s innate fears, keeps this practice of clinging to hope of miraculous divine intervention in the face of very real tragedy alive? Well, the fact that, on occasion, people do bounce back for any number of reasons from death’s door. And these rare occasions are justification enough for the religious mind. All it takes is one cancer patient branded terminal to go into remission instead, and the instant that person’s family starts braying about God’s miraculous cure, a million other people going through the same pain are cruelly given false hopes, only to see them dashed more often than not. It’s exactly the mentality of people who habitually play the lottery: “Sure, the odds are pretty long, but you never know.”

I remember a caller to the show back when I was host, a nice young woman who asked what we felt about such a hypothetical cancer patient, and if such events were or were not a good reason to consider the likelihood of God. I replied that I would have even more moral qualms about a God like that existing, as I would be troubled by the thought of why God would choose to save one dying mother, but not all the other dying mothers and fathers and children who were doubtless languishing in that hospital’s very same oncology wing, with family members keeping vigil by their sides with just as much pain in their hearts. Why not grant miracle cures to everyone all at once? It would hurt no one, relieve many of their emotional suffering, and give believers much stronger evidence of miracles to point to when talking to the unconverted. The caller admitted she hadn’t thought of it that way.

I think it’s good to see doctors (and frankly, if I’m ever hospitalized, I sincerely hope not to get any of the ones in that 20 percentile) dealing realistically with patients’ families in their stubbornness about godly intervention that isn’t coming. While it’s important to be respectful — no, not of the irrational beliefs, but of the very real pain and confusion that’s feeding them — it’s doubly important to guide these people towards an acceptance of the reality we will all have to face in our lives, that our loved ones die, that we too will die. As one woman interviewed in the story, who tragically lost her children in an accident, begrudgingly admits, “I have become more of a realist. I know that none of us are immune from anything.” It’s terrible she had to go through such an awful experience to learn such a lesson. I guess that’s why they’re called lessons.

Take each day as it comes and appreciate it to the fullest. If it’s a particularly shitty day, make an effort to do something to make it slightly less shitty. Take a walk in the park, jam out to your favorite album, hug a dog, excuse yourself from the presence of people who are being assholes to you. You don’t get to do this one again, and no miracle will be coming to let you hit the reset button. If nothing else, at the very end, you can say to yourself and to those who don’t want to see you go, “Don’t be unhappy. I lived.”

Comments

  1. says

    Why not grant miracle cures to everyone all at once? It would hurt no one, relieve many of their emotional suffering, and give believers much stronger evidence of miracles to point to when talking to the unconverted.Why should He? Speaking of a thumb to suck – you continue to feed your audience these pointless moral platitudes. An appeal to the hoi polloi. Why not go beyond the usual gimmick appeals and deal with some stuff that looks atheism and rationalism straight in the face? Or provide some reason why, on atheism, we should consider any such death “tragic”, “bad”, or “blame-able on God if He were real”? W/o an argument, this post is no better than a bad Sunday School lesson. Peace,Rhology

  2. says

    Your response about the idea that god would pick and choose the more deserving is good. Why this child and not that one? Generally I’ve heard “god’s plan” as the answer. But why would an all powerful being, if he was not monstrous, create a plan that required children to suffer and die protracted deaths in hospitals while their families watched on hoping for an intervention god plans to withhold. That’s simply cruel. Unless god was somehow constrained, he could have accomplished whatever he was trying to accomplish without killing children. Why not go that route if it’s just as effective? And if there are more and less effective routes, then god is not all powerful. He cannot, in that case produce a plan with the same effectiveness that reduces suffering.Also, the reality that Christians are fighting for the right to demand treatment after claiming they’re saved is the height of hypocrisy. And I can say this with 20/20 vision. When I was a Christian it was my contention that no Christian who feared death would have a shot in Hell of entering Heaven. The reason was that, regardless of their claim to believe in God’s grace, their fear of death belied their disbelief. I believed in my own salvation, and I never feared death during my Christian phase.Also importantly, if I believe god has a plan and god can intervene—what does that say about my insistence that the doctors continue to treat me or my loved one after they have indicated that medical science is of no further use? Let’s pull the plug and pray and let the Lord decide. Isn’t anything else a lack of trust in god’s will for the dying/sick person?>As one woman interviewed in the story, who tragically lost her children in an accident, begrudgingly admits, "I have become more of a realist. I know that none of us are immune from anything." It's terrible she had to go through such an awful experience to learn such a lesson. I guess that's why they're called lessons.In Buddhism there is a Parable of the Mustard Seed. But it’s very different than the Christian parable of the same name. In fact, the difference is almost an irony. Whereas the Christian parable teaches that with faith, we can have miracles, the Buddhist lesson is that we must face the reality of life’s lessons and not trust in miracles.The Buddhist story is that a woman comes to the Buddha saying she has heard he is a powerful master. Her child has just died and she asks the Buddha to please bring him back to her—to give her a resurrection miracle. The Buddha tells her he can help her. He says he needs her to go back to her village and bring him a mustard seed from any house there where no one has died. (You may see where this is going already.) She goes from house to house asking her friends and neighbors for the seed. They all want badly to help her, but they cannot, for house after house has seen death. After several houses, the woman begins to realize that death is an inevitability and that, as this woman has learned in the article, “none of us are immune.” Buddha didn’t help her get her child back. But he helped her to accept the death for what it was and to feel less alone knowing that everyone can share her grief and offer her sympathy and understanding.At the e-mail list I also posted my lack of ability to understand how a medical worker, doctor or not, can work for a system that they believe is an less viable healing system. If my goal is to heal people, and I want to devote my life’s work to that, and I put forward that System X fails where System Y succeeds…why would I then choose System X to put my energies into? Why wouldn’t I become a faith healer instead of a physician’s assistant or a doctor or an ER worker? Why wouldn’t I be lobbying for funding to be pulled from cancer research and given, instead, to healer televangelists or private prayer groups? I don’t get it.

  3. says

    What a bunch of moralistic whining, no different than what one would find on the laughable whywon’tgodhealamputees site. That’s simply cruel.Prove it’s cruel. Define your standard.Then, provide evidence that “cruel” = morally wrong. And make sure to provide an argument as to why that should apply to anyone else.Why not go that route if it’s just as effective?Are you arguing for some kind of purpose in the universe? Defined by… whom? Certainly not God – this is an atheist site.Define the purpose, provide the argument for it, and make sure you understand you stand in variance with many big-name atheist philosophers.the height of hypocrisyProvide an argument that hypocrisy = morally wrong. And make sure to provide an argument as to why that should apply to anyone else.I believed in my own salvation, and I never feared death during my Christian phase.Your self-deception apparently continues to this day. No time like the present to change, though. if I believe god has a plan and god can intervene—what does that say about my insistence that the doctors continue to treat me or my loved one after they have indicated that medical science is of no further use?Please explain why these Christians are justified in thinking this way. Quote Bible verses, and make sure you exegete them properly.If you can’t, be so kind as to concede the point.Let’s pull the plug and pray and let the Lord decide. Which is hardly the biblical standard.If you want to condemn the sub-biblical view on this, I’m all the way with you. isn’t anything else a lack of trust in god’s will for the dying/sick person?Where did God promise in the Bible to heal everyone in this life? Whereas the Christian parable teaches that with faith, we can have miraclesThat is not the correct understanding of that parable. This doesn’t inspire much confidence in your ability to understand and correctly interpret the Bible. If my goal is to heal people, and I want to devote my life’s work to that, and I put forward that System X fails where System Y succeeds…why would I then choose System X to put my energies into? Why wouldn’t I become a faith healer instead of a physician’s assistant or a doctor or an ER worker?B/c faith “healers” don’t heal. Doctors do. The Bible doesn’t provide for the career of “faith healer” and comprehends the usage of medicine and due diligence.I don’t get it.Well said, but we didn’t need you to tell us.Peace,Rhology

  4. says

    I lost a dear friend last year to cancer. He wasn’t religious and neither was his wife at the time. I was over at the hospital or at his house (after they moved him there for hospice care) for most of the last eight weeks of his life, and I have to say that one of the hardest things for me was hearing the religious friends say “I’m praying for him to get better.”I know they meant well, and were trying to work out for themselves what it all meant, but the kind of cancer he had was so aggressive and it went through his abdomen so quickly the doctors hadn’t seen anything like it. He wasn’t going to survive. There were hardly any internal organs left.But I had to stifle my outrage as one of his catholic friends said to me “well, god works in mysterious ways, so there’s a chance if we pray,” after we had discussed how advanced the cancer had become. Without thinking, I said, “prayer is not going to help. He’s terminal and it’s aggressive.” A day or two after that conversation they dosed him with a ton of painkillers and he actually seemed to get better for a day or two- lucidity returned, and that friend smirked at me a little as if to say “see, what did I tell you, unbeliever.” Everyone took it as a miracle, and most of his extended family and many of their friends wanted the doctors to continue the extreme measures to keep him lucid. They equated that with “getting better.”His wife said no.And of course when the painkillers wore off, he sank lower than he had been at the outset.And then he died.His wife ended up returning to church after years of not going, and began seeing mediums and psychics.I ended up being a stronger atheist- watching my friend tread the path that all terminal cancer patients walk- depression, denial, acceptance and finally withdrawal as the bodies functions begin to shut down… It just reinforced my convictions and reminded me how precious life is, and how some people touch your life in amazing ways.

  5. Martin says

    Ever predictable, Rhology is quick on the draw with a childish shit fit anytime I post anything to indicate the failings of religion as a source of strength and its role in exploiting misery to its own benefit. Exactly how is it a “gimmick appeal” to “the hoi polloi” to point out that when desperately sad religious believers cling to their hope for a divine miracle in the face of the ineluctable reality that none is coming, they are in fact hiding from the truth apart from facing it? In short, it’s not a “gimmick appeal,” it’s an inconvenient truth that sets Rhology’s blood to boiling for having been pointed out. As for his broken record routine about “prove death is bad,” seems to me we’ve been down this road before. If Rho didn’t see fit to listen to us last several times we’ve explained these things exhaustively to him, I see no reason to think he’s going to listen now. I mean, seriously Rho, there’s simply no point in arguing concepts like morality and ethics with a guy who’s just going to go “Nuh-uh!” to any explanation we provide. Okay, you think “morality” is just “God makes the rules and we obey,” and so godless people can’t have morals. Got it. Fine. Under that bogus definition of “morality,” I’ll happily cop to not having any. And by all means, cling to that definition of the term, as it’s what you need to do to feel superior. We got that too.As for accusing me of having no argument, well, good grief: Tracie explains quite carefully a quandary she faced when she was a believer, and Rho, incapable of addressing that meaningfully, falls back on his standby of “prove [x] is morally wrong.” Ho hum. Yes, Rho, I assert that any God who claims to love us all yet randomly parcels out miracles only on the rarest of occasions simply to string along his bereaved worshipers with false hopes is an immoral god. Maybe you could provide an argument as to why that sort of thing is morally right, apart from the usual “he’s God, so whatever he does is right by definition” thing, that is. I mean, without an argument, your comments are no better than any other pissy exercise in fundie trolling.

  6. says

    how is it a “gimmick appeal”… they are in fact hiding from the truth apart from facing it?I explained that. I’m asking for an argument for a purpose, for a standard to know whether it is commendable or reprehensible to hide from the truth. Maybe they’re hiding from the truth. On atheism, so what?sets Rhology’s blood to boilingUm, not really. I’m pretty calm, chilling. thanks for your concern, though.there’s simply no point in arguing concepts like morality and ethics with a guy who’s just going to go “Nuh-uh!” to any explanation we provide.It’s simply your job to point out to your other readers where we’ve had those discussions and where you’ve decisively refuted me. I happen to think your views make no sense, so the more scrutiny that can shine upon them, the better.so godless people can’t have morals.This is another reason I keep commenting on these questions – you never learn.That’s never been my position, nor my argument. Why strawman it?Yes, Rho, I assert that any God who claims to love us all yet randomly parcels out miracles only on the rarest of occasions simply to string along his bereaved worshipers with false hopes is an immoral god.Which is exactly my point – to make this argument, you’re the Pope of Morality.But that’s not what I asked either. I asked this: And make sure to provide an argument as to why that should apply to anyone else.I asked it twice. Why didn’t you respond to it? Is it b/c *you* are angry? Maybe you could provide an argument as to why that sort of thing is morally right, apart from the usual “he’s God, so whatever he does is right by definition” thingOh, so I should explain it, but do it in a way that would deny my position? That makes a lot of sense. Maybe my view doesn’t make sense, maybe it does. That says absolutely nothing about your own.Peace,Rhology

  7. says

    I’m not sure it’s actually worth replying, because Rho has misinterpreted everything I've said so wholly that I'm not sure a reply can fix problems with comprehesion that go that deep…?>Prove it's cruel. Define your standard. Then, provide evidence that "cruel" = morally wrong. And make sure to provide an argument as to why that should apply to anyone else.Absolutely I am addressing my personal values. Did I assert I was speaking on behalf of someone else–or did you assume I was?If I have the power to help your dying child, and I promise you that if you have faith in me—the smallest faith (as a mustard seed)—that absolutely everything becomes possible for you. And so you have faith, and you pray for recovery, and the entire time, I already know the child is destined to die. I see that as cruel. You are free to disagree if your morality dictates such a thing is kind. We would have, in that case, a substantial difference of opinion regarding how people should be treated. But that's not illegal.>Are you arguing for some kind of purpose in the universe? Defined by… whom?I believe I mentioned Christians’ perspectives specifically in my post–and my own exChristian perspectives. If god is omniscient, then all is predestined. "Thy will be done" is a common quote from Jesus teaching people how to pray. I take that asking god to do what he's going to do is about accepting god's will (in trust) rather than asserting our own desires in prayer.Also, I have heard many of Christians declare that god has a plan. It’s not an uncommon Christian doctrine. You may not agree with it–but you're not the Emporer of Christian doctrine. If I am addressing what Christians believe, and it is a common Christian belief–I do not see how that becomes such an issue for you.Did you think I was saying I am a theist who believes god has a plan? If so, you badly misread me. I assure you I am an atheist and I don't put forward god has a plan. Therefore, as much as I would like to oblige your request that I explain to you god's plan, I can't. You might ask one of the many Christians preaching that the assertion is true. It is a Christian matter, it seems, and not one in the realm of atheism.>Define the purpose, provide the argument for it,If I point out someone believes in aliens—does that mean I’m asserting I know all about the aliens in which they believe? According to you, I can’t put forward that Christians have a doctrine of “god’s plan” unless I adopt the doctrine as my own first and can explain it? I disagree.>Provide an argument that hypocrisy = morally wrong. And make sure to provide an argument as to why that should apply to anyone else.Did I assert hypocrisy was morally wrong? If so, please show me the quote. I meant to point out it is absurd. As contradicting oneself shows that one rejects one’s own views. And that's humorous and stupid–but not, necessarily, immoral.>Your self-deception apparently continues to this day. No time like the present to change, though.Feel free to support your assertion with, I don't know–quotes that show I'm self-decieved?>Please explain why these Christians are justified in thinking this way.Where does it become the responsibility of an atheist to defend Christian doctrine? I have to ask in all seriousness, are you high?In fact, I have yet to meet the Christian whose thinking is justified. If I felt Christian beliefs were justifiable, I'd likely be one–wouldn't I?>>if I believe god has a plan and god can intervene—what does that say about my insistence that the doctors continue to treat me or my loved one after they have indicated that medical science is of no further use?>Please explain why these Christians are justified in thinking this way. >Quote Bible verses, and make sure you exegete them properly.>If you can't, be so kind as to concede the point.Again–how did it become my responsiblity to justify what Christians claim is true? I'm an atheist. I'm merely asserting the DO, in fact, put this belief forward. Google for it yourself, and you'll see I'm not making this sh*t up.Also, many, MANY Christians assert a personal relationship with god. Others assert the Church is god's authority. So why should a Bible verse even be necessary to support Christian doctrine? Again-if you doubt what I'm saying, look it up. Christians do not all assert the Bible is the only authority from god. If you do, that's your belief. But you can't claim to speak for all Christians.Concede my point that if a Christian asserts this, he is hypocritical? Why? It’s a valid point.>>Let’s pull the plug and pray and let the Lord decide.>Which is hardly the biblical standard.Who was it that said, when you pray, pray "Let thy will not my will be done"?>>isn’t anything else a lack of trust in god’s will for the dying/sick person?Where did God promise in the Bible to heal everyone in this life?Do you even understand the points you’re responding to? Above I have not claimed that anyone–even teh most deluded Christians–think that god is going to heal everyone. If you actually read it, you’ll see that what I just said is that the Christian should trust in god for whatever outcome arises–life or death. HOW could you miss that? Please at least try to take a moment to understand what you read before you rush to reply.>That is not the correct understanding of that parable. This doesn't inspire much confidence in your ability to understand and correctly interpret the Bible.I believe Jesus says, almost verbatim, that you can tell a mountain to move, and it will get up and move. Likewise Jesus is recorded as saying "all things are possible" with god. And prayer is often a request for god's "all possible" intervention. I don't recall an asterisk that reads "*Within reasonable limits–god can't do 'all things' literally–like with miracles and stuff."If we're talking about a supernatural miracle being, and his divine god son says that "all things are possible," and walks around bringing dead people back as a sign of god's power and authority (and handing that power to other people to show people can do it, as well)–that perhaps if he tell his followers that "all things are possible" if they have faith (even making a mountain get up and move)…I might get some big ideas. But, hey, that's just me.Now, you can say he was speaking metaphorically and apply your own personal meaning if you like as well. That’s every individual Christian’s right(and wow, do they like to exercise it!)—to decide where god meant what he said versus where he meant what they say he said.>B/c faith "healers" don't heal.I don’t even think they would say they heal. They say god heals through them–just as the Bible Christians healed the sick (through god's power and authority). And the doctors in this article, the 20 percent, also say god does this. So, why aren’t they, like faith healers, using god’s power instead of science–if the put forward that god succeeds where science fails?>The Bible doesn't provide for the career of "faith healer" and comprehends the usage of medicine and due diligence.The Bible doesn't provide for the career of auto mechanic either. And…?Yes, it contradicts, again, that's a Christian concern, not an atheist concern. It says that the elders should come anoint you with oil if you're sick and pray over you in one book, and says you should seek out a physician in another. I notice that in the Bible "god" seems to like to cover his bases.

  8. says

    I haven’t read through the comments, just skimmed enough to understand the context of this:Prove it’s cruel.If you consider anguished and dying children not explicitly negative, congratulations, you’re a sociopath.

  9. says

    I ended up being a stronger atheist- watching my friend tread the path that all terminal cancer patients walk- depression, denial, acceptance and finally withdrawal as the bodies functions begin to shut down… It just reinforced my convictions and reminded me how precious life is, and how some people touch your life in amazing ways.Spajadigit, from my own experience, several years ago I went through the worst crisis in my adult life. Without going into detail, I did something incredibly stupid and completely out of step from the values that guided me. I lived in fear of losing my family and everything that mattered to me for about five months. But not once did I resort to prayer or waver in my atheism, and everything ended up turning out alright.The experience did teach me to value my life more, so at least something worthwhile was salvaged from the experience.

  10. says

    This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a Christian who desperately wanted me to believe in miracles. He claimed that his son was cured of his infantile glaucoma through a miracle. Yet, when I asked a few questions I discovered that his son had received the usual treatment for this condition from doctors, and his pressures were down to normal. I also found through my own research that this condition is never considered to be cured…it can relapse at any time. When I asked the man if his son still sees his ophthalmologist, I never received a reply. He was so desperate to believe that this was a miracle that he refused to consider that the medical treatments could be the actual cause of his son’s decrease in pressures. And he proved the point I had been trying to make to him….gods do not deserve recognition when someone recovers from a medical condition, doctors do. The saddest part of this whole conversation was the fact that he claimed his wife was a nurse….I’m not sure how a person who is trained in the medical field could disregard medical treatments and believe that a miracle “cured” her son. I wouldn’t want a person like that to be part of my treatment team if I were in the hospital.

  11. says

    happinessiseasy:I would’ve thought Asimov to be particularly religious based on the ending to The Last Question.Is that the one with the robots on the space station who get religion, but wind up aiming the energy beam at the receiving station the way they’re supposed to, because they think that’s what their god is telling them to do, so it all works out in the end?I was always bothered by that story, because it illustrates the way that religion provides unfounded certainty: the robots are certain that they’re right, because the orders come from their god, and if that means destroying Earth’s atmosphere with the energy beam, then that’s God’s will.The humans, who don’t believe in the robots’ god, see no a priori reason to trust that the robots will do the right thing. They do, which is lucky, but that’s not the expected outcome.

  12. says

    Zurahn,Way to beg the question.Evidence that being cruel, being a sociopath, is morally wrong?tracieh said:Absolutely I am addressing my personal values. Did I assert I was speaking on behalf of someone else–or did you assume I was?Let’s not play these stupid games. Whom do you think you’re fooling. You said in your comment:But why would an all powerful being, if he was not monstrous, create a plan that required children to suffer and die protracted deaths in hospitals while their families watched on hoping for an intervention god plans to withhold. That’s simply cruel.andafter claiming they’re saved is the height of hypocrisy. (implying that hypocrisy is a bad thing)Why even bother making your 1st comment if you’re just addressing your personal values and think they have no bearing on anyone else? It’s obvious that you think these values are right and others should hold them, and your current backpedaling just reduces your credibility. If you really believed that, you’d say “I personally disagree with Rhology, but neither of us have the truth about the matter. It’s just whatever each of us thinks.” You didn’t say that, b/c you don’t believe it. You’re just acting like you believe it NOW b/c you were called on it. *THAT’S* hypocrisy. I see that as cruel. You are free to disagree if your morality dictates such a thing is kind.It’s not just that I disagree, it’s that I question your worldview’s ability to sustain a moral judgment like “cruelty”. What is the standard you use, against which you compare this action to determine “cruel” and “not cruel”? But that’s not illegal.No, but your statements are irrational. I believe I mentioned Christians’ perspectives specifically in my post–and my own exChristian perspectives…Did you think I was saying I am a theist who believes god has a plan?But the statement I mention here was made from the position of YOUR worldview, not the Christian one. But maybe you DO believe in some purpose for the universe. I’d be interested in hearing what it is and whence it comes. You had said:Unless god was somehow constrained, he could have accomplished whatever he was trying to accomplish without killing children. Why not go that route if it’s just as effective?That last question is asked from your atheist worldview. You don’t know “effective” in this context or have any way to judge whether it’s good or bad to go a certain route unless you know of some purpose. I am asking you what it is. Reading more of your comment, you apparently are having a problem understanding what I’m saying. You are making objections to the Christian worldview based on judgments based on your atheist understanding of things, and I’m questioning these objections on your own grounds. I am challenging you to defend the consistency of your own worldview and comments.Did I assert hypocrisy was morally wrong?More disingenuousness. I don’t believe that for a second.But for the sake of argument, that’s fine. Hypocrisy is not morally wrong. Thus, you concede both your objection and the point.As contradicting oneself shows that one rejects one’s own views.Not necessarily. It means one is inconsistent, hasn’t thought all the way thru his views.Rhology said:Please explain why these Christians are justified in thinking this way. tracieh said:Are you high?You are comparing these Christians to Christian**ITY**, and I was asking you to make good that comparison. To see if you know what you’re talking about. You apparently have difficulty differentiating between individual believers’ beliefs and the Christian doctrine.So why should a Bible verse even be necessary to support Christian doctrine?For a lot of reasons. One is that, w/o the Bible, there’s no Christianity.Another is b/c the divine founder of Christianity said that we should treat the Bible as the very voice of God.But you can’t claim to speak for all Christians.You’re not arguing with “all Christians”, you’re arguing with me.Concede my point that if a Christian asserts this, he is hypocritical?B/c he has made up his belief, got it from a misinterpretation of the Bible. In other words, it’s of his own creation, not from Christianity. So your comments, to be accurate, should be directed towards THESE PEOPLE ONLY, not towards Christianity. You may concede that, and that’s fine – just so we understand each other.Who was it that said, when you pray, pray “Let thy will not my will be done”?…I believe Jesus says, almost verbatim, that you can tell a mountain to move, and it will get up and move. Jesus.There you go again – pulling Bible verses out of context. It’s barely worth a response w/o even the minimum effort on your part to form a coherent and meaningful argument.If you actually read it, you’ll see that what I just said is that the Christian should trust in god for whatever outcome arises–life or death.Fine, but that doesn’t rule out medical science, medicine, etc, as you’re trying to say.Likewise Jesus is recorded as saying “all things are possible” with god. Possible =/= going to be instantiated in every instance. How silly can one get?you can say he was speaking metaphorically and apply your own personal meaning if you like as well.Um, not really, more like you have so far not shown any capability to provide any meaningful exegesis of the Bible.I don’t even think they would say they heal. They say god heals through themGod doesn’t heal thru them either in the way they claim.The Bible doesn’t provide for the career of auto mechanic either.Yes it does. As if an explicit statement “Thou shalt allow for the careers of those who will fix cars” is what would be required in this sense. One wonders if you have even the slightest idea how to perform exegesis. “Exegesis” is a big word that means “interpreting a text within its context so as to get its meaning out of it”. Hopefully that helps. You might want to stay away from this Bible criticism stuff in the future – you’re not good at it. It says that the elders should come anoint you with oil if you’re sick and pray over you in one book, and says you should seek out a physician in another. I notice that in the Bible “god” seems to like to cover his bases.As if one cancels out the other. Maybe in your imagination.Peace,Rhology

  13. says

    Rho:>>Absolutely I am addressing my personal values. Did I assert I was speaking on behalf of someone else–or did you assume I was?>Let's not play these stupid games. Whom do you think you're fooling. You said in your comment:>>But why would an all powerful being, if he was not monstrous, create a plan that required children to suffer and die protracted deaths in hospitals while their families watched on hoping for an intervention god plans to withhold. That’s simply cruel.Okaaaay. And do I assert somewhere that this is not stated as _my_ view? I don’t know what you’re trying to point out. Rather than assume I’m “playing” some game—try to communicate. I don’t get what you’re trying to establish in your response. When I give my views, they are my views. I’m absolutely willing to admit to that. Why is that game playing?>And>>after claiming they’re saved is the height of hypocrisy. (implying that hypocrisy is a bad thing)Yes, I think it is not a positive attribute or something to admire, in my estimation. But you said I said it was “immoral” when I clearly did not? (More on this below.) And, again, how is what I said in this quote put forward as not being my view? I don’t understand why you think that if I assert my judgment of an issue that I think it automatically expresses the judgment of others as well. I’m speaking for me. I made no attempt to confuse anyone into thinking I am not sharing my own thoughts. If you somehow think the above quotes illustrate otherwise, I can honestly say I have no idea where you’re getting that from.>Why even bother making your 1st comment if you're just addressing your personal values and think they have no bearing on anyone else?Because I like to express my views—like a lot of people? Who exactly do you think I’m pretending to represent? Can I at least ask for that much clarification? I promise you that when I give my views, I understand they are _my_ views. I have never said or implied otherwise, except in your head.>It's obvious that you think these values are right and others should hold them,Really? It’s not possible that I simply am saying what I think about a thing? I don’t get how you perceive I’m asking someone else to adopt my view. I can only guess that a Christian mindset of preaching and converting others is at work here in generating that view of preaching into any statement of personal judgment anyone else makes. I assure you that when I state a view, I understand some people will agree and some will disagree. I’m OK with that. You obviously disagree, and I’m OK with that. And I don’t understand, honestly, your confusion over this. Your reasoning, to me, is very disjointed and abstract.> and your current backpedaling just reduces your credibility. What backpeddling? You claim I said I was speaking on behalf of someone else or some others. You have showed nothing in the above quotes to support that I have done anything but voice my own views—which is, as far as I know, my Constitutional right. Now, you claim that since you read me wrong, I must accept your incorrect reading or else _I’m_ disingenuous.>If you really believed that, you'd say "I personally disagree with Rhology, but neither of us have the truth about the matter. It's just whatever each of us thinks." You didn't say that, b/c you don't believe it. You're just acting like you believe it NOW b/c you were called on it. *THAT'S* hypocrisy. OR, I think it’s just common sense that if an opinion comes out of my mouth or out of my computer, there is not a need to dumb it down to the level of starting every such statement I ever make in life with, “It’s just my opinion, but …”In fact, one of the very first things I learned in basic Journalism courses is that whenever someone states an opinion, such caveats need not be made in every instance in an article (they are, in fact, generally edited out), because it is understood (assumed to be general common sense) that they are expressing their personal beliefs. There is no need for me to say “It is my opinion chocolate cake tastes good,” when I understand that people are not so stupid as to think that if I express opinions, I am expressing them on someone else’s behalf or asserting them as universal truths. If I say “Chocolate cake tastes good,” it should be safe for me to assume people understand that I’m saying “I [Tracie] like chocolate cake.” Until I met you, I didn’t think anyone could be so dense as to not be able to work that out.>>I see that as cruel. You are free to disagree if your morality dictates such a thing is kind.>It's not just that I disagree, it's that I question your worldview's ability to sustain a moral judgment like "cruelty". What is the standard you use, against which you compare this action to determine "cruel" and "not cruel"?Generally I judge that if I cause unnecessary harm—physical or emotional—to other sentient beings, that is cruel. If a society allowed wanton such harm, unchecked, it would become problematic to social harmony. And emotionally, additionally, I have concern for other beings enough to “feel” sympathy so that I don’t wish to cause them undue distress. That is what my judgment of “cruel” is based upon. And, since you feel I should appeal to the intellectually impaired reader: I understand not everyone hold to the same standards and values as I do.>>But that's not illegal.>No, but your statements are irrational. Feel free to demonstrate how at any time.>>I believe I mentioned Christians’ perspectives specifically in my post–and my own exChristian perspectives…Did you think I was saying I am a theist who believes god has a plan?>But the statement I mention here was made from the position of YOUR worldview, not the Christian one.That is impossible as I don’t believe there is either a god or a plan. Since you now are aware I am an atheist, you would benefit from going back and re-reading and reconsidering your assumption that the “plan” I mentioned was my own device, rather than a view put forward by many Christians.>But maybe you DO believe in some purpose for the universe. I'd be interested in hearing what it is and whence it comes.I assure you I do not. And if you’re getting that impression, I’m assure you, I don’t know from where. I am not trying to be contentious—but you really are the most prone-to-misunderstanding person I’ve every dialogued with. I’ve never had this experience before. When I asked before if you were high, I realize that sounded flip—but I was really wondering if there was something affecting your perception while you wrote (emotional distress or medication). Reading your further input, I’m still wondering. I don’t know how to say it without sounding sarcastic—but I don’t mean it at all in a sarcastic vein.>You had said:>>Unless god was somehow constrained, he could have accomplished whatever he was trying to accomplish without killing children. Why not go that route if it’s just as effective?>That last question is asked from your atheist worldview.No. From an atheist worldview, there is no god. That question doesn’t even make sense in an atheist worldview. It only has meaning in a world with theistic views—which I was considering.>You don't know "effective" in this context or have any way to judge whether it's good or bad to go a certain route unless you know of some purpose. I am asking you what it is.And I’m telling you that you’re confused about something, and I’m not sure what. I’m not putting forward that there is a purpose. I’m asserting that Christians put that forward. And if you think I’m making that up—go and Google “god’s plan” and
    “Christian” and see if you don’t find I’m right. My question to them is not unlike your question to me: If they accept a good god with all powerfulness as an attribute—then how do they explain “suffering” if they also put forward a plan?My question above is not an assertion of my own view. It is a rhetorical question to such Christians. Are you unfamiliar perhaps with rhetorical questions or the concept of Devil’s Advocate? Again, not sarcastic, but that would explain the failed comprehension.>Reading more of your comment, you apparently are having a problem understanding what I'm saying. You are making objections to the Christian worldview based on judgments based on your atheist understanding of things, and I'm questioning these objections on your own grounds. I am challenging you to defend the consistency of your own worldview and comments.No, you’re asking me to guess what plan might include an all powerful, all loving god who hurts people. And if I could find such a plan, I would make millions selling it as a working theistic response to the problem of evil—which to this day has no valid response. You are right about one thing, however, I am _not_ understanding what you’re saying. You appear to wish to interpret that as disingenuousness on my part. But I assure you that I’m trying very hard to connect your rebuttals in any way to my statements. They don’t even appear to be related to me.>>Did I assert hypocrisy was morally wrong?>More disingenuousness. I don't believe that for a second.Then let me clarify. Morality is a personal judgment about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. However, the inappropriate behavior must be strongly inappropriate to be labeled “immoral.” Eating with your hands is inappropriate—some might even call it “wrong’—but to stretch that to “immoral” would be wacky in the judgment of most people I have ever known. You’re claiming I equated hypocrisy with immorality. I did not. If a person does a stupid thing, I can assert it’s not good, without raising it to the level of “not good” that constitutes an immorality. Again, the idea that “sin is sin” is a Christian value. Not my value.>>But for the sake of argument, that's fine. Hypocrisy is not morally wrong. Thus, you concede both your objection and the point.Your “point” was that I said hypocrisy was immoral. I illustrated I never did. And you failed to support your assertion. If that’s conceding your point—then feel free to have the point.>>As contradicting oneself shows that one rejects one’s own views.>Not necessarily. It means one is inconsistent, hasn't thought all the way thru his views.If I express opposing views as my own, I am rejecting one or both of those views by stating the other. If I’m merely entertaining two opposing views, and have not decided which I hold to, I haven’t thought them through. Christians assert opposing views and claim to hold to all of them (in the model of the “plan” I gave). You can find Christians who assert as their belief, all of the things I put forward that they claim. If you haven’t met Christians who claim to hold to this set of assertions, I can say I’m honestly surprised, as I have met many.>Rhology said:>>Please explain why these Christians are justified in thinking this way.>>tracieh said:>>Are you high?Just to state—I believe I said a bit more than this.>You are comparing these Christians to Christian**ITY**, and I was asking you to make good that comparison. To see if you know what you're talking about.I know what Christians assert as their beliefs and what they teach and promote. That’s what I was talking about.>You apparently have difficulty differentiating between individual believers' beliefs and the Christian doctrine.The church, house of doctrine, consists of members, whose beliefs produce the doctrine that promotes the beliefs that promote the doctrine…Different denominations have different doctrines. Believers choose their churches based on their alignment with these doctrines. That is observable. If a lot of Christians believe X, there is generally a church (or soon will be) putting it forward those beliefs as Christian doctrine. When I look up doctrine, here is what it says:“a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated”While I would agree that what people believe is not the same “thing” as what is taught—the beliefs and the teachings consist of the same ideas. There is a reality, that if I’m talking about what Christians believe, it is highly likely (to an absurd degree) that they belong to a church that teaches (as doctrine) what they believe. In that regard, while they are not the same “thing” they are the same set of ideas in both the Christian’s personal belief and the Churches’ doctrinal teachings. I hope that helps clarify.>>So why should a Bible verse even be necessary to support Christian doctrine?>For a lot of reasons. One is that, w/o the Bible, there's no Christianity.Before the Bible there were Christians—according to the Bible. So, in the absence of a Bible there can be Christianity. The Bible itself provides an example.>Another is b/c the divine founder of Christianity said that we should treat the Bible as the very voice of God.There may be some passage that you believe asserts that. However, it would be highly interpretive, since no Bible existed even after Jesus’ death. If you mean Paul (who also fits the description of the “founder of Christianity”—the same can be said of him).>>But you can't claim to speak for all Christians.>You're not arguing with "all Christians", you're arguing with me.My original comment—which is the basis of our discussion—considered Christian views—not Rho’s views. You asked me to justify my claims about what other Christians believe by providing chapter and verse—because that is what your particular brand of Christianity requires. My response was to point out that I can describe what Christians believe without Bible support, because what Christians believe is not always supported by the Bible—many of them state it doesn’t need to be. And I provided you two common examples. So, when I ask “why do Christians assert X”—and you ask me to validate what they assert by using your own, personal, beliefs as the measuring device, that is not reasonable. It needs only to be supported by _their_ measuring devices—which may consist of a difference of interpretation of your device, or of another device altogether that you may or may not accept. But what is it to them if you don’t accept it? And what is it to my statement about _them_, if you don’t accept what they accept?>>Concede my point that if a Christian asserts this, he is hypocritical?>B/c he has made up his belief, got it from a misinterpretation of the Bible. You do not know this. Maybe he got it from personal revelation or from the Pope. Not every Christian believes that all his beliefs or doings need be authorized by the Bible. You are assuming they hold to the same authority you do (the Bible), and they often state that they do not.>In other words, it's of his own creation, not from Christianity.No, it’s not from “the Bible.” That does not mean it’s not from “Christianity.” According to that particular Christian, it may have come from the Christian god personally—who would pretty well be fairly described as an authoritative Christian source.>So your comments, to be accurate, should be directed towards THESE PEOPLE ONLY, not towards Christianity.Christian churches exist that teach (doctrine) divine revelation and personal relationships with god. And further many churches assert the Bible is not the ultimate authority—but
    that god is, or the Pope is. Those two doctrines are, in fact, quite common in Christianity and among Christians. And they aren’t asserted by a few rogue individuals, but by large Christian churches—which qualifies them (by definition) as Christian doctrine. Surely there are other Christian doctrines, and you appear to adhere to a different one. That’s fine. But you, again, aren’t the Emperor of Christian doctrine.>You may concede that, and that's fine – just so we understand each other.I’d be lying if I claimed to understand 75 percent of what you say. To be honest, when I write to you, I’m half guessing what you mean.>>Who was it that said, when you pray, pray "Let thy will not my will be done"?…I believe Jesus says, almost verbatim, that you can tell a mountain to move, and it will get up and move.>Jesus. There you go again – pulling Bible verses out of context.The context was faith—that even small faith could produce miraculous results.> It's barely worth a response w/o even the minimum effort on your part to form a coherent and meaningful argument.Which explains why your responses are often incoherent and meaningless for the most part.>>If you actually read it, you’ll see that what I just said is that the Christian should trust in god for whatever outcome arises–life or death.>Fine, but that doesn't rule out medical science, medicine, etc, as you're trying to say.What I’m expressing is that many Christians assert the following, and it makes no sense to me:1. Pill A (god) and Pill B (medicine) will heal.2. Both pills work, but one difference is that Pill A works on occasion even after Pill B fails.3. Another big difference is that Pill B will NOT work where Pill A will fail. (That is, if god is calling you home, no man can impede the journey).And what I’m trying to figure out is, why do they even use Pill B at all in that case? It appears to be a waste of time, energy, money, and resources, when they could just be praying for healing.Yes, they can still go to a doctor, but they’ve rendered the activity completely superfluous. It’s not reasonable to visit a doctor if I accept those assertions.>>Likewise Jesus is recorded as saying "all things are possible" with god.>Possible =/= going to be instantiated in every instance. How silly can one get?My point was not to say that (if I understand you) the passage teaches that god will always do what he is asked; but rather that it does not limit “possible.” In fact, I even said: “I have not claimed that anyone–even the most deluded Christians–think that god is going to heal everyone.”>>you can say he was speaking metaphorically and apply your own personal meaning if you like as well>Um, not really, more like you have so far not shown any capability to provide any meaningful exegesis of the Bible.You claim that where Jesus says a faithful person can tell a mountain to move, and it will obey, I am misreading it when I assert it sounds like he’s saying that if you have faith, you can do things that go beyond the mundane accomplishment (into what can be considered miracle). You told me I was wrong, but you didn’t really show me I was wrong.Meanwhile, I still contend that since many Christians read it just as I am reading it, this is really a question for a Christian to Christian forum. My points are more to what Christians believe and preach, and not necessarily to Rho’s personal brand of religion. So, even if you’re right and they’re wrong in the interpretation, I still say it’s a Christian belief that I can address and question fairly, whether it’s the result of a Bible misreading or not. Again, the Bible is but one of many accepted Christian authorities.>>I don’t even think they would say they heal. They say god heals through them>God doesn't heal thru them either in the way they claim.Says Rho. They and their many followers say you and I are wrong. And, again, the fact they believe it makes it a fair Christian belief for anyone to counter. And the fact Christian churches teach it makes it, by definition, a Christian doctrine. And if I’m addressing “what Christians believe”—and I am using an idea many Christians adhere to, I’m in no way being unfair.>The Bible doesn't provide for the career of auto mechanic either.>Yes it does. >As if an explicit statement "Thou shalt allow for the careers of those who will fix cars" is what would be required in this sense. One wonders if you have even the slightest idea how to perform exegesis. "Exegesis" is a big word that means "interpreting a text within its context so as to get its meaning out of it". Hopefully that helps. You might want to stay away from this Bible criticism stuff in the future – you're not good at it. Great—so where is the text and the context for the auto mechanic?If you mean only that the Bible doesn’t forbid auto mechanic work. Then I would respond that I don’t recall that the Bible forbids faith healing as a profession, either. I admit when you wrote that it didn’t “provide for,” I thought you meant it didn’t give an example. If you’re saying it’s forbidden to faith heal or to faith heal for money, I want to see that.Meanwhile, let’s say it does say, “it’s a crime to ask for money for faith healing,” My original dilemma would then still stand as this: Why become a doctor and promote what he considers an inferior method of healing (Pill B, if he believes in Pill A)? Why not work doing something that is actually not less effectual and redundant, and faith heal and promote faith healing for free as a charitable endeavor? Working in medicine seems ridiculous if I believe there is a Pill A that operates as many Christians say it does.>>It says that the elders should come anoint you with oil if you're sick and pray over you in one book, and says you should seek out a physician in another. I notice that in the Bible "god" seems to like to cover his bases.>As if one cancels out the other. Maybe in your imagination.If one works—what is the point of the other? If I tell you to take an Advil and pray to cure your headache—if the prayer works, what is the function of the Advil? And if the Advil works, what is the function of the prayer? That’s what I’m driving at. But you seem to miss that point repeatedly.

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    Rhology to Martin: you’re the Pope of Morality.Wait a sec! I though I was the Pope of Morality! :-)What was that line from Highlander?THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

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    tracieh,You have explained your arguments clearly down to the smallest detail. However, based on rhology’s responses to date he is either incapable or not willing to understand your arguments. It is almost painful to read. You have more patience than I could muster in a similar situation.

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    Evidence that being cruel, being a sociopath, is morally wrong?That’s kinda the definition.You don’t need evidence for a semantic argument. By any useful definition, morals have a foundation of empathy. Applying empathy as an indicator of morality, only caring about yourself is immoral. Similarly, pain is biologically an indicator of negative external stimulus. Empathy plus pain means children in pain is negative by moralistic standards.If you’re just going to suggest doing whatever you want to people for your own gain is moral, then suddenly you’ve redefined morality to the point that it no longer means anything, in which case you may as well have just said “suffering means happiness!”I know English is a very difficult language, but keep at it.

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    tracieh,Your assertions have died the death of a thousand qualifications. That’s ultimately where any even close to moral statement has to fall in an atheist worldview. -And do I assert somewhere that this is not stated as _my_ view?-But you said I said it was “immoral” when I clearly did not?-I made no attempt to confuse anyone into thinking I am not sharing my own thoughts.-I promise you that when I give my views, I understand they are _my_ views.-I don’t get how you perceive I’m asking someone else to adopt my view.-I think it’s just common sense that if an opinion comes out of my mouth or out of my computer, there is not a need to dumb it down to the level of starting every such statement I ever make in life with, “It’s just my opinion, but …”-There is no need for me to say “It is my opinion chocolate cake tastes good,” when I understand that people are not so stupid as to think that if I express opinions, I am expressing them on someone else’s behalf or asserting them as universal truths.-Morality is a personal judgment about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.So, to summarise – such is your view, no one else’s. It’s not even meant to be subscribed-to by anyone else. You are making no attempt to convince anyone. You do not believe these statements are applicable beyond your own thoughts. It would be incorrect to say that your statements which sound like moral judgments are meant to label Action X “Moral” on an objective, meant-for-everyone basis, and Action Y “Immoral” on an objective, meant-for-everyone basis. In conjunction with this, if someone asked you if it is OK to torture a little child for fun and no other reason, you would no doubt say it is not OK. But when pressed, you’d have to retreat to these disclaimers. The inquirer would reasonably conclude that you were expressing a private opinion and have no opinion that would be binding on him nor any opinion on how your opinion might apply to him on this question. That’s what I was after, actually. I got what I came here for.Interestingly, you later go back on your statements with this:However, the inappropriate behavior must be strongly inappropriate to be labeled “immoral.”Hopefully you realise that this morality-defining statement carries no more weight than your other statements, which (by your own admission) are meant to convince no one else of your position. It is thus safely and reasonably ignored.I can assert it’s not good, without raising it to the level of “not good” that constitutes an immorality. Again, the idea that “sin is sin” is a Christian value. Not my value.You seem to be terribly confused about what “immorality” really is. To you, it’s not bad. It’s not applicable to anyone else. It’s the same quality as eating jambalaya with one’s hands, rather than with a spoon, just done many times in a row. Exactly the same sentiment as this statement:There is no need for me to say “It is my opinion chocolate cake tastes good,” when I understand that people are not so stupid as to think that if I express opinions, I am expressing them on someone else’s behalf or asserting them as universal truths.Then apparently, there is no need for you to say “It is my opinion torturing little children for fun is wrong” when you understand that people are not so stupid as to think that if you express opinions, you are expressing them on someone else’s behalf or asserting them as universal truths.Let’s see how consistent you’re willing to be.You said:the problem of evil—which to this day has no valid response.Since you have conclusively demonstrated and conceded that you have no way to judge what is evil at all, the alternative alone, which you express, is enough to answer it. To say nothing of the lack of evidence that God DOES NOT have a good reason for the evil that He allows to exist in the world. In short, someone with such an addled moral sense as you is not in a position to lecture others on whether moral questions have solutions or not. Besides, I quote you: I made no attempt to confuse anyone into thinking I am not sharing my own thoughts.Fair enough – you weren’t stating fact here, you were just stating your opinion. I’m a bit more interested in truth, however, than your statements would lead anyone to believe you are.You said:The church, house of doctrine, consists of members, whose beliefs produce the doctrine that promotes the beliefs that promote the doctrine…Before the Bible there were Christians—according to the Bible.You might have heard of the Old Testament. It precedes the lifetime of any Christian by several hundred years. There may be some passage that you believe asserts that. There are some passage***S***, yes. And I was referring to Jesus. You think I think Paul was divine? You claim that where Jesus says a faithful person can tell a mountain to move, and it will obey, I am misreading it when I assert it sounds like he’s saying that if you have faith, you can do things that go beyond the mundane accomplishmentYes, for a few reasons.You forgot the context.You apparently are unfamiliar with what the word “harmonisation” signifies, or its place in reading a document.You also show amazing ignorance of Christian doctrine and beliefs in other areas, so your credibility is strongly tainted.

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    Zurahn,Evidence that being cruel, being a sociopath, is morally wrong?That’s kinda the definition.So, you don’t have any evidence, then?I’m challenging your naked assertion. Your appeal to authority (the dictionary) and/or your argumentum ad populum (that’s how most people use the word). Prove it. By any useful definition, morals have a foundation of empathy.Then maybe you can take up the challenge that Martin has so far wanted no part of. This assertion is yet another ipse dixit on your part. Prove it.Applying empathy as an indicator of morality, only caring about yourself is immoral…Empathy plus pain means children in pain is negative by moralistic standards.Prove it.in which case you may as well have just said “suffering means happiness!”Prove such a statement is unjustifiable. Stop acting like a fundamentalist preacher “Beleeeevv the Bahbul ‘coz AH SAY SO!”

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    Rhology: “tracieh, your assertions have died the death of a thousand qualifications.”Ha! PROVE IT! Please prove right now that Ms. Harris’ assertions have indeed died. Show me each and every one of those thousand qualifications you claim killed her statements and then prove that they had the capacity to extinguish their lives.You can’t even properly understand our comments. Please try to exegete Ms. Harris’, Mr. Wagner’s or anyone else’s comments correctly before you quote them. Then prove that your exegesis is correct and after that, prove that your exegesis is exegesy enough… EXEGESIS!!!. OMG how I love using arcane terms for “bullshitting,” why aren’t you more impressed at how my exegesis is better than anyone else’s?.Now please concede the point because it’s obvious that I won and if you’re going to try to contradict me… PROVE IT!. Prove that I didn’t win the argument hands-down and follow it by offering proof that I can’t just say I won and act like an self-aggrandising ass-wipe. Prove that that isn’t winning and then prove it again… with exegesis.What? no answer? LOL I didn’t think so, thank you very much, Victory is Mine! I came, I saw, I conquered! HA-HAW! [/scene]Aaaaand THAT’S how you sound to non-deluded people, douchetard. Intelligent atheists and theists alike run the risk of their eyes rolling out of their sockets if they try to read those pieces of rancid, verbal projectile-vomiting you call posts.This is the part where I’d ask why bother replying to such fractal stupidity, but I think I already know the reason. My guess would be that they do it for believers who might read the blog. So they can see and compare the quality of the arguments on one side and on the other. You might be beyond help(though once upon a time, I imagine the same could’ve been said of Mr. Dillahunty and Ms. Harris) but thoughtful theists who might be questioning their reasons for believing could find the responses of atheists helpful in determining what they really believe, whether they end up becoming atheists or stronger believers. Peace, (especially to you, Rhology, you wonderful specimen of a human being, you know how I luvs ya)AdraelP.S. to tracieh: I’ve been wondering for a while if I’m supposed to address you as Ms. Harris, Mrs., etc. I thought I once heard you were married. So, any help you could offer to help a seriously OCD boy refer to you properly(and accurately) would be greatly appreciated. n_n

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    Adrael:tracieh: I’ve been wondering for a while if I’m supposed to address you as Ms. Harris, Mrs., etc.FWIW, I’ve adopted a rule (of thumb) of addressing people in online fora by their handle. It’s no big secret that Kazim is Russell Glasser and that tracieh is Tracie Harris, but I’d use “Kazim”, not “Russell” or “Mr. Glasser” when replying to a post or comment on this weblog. If I were to call in to the show, on the other hand, I’d address him as Rusell, not Kazim, because that’s the name he uses on the show.If this makes you uncomfortable, perhaps because you were brought up to be polite and address people as “Mr. So-and-so” or “Mrs. Wossname” or “Miz Tracie”, then consider that “tracieh” is the persona she’s adopted in this forum, so it’s a safe form of address.

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    So, you don’t have any evidence, then?“I don’t need evidence for a semantic argument” – Me in the post YOU REPLIED TOYou can’t give evidence for something that you reject the definition thereof. If I’m offering evidence of evolution, it’s evidence that the frequency of alleles change in a population over time.If you want evidence that something falls in or out of a moralistic boundary, you have to offer a boundary. I gave you a partial one: it requires some inclusion of empathy.It’s a word. I can no more give evidence for that empathy is included in a definition of morality than you can that a “tree” has branches.Your appeal to authority (the dictionary)“you may as well have just said ‘”suffering means happiness!'” – Me again in the very post to which you repliedProve that the “Your appeal to authority” doesn’t actually mean “Rhology is and will always be fractally wrong.”Apparently this English thing is too much… voulez vous parlez français?

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    Rhology: Or provide some reason why, on atheism, we should consider any such death “tragic”, “bad”, or “blame-able on God if He were real”?”A false equivocation. Atheism isn’t a moral philosophy in and of itself. One cannot do anything “on” atheism, because atheism is a lack of belief in something. We can no more regard deaths as tragic “on atheism” than you could regard American Idol as nauseous “on athorism” (lack of belief in Thor). One needs a moral framework (whether you agree with it or not isn’t the point; the point is that an atheist who behaves morally is doing so on the guidance of their moral framework, not on their lack of belief in Yahweh).Rhology: Define the purpose, provide the argument for it, and make sure you understand you stand in variance with many big-name atheist philosophers.Why invoke “big name atheist philosophers”, as though atheists were a homogeneous group of believers who are somehow under some obligation to go along with what atheist philosophers say? There are different reasons one can be an atheist, and one is not obligated to go along with what “big name philosophers” say unless what they say is actually compelling. What’s more, different atheist philosophers have different takes on the issue, just as different theist philosophers do too. Rhology: Which is exactly my point – to make this argument, you’re the Pope of Morality.Actually, Rhology, you’re the “pope” of morality around here. You’re the one who pontificates to others about what “legimitately” counts as properly ethical and what doesn’t. Of course, the criterion by which you feel empowered to do this is your God “telling” you what morals are, so you at least imagine that you’ve got it all figured out. This is entirely consistent with your position on other things: whenever confronted with something from, say, the world of science that you have not a clue about (or any inclination to look into), you fix it up in a jiffy by invoking the phrase “God did it”. This is what you seriously expect us not to laugh hysterically at? That itself is hilarious. Martin: Maybe you could provide an argument as to why that sort of thing is morally right, apart from the usual “he’s God, so whatever he does is right by definition” thingRhology: Oh, so I should explain it, but do it in a way that would deny my position?Well, at least you admit that you subscribe to the grotesque and meaningless criterion for morality that we’ve been accusing you of all along. To you, morality is really just a label for “obey”. Of course, you don’t want it to be just that, but it’s the only way you can see to make it “objectively meaningful” (since, of course, objectively meaningful things can only be defined as God-ordained things, so you “win” the argument by default). Rhology: Prove it’s cruel.Zuharan: If you consider anguished and dying children not explicitly negative, congratulations, you’re a sociopath.The thing is that he isn’t a sociopath; he wants a meaningful criterion for morality but the criterion he uses – Godly providence – sucks the life out of it and reduces it to an exercise in labels. One could even say that the religious hanker after a humanistic morality and see it to be so valuable for its own sake that they try to tether it to something divine in order to give it Platonic significance. The religionist projects his humanistic feelings and sympathies – which have nothing to do with God – and tries to make them concrete in the form of a deity who assures us that, yes, we should act in the way that we know in some part of our being is somehow the way we should act. But in the process, the value of morality gets so diluted that we are left – literally and absolutely, if religionists are to believed – with the notion that the ONLY “legitimate” reason we could have for behaving in certain ways is because God tells us to. Religious morality – taken literally – is a mere shadow of its humanistic forebear. It is empty of actual meaning, ironically in the pursuit of assigning it meaning. In a perverse twist, those who at least pretend to have gone past the point of no return – Rhology, for example – cannot help but to portray (if not actually see) humanistic morality as empty, because, to them, there’s now nothing left of it. The only thing that’s been retained is the tether. The actual content was left by the wayside long ago. The irony is that theists often accuse atheists of “borrowing” from their world-view. It seems that it’s very much a case of the reverse being true. Boy oh boy, do we NOT borrow from your world-view!

  23. says

    Adrael said:Show me each and every one of those thousand qualifications you claim killed her statements and then prove that they had the capacity to extinguish their lives.Absent any supporting argumentation to the affirmative for her assertions, what am I supposed to work with? Is it suddenly not OK to ask questions?Then prove that your exegesis is correct and after that, prove that your exegesis is exegesy enough… EXEGESIS!!!.Pitiful. Fine – don’t answer my questions. Your intellectual dishonesty is out in public.THAT’S how you sound to non-deluded people, douchetard.Oh, I see. My arguments, nay, my life, lie in shambles about my feet.Zurahn said:I gave you a partial one: it requires some inclusion of empathy.I’ll look fwd to seeing your interactions with my arguments here, then.I’m interested in knowing HOW YOU KNOW that empathy is a good basis for a moral system. you may as well have just said ‘”suffering means happiness!’I’m interested in how you know that1) happiness is good2) suffering is bad. Not whether suffering = happiness. Please try to be more precise in your language.voulez vous parlez français?Tu crois que ça irait mieux pour toi en français lorsque tu n’arrives même pas à bien conjuguer «parlez» en cette phrase-là? Te voilà au monde des rêves. Pas bien essayé, ça.Lui,One cannot do anything “on” atheism, because atheism is a lack of belief in something.We’ve discussed this before. You have no excuse not to know that I mean “on any moral system that accompanies an atheistic worldview”. Atheism encompasses various worldviews, but they are all of a kind due to their atheistic nature. Why invoke “big name atheist philosophers”, ?In your emotional zeal (which is abundant in you, to be sure!), you apparently forgot the 1st 2 challenges, namely “Define the purpose, provide the argument for it…” Rhology, you’re the “pope” of morality around hereWhen have I made a moral declaration in this thread?And Martin has made his moral declarations plain. Such as:—I replied that I would have even more moral qualms about a God like that existing, as I would be troubled by the thought of why God would choose to save one dying mother, but not all the other dying mothers and fathers and children who were doubtless languishing in that hospital’s very same oncology wing, with family members keeping vigil by their sides with just as much pain in their hearts. Why not grant miracle cures to everyone all at once?I think it’s good to see doctorsWhile it’s important to be respectfulTake each day as it comes and appreciate it to the fullestNot to mention the statement that prompted that response from me:—I assert that any God who claims to love us all yet randomly parcels out miracles only on the rarest of occasions simply to string along his bereaved worshipers with false hopes is an immoral god.You’re the one who pontificates to others about what “legimitately” counts as properly ethical and what doesn’t.I’m just questioning and asking for evidence. Apprently that’s not praiseworthy when anyone who disagrees with you does what you think people should do – question and ask for evidence. You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.This is what you seriously expect us not to laugh hysterically at? What do I care what you do? I’m interested in the truth, not whether people laugh at the truth.To you, morality is really just a label for “obey”Anyone interested is welcome to see my position in my own words. the notion that the ONLY “legitimate” reason we could have for behaving in certain ways is because God tells us to.Strawman. Again. Among other things, we are to do certain things b/c they are RIGHT. And not to do others b/c they are WRONG.its humanistic forebearYou mean like empathy?The irony is that theists often accuse atheists of “borrowing” from their world-view.I call ‘em like I see ‘em. You have no basis beyond “I like/I don’t like” statements for any morality, and yet you engage in making just such statements that your worldview can’t acct for. I don’t know whom you’re trying to fool.

  24. says

    Lui:Tu crois que ça irait mieux pour toi en français lorsque tu n’arrives même pas à bien conjuguer «parlez» en cette phrase-là? Te voilà au monde des rêves. Pas bien essayé, ça.Je doute que le choix de langue améliore tes pouvoirs de raisonnement, m’enfin bon, si tu veux avoir l’air con en français plutôt qu’en anglais, moi je veux bien.

  25. says

    Rhology: “When have I made a moral declaration in this thread?”I didn’t say you did. Rhology: “What do I care what you do? I’m interested in the truth, not whether people laugh at the truth.”You’re not interested in the truth, and you likely never have been. You’re only interested in having a skirt to hold. Rhology: “Strawman. Again.”Hmmmm, let’s see. You say: “Among other things, we are to do certain things b/c they are RIGHT. And not to do others b/c they are WRONG.”And how do you DEFINE what’s right and wrong? In exclusive accordance to what God says (supposedly, God is expressing some feature of himself when he does this. How you can actually claim to KNOW that is another story). That’s your only basis for “morality”. You know of no other (or atleast you pretend to, because if you were to admit that we could have any basis outside of God, you would be handing the argument over to the atheist).From your blog: “OK, so WHY are these things proscribed?Because they violate the command of God, Who has given a law of behavior by which His creation has a responsibility to abide.WHY did He give this law this way?Because these laws are how He is.”Right, got it. So these things are proscribed because they violate the command of God, and he commands as such because that’s how he is. So “why” should we care? (Answer: punishment, of course. But I don’t expect to see you admitting that)“The law He gives flows out of Who and how He is. He is holy; His law demands holiness (and describes how to be holy). He is good; His law demands goodness.”How is he “good”? Answer: in accordance to YOUR conception of what’s good (ie. empathy, compassion, etc). You start off with what you already believe to be good, then you see it “embodied” in God, then you say “See! God is the benchmark for what’s good.” (all with the right “interpretation” of the Bible, of course) No matter the verbal fluff you want to attach to questions of morality, you’re in exactly the same boat as everyone else. Your “argument” is completely circular. It adds precisely NOTHING to an understanding of morality. More lies: “-We need SOME standard to tell what good and bad are. In atheism, that’s totally lacking.”Wrong, it’s NOT lacking (if we’re talking about, as you said, attitudes that often accompany atheism), it’s simply a basis you don’t happen to agree with. That’s of no consequence. It’s still a basis, and it still works, so saying that it’s “totally lacking” is a filthy fib. “These laws from God are backed up with the force of justice. He will punish all breakers of the law with eternal torment, so evil is met with just judgment.”Eternal torment. Nice God you have there. He sounds like an arsehole to me, but more to the point, he should sound like an arsehole to you, on the same basis that you expect him to be “good” (unless, of course, you simply DEFINE “good” as what God wants/”is”, which is what I’ve been pointing out all along. But please, do go on tying yourself in more knots).Rhology: “You mean like empathy?”Precisely. Something that “even” many non-humans animals seem to possess, but which apparently you need to agonise over.Signore, I ordered some Originality with my dumb-arse theism!

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