Islam 101 recap (Russell and Tracie double header)


Last week, I went with Tracie Harris, Beth Presswood, and Ben Weaver to an “Islam 101″ seminar at the North Austin Muslim Community Center. This is a recap of my experience and Tracie’s.

Skip to Tracie’s impressions…

Russell’s Impressions

Imam Islam Mossaad did the main presentation. He seemed like a perfectly nice fellow, enthusiastic about his religion and eager to break down stereotypes. We all got a free paperback Quran at the door, as well as a fold-out pamphlet titled “Discover Islam: The Reader.” He opened with, believe it or not, a Muslim country music video.

I’d be the first to say enthusiastically that it’s charmingly effective. Several audience members homed in positively on one of the captions in the video, “Terrorists have hijacked my religion.” It set the tone that the Muslims would like to convey: we’re not with those bad Muslims over there, we’re Americans like you.

I think many atheists I know would object to that message, but I don’t. I think that there are a lot of different ways of approaching all religions, Islam included. As an atheist, I say that all religions embrace some number of ridiculous beliefs, and religious individuals must reconcile their actual values with some pretty awful teachings of the holy text that they claim to base their lives on (and don’t really). Ultimately the way you identify with your religion tends to be a reflection of the kind of person you are already, and you wind up picking and choosing whichever verses and meanings you would like a perfect book to say.

The first segment was about preconceptions, as they see it. In brief: Islam is always associated with 9/11 (not that Muslims didn’t perpetrate the act, but most Muslims aren’t terrorists, especially western Muslims). They showed a number of anti-Muslim propaganda signs and such; they challenged the idea that the religion is bad for women. I don’t think they did well with this last point; I’ll get back to it later.

They told us that there are 10-15,000 practicing Muslims in Austin, and they have had a significant presence in the form of places of worship since 1976. I asked about different denominations of Islam, and was told that this community center was primarily aimed at Sunni Muslims, but Shia are welcome and there is a Shia group located in northeast Austin. I looked it up and found that Sunni are generally regarded as the more moderate branch, so it made a lot of sense to me that it was a Sunni group performing outreach like this.

As we moved on to their beliefs, we learned that Muslims see themselves as following through in the tradition of the Jewish and Christian religions, and the Quran is a “third book” of the Bible. Moses and Jesus, while receiving Arabic names, are really just more Muslim prophets, alongside Mohammed, who is of course the best prophet. Much like Mormons, Muslims — at least these Muslims — say that they don’t see why there should be conflict, when their religion is simply a continuation of the old stories, just as the new testament is a continuation of the old.

At this point an audience member raised his hand and asked, if that was true, why are Muslims upset when people say things about the prophet Mohammed, and not when they say things about Jesus? Imam Islam countered that, in fact, he does feel upset when people say untrue things about Jesus.

This seemed a little disingenuous to me, especially in light of the fact that, a few minutes later, he mentioned that he doesn’t believe all of the Bible. He believes it was divinely inspired, but many things are lost in translation. For instance, Muslims, believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified. Now, since Jesus’ crucifixion is written to be a key event in the Christian religion, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that Muslims can’t dismiss this as a trivial detail. Or as I wrote in my notes, “So much for people who believe that all religions are true.”

After concluding this section, part 2 was about Muslim Practices, and part 3, which took place after a lunch break, was about Muslim Beliefs. Unfortunately, neither of these was as interesting to me as the first or last parts. As an atheist, the most interesting topics to me are human experiences. What is it like to be a Muslim living in the west? What differentiates one sect of Islam from another? How are you treated? How do you feel about particular political issues that affect all of us? The specific areas of belief, like what angels do, and the specific types of rituals, like how many times you wash your hands, while still interesting, seem not as important since we are not Muslims.

There’s a bit of a balance to consider here, because I understand that these are obviously the most important topics to Muslims, since they are central to their faith and identity. However, there was really too much material to get through. Lunch wound up being cut shorter by 20 minutes from the schedule, and the final sections ran so long that they ran out of time and could not take general questions from the audience. This was pretty disappointing, and considering that we were there for six hours, it would have been nice to get it was a long day, and I think it would be a little less tiring if about 45 minutes of precise detail are trimmed. This would still leave plenty of interesting material.

We broke for lunch between “Practices” and “Beliefs.” I believe the food was prepared by the NAMCC kitchen staff, and it was delicious. A lot of characteristically eastern food served buffet style, including some chicken pieces, beef shawarma, beans, and okra in a tomato based sauce. No pork products, of course. There was also something much like baklava for dessert. Big cheers to Muslim chefs.

The Muslim call to prayer occurred after lunch, so regular members of the congregation went ahead and got together on mats, knelt in the direction of Mecca, some prayers were sung over a loudspeaker. We were allowed/invited to watch the ritual. Women were separated into a different part of the building to do their prayers.

Islamic Practices and Beliefs

Here are some highlights of Muslim Practices from my notes.

The five pillars of Islam are:

  1. Testimony of belief (“There is no God but God”)
  2. Prayer (do certain prayers in particular ways at specific times of day)
  3. “Charity tax” (give a certain amount of your income to the poor, not to a specific church organization)
  4. Fasting and Ramadan
  5. Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life.

The Imam told a weird joke about converting people by making them “repeat after you” and then tricking them into saying the testimony of belief in a language they don’t understand. Apparently this is very funny to Muslims. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When you give charity, there are a ridiculous number of rules about which types of income you should “self tax” at what percent. As I wrote in my notes, “Suddenly this has turned into a personal finance seminar.” I got the impression that the charity tax is basically tithing under another  name, but at least it doesn’t necessarily go directly to a religious institution.

“Fasting” for Mecca and other occasions does not mean that you don’t eat food for 30 days straight or anything. It means you don’t eat or drink (!) from dawn till dusk, and then you can eat all you want. Reportedly many Muslims actually gain weight during Ramadan from being so hungry.

Beth reasonably asked if you have to not drink even if it is dangerous, like if you work outdoors in the Texas sun all day. The Imam said no, some people take it as a personal challenge, but you are not strictly required to fast in any way that would put you in danger. It’s like the pirate code: Really more like guidelines.

Highlights of Muslim beliefs in my notes:

Muslims believe in Allah, which they mention repeatedly is just their word for God, not the specific name of a god.

Muslims believe in angels, which are made entirely of light, and are huge.

The Bible is an inspired book, but kind of lost in translation. So Muslims “believe” what’s in the Bible, but they very much feel free to pick and choose what they consider canonical. (In other words, much like Christians! Har har.) The Quran, on the other hand, is perfect, as it went directly from God to an angel to Mohammed, who wrote it down and there have only been perfect translations since then.

Messengers: Muslims believe in numerous prophets, most notably Mohammed, Moses (“Moosa”) and Jesus (“Issa”). Again, Jesus delivered God’s message but was never crucified or anything.

One of the key difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims is that the Shia believe that these messengers are infallible, and the Sunni believe that they can have garbled or incorrect messages. Other than that, it seems to be mainly a power struggle between two groups who want to be viewed as more important than each other.

An audience member asked, if Jesus and Moses are both prophets, why are Muslims angered so much when Mohammed is insulted, but not Jesus? The response was twofold. First, we are offended if Jesus is “insulted,” although in this case, “insulting” Jesus includes misrepresenting his life, such as the false fact that he was the son of God, or crucified, etc. Second: well… they’re both prophets, but Mohammed is definitely the more important prophet.

Like Evangelical Christians, Muslims believe in a “last day” when the world will end and everyone will be judged. People who die before then just sort of wait around until it happens. During the judgment, people get some sort of lawyer characters, who speak for and against your status as having lived a good life. (Side note, it reminded me of the little known Albert Brooks comedy Defending Your Life. I always loved that movie.)

The bad people get sent to hell, of course. Hell is a place of fire, etc., with seven levels and seven gates. Each type of sinner gets an appropriate style of punishment; it’s very Dante-esque.

Paradise has 8 gates, and the poor go in first. I would say more about this, but as I mentioned earlier, the very extensive details of what Muslim believes are of little interest to me, and at this point my note-taking was flagging a bit.

Modern Issues

The Imam circled back to the beginning and discussed some of the controversial modern issues again, trying to take on negative impressions that people have about modern Muslims. He acknowledged that many people like to cite various verses from the Quran indicating that you should fight and kill unbelievers. But, with the Quran being another Big Book of Multiple Choice, he went out of his way to 60:7-9, so I’m pasting them here:

Perhaps Allah will put, between you and those to whom you have been enemies among them, affection. And Allah is competent, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.

In other words: you only get to make enemies of those who make enemies of you first. Of course, in my opinion, that still leaves a whole lot of room for interpretation, and Muslims who are inclined toward violence will certainly find plenty of other passages to support those desires.

There were a lot of ways that the presentation as a whole had been successful as community outreach, but in my opinion, the biggest place they fell down was when they turned to address the notion that Islam has a problem with women. The Imam’s explanation was: Yes, Islam does have different roles prepared for men and women, but that’s actually okay, because men and women are different. It’s just scientific, he said. Frankly, this is the same type of tedious mansplaining that you hear from lots of sexists from all cultures, including — sad to say — a fair number of atheists.

A guy in the back spoke up to support him. I don’t know whether it was another guest, like us, or a fellow Muslim who was sitting in the audience. This guy said, “Yeah, I read a study just last month where they demonstrated that men and women have very different brain patterns. Men are better at point-and-click interfaces, for example, and women are better at other things.” The Imam accepted this as good science, and thanked him for his back up. The rest of the room was mostly silent.

At that point I raised my hand and said “To that last point… other scientific studies have also shown that there are significant differences between the brain patterns of liberals and conservatives. But we don’t socially assign people roles based on their political associations. We let them choose for themselves.” That comment got a smattering of applause and support, and some later compliments after the presentation. The Imam kind of lamely deflected it, but did also acknowledge that it was a fair point, to his credit.

Parting thoughts:

I’m glad I went. It isn’t something I would choose to do often, but I think it’s important for people of different backgrounds to do their best to understand one another’s perspective and not fear them blindly. I did this in the same spirit that I would go to a Christian church service in different denominations, or a Jewish temple ceremony. I encourage everyone to step outside the boundaries of their experience once in a while, and listen to people whom they disagree with.

Needless to say, this does not mean that I would pull any punches if more Muslims were to call the show and start arguing for “proof” of the miracles of Islam, or explaining to me the importance of believing in these giant angels of light. But I think that the more people acknowledge that were all just humans muddling around trying to make sense of the universe in one way or another, and the more we communicate instead of blowing each other up, the better off we’ll all be.

And they make a damn good lunch.


Tracie’s Impressions

The Orientation

 

  1. They handed out 3×5 cards for people to write out questions if they were too shy to ask in person. While I personally felt comfortable asking my questions, this was a nice touch for shy participants.
  2. They began with a prayer. On the one hand, everyone attending knew it was a religious seminar. On the other hand, some people affiliated with other religions could have been uncomfortable with the prayer opening. I wasn’t put off by it, but if the goal is public outreach, it could put off some people who have different religious affiliations.

A Land Called Paradise

My notes begin with a video they showed early on called “A Land Called Paradise.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbcmPe0z3Sc) The video asked Muslims to submit text cards briefly describing who they are. The vast majority were clearly intended to let people know they’re human beings, like everyone else. I recall one about alcohol that was a bit preachy, and then a few that had what I would call dehumanizing messages, such as one man who held up a card saying “I’m human,” immediately followed by his next card saying “I’m sorry.” Or “Islam tells me to help the poor and less fortunate,” which raises the question of whether they mean to imply that charity is divinely commanded and not inspired by innate human empathy? “I am not ashamed of my virginity,” while more subtle, cannot be divorced from the reality that the Abrahamic religions denigrate normal human sexual impulses for everyone and promote virginity as a superior human sexual model for everyone. Taking the message in isolation, nobody should feel ashamed for sexual behavior that isn’t coercive or harmful—be they a virgin or someone with countless partners. But promoting any model, that is not innately human, as superior for all humanity, is the meaning of dehumanizing: “to deprive of human qualities.” Religion is not the only ideology that denigrates inherent human attributes. But it’s certainly among the most pervasive and globally authoritative. Part of the problem of some religious models is their insistence on a one-size-fits-all for everyone, regardless of who they are as individuals or their unique life circumstances.

Dealing with Insult and Denigration

I appreciated the Imam’s occasional humor in this area. He described how someone had vandalized a mosque with the message “There is no Allah, there is only god.” Since “Allah” means “god,” the message is nonsensical. The Imam noted that if you’re going to vandalize a mosque—at least do it in a way that is coherent.

 

The Imam showed a propaganda piece negatively associating Islam with the Third Reich. Apparently it’s not just atheists who are subject to being unjustifiably tied to the Holocaust.

At this point a few questions came up:

  1. What is their view of secular government?
  2. Why isn’t this seminar more preachy?

The inspiration for the first question had more to do with wondering about what it means to be a Muslim in a majority Muslim nation versus a majority non-Muslim nation. I never asked the Imam question #1, but I did get a chance to talk to a member who was very supportive of secular, religiously neutral government. If we’d had more time, I’d have liked to have delved into that more deeply, to see if that translated to things such as gay marriage rights. In other words, would he view those rights as being justified under secular government? Or would he use secular justifications (inspired by religious propaganda) to prop up withholding marriage rights to gays, and see that as a secular issue rather than religious imposition? I’m not going to assume. The seminar went from 10:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m., and I wasn’t willing to hang around longer. I didn’t ask, so I didn’t find out. And I don’t really know what that person’s response would have been.

For question #2, I just couldn’t help but think in terms of Christian seminars and how much more proselytizing they tend to be. They did assert during the seminar that they believe Islam is for the entire world, not just Arabs—so it seems they have reason to proselytize. But this seminar consisted of mainly pure information about Islam according to their interpretation of the Quran. There wasn’t even, for example, a sign-up sheet for walk-ins (although attendees were encouraged to register online). But it would be rare for a Christian presentation not to ask for contact information for walk-ins. I was curious, but didn’t see the question as a show stopper, so I let that one slide as well.

They recommended a few films, “Legacy of a Prophet,” and “The Message” with Anthony Quinn.

Things I Learned

  1. They use masculine pronouns to describe god, but don’t subscribe a gender to god. The Imam said that in Arabic there is no gender neutral language, and seemed to think that placing too much gender assignment on god was anthropomorphizing. They don’t assign god a “father” role, as we see in Christianity.
  2. Their faith seems to be mainly based on internal experience—although they still appealed to something along the lines of Watchmaker later in the presentation.
  3. They lack central authority, which was presented as a double-edged sword, providing some freedom of interpretation, but at the same time lending itself to divisiveness and in-fighting, when groups believe they have opposing, right views.
  4. They have a pretty well constructed tithing model, with percentages tied to different categories of financial contributions.
  5. During the seminar god was said to be all loving, the creator of all things (including human nature, which includes both good and evil), and to know all ultimate outcomes. So, Allah is a prime candidate for Problem of Evil. There was also an attempt to describe how Allah orchestrates everything in the environment, yet we all still somehow have free will. I didn’t delve into it, because I can visit that particular rabbit hole with any Christian. I really didn’t see the potential for a better outcome if I entered it with a Muslim. I will say he told a particularly disturbing tale about a woman who locked a cat in a cage and starved it to death. This, apparently, upset Allah to the point he sent the woman to hell fire. So, god intervenes in human affairs (produces flagrant miracles), is all loving, cared about this cat’s suffering, but allowed this woman to kill it in a drawn-out and torturous way. I don’t see how letting the cat escape the cage would have imposed on her free will in any way. So, I’m baffled as to how to explain the dead cat and the almighty god who cared enough to torture someone forever, but not enough to loosen a latch or weaken a bar?
  6. God is described as completely just, but also the most merciful. As Matt has pointed out, mercy requires a suspension of justice, and so the two are incompatible.
  7. The most unexpected section for me was the section on angels. Literal angels. Huge, impossible-to-miss, angels. Lots and lots of glorious, intimidating angels. Angels as big as the sky, with hundreds of wings, angels. I’m not sure how we don’t see these things around very often (or in my case, at all). But somehow they’re here, they’re real, they’re impressive, but rarely seen. Oh, and they die.
  8. Satan was a djinn—literally, a genie. At this point, I was wondering if this literal view of angels and genies was exclusive in Islam. I was mildly curious if there might be some sects that have a more metaphorical perspective on these beings. But it wasn’t pressing, and there was a load of material to get through, so I decided to live with my curiosity for the time being.
  9. They have their own iteration of The Golden Rule.
  10. They have a canonical view of certain books outside the Quran.
  11. There are a lot of prophets, but only some were given “books.”
  12. Islam is intended for everyone, not just Arabs, but that message to all mankind was supplied by someone who spoke Arabic, and transcribed into Arabic, and it’s often said that it can’t be well translated. This seems an inefficient way to express something to all of humanity. But there it is.
  13. They accept miracles at face value and without question. One such miracle is that Jesus was able to speak as a newly born infant, and defended his mother, from the cradle, against allegations she was unchaste. Nothing about the Imam’s account of these miracles seemed to phase him. He told these stories and offered them up at fact, in the same way you and I might note “it’s raining outside” as a fact.
  14. After we die, there is a divine quiz administered by two angels. You’ll be asked who your god is, what religion you subscribed to, and what you thought about the prophet that covered your particular lifetime. I guess for us, that’s Mohammed? I was a bit iffy on the whole judgment thing. Some behaviors seem to get you a one-way ticket to hell, but at the same time, nobody is allowed to say this, because it’s up to Allah to mete that out to those who deserve it, and not for humans to judge. I got an impression that some discovery here might butt up against a conflict of doctrine and practice, but I let that slide for time’s sake as well. I was simply less curious about their particular doctrinal inconsistencies than their impact on society in reality.
  15. The Imam acknowledged hell fire is, partly, intended to instill the fear of god into human beings.
  16. Once the final judgments have been made, the punishments are very “eye for an eye” style. So your finite crimes in this life are going to be what you suffer for eternity in the next. Crimes can range from real harm—such as killing people—to thoughts, such as doubting a prophet.
  17. Their view of “jihad” is more the liberal “internal struggle” perspective. With regard to violence, the Imam holds that the Quran only allows violent response if you are threatened, not violent aggression.
  18. He explained a concept called “tuqyah.” This is necessary lying. Apparently some people attempt to use this to claim that Muslims can’t be trusted, but the way the Imam described it, it made far more sense to me than the Christian perspective martyrdom. It’s simply lying to avoid persecution. I, personally, don’t understand why Christians attach merit to being honest, even if it means you’re going to be abused. You can be forgiven by god, and god should be understanding of situations where people are under duress and coercion. I value truth, but if someone asks me if I have Jews hiding in my attic in WWII Germany, I think it’s more moral to lie. In some situations, deception can be the more moral course.
  19. When the Imam covered fasting, he didn’t try and promote it as a health model (as I’ve heard some do). The Imam held strictly to the idea that it’s predominantly, if not purely, a mental exercise. And, happily, there are medical exceptions. Thanks to Beth for asking about that.

The First Pillar and My First Question

The First Pillar is about testimony of faith. I asked the Imam if this testimony is recited by rote by children, or if it’s used as the moment of adopting adherence to Islam as a conscious, reasoned choice? According to the Imam, children raised in Muslim homes would recite this, but there would be a time as they neared adulthood when it would become something they would have to say with meaning. He even noted that in the West, particularly, Muslim children are more challenged by culture, peers, and competing ideologies, so that their adopting of Islam is more considered, but also, therefore, more meaningful. He referred to this as “a free will choice.”

Hajj

When it came to Hajj—or the ceremonial pilgrimage to Mecca—I was disheartened to see the amount of resource and energy put into this event. I wondered what could be accomplished if all this resource and energy and human momentum, were put into real service toward humanity and global improvement—rather than walking in circles around a sacred structure. But when it comes to misdirecting human resources, Islam certainly cannot be uniquely blamed.

One woman, describing her Hajj experience, featured in a segment of a program called “Inside Islam,” was overwhelmed by emotion. She described how she broke down in tears of awe and joy. I wondered if this “spiritual/religious experience,” of being overcome with emotion, would convince any Christians that Islam is the true religion, since they seem to often present such testimonies as compelling evidence for their own faith?

I was disturbed, but not surprised, to hear the Imam declare that absolute allegiance and obedience is owed to Allah—beyond duty to self, family, or humanity. Again, hardly a criticism that I could uniquely level at Islam.

My Second Question

Founded up on my first question, my next question hinged partly on a story the Imam told about Abraham. Abraham was having dinner with someone, and presented them with his belief in god. The person at dinner rejected that belief, and Abraham became bitter and left the dinner. As Abraham walked out, god explained He had provided for this other man all his life, and that Abraham should respect that. God clarified with Abraham that the man was rejecting Him, not Abraham. And god instructed Abraham to not be inhospitable to people who are hospitable to him. In other words, the issue was between god and the stranger, and Abraham should judge the other person based on his own relationship with him, not on how the stranger views god. The lesson the Imam took away was that Muslims should be kindly disposed toward people who are kindly disposed toward them, even if they are not Muslim and even if they reject god.

I asked if I understood correctly that after we die, god sorts it all out.

The Imam confirmed I did.

I asked if I understood correctly that the Imam believed that a Muslim is obligated to be kind toward those who are kind in return, even if those people reject god and Islam. I further clarified that I understood him to be saying that acceptance of Islam had to be a “free will choice,” in order to be meaningful.

The Imam confirmed this was his interpretation of the Quran, and his position.

I then asked, “Is this same obligation of hospitality and respect for the free will choice of the individual who rejects Islam, still extended to individuals if they are children in Muslim homes?”

He seemed to not expect that last part of the question. But he began to answer by explaining that the rules are somewhat different for a Muslim who rejects Islam. I interrupted the Imam and clarified that I was reaching back to the original question of the First Pillar—that the testimonial is not meaningful to a child too young to understand (a point upon which we had agreed). I then explained I was talking about a child who is coming of age, and for the first time in any meaningful or reasonable sense, examining the claims of Islam, and finding himself/herself to not be in agreement. So, this child is not a practicing adherent, but a person, like me, who is, for the first time, considering these ideas—and rejecting them.

To his credit, the Imam put some thought into this before responding. He took his time. And ultimately he expressed that he believed the same kindness and hospitality would still be owed to that child. He added a very honest, but telling, statement, that if he were called upon to counsel a family in this situation, he would advise the parents “to not go nuts.”

Please don’t misunderstand me here. The reason I asked this question was because of my experience responding to young Christians (and even some others, such as a young Sikh boy that always comes to mind) who tell us how scared they are to talk to their families about their disbelief. Those outcomes range from benign to horrendous. I’m not suggesting that the Muslims at the Austin mosque are alone in their need “to not go nuts.” It’s pervasive in many religious homes to dramatically show your children what disappointments they are if they don’t subscribe to the religious framework in which they were raised. I asked because my experience with other religions has led me to understand this as a common reaction. And I simply wondered what the Imam would think of it after the lesson about Abraham.

The Imam also noted he would want to counsel the child as well. I know from experience that the children in these situations don’t really want that—they want acceptance and not further pressure to conform. However, I also am mindful the Imam would think the child could be in danger of hell fire and that his counsel is a helping. That being said, a religious leader willing to be assertive with a family to insist they continue to love, accept, and behave kindly toward their doubting child in this situation is a lot better than many young atheists get in Christian churches. Often the entire church, including the leader, shamelessly shun or recommend “tough love” policies with these families, that result in nothing positive. These kids can’t be coerced into belief, and the “free will” aspect of it, the understanding that coercing it renders it meaningless, is a valuable reality for people who have relationships with these children to keep in mind.

So while the Imam’s indirect assessment of a family’s potential reaction was not surprising, his response about his own views—while he was visibly digging deep to consider the situation—was mature and reasonable. Again, I would hope every child who has to confront their family would have a religious leader available to field the negative angry, punitive backlash they are likely to encounter in some homes. Whether this Imam’s attitude is common or not, I can’t say. But it’s not a bad attitude.

In the women in Islam section I asked what they would do at the Mosque with an Intersexed child or a Trans child. The community in Austin is small, so it was likely more hypothetical to them than practical. But the answer for the Trans child was clear—whatever genitals that child presents with will determine the gender role in which they’re raised.

For the intersexed child, the Imam suggested they would seek professional input as to what would be best for the child. And by “best for the child”—I don’t mean they’d accept the child as intersexed, but that they would ultimately be seeking to assign the child a male or female gender role, and seeking professional input as to where to pigeon-hole that child. And, yes, the Imam was clear on this point. I don’t think they have a plan for accepting an intersexed child as “intersexed.” I think they have an idea that the child has to be either male or female, and that we have to make that determination, or else we have no means of raising the child. So the child would be expected to conform, somehow, into the existing framework—the fact that this child exists as intersexed would not be, to them, evidence that the framework may need to adopt some flexibility with regard to rigid gender assignments.

In this section of the presentation, I think Russell was the star with his comment about brains. But I’m sure he’ll talk more about that, so I’ll leave him to it. Suffice to say he had people come up to him afterward to say “thanks.”

In summary, they seemed like a decent group of human beings—which I expected. I don’t have any more issues or concerns about them than I do the Christian communities in our town. In fact, I have more concerns about the Christian communities in our town, because currently they’re the ones pushing for religiously biased legislation, school curricula, and plugging their god into political party platforms unapologetically. There are at least half a dozen large church complexes in walking distance from my house, and this one mosque, a 30-minute drive away. When the churches host a public open house, it’s a hard sell to push for converts. But I this “Islam 101” presentation at the mosque was sterile and informational. This may be a function of being a religious minority in Austin (something we have in common), but that aspect of the seminar made it feel more like a lecture about Islam than a sales pitch to save my soul. And I appreciated that.

Comments

  1. says

    Great, I was looking forward to this. Thanks for those interesting accounts. It sounds like they were really trying to dispel some myths and foster understanding. Regardless of religious affiliation, that’s a good thing.

    One brief tangent:

    I, personally, don’t understand why Christians attach merit to being honest, even if it means you’re going to be abused.

    I think this is basically a historical artifact. Christianity grew out of apocalyptic sects that thought the world was going to end any minute. Consequently, they emphasized perfect righteousness over consequences (since you’re going to die soon either way).

    Islam grew out of an expansionist sect with more long-term plans. They believe in end times, but they don’t expect it to happen this afternoon. As such, they’re a bit more practical in some ways. Islam is also generally more community-oriented, which means that when they’re martyrs, they tend to die for their community, whereas Christians tend to be martyrs for their personal testimony.

    Of course, economics, politics and many other factors play into how these religions have developed, but I think the origin points are still relevant for the core attitudes that are later shaped by circumstances.

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Russell:

    For instance, Muslims, believe that Jesus wasn’t crucified. Now, since Jesus’ crucifixion is written to be a key event in the Christian religion, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that Muslims can’t dismiss this as a trivial detail. Or as I wrote in my notes, “So much for people who believe that all religions are true.”

    He had a stunt double.
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Islamic view of Jesus’ death

    “most Muslims believe he was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross and God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus.”

  3. corwyn says

    God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus.

    Seriously? What a complete jerk.

  4. John Kruger says

    Interesting to hear the whole “you still have to be nice to people who are not part of your religion” bit. I would be interested to hear how they square that attitude with the idea that apostates are deserving of death. Why not let god sort that out as well?

    I also found myself wondering why any depiction of Muhammad is uniquely insulting, since that belief seems to be a major driver in a lot of bad Muslim behavior.

    I like this summary post. I don’t have the time or patience to spend 6+ hours listening to stuff about Islam, but I do find it interesting.

  5. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Tracie:

    10. They have a canonical view of certain books outside the Quran.

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Hadith

    the term hadith refers to [hearsay] reports [outside the Quran] of statements or actions of Muhammad, or of his tacit approval or criticism of something said or done in his presence.
    […]
    The overwhelming majority of Muslims consider hadith to be essential supplements to and clarifications of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, as well as in clarifying issues pertaining to Islamic jurisprudence.
    […]
    By the 9th century the number of hadiths had grown exponentially. Islamic scholars of the Abbasid period were faced with a huge corpus of miscellaneous traditions, some of them flatly contradicting each other. Many of these traditions supported differing views on a variety of controversial matters. Scholars had to decide which hadith were to be trusted as authentic and which had been invented for political or theological purposes.

    Clerics and jurists of all denominations classify individual hadith as sahih (authentic), hasan (good) and da’if (weak). However, different traditions within each denomination, and different scholars within each tradition, may differ as to which hadith should be included in which category.

  6. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Oops, not arguing the contrary, just supplementing. I forgot to mention this from the OP…

    3. They lack central authority, which was presented as a double-edged sword, providing some freedom of interpretation, but at the same time lending itself to divisiveness and in-fighting, when groups believe they have opposing, right views.

  7. says

    Why not let god sort that out as well?

    There was a guy who preached that idea. He was killed for being a heretic.
    Seriously, though, it’s a kind of natural selection. Sects that don’t punish apostates can’t hold on to members are well as those who have strong barriers for exit.

    It has been suggested (forget by who, I heard about it through the Bible Geek), that this was part of the reason for Christianity’s early success. Other savior cults allowed multiple memberships, which diluted loyalty to any one group. However, Christians demanded all or nothing. If you’re a Christian, you can’t also worship Attis, Dionysis or whomever.

    This created a preaching advantage and formed strong loyalty to the Christian group. Being a Christian wasn’t just a minor detail; it became part of your identity in a way the other cults didn’t. So, Christianity grew at the expense of other cults and could more reliably retain members.

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Video: BBC – The Life of Muhammad (All 3 episodes, 2:51:44)
    Been a while since I watched it, but iirc that’s his biography per tradition at least.
     
    When trying to corroborate it, one can say the man existed, but not a lot else with confidence.
    Article: Wikipedia – Historicity of Muhammad

  9. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I also found myself wondering why any depiction of Muhammad is uniquely insulting, since that belief seems to be a major driver in a lot of bad Muslim behavior.

    Article: Wikipedia – Depictions of Muhammad
     
    tl;dr: Prohibitions against idolatry / graven images. If ya make a statue, you might worship the statue instead of what it represents; then it’s the golden calf all over again. Some branches took it verrry seriously, but that wasn’t/isn’t always the case.
     
    From the linked article on aniconism:

    Aniconism in Islam is a proscription in Islam against the creation of images of sentient living beings. The most absolute proscription is of images of God in Islam, followed by depictions of Muhammad, and then Islamic prophets and the relatives of Muhammad, but the depiction of all humans and animals is discouraged in the hadith and by the long tradition of Islamic authorities, especially Sunni ones.

  10. says

    Sounds a bit like what happened in Judaism; putting a hedge around the Torah. There’s an original rule, but since you want to be really sure not to break the rule, you erect further rules around it. If you follow the minor rules, you’re sure never to break the major rule. Over time, the minor rules take on significance of their own.

    Kosher laws are like that. After all, the Torah never says you have to have separate plates for meat and milk products, but many Jews have that, to make extra sure they never accidentally mix the two. For that matter, the Torah never says to separate milk and meat at all; only a kid (i.e. a baby goat) from it’s mother’s milk, specifically. The rules have developed over time as people interpreted and developed them.

    This is apparently not uncommon in religion, especially if the rules are vague or ambiguous. People err on the side of caution, to avoid breaking the rules.

  11. says

    It is interesting that you can take a concept or a myth and worship it all you like, but you can’t worship an image of it. So, if you’re wowed by the majesty of the universe, or impressed by “love” or human morality, it’s fine to represent that with a metaphor, as a concept like “god”–one step away from the actual thing you’re having trouble absorbing/processing. But if you represent the representation–go an extra step away–you’re just totally off the rails.

  12. says

    Just to clarify–the seminar never went over the idea of hadith except to say there is no central authority, and so it causes problems in who may speak for Muslims.

    The other canonical books included the Bible and some Scrolls of David or something like that? Actual texts they believe were produced by a handful of special prophets in the past. They reject there will be any more such books, because the Quran was said to be the final, final, honest-to-goodness-final one.

  13. John Kruger says

    True enough. Religions always seem to have a marketplace of the best emotional appeals and methods to maintain membership. The most effective methods tend to perpetuate themselves. That kind of flies in the face of tolerance towards unbelievers, though.

    I have never heard that ALL depictions of sentient beings are bad in Islam. I only ever hear about depictions of the prophet causing any uproar. I would think a Muslim might be similarly offended to some degree whenever they themselves are being depicted, but I have never heard that kind of complaint.

    I suppose most things that offend people are more or less arbitrary social constructs anyway. There is nothing special about a hand position with the middle finger up, but most westerners find it offensive. Likewise nobody in the west cares when a foot is pointed at them but in parts of India it is a real insult. In the end the depiction thing is almost certainly a cultural construction, but it can be interesting to hear them try to rationalize it.

  14. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Sort of the opposite of the true name thing, like the Tetragrammaton for Yahweh. Rather than denegrate by imitation, the label was synonymous with original. To speak/write the word was to channel or invite His power, and where sacred words already exist, the text can’t be desecrated or disposed of normally.
     
    Some ultra-observant Jews come up with loopholes for displaying the name on a monitor (If you hit the browser’s back button, it’ll be erased!).

  15. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Article: NY Times – Afghan Artist Erases Layers of Taliban Repression

    When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, they reimposed an old Islamic ban on depiction of living creatures in paintings and drawings. […] So Dr. Asefi devised a risky plan to save them. Over the five years of Taliban rule, he painstakingly altered 120 oil paintings, blotting out the offending creatures with watercolor.
    Today, he has become a sort of archaeologist, removing the paint to reveal the life underneath.

  16. John Kruger says

    And thus I am educated. Thank you.

    I guess only the death threats are sensational enough to make the more widely circulated national headlines.

  17. Aaroninmelbourne says

    The cynic in me says “because if you worship a statue rather than what a priest tells you, then eventually you might put the statue, and what you think it represents, above the authority of the priest”… and then where will income security for the priest go?

  18. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Tracie:

    I was wondering if this literal view of angels and genies was exclusive in Islam.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘exclusive’. Gallup has repeatedly found about 75% of Americans believe angels exist, and 11% are unsure.
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Islamic View of Angels
     
     
    On the other hand, the belief that jinn exist is pretty much Islam-only. Though you may think of that as a branding issue after reading their description below.
     
    The following summarizes Robert Lebling’s book on folklore: “Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar”.
     
    They came from Arabian mythology. Pre-Islamic cultures in the region had hundreds of local gods, minor gods, demons, and nature spirits, some of which came to be jinn. Can’t be any more specific on their origins, since there weren’t clear pantheons, and the progression was muddled by commerce. Islamic theology included them when it was founded. And as the religion spread, it spread the belief (and appropriated local legends). Each country has its own twists. It didn’t seem to leak out much to non-Muslims though. But believers include (some?) Egyptian Coptic Christians and (some?) Greek Orthodox around Turkey.
     
    Jinn can be invisible (except when they’re not), shapeshifters (especially as animals or chimera/-taurs), changelings (which abduct people and substitute themselves), shoulder whisperers (influencing humans’ actions), human-possessing spirits, area-haunting spooks, or flesh-eating ghouls. They may be blamed for unexplained mischief, sickness, madness, or death.
     
    Their primary characteristic is that they are free-willed moral agents (for good or evil) and live in clannish communities like social animals, in their own fey-like shadow world – when they’re not hanging out in this one. They’re not worshipped anymore, but they might be solicited for protection or favors… or forgiviness if they’re offended.
     
    Judgment applies to them, so they’re subject to proselytization and prophets – including Muhammad – which is considerate, I guess. To humans, a jinn usually doesn’t seem to have an individual personality; it behaves as a representative of its clan/tribe/race.

  19. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Tracie:

    I was mildly curious if there might be some sects that have a more metaphorical perspective on these beings.

    In a Monster Talk interview, Lebling said (individual?) westernized Muslims often have a metaphorical explanation (e.g., jinn are unusual people) or reject the concept entirely. Then again, he also said there are people who say they dismiss the stories as legends and yet avoid haunted areas or recite a protective incantation when unnerved.
     
    The more religious or traditional the person, the more jinn are taken seriously. He didn’t mention doctrine from organized sects, since he’s more interested in characterizing the monsters from collected anecdotes, past and present.

  20. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    Article: BBC News – Possession, Jinn, and Britain’s Backstreet Exorcists
    Video: BBC Newsnight clip of the same story (10:53)

    “UK health and social workers and those in the criminal justice system are increasingly having to understand belief in spiritual possession among ethnic minorities, with new research highlighting a particular issue with some sections of the British Asian community blaming mental health problems on the supernatural.”

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Russell:

    What differentiates one sect of Islam from another?

    Article: Wikipedia – Islamic Schools and Branches
     
    Information overload warning: That’s more of a table of contents, with each page listing distinct characteristics.
    Most of it you’ll be uninterested in, I’m afraid.
    It’s got an org chart of the branches though. ;)

  22. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

     
    Survey: 2013 Pew report on Muslims’ beliefs about specific issues, by country (via Jerry Coyne)
     
    Podcast: ReasonableDoubts – 114 A Review of the Survey (2:00-32:27)

  23. steele says

    Tracie,

    I appreciate your and Russell’s perspective on visiting the mosque and on Islam. Many Western people know very little about Islamic beliefs and it is commendable that you and Russell took the time to explore what Muslims believe.

    I am a Christian myself but I am somewhat familiar with the Muslim perspective. I found their video to be mildly propagandist in an effort to appeal to wholesome family values and inclusiveness. I don’t so much have a problem with this, Christians quite frequently do this as well. That aside Islamic treatment of women is the most disturbing part for me, I live near a large Arabic population and seeing women in burkas I find extremely unsettling. I think this video tries to gloss over the real problem Islam has in their treatment of women.

    Just a couple of comments about Islam itself, Islamic theology and the Quran are diametrically opposed to Christian teachings especially the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, they do as I believe Russell pointed out do not believe Jesus was crucified despite the overwhelming historical evidence that he was, of course that is also the case with many atheists as well, but with Muslims it is strange because they believe Jesus existed and did miraculous things such as speak as a baby.

    Something you mentioned also is something I have the hardest part with Islamic theology is the reconciliation of Allah’s mercy and justice. As you note

    God is described as completely just, but also the most merciful. As Matt has pointed out, mercy requires a suspension of justice, and so the two are incompatible.

    I actually agree with what Matt is saying and it does raise a good point in Islamic theology there is no mechanism to resolve the two, Allah’s can will both equally by fiat which seems inherently contradictory. Even if you think Christianity is BS, it does seem to answer this question much more effectively IMO then Islam through the atonement of Christ.

    2nd Corinthians 5:17-21

    17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Romans 3:21-26

    21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    So justice is not suspended in Christianity and mercy can be given through Faith. Just another perspective for you.

    Lastly your statement

    It’s simply lying to avoid persecution. I, personally, don’t understand why Christians attach merit to being honest, even if it means you’re going to be abused. You can be forgiven by god, and god should be understanding of situations where people are under duress and coercion. I value truth, but if someone asks me if I have Jews hiding in my attic in WWII Germany, I think it’s more moral to lie. In some situations, deception can be the more moral course.

    I’m not 100% sure I know what you mean but I think God does understand their are times to “morally” lie, look at the example of Rahab in the Bible for example but I think Christians primarily won’t lie when it involves denying Christ as an example

    Acts 5:40-42

    40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

    Thanks again for the review.

  24. says

    seeing women in burkas I find extremely unsettling

    Good for you. Personally, I don’t find it any more unsettling than when Christian women wear long skirts.

    Islamic theology and the Quran are diametrically opposed to Christian teachings especially the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

    Actually, that’s just about the only issue where they’re really “diametrically opposed”. On most other issues, the differences are a matter of degree, if there are any differences at all. Islam is a direct continuance of the Abrahamic tradition, after all.

    but with Muslims it is strange because they believe Jesus existed and did miraculous things such as speak as a baby.

    Why is this strange? There are many views of Jesus, even among the religious; even among Christians. The fact that you’re apparently oblivious of this fact doesn’t really say much about Muslims.

    You think that Jesus existed and rose from the dead, yet you don’t believe that the visited the Americas afterward. What a weirdo you are. If you believe that he rose from the dead, why is visiting another continent any stranger?

    I actually agree with what Matt is saying and it does raise a good point in Islamic theology there is no mechanism to resolve the two, Allah’s can will both equally by fiat which seems inherently contradictory.  Even if you think Christianity is BS, it does seem to answer this question much more effectively IMO then Islam through the atonement of Christ.

    Really? You think that god sacrificing himself to himself, so that he doesn’t have to follow the rules that he himself made is a reasonable explanation for anything? Personally, I’m quite capable of forgiving people without killing anyone; not myself and not anyone else. Why can’t god do that? The Christian explanation only raises new, harder questions.

    Honestly, I think you’re terminally steeped in Christian theology, to the point where you’re incapable of seriously evaluating any other point of view. The only reason you think Islam is strange is because you think that your view is the default. If you were a Muslims, you’d be in here talking about those weird Christians and the crazy things they believe.

  25. corwyn says

    they do as I believe Russell pointed out do not believe Jesus was crucified despite the overwhelming historical evidence that he was

    Such as? And remember that (apparently) Muslims think someone else was disguised (divinely) as him and crucified in his place.

    There is, in fact, NO contemporary historical records that he even existed, to say nothing of being crucified.

  26. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah, I’m with LykeX on this. Also, see corwyn’s post. Christians tend to sink so far into their own theology that they permanently glue their Jesus-glasses to their faces. I don’t know if you have the ability to evaluate any other religion legitimately.

  27. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Actually, that’s just about the only issue where they’re really “diametrically opposed”. On most other issues, the differences are a matter of degree, if there are any differences at all. Islam is a direct continuance of the Abrahamic tradition, after all.

    This tends to be what most people think, but it’s just not true. In fact, Islam is opposed to Christianity on almost every major theological level.

    1) They don’t believe Jesus was actually crucified, which automatically makes them diametrically opposed to Christianity, as this is it’s very foundation.

    1 Corinthians 15:17 – “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain”

    2) They don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, or that God has a Son. This in effect makes Muhammad an antiChrist.

    1 John 2:22 – “He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”

    3) They believe Muhammad is the last and final profit.

    4) They see the Trinity as blasphemous.

    5) They believe good deeds and God’s mercy get you to heaven.

    6) They believe polygamy is okay, which is strictly forbidden in Christianity.

    So when you really look at things, Muslims are opposed to Christianity on the issues of salvation, sin and repentance, the nature of God, Religious Laws, Christ, and scripture. There’s probably more I’m missing, but these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. The differences between Muslims and Christians are truly irreconcilable.

    The Christian explanation only raises new, harder questions.

    Agreed.

  28. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @steele:

    there are times to “morally” lie, look at the example of Rahab in the Bible for example

     

    6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

    6:24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

    6:25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

    She betrayed her neighbors, and her city was looted and razed, killing just about everyone.
    Hooray?

  29. says

    The differences between Muslims and Christians are truly irreconcilable.

    The differences between various Christian sects are truly irreconcilable. Indeed, several of these points would also count for some Christians. The Jehovahs Witnesses reject the Trinity, as do the Mormons.

  30. corwyn says

    This tends to be what most people think, but it’s just not true. In fact, Islam is opposed to Christianity on almost every major theological level.

    1) They don’t believe Jesus was actually crucified, which automatically makes them diametrically opposed to Christianity, as this is it’s very foundation.

    1 Corinthians 15:17 – “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain”

    Perhaps weakly true, but not diametrically opposed. Please look up the word. I note that your quote, in no way contradicts their belief. For example, if he was killed by stoning, and raised again, both would be true.

    2) They don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, or that God has a Son. This in effect makes Muhammad an antichrist.

    1 John 2:22 – “He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”

    Again, weakly true, but again, your quote does not show it. They aren’t denying the father, so can’t be an antichrist by that definition.

    3) They believe Muhammad is the last and final profit.[sic]

    Where does the bible contradict this?

    4) They see the Trinity as blasphemous.

    As do many Christians. This was a major theological debate in the time of Constantine, and still a bit of one now.

    5) They believe good deeds and God’s mercy get you to heaven.

    As do many Christians to this day. Including the current pope.

    6) They believe polygamy is okay, which is strictly forbidden in Christianity.

    Where? Many divine favorites had polygamous relationships. Some even at the BEHEST of said deity.

    Once again I think you are taking what you believe, and assuming it is true for all Christians, and thus must be in the bible.

  31. steele says

    corwyn,

    Its to bad you have been taken in by the type like Richard Carrier and these mythicists. Bart Ehrman an agnostic professor even says Jesus existed and was crucified. To deny this is to deny 2000 years of history. Ehrman may not agree he rose from the dead but he certainly agrees that Jesus existed.

    I mean I could quote Josephus but you will claim that is a Christian interpolation or some BS. I will acknowledge it was probably embellished by later Christians but Josephus did reference Jesus. There are other evidences but just look at the internal evidence of the Bible. I will just quote this from WLC reasonable faith

    Moreover, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 quotes an old Christian tradition that he had received from the earliest disciples. Paul probably received this tradition no later than his visit to Jerusalem in a.d. 36 (Gal. 1:18), if not earlier in Damascus. It thus goes back to within the first five years after Jesus’ death. The tradition is a summary of the early Christian preaching and may have been used in Christian instruction. Its form would have made it suitable for memorization. Here is what it says:

    . . . that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

    This was within 5 years of Jesus’s death, it probably goes back even further. Pretty much every scholar on the planet, other then a Carrier type, accepts Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians as authentic including these verses.

    Further as I indicated Bart Ehrman a Biblical Criticism agnostic believes Jesus existed and Paul wrote at least 7 letters including 1st Corinthians. The reason I mention this again is because explain what Paul writes here about the resurrection of Christ.

    1st Corinthians 15:6-11

    6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

    Why quote about 500 brothers that are still alive if you want to lie about it? I mean you have to assume Paul was lying but then you still have the problem of the resurrection, the genesis of Christianity and the Disciples Faith.

    Here is the criteria if you want to set up a better hypotheses to explain all this

    1) The hypothesis, together with other true statements, must imply further statements
    describing present, observable data.

    2) The hypothesis must have greater explanatory scope than rival hypotheses.

    3) The hypothesis must have greater explanatory power than rival hypotheses.

    4) The hypothesis must be more plausible than rival hypotheses.

    5) The hypothesis must be less ad hoc than rival hypotheses.

    6) The hypothesis must be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than rival hypotheses.

    7) The hypothesis must significantly exceed its rivals in fulfilling conditions (2)–(6).

    I know you will deny the gospels as well but at least two of them were written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John); despite your denial of them, they are multiple attestations to the fact Jesus rose from the dead

    What scenario do you subscribe to corwyn to explain the data? The swoon theory, wrong tomb, conspiracy theory, misplaced body, legendary embellishment, etc…? Or did the Roman Catholic Church make it all up to control the masses?

    Whichever one you pick I would contest fall far short of the Biblical account, that Jesus actually rose from the dead and was the Son of God. But I can’t put it in a test tube for you so you have to have Faith corwyn, really it is that simple.

    Lastly corwyn look at

    Hosea 6:1-2

    1 “Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
    2 After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.

    Matthew 12:9-40

    9 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    Do you think the disciples were just sitting in their fishing boats and decided one day hey lets parallel the 3 day motif in the Old Testament and apply it are old buddy Jesus and say he rose from the dead too, I’m sure that is how it went down. The verses in the Old Testament are signposts pointing towards Jesus.

    Hebrews 10:1

    1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

    The truth is right there for you to see corwyn, you just choose not to. Thanks

    Romans 1:20

    20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    Mark 8:18

    18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?

  32. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    For example, if he was killed by stoning, and raised again, both would be true.

    Maybe, but they don’t believe this at all. They believe that he was raised up to heaven in the same manner as Enoch. They don’t believe he ever died.

    Again, weakly true, but again, your quote does not show it. They aren’t denying the father, so can’t be an antichrist by that definition.

    Wrong, the very next line in that verse says “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father:”. By denying the son in Christianity, you deny the father. There’s no way around this.

    Where does the bible contradict this?

    In many places. One of them is that no prophets were to come from the decedents of ishmael only Isaac. Muslims claim that Muhammad is decedent from Ishmael, so therefore he cannot be a prophet at all, never mind the last prophet.

    As do many Christians. This was a major theological debate in the time of Constantine, and still a bit of one now.

    Doesn’t matter. The majority of Christians and Catholics, agree that the trinity exists. This makes Islam opposed to Christianity. I’m not arguing that there aren’t disagreements within Christianity itself, but Muslims are opposed to almost every core Christian doctrine, which makes them diametrically opposed.

    Where? Many divine favorites had polygamous relationships. Some even at the BEHEST of said deity.

    Just because somebody breaks an expressed law, doesn’t negate said law. But here you go:

    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

    And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

  33. AhmNee says

    Well, the person gave consent to be transformed and tortured, obviously. Just like Mary did when she was raped impregnated by gawd.

  34. AhmNee says

    Aw, Captain. Welcome back. We’ve missed you.
    .

    In many places. One of them is that no prophets were to come from the decedents of ishmael only Isaac. Muslims claim that Muhammad is decedent from Ishmael, so therefore he cannot be a prophet at all, never mind the last prophet.

    .
    From what I’m seeing, there’s nothing said specifically and is reading between the lines at best and is based largely on omission. There doesn’t seem to be anything specifically saying Ishmael’s wasn’t a prophetic line.
    .

    Doesn’t matter. The majority of Christians and Catholics, agree that the trinity exists. This makes Islam opposed to Christianity. I’m not arguing that there aren’t disagreements within Christianity itself, but Muslims are opposed to almost every core Christian doctrine, which makes them diametrically opposed.

    .
    By your estimation. Just because you play down the disagreements in christianity as being less important doesn’t make your version so.
    .

    Just because somebody breaks an expressed law, doesn’t negate said law. But here you go:
    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
    And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
    Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    .
    How does that in any way make polygamy forbidden?

  35. houndentenor says

    I’m sorry but where is this “overwhelming historical evidence” for the crucifixion? The gospels, obviously. But there’s no evidence in Roman records or other contemporary accounts except the Christian ones that cropped up decades later.

  36. houndentenor says

    Nonsense. You are using the Bible to prove the Bible is true. We wouldn’t accept this for any other source and non-Christians are not going to accept it for the Bible either.

  37. Monocle Smile says

    There is so much wrong here. And after two posts, you’ve already devolved into quoting meaningless Bible verses despite being told time and fucking time again that it’s useless. Why do you do this? Do you really think you come across as anything other than deluded and confused?

    I could quote Josephus but you will claim that is a Christian interpolation or some BS.

    So a scholarly consensus is BS? Good to know you’re already admitting confirmation bias.

    at least two of them were written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John)

    Blatant lie. John was illiterate and Matthew used Luke as a source. And neither are contemporary, so you’re lying about that. You’re choosing to believe hacks rather than the scholarly consensus.

    I can’t put it in a test tube for you so you have to have Faith corwyn, really it is that simple.

    Some of us care about intellectual honesty and thus cannot bring ourselves to have “faith” in anything. Why is faith a good thing? Why would anyone WANT to have faith? It’s a poor excuse to believe nonsense.

  38. houndentenor says

    Thanks Russell and Tracie. That was highly informative.

    Also, I used to live near a Lebanese neighborhood in Brooklyn and I will attest that middle eastern people do indeed make tasty desserts!

  39. AhmNee says

    One doesn’t need to buy the mythicists story. There is no evidence outside of the bible that corroborates that jesus existed. You can quote Josephus all you want to but even christian scholars question, if not conclude the bits about jesus are forgeries. Paul never met Jesus and is specific that his information was through revelation, not first hand experience. And your “within 5 years” is the most liberal of estimates and is more likely 50+ years after.
    .
    Personally, I agree with Christopher Hitchens that there was likely a Rabbi named jesus that was around that time because an awful lot of trouble was taken to shoehorn him into the messiah prophesy.
    .
    For example:
    .
    He had to be from Bethlehem, so the census was invented to make Joseph and Mary had to return.
    .
    He had to be of the line of David which pains are taken to show Joseph was of the line of David. (Which is actually contradicted by the immaculate conception since the line comes from the seed of the father. Since Joseph wasn’t the father, Jesus couldn’t be of the line of David.)
    .
    The True Core of the Jesus Myth – Christopher Hitchens
    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMo5R5pLPBE”

  40. says

    I can’t help but notice the complete lack of examples of contemporary historical records. After all, that was what corwin’s claim was about. If you think that’s wrong, all you need to do is point to one single demonstrable example. Josephus wasn’t a contemporary and no part of the NT is written by eye witnesses, so none of that qualifies.

    It’s certainly true that Ehrman accepts a historical Jesus, but I’m pretty sure even he would admit that we’ve got no contemporary accounts of Jesus to verify this. He’s basing his conclusion on other evidence.

  41. corwyn says

    To deny this is to deny 2000 years of history.

    I was only able to read as far as this inanity. How exactly is a 1 day crucifixion (or not) equal to 2000 years of history. The fact that people have TALKED about it for 2000 years has exactly ZERO bearing on whether it is true or not.

    Also, please note, I was not denying anything, I was saying that there is no contemporary historical confirmation of any of it. And since theological writings are subject to dogma debates they are not historical. What is historical is the record of those writings being changed over the years to match current ideological arguments.

  42. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Common Monocle, you know that there are virtually zero credible scholars that still believe Jesus never lived. We can debate wether he did the miracles claimed in the gospel, or wether he rose from the dead, but anybody that debates his very existence automatically deserves a place next to those people who say Elvis is coming back.

  43. AhmNee says

    You’re confusing there being no substantial evidence saying that the jesus character was made up whole cloth with there being any good reason to believe he actually existed. And certainly no reason to think any of the supernatural claims are true.

  44. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Oh please… Half of ancient history would have to be thrown to the wind if we used these standards. We have almost no contemporary accounts of ANYONE in history. I know it’s hard to believe but Twitter and Facebook weren’t very popular back then… neither was paper … or writing.

  45. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    No I’m not. There’s just very few scholars alive right now that would hold the position that Jesus never existed. I guess I just trust their opinion, and the research that I’ve done myself, more then a hypothesis that has zero explanatory power.

  46. Monocle Smile says

    When exactly did I state that Jesus never existed? I always appreciate spurious dishonesty.

  47. Monocle Smile says

    How about independent corroboration? None of that exists for Jesus.

    And who says I have to accept all of ancient history? Furthermore, we’re talking about freakin’ MIRACLES. I would hope that unreal, Earth-shattering crazy shit like that would have gotten quills scrawling like crazy. Christians call it the most important, influential event in human history. Why did so few people at the time care?

  48. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Thanks, It’s always nice to be missed :)

    From what I’m seeing, there’s nothing said specifically and is reading between the lines at best and is based largely on omission. There doesn’t seem to be anything specifically saying Ishmael’s wasn’t a prophetic line.

    Does the Bible have to say something specifically for it to be true? If it outlined specifics for everything, there wouldn’t be a library big enough to hold it. It doesn’t say that the Egyptians would’t have a prophetic line either…

    Many times in the Bible, God is referred to as the God of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. Ishmael is never included in this trio.

    Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

    Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

    God made no covenants with Ishmael, he also didn’t give him any laws. Isaac was the chosen heir, so Muslims are misinformed when they say it was Ishmael.

    Not that God didn’t promise Ishmael certain things, because he did. Just not the things that Islam claims.

    How does that in any way make polygamy forbidden?

    It makes it forbidden because Jesus says “twain” will become one. Not three, or four, or five, but two. One man and one Women.

  49. steele says

    Captain,

    I appreciate your honest assessment of the evidence that Jesus existed. I know you don’t believe he performed miracles and all that but I often wonder why many atheists feel the need to take the tact that Jesus never existed at all. I know the evidence is not so overwhelming as to be indisputable but we have more evidence for Jesus existing then 99% of all people who have ever lived. I don’t dispute Socrates lived so why the double standard for Jesus, I mean there is more evidence for Jesus then Socrates.

    I have read Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist” so its not like I am reading Christian hacks as monocle indicates. Here is another Bible quote for you Monocle

    Galatians 1:11-12

    11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Galatians 1:18-19

    18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)

    Ehrman discusses it in this video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPvbQsJHY-w

    I don’t think this proves Jesus was God but it is extremely strong evidence He existed. It would be like me saying I met President Obama and his hut living African brother, I’m not impressing anyone by using the hut living brother to back up my claim. Paul is saying hey I got my information right from Jesus Christ himself and oh yea I met his brother to. It is a side note, just thrown in like an afterthought.

    So I think we can dispense with this BS he didn’t exist.

    corwyn states:

    And since theological writings are subject to dogma debates they are not historical.

    this is completely absurd and ridiculous. Does this include St. Augustine’s theological writings, Aquinas’s writings, Joseph Smith’s writings or just the Bible. Way to stack the deck in your favor by eliminating a priori theological writings from being historical. Its like saying the Constitution is not historical because people debate its meaning.

    Anyway Captain I know we are on different sides of the God issue but its nice to see you aren’t afraid of history as some people on here are. BTW the guy in the video I realize is kinda ignorant, I think more highly of the people on here than that and know most of you have struggled with the God issue maybe longer and harder than myself and just have reached different conclusions. I just care about the people on here and wish as Paul said

    Acts 26:28-29

    28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”[b] 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

    oops sorry for the extra Bible quote, lol, I know I know white noise…..I just like being the Socratic gadfly in your ointment monocle

  50. Monocle Smile says

    steele, you write like a child. That is a completely honest evaluation, not a random insult.

    we have more evidence for Jesus existing then 99% of all people who have ever lived. I don’t dispute Socrates lived so why the double standard for Jesus, I mean there is more evidence for Jesus then Socrates.

    The first part is a blatant lie. The only way you could ever argue that point is if amount of evidence translated to number of copies of documents, both on paper and electronic. There are a shitload of Bibles. That doesn’t mean more evidence. Stop being intentionally stupid.

    Secondly, there’s CONSIDERABLE debate on whether Socrates actually existed, so maybe you’re just gullible and we’re not the ones with the problem. Good job projecting your crappy standards onto us.

    I would be totally shocked if Ehrman actually said Matthew and John 1) wrote their eponymous gospels or 2) were eyewitnesses. I think you’re being disingenuous. Matthew in particular definitely both used Luke as a source AND embellished the account with flavoring lifted straight from the Old Testament. I’ll have to dig it up again, but I found a source with photographs showing that EXACT PHRASES from OT writings found their way into the Gospels despite those phrases being well out of date.

    *It would be like me saying I met President Obama and his hut living African brother*
    Racist much? Also, this has nothing to do with anything. Paul never met Jesus and was merely told that James was the brother of Jesus.

    *Does this include St. Augustine’s theological writings, Aquinas’s writings, Joseph Smith’s writings or just the Bible.*

    It includes ALL of those. Thanks for proving our point. Do you even know anything? Do you think any of us take Joseph Smith’s crazy-ass writings seriously? It’s like you don’t even understand the nature of our position.

    *Its like saying the Constitution is not historical because people debate its meaning.*

    You are completely and totally wrong here. Legal quarrels over a legal document are not analogous to corroboration of historical sources.

    *I just care about the people on here*

    Spare me. This is lip service to your imaginary deity. You should care more about truth and how to go about determining whether or not your beliefs are actually true.

  51. says

    steele:

    Paul is saying hey I got my information right from Jesus Christ himself

    That seems to me a pretty good reason to doubt his credibility altogether. After all, this was after Jesus supposedly died and ascended to heaven. When Paul talks about getting information from Jesus, we’re talking about some kind of religious vision; the kind you’d likely reject without a second thought if it came from someone of a competing religion.

  52. says

    So? I’m not even discussing the subject of whether Jesus existed. I’m pointing out a very simple fact about the preceding discussion:

    Corwyn made a specific claim; that there are no contemporary historical accounts of Jesus.
    Steele vigorously disagreed, yet <i<never actually produced any examples. The attempts at examples (Josephus and the gospels) are just ridiculous.

    We can discuss what all this means for our conclusion later. First, let’s settle the factual matter. If we can’t agree on what sources exist, there’s no way to have a sensible discussion about what conclusions to draw from them.

  53. AhmNee says

    Many times in the Bible, God is referred to as the God of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. Ishmael is never included in this trio.

     
    Well, god/allah is all knowing and knew that Ishmael would be getting his own book, the quran. He didn’t want Ishmael to steal the thunder of the others in the bible, obviously.
     

    so Muslims are misinformed when they say it was Ishmael.

     
    Still sounds like a judgement call to me. And you’re more likely to be wrong than you are right since there’s your version, the muslim version, and the more likely idea that you’re both wrong and both stories are fiction. The odds are stacked against you.
     

    It makes it forbidden because Jesus says “twain” will become one. Not three, or four, or five, but two. One man and one Women.

     
    Since man and woman, the twain as you mention, become one. Once they are one, adding another is just twaining again. Another woman joins the man whom is one with another woman, his previous wife/wives. So your logic here doesn’t hold up. It’s not as if the bible, that barely acknowledges women as more than herdbeasts, would find another wife, in your quote, important enough to mention.
     
    That it’s only one man and one woman is purely your own conceit.

  54. AhmNee says

    And yet we have things like the code of Ur Nammu that predate your book by approximately 700 years.

    In case anyone missed Matt’s discussion on the history of Biblical Cannon. I only recently found it and it’s excellent.

  55. corwyn says

    Oh please… Half of ancient history would have to be thrown to the wind if we used these standards. We have almost no contemporary accounts of ANYONE in history. I know it’s hard to believe but Twitter and Facebook weren’t very popular back then… neither was paper … or writing.

    And you know that this is a lie.

    Jospehus wrote about things that were happening in his time (as well as in the past). Romans kept a lot of records.

    But none of that gets you out of your obligation to show your “overwhelming historical evidence”. Which is it? Does overwhelming evidence exist, or do ‘We have almost no contemporary accounts of ANYONE in history.”?

  56. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    I just skimmed through the SAB sidenotes for all the chapters in the Quran, lookin’ for some entertaining absurdity, and jeez… All-loving’s gotta have a major asterisk by it.
     
    Disbelievers are dooooooooomed!
     
    Index: Skeptic’s Annotated Quran – Doom (221 times)

    Doom, Painful Doom, Awful Doom, Shameful Doom, Dreadful Doom, Heavy Doom, Harsh Doom, Lasting Doom, Evil Doom, Grievous Doom, Allah’s Doom, Dolorous Doom, Everlasting Doom, Terrific Doom, Fearful Doom, Doom of Fire, Doom of Degradation, Doom of the Disdained, Doom of Hell, Doom of Ignominy, Doom of the Hereafter, Doom of Allah, Doom of Burning, Doom of Flame, Doom of Immortality, Gulf of Doom, Hour of Doom, Word of Doom, Doom of Humiliation, Doom of a Tremendous Day, Doom of a Disastrous Day, Allah Doometh, The Doomed, Doom to Doom

    Also Fire (x140). And Hell (x98).

  57. AhmNee says

    Ehrman discusses it in this video

     
    That interview is awful. When pressed for his “solid evidence” Ehrman evades like crazy and then cites Paul as evidence when Paul never met jesus and states explicitly that his information is through revelation. So was Paul lying? (Well, obviously, but still.) Then how reliable are his writings.
     
    I personally find this review of Ehrman’s book deconstructs the argument well. The questions posed seem quite valid. I don’t subscribe to the idea that a historical jesus didn’t exist, but I don’t find the argument for a historical jesus any more compelling than the one against.
     
     
    http://nobeliefs.com/Ehrman2.htm

  58. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Since man and woman, the twain as you mention, become one. Once they are one, adding another is just twaining again.

    haha… touché.

    I see your point, but this is really a prime example of how you can twist anybodies words to make it say what you want it to. I guess if you applied this same type of linguistic gymnastics to any book, you could come up with whatever meaning suited you in the moment.

    Truth may not be corruptible, but it’s interpretation most certainly is.

    . It’s not as if the bible, that barely acknowledges women as more than herd beasts

    This is another bit of rhetoric that is commonly passed around between Atheists, and it’s also not true. But before I go into why the Bible doesn’t hold this view of women, I have to ask, what do you think is the primary purpose/function of a man or a women?

  59. AhmNee says

    I really don’t see how it’s twisting words since the bible is full of polygamous relationships and there’s no real condemnation of them.

    The bible is hostile toward women. It’s hard so see how it can be viewed otherwise. It’s understandable as it’s writings were a product of their time and women in that day and age were little more than property.

    As for what I think the primary purpose or function of a man or woman is. In what context? By evolution? In society? Tribally? In a family? Personally?

  60. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Yes, as an example, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, but it caused him many problems, and his future generations where punished because of them.

    Jesus says that “from the beginning this was not so”, and he explains that there was a plan for marriage between one man and one women. You might be able to argue differently if you discard the beginning of Genesis and the New testemant, and focus solely on the rest of the old testament, but I’m arguing Christianity and Christianity is clearly against Polygamy.

    Anyway, society, family, and personal preference are all secondary to the primary function which, from an atheistic perspective, would probably be determined by evolution. So let’s start there.

  61. Monocle Smile says

    Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, but it caused him many problems, and his future generations where punished because of them.

    Oh, my aching ass. This whole “sins of the father” crap is prevalent throughout the Bible, yet believers consistently deny this. It’s immoral nonsense.

    society, family, and personal preference are all secondary to the primary function which, from an atheistic perspective, would probably be determined by evolution.

    Firstly, evolution and atheism are not linked. Secondly, let’s not commit the naturalistic fallacy. Thirdly, what the hell are you talking about? There is no “primary function” where gender roles are concerned.

  62. steele says

    ahmnee,

    I read through the link you sent. The guy goes into the typical mythicist BS, Paul was an epileptic. Paul never met Jesus, the gospels are crap, etc… The guy has a right to his opinion and maybe he is correct but I think Ehrman should be given a little credit and lets admit Ehrman has done a little research in this area so opinion does carry a little weight.

    Really Ahmnee I don’t know why you would you would use this guy to rely on. I don’t see much in his review that really addresses Ehrman’s points in any substantive ways.

    Check out these links, I know you will probably dismiss the WLC ones but take a look broaden your horizon a little.

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/scholarly-articles/historical-jesus

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/rediscovering-the-historical-jesus-the-evidence-for-jesus

    http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/

    I don’t get why you guys think Ehrman is not being forthright, he has no dog in this race, he is an agnostic, not a Christian. Is your little worldview so fragile you don’t want to break out of your echo chamber here and at least see what other evidence there is? I mean I may write like a child, not that I care about petty insults I actually find them humorous, but at least I can put my big boy pants on and examine evidence that may not agree with the way I see things.

    One example I will give you that Ehrman mentions in the gospels as an example that Jesus existed is

    Mark 5:41

    41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”

    http://www.studylight.org/dic/hdn/view.cgi?n=2643

    Talitha cumi is an Aramaic phrase that was translated by Mark for the Greek audience he was writing for. Ehrman points out and I am paraphrasing if Jesus didn’t exist why not just use the Greek to say “little girl get up” instead of putting in the Aramaic and then translate it if Jesus didn’t actually say this. Mark was translating from Aramaic because that was the language it was originally told in.

    http://pknatz.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-historical-jesus/

    Even the word messiah is an Aramaic word that was translated Christos in the Greek.

    If we agree Jesus probably existed then I don’t get why this is even a debating point between us. I agree with Captain for Ancient history and by historical standards, there is overwhelming evidence for Jesus having existed. By today’s standards maybe not so much. Maybe I should have stated it that way instead, but I think the burden of proof is on anyone that says He didn’t exist or that there is no evidence that He did.

    I do like your quote from Hitchens, so lets move past whether Jesus existed, it really is not that debatable, now whether He was the Son of God that is a different story, but one where I also think there is evidence He was.

    If you want to agree with Corwyn where he says

    NO contemporary historical records that he even existed

    that’s fine whatever floats your boat but even if I were to grant that what he says is true, it still doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t exist.

  63. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    This whole “sins of the father” crap is prevalent throughout the Bible, yet believers consistently deny this. It’s immoral nonsense.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily immoral. Sometimes It’s just life. Your father’s actions, can at times, directly affect you. Not that Solomon was necessarily a really bad person, but let’s say someones dad was.

    You can’t just run around and do a bunch of nasty stuff and expect all the hatred an ill will you’ve elicited to die with you. It just doesn’t work that way. There’s been many times throughout history that the son was punished as a direct result of what his father did. In Rome when an Emperor was assassinated, everyone in his immediate family was murdered along with him, sometimes even down to the baby. Obviously the baby didn’t do anything, except share the last name of her father, but for some that’s all it takes.

    The son might have a chance to redeem his last name, and do better than his father did, but it’s usually a long and hard road. If your father was famous or infamous, then you will be judged by his actions, and crawling yourself out of his shadow is going to be no easy task. That’s just how it is.

    Firstly, evolution and atheism are not linked. Secondly, let’s not commit the naturalistic fallacy. Thirdly, what the hell are you talking about? There is no “primary function” where gender roles are concerned.

    Evolution and atheism may not be linked by definition. But they certainly cling to each other like twin sisters. When you see one, you can almost bet your house that the other is following closely behind.

    I haven’t committed any said naturalistic fallacy. I’m simply asking what is the purpose of men and women. I’m not talking about wether that purpose is right or wrong.

    Let’s do a simple thought experiment. If one man and one women end up on an island together, and they’re the sole survivors of the human race, what would the optimal role of the man and women be to ensure the future of humanity?

    Obviously one role would come to mind pretty quickly, but I think if we reduced things to this level, the primary functions of men and women are more easily disernable. “primary functions” might not be the best term, so your welcome to change it, but I think you know what I’m asking here.

  64. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Yeah Josephus also wrote about Jesus brother James, and he wrote about some of the other disciples. He also wrote about many of the prominent figures mentioned in the Gospels. More than likely, you’ll gladly accept those accounts, but you’ll dismiss any and all mentions of Jesus as mere forgeries. I just don’t get it.

  65. says

    I’m simply asking what is the purpose of men and women

    Things don’t have purpose. They have purpose to somebody. As such, asking about purpose of men and women is just silly.

    f one man and one women end up on an island together, and they’re the sole survivors of the human race, what would the optimal role of the man and women be to ensure the future of humanity?

    Note that you had to add the bit about ensuring the future of humanity. That’s not a given. That’s something you have added to the situation. In other words, you’re not talking about some abstract purpose anymore. You’re talking about their purpose in relation to your goal of perpetuating humanity.

    If you set a different goal, you’d get a different answer. That tells us nothing about men and women. It tells us about the goals you set.

  66. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    And to answer your question. Yes, overwhelming historical evidence does exist, but most of it is not contemporary, and it doesn’t have to be in order to be considered strong evidence. That’s just not the standard of authenticating ancient history.

    This really doesn’t bother me at all. Because like I said, we have very few Contemporary works of anybody in ancient history. There might very well have been a lot, but it’s been lost over time.

  67. says

    In my (layman’s) opinion, the mention of James is one of the better bits of evidence we have, but it’s far from conclusive. For one, it doesn’t actually verify the existence of Jesus. It just verifies that James was known as the brother of “Jesus, who was called Christ”. It’s possible that this is an honorific title.

    It’s speculative, but that goes both ways. The passage is too short to be sure, either way. And, of course, it’s not contemporary.

  68. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    I swear if I ever get in trouble, I’m hiring an atheist for a lawyer. You guys are experts at evasion :)

    Anyway, who cares wether I’m talking about an abstract purpose or not. Obviously I’m asking the question to you guys, and not some other random species, so I want an answer from your perspective. A human perspective. I assume that being part of the human species, you would be interested in our survival, if such a situation where to occur?

    This situation tells us a lot about men and women. It tells us the fundamental rolls men and women should instinctually perform at the formation of any given society. Wether these roles change as society evolves, is another discussion.

  69. Monocle Smile says

    I don’t think it’s necessarily immoral. Sometimes It’s just life.

    So “life” is always filled with moral behavior? Holding a child accountable for their father’s actions (consensual exceptions like legal debts and wills notwithstanding) IS immoral. Doesn’t matter that people happen to do it.

    You can’t just run around and do a bunch of nasty stuff and expect all the hatred an ill will you’ve elicited to die with you.

    Of course not, because now we’re talking pragmatism rather than principle. What you’re saying is that we can’t bank on people valuing morality over emotional guilt-by-association fallacies, which is obvious. I’m not talking about what DOES happen. I’m talking about what SHOULD happen, and if some perfectly moral deity is issuing commands, they shouldn’t make such grievous errors.

    Evolution and atheism may not be linked by definition. But they certainly cling to each other like twin sisters.

    Incorrect. This is only the perception because creationists force it to be so. When a/theist debates happen, the subject of evolution is always…ALWAYS…brought up by the theist unless it’s part of the predetermined topic.

    Let’s do a simple thought experiment.

    Let’s not. “Purpose” in life is self-defined. Meaning is subjective. There’s no intrinsic external “value” in life itself. It’s only valuable because WE determine it to be so. You’re continuing to get dangerously close to either committing the naturalistic fallacy or projecting this fault onto me.

  70. Monocle Smile says

    This situation tells us a lot about men and women. It tells us the fundamental rolls men and women should instinctually perform at the formation of any given society.

    You’re asking a loaded question and leading the answer you want, then whining when we call you out on the only possibly implication you could be making. You’re trying to lead towards justification of enforced “traditional gender roles,” because you wouldn’t bring up this stupid-ass thought experiment and make asinine statements like the above quote if it weren’t. Don’t play dumb, and don’t insult our intelligence.

  71. Monocle Smile says

    I just don’t get it.

    Yes, we understand that you fail to comprehend why we don’t share your confirmation bias. This is common among Christians…and conspiracy theorists.

  72. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    So “life” is always filled with moral behavior? Holding a child accountable for their father’s actions (consensual exceptions like legal debts and wills notwithstanding) IS immoral. Doesn’t matter that people happen to do it.

    Is it really immoral? On what basis did you determine that?

    You’re asking a loaded question and leading the answer you want, then whining when we call you out on the only possibly implication you could be making.

    I think the question is pretty fair. There’s a number of things you could say here. If you think that all those things would inevitable prove my point, then maybe it’s just because I have a point.

    It’s also necessary because the claim was that the Bible treats women as nothing more than “heard beasts”. In order to properly assess this claim, we have to have a general understanding of what value men or women have in the first place, if any at all. If your claim is that men and women have no “real” value, then I guess the discussion is over, as “heard beast” is certainly a huge step up from worthless.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    Is it really immoral? On what basis did you determine that?

    If you honestly lack the empathy and reasons necessarily to observe the obvious fact that punishing someone for the crimes of another is demonstrably harmful for both the individual AND the society at large, then your brain is broken and there’s no point in discussing anything further.

    Of course, you’re not actually that depraved. You’re just being disingenuous.

    the claim was that the Bible treats women as nothing more than “heard beasts”. In order to properly assess this claim, we have to have a general understanding of what value men or women have in the first place

    My impulse to want to kick out your front teeth is now on a hair trigger. I can only see one reason why you’d say something so sociopathic.

    If your claim is that men and women have no “real” value, then I guess the discussion is over, as “heard beast” is certainly a huge step up from worthless.

    I didn’t say “worthless,” (this is an equivocation fallacy) and now you ARE just being straight-up dishonest. You’ve descended into Ray Comfort levels of pretending to not understand trivialities. If anyone wants to know why skeptics and rationalists don’t take apologetics seriously, they just have to read your comments.

  74. says

    I assume that being part of the human species, you would be interested in our survival, if such a situation where to occur?

    Actually, in the situation described, humanity’s extinction would be a foregone conclusion. Two people simply do not provide enough genetic diversity to repopulate the species.

    And just so you don’t accuse me of evading the question, even if we assume a larger population, I would most definitely accept higher values than mere reproduction. For one, consent would weigh heavier. If it was a choice between raping a woman and letting humanity go extinct, it’s bye-bye human race.

    This situation tells us a lot about men and women.

    No, it really doesn’t. It tells us about the values of the individual answering the question. It tells us about that person’s ideas about men and women. That’s why your example told us about your values and my answer tells us about my values.

    Neither tells us anything about men and women as such. It’s important to distinguish between the objective facts and the subjective evaluations of those facts.

  75. corwyn says

    Ok, so now you have admitted that there are no contemporary historical records that Jesus even existed. Great. From this it is easy to conclude that there is no contemporary evidence that he was crucified. So, moving on to less reliable evidence, we have Josephus, who writes that James was the brother of Jesus.

    Here is the quote: ” Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent.[24] Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”

    So is the first Jesus (brother of James) the same as the son of Damneus? Anything here about crucifixion?

    The other reference is described as: “Scholarly opinion on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum, varies. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian interpolation or forgery [5][6][7][8][9][10] by fourth-century apologist Eusebius or by others.”

    So we have a mention, and a likely forgery. This to you is “Overwhelming evidence for the crucifixion”?

  76. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    If you honestly lack the empathy and reasons necessarily to observe the obvious fact that punishing someone for the crimes of another is demonstrably harmful for both the individual AND the society at large, then your brain is broken and there’s no point in discussing anything further.

    You don’t get to just toss empathy around as confirmation for what you believe. If I did the same, you would accuse me of some mundane logical fallacy.

    It seems to me that there are in fact many instances where punishing the son for the sins of the father, is most beneficial for a particular society. Especially when that father was infamous and held a position of power. The phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, is often times very true. Just look at North Korea.

    Wether I would “like” this to happen says absolutely zero about wether it’s moral or not.

    So I ask again, how did you determine it was immoral? Or are you saying that empathy is the cornerstone of morality?

    My impulse to want to kick out your front teeth is now on a hair trigger. I can only see one reason why you’d say something so sociopathic.

    What are you talking about? Come off your self imposed morale high ground for a second. How am I a sociopath because I’m asking what value you believe men and women have??

    I think what’s happening here is you’re drawing conclusions about my motives, based off other Theists you’ve discussed with.

    I didn’t say “worthless,” (this is an equivocation fallacy) and now you ARE just being straight-up dishonest.

    I didn’t say you did. But when you say things like, “There’s no intrinsic external “value” in life itself. It’s only valuable because WE determine it to be so.” I start to assume that you think human beings are intrinsically worthless. That would, after all, be the antonym of “valuable”.

    You still haven’t told me what value you believe men and women actually have

  77. corwyn says

    I didn’t say you did. But when you say things like, “There’s no intrinsic external “value” in life itself. It’s only valuable because WE determine it to be so.” I start to assume that you think human beings are intrinsically worthless. That would, after all, be the antonym of “valuable”.

    If I said, “Money has no intrinsic external value” (which is true) you would conclude that I am saying that money is worthless? I hope not.

    “intrinsic”, “external” etc. are just codewords you are using to hide your god assumption. Try to make your argument without those words. If humans have worth, where does that worth come from? I claim it is coming from other humans. In order for you to claim it is coming from somewhere else, you need to FIRST show that that exists (not the other way around).

  78. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    For one, consent would weigh heavier. If it was a choice between raping a woman and letting humanity go extinct, it’s bye-bye human race.

    Of course, but that’s not really why I used this example. Feel free to use a different one. I’m simply interested in hearing what basic value you believe men and women have.

  79. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    If I said, “Money has no intrinsic external value” (which is true) you would conclude that I am saying that money is worthless? I hope not.

    No, but I would argue that money has intrinsic value. It was created for an expressed purpose. Obviously it has no external value beyond us, but that’s not really my argument. I’m not attempting to say that people have intrinsic worth imposed by God. I’m attempting to counter the argument that the Bible makes women out to be less than human. And in order to do that, we have to have a standard for what value we have as people to begin with. I simply want a straight answer about what value you, as a human being, believe we have.

  80. Monocle Smile says

    I simply want a straight answer

    It’s really fucking obvious, at least to anyone who cares about the welfare of humanity. Men and women are of equal value, with women getting the edge in exigent circumstances such as the threat of extinction. Do you really not see my frustration with the fact that you even have to ASK such an insipid question? This is why I brought up Ray Comfort. You’re playing dumb and I think you know it.

    Or are you saying that empathy is the cornerstone of morality?

    No shit. This is also fucking obvious. Empathy and reason are the cornerstones of morality, assuming you agree that morality is about the well-being of thinking creatures. Empathy and reason allow us to make proper evaluations of human welfare given a specific situation and relevant information.

    Of course, you think we’re all god-bots and “morality” is just some dictate from an imaginary magic man who clearly doesn’t have our best interests at heart, and you’re too cowardly to oppose said djinn regardless.

    The phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, is often times very true. Just look at North Korea.

    Awful example. Here we have a case where the son is committing the SAME SINS as the father. I’m talking about offspring being punished for the crimes of their ancestors as a blanket rule. Again, I think you’re being disingenuous. Or you’re even more dense than I thought.

  81. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Monocle, go have some tea and come back. Equal value doesn’t really tell me anything. If A and B both equal zero then adding them together gives you zero (quantum channels aside). So what value do men and women have?

    Empathy and reason allow us to make proper evaluations of human welfare given a specific situation and relevant information.

    Ok if this is true, then that means morality is subject to change over time and even under different circumstances. Therefore, a human beings value can increase or decrease based on the time and situation. Do you agree with this?

    Awful example. Here we have a case where the son is committing the SAME SINS as the father. I’m talking about offspring being punished for the crimes of their ancestors as a blanket rule. Again, I think you’re being disingenuous.

    Why would you think they would be punished for the crimes of their father in the first place!? This is obviously because your upbringing gives you a propensity towards certain actions. Some people aren’t keen to wait and see if you’ll somehow overcome your disposition.

    Also many would argue that Kim Jong Un is worse than his father.

  82. Monocle Smile says

    Equal value doesn’t really tell me anything.

    That’s because you’re dishonestly pretending to not understand simple concepts.

    if this is true, then that means morality is subject to change over time and even under different circumstances.

    Wrong. Morality itself doesn’t change. Our UNDERSTANDING OF and ABILITY TO EVALUATE moral decisions changes. This is why we’re currently in the least violent period of human history, according to historians. We HAVE gotten better. It’s analogous to health…what is or isn’t healthy for us is dependent upon REALITY and is not subject to our whims. However, our understanding of health continues to develop with newly acquired data.

    This is obviously because your upbringing gives you a propensity towards certain actions. Some people aren’t keen to wait and see if you’ll somehow overcome your disposition.

    I recommend watching Minority Report, because you can’t predict the future and your careless outdated anti-scientific bullshit has caused millions of deaths through this very mentality. Upbringing is perhaps one thing, although this could be changed and there are PLENTY of examples of offspring splitting away from their parents in mind and in deed.

    Secondly, I’m talking about the simple fact that SHARING DNA with a mass murderer doesn’t automatically make you a mass murderer and I’ll go ahead and argue that sharing DNA by itself doesn’t increase your chances of becoming one.

    I’ll calm down when you start being fucking honest.

  83. says

    I’m simply interested in hearing what basic value you believe men and women have.

    I’m not sure how to answer that. Pardon me if my following attempt is a bit rambling:

    The value to meof other people is that they exist. That they’re other sentients that I can reflect myself in and that I can draw upon their experiences and knowledge. The existence of other human beings allow me to access other points of view, otherwise alien to me.

    Aside from a few basic biological functions and issues of sexual attraction, I do not see any moral or rational difference between men and women. With regard to their roles in society, any gender differences are dwarfed by individual variation, to the point where gender is about as useful a predictor of ability as hair color.

    For any subject other than choosing a person to bear a child or picking a romantic partner, I see no essential difference between men and women. There are a few differences in my subjective responses to gender (e.g. I tend to respond competitively to men, but not to women), but that’s hardly relevant for anyone but me.

    I have no idea whether this has answered your question or not, since I’m not sure what you asked in the first place. Let me know.

  84. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Wrong. Morality itself doesn’t change. Our UNDERSTANDING OF and ABILITY TO EVALUATE moral decisions changes. This is why we’re currently in the least violent period of human history, according to historians.

    Really? I was under the impression that we’ve killed more people in the last few hundred years then all the rest of history combined. But I guess you could skew this by saying there where less people back then. I would have to see the data on this.

    More importantly, you seem to be saying that there is somehow an optimal standard for morality. I guess we are on equal grounds in this respect, as Theists believe this too. But it also raises a problem.

    If you believe that we discover morality as we go along, then you’d have to concede that the very things you believe are moral now, might actually become immoral when we gain more evidence.

    In theory, we could find that “some” of the practices in ancient times, where actually more beneficial for human welfare then our practices today.

    Food for thought: America has some of the highest rates of depression (and climbing), where as some poorer countries have some of the lowest.

  85. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @oCaptainmyCaptain:

    @Monocle Smile:
    we’re currently in the least violent period of human history

    Really?

    Article/Video: Steven Pinker at Edge – The Better Angels of Our Nature

  86. Monocle Smile says

    I guess we are on equal grounds in this respect, as Theists believe this too.

    Wrong. My standards are derived from empathy, reason, and evidence. Theistic morality is derived from arbitrary mythology in the form of absolute moral declarations with no room for situational ethics…unless you conveniently ignore that part of your religion.

    you’d have to concede that the very things you believe are moral now, might actually become immoral when we gain more evidence.

    This simplistic black-and-white view of the world you hold is part of the problem. Also, this is like whining that science “changes all the time,” when our explanations for the facts are what change, not the facts themselves. Yes, my current values could change their shade of grey later when more evidence is uncovered. So what? Why do you imply that changing with evidence is somehow a bad thing? Oh, that’s right…because religion reverses everything.

    In theory, we could find that “some” of the practices in ancient times, where actually more beneficial for human welfare then our practices today.

    Possibly. But most of them weren’t. Still, we are attempting to learn from history. What’s your point? Is this new to you? It’s like you’ve never had these discussions or thoughts before, which I find odd. This is pretty much morality for skeptics 101.

    America has some of the highest rates of depression (and climbing), where as some poorer countries have some of the lowest

    Non sequitur. I have no clue what attempting to disprove a correlation I didn’t make between GDP and happiness per capita has to do with morality. I don’t think you understand this topic in the least.

  87. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Wrong. My standards are derived from empathy, reason, and evidence. Theistic morality is derived from arbitrary mythology in the form of absolute moral declarations with no room for situational ethics…unless you conveniently ignore that part of your religion.

    I know you like to think they are, but there are many situations where your version of morality would leave you wanting. I could easily think of senarios where, under your definition, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder would not just be justifiable, but moral. Do you not see the problem in this?

    The common response might be to just say, “yeah well your standards aren’t any better, just because you claim they came from a diety”. That’s fine, but it also doesn’t add any credibility to your definiton of morality.

    In simple terms, your morality “sucks” because you claim morality is somehow an absolute standard, and yet we can only access it based off our limited knowledge and understanding. We are further hampered by what situation we’re in, or what society we are in at the time, or who we’re talking to.

    To illustrate the point, I watched a movie a while back called the Purge. In this movie, all crime was down to about 1 or 2 percent. It was the most peaceful time in history. The reason for this was that one day out of the year people where allowed to kill with impunity. Now under your definition of morality I can’t find a “good” reason as to why this wouldn’t be acceptible, seeing as the rest of society, recieved astronomical beneifits from this situation. People felt safer, your neighbors where generally happier, the economy was on the rise, and so on and so forth.

  88. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    @LykeX

    Well stated, and it’s definetly a difficult question to answer. But I can’t help but notice that what makes people valuable to you, is directly proportional to the benefits you gain. I would like to think that a human beings value is above mere hedonism. And if it’s not, then the argument that morality boils down to what makes the greatest amount of people happy, would appear to be true.

    Aside from a few basic biological functions and issues of sexual attraction, I do not see any moral or rational difference between men and women.

    I think there are obvious and significant differences between men and women. These distinctions might be a direct result of small biological diversities, but they seem to make all the difference.

    When it comes to the human brain, new studies suggest that there are in fact “striking” differences between the way men and women are wired.

    Consequentially, this makes women instinctively better than men at certain tasks, and vice versa. A simple example is that, men might be better at navigation, and women are usually better socially. These differences make each one better equipped than the other in certain scenarios.

    I don’t get our obsessive need to have everybody be the same? There’s unity in diversity. Men and women compliment each other well because of their differences, and different doesn’t mean unequal.

  89. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Who said anything about a crucifixion? I said there’s overwhelming evidence for his existence. And I think you fail to realize that the words of historians, are not the only evidence we have. You also don’t understand that the gospels themselves are actually considered “evidence” to most historians. They may not be good evidence for any miracles, but you can bet that they’re more than sufficient to corroborate the fact that Jesus actually walked the earth.

    We also have more references to Jesus than those couple of verses you’ve given. Although, I think those alone would be sufficient to verify that Jesus walked the earth. It’s clear who the first Jesus is by reading the words, “who was called Christ”. I don’t know too many Jesus’s Christ’s who had a brother James and followers around this time period.

  90. Monocle Smile says

    but there are many situations where your version of morality would leave you wanting. I could easily think of senarios where, under your definition, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder would not just be justifiable, but moral.

    I don’t follow. The drive to learn and understand more is important, so when you say my morality “leaves me wanting,” I don’t understand why you think this is necessarily bad. Is my morality incomplete? Of course, but everyone’s is incomplete. That’s why no man is an island; we can actually have discussions about this stuff and work things out using gathered data.

    Unless you’re a theist, then you refuse to actually discuss anything and preach instead. This solves exactly nothing.

    your morality “sucks” because you claim morality is somehow an absolute standard, and yet we can only access it based off our limited knowledge and understanding.

    Well, that’s a damn shame. Firstly, you’re wrong…I don’t advocate an “absolute” standard. I’m an advocate of situational ethics. Secondly, criticizing our understanding of morality as incomplete is like criticizing science for not having the answers to everything. You’re technically correct, but it’s inane criticism because these are problems BEING SOLVED by the very process you criticize.

    I watched a movie a while back called the Purge.

    Yeah, your biggest problem here is that you’re either being dishonest again or you’re more gullible than a kindergartener. If you honestly think a society with the system described in The Purge would actually bear that result, then your ability to distinguish between fact and fiction is so crippled that any further discussion is useless.

    In addition, I’m not a utilitarian extremist that advocates for mass murder as long as it’s for “the greater good.” Individual lives have value, in my view.

    new studies suggest that there are in fact “striking” differences between the way men and women are wired.

    We’re talking bell curves, not laws of nature.

    I don’t get our obsessive need to have everybody be the same? There’s unity in diversity.

    And now you’re dishonestly diverting yet again. Nobody’s denying biological differences. But you asked about VALUE. And for the third time, I’m going to bring up that there’s only one reason I can imagine you asked this question, and it doesn’t look good for you. So stop tap-dancing and get to your goddamn point, unless you’re not done jerking yourself off.

  91. Monocle Smile says

    Wow, you really don’t get it.

    I don’t know too many Jesus’s Christ’s who had a brother James and followers around this time period.

    NOBODY is claiming that there weren’t Christians around who believed their myths. Josephus is noting the beliefs of the early Christians. That’s it.

    The Gospels weren’t written until decades after the supposed death of Jesus. And once again, your confirmation bias sticks out like salt in a pepper shaker.

  92. says

    @oCaptainmyCaptain:

    But I can’t help but notice that what makes people valuable to you, is directly proportional to the benefits you gain.

    Gee, how about that. When you ask about what value something has to me, you get an answer that relates back to me. What a shock.
    Whenever you ask any question about value, that’s the kind of answer you get. E.g. you like to think that a human being’s value is above mere hedonism. Don’t kid yourself, you’re every bit as hedonistic as I am.

    It sounds to me like you haven’t really internalized the point I made about value being necessarily subjective. You’re still talking about it as if there’s some objective value to human beings; a value separate from an evaluator.

    When it comes to the human brain, new studies suggest that there are in fact “striking” differences between the way men and women are wired.

    These differences make each one better equipped than the other in certain scenarios.

    No. They can show statistical differences between men and women, but that has nothing to do with individuals. However, there’s so much overlap between the groups that it’s irrelevant for any practical purpose and roles cannot be assigned according to that metric.

    If you’re looking for a person to do a certain job, their gender is a useless predictor of skill. Looked on as a group, women may be more or less this or that, but as individuals, a person being a woman doesn’t tell you jack shit.

    I don’t get our obsessive need to have everybody be the same?

    Are you even reading what I write? My whole point was that individual variation overshadows gender differences. My point is all about how we’re different. It’s just that, unlike you, I’m not obsessively focused on just one variable.

  93. AhmNee says

    The guy goes into the typical mythicist BS

     
    You seem to want to group together people who don’t believe there’s enough evidence to believe there was a historical jesus with people who believe there wasn’t a historical jesus. And the “BS” you’re talking about are the same arguments that have been bothering historians for many, many years. There may be few historians that will say there was no historical jesus, but I’d be willing to bet those same historians would be hesitant to say that absolutely was a historical jesus either. See, the default position is disbelief. If one assertion can’t meet it’s burden of proof, it doesn’t make the competing assertion true.
     
    Ehrman goes one step further and makes the unjustified assertion that there absolutely was a historical jesus.
     

    Ehrman should be given a little credit and lets admit Ehrman has done a little research in this area so opinion does carry a little weight.

     
    This is what we call an argument from authority fallacy. Just because this is the man’s area of expertise doesn’t automatically make him correct. In fact, that he had so much trouble backing up his assertion with solid proof when asked, in the video you provided, makes me question his assertion all the more. If this is his area of expertise, he should absolutely be able to backup his research.
     

    I don’t get why you guys think Ehrman is not being forthright, he has no dog in this race, he is an agnostic, not a Christian. Is your little worldview so fragile you don’t want to break out of your echo chamber here and at least see what other evidence there is?

     
    I don’t necessarily think Ehrman is being dishonest. I think he’s taking liberties with the evidence that aren’t called for. How threatened are you that the idea that there may not have been an actual man called jesus that you have to rely on horribly stretched evidence, non-evidence and outright lies to support your fragile world view.
     
    I’ll say it again as you might have missed it. I think there probably was a delusional rabbi named jesus that walked around preaching at the time. Because the mental gymnastics the writers go through later in the bible to shoehorn jesus into the messianic prophesy is astounding. Jesus was of Nazareth but to fufill the prophesy he needed to be born in Bethlehem so they made up a ridiculous story about a census that never happened to get jesus back to Bethlehem for his birth. So, if there wasn’t a real person, why mention Nazareth at all?
     
    Also, jesus needed to be of the line of David to fufill the prophesy. So pains were taken to show how Joseph was of the line of David. The flaw there comes in when they made up the immaculate conception which actually means that Joseph wasn’t jesus’ father and therefor negating that piece of the prophecy.
     
    The flimsy, poorly written justification for jesus as messiah gives circumstancial credence to the idea there was a historical person. But it’s still not good evidence.
     

    If we agree Jesus probably existed then I don’t get why this is even a debating point between us. I agree with Captain for Ancient history and by historical standards, there is overwhelming evidence for Jesus having existed. By today’s standards maybe not so much. Maybe I should have stated it that way instead, but I think the burden of proof is on anyone that says He didn’t exist or that there is no evidence that He did.

     
    And this is where you show your ignorance of how the burden of proof works. The reason we don’t agree is because you’re taking the positive assertion that there is a historical jesus. You’re partially right that those who take the positive assertion that there was no historical jesus then need to meet their burden of proof to show their position is correct.
     
    Here’s where your understanding is flawed. Disbelief is the neutral position. There is not enough evidence to believe there was or wasn’t a historical jesus. So I don’t believe there was nor do I believe there wasn’t. I suspect there was for the reasons mentioned above but that’s nothing I’d ever hold as certain.
     

    I do like your quote from Hitchens, so lets move past whether Jesus existed, it really is not that debatable

     
    It’s actually very debatable becase there’s not enough evidence for either positive claim. But if for the sake of argument I grant that there was/may have been a historical person, you now have a much higher bar to prove that not only was he the son of god, but that god exists at all. And here’s the kicker, the bible isn’t proof. A book cannot validate itself, IE “the bible is true because the bible says it’s true”.
     

    even if I were to grant that what he says is true, it still doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t exist

     
    It also doesn’t mean he did.

  94. says

    You seem to want to group together people who don’t believe there’s enough evidence to believe there was a historical jesus with people who believe there wasn’t a historical jesus.

    Just to settle this point, the serious, scholarly mythicists don’t actually assert that Jesus never existed. They question the conclusion that he did exist. This is true both of Carrier and Price.

    Presenting all mythicists as saying that Jesus definitely never existed is the equivalent of saying that all Christians think that the bible is literally true in every word, exactly like a history book; including the Tower of Babel, the Ark and the lifespans of the Patriarchs.

  95. AhmNee says

    I’m probably not as well read up on the position as I could be. I’d only read a little about it after being introduced to some of the concepts through a video from Jaclyn Glenn. Mostly about the plagiarism of pagan and other mythologies by the bible. I read some criticisms that said these claims were overreaching and so I settled back to the null hypothesis.

    I didn’t realize that scholarly mythicism was actually a thing. Thought it was more of a movement by a more gnostic group. Thank you for that information.

  96. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Check out our very own Richard Carrier right here on FreeThoughtBlogs. I am not an expert, but I have come to the conclusion that most of his historical points are not made up and at least worthy of consideration. He talks a good talk, and I haven’t seen any compelling rebuttals that show he’s bullshitting or incompetent.

  97. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Don’t kid yourself, you’re every bit as hedonistic as I am.

    Most likely true. I can probably count on two hands all the times where I’ve done something for somebody and recieved zero benefit, even if the only benefit is that I felt good about it. But that’s not the point, I’d rather the standard for morality be above me or you. It gives us something to aspire too. And I would rather know what the standard is, so where not all scrambling in the dark hoping we’ll find the line someday.

    If you’re looking for a person to do a certain job, their gender is a useless predictor of skill. Looked on as a group, women may be more or less this or that, but as individuals, a person being a woman doesn’t tell you jack shit.

    Yes, I agree that gender doesn’t tell you about a person in relation to skills on a job. But i think there are a number of situations where a person’s gender would give them an automatic advantage or disadvantage in certain situations. Wether a person is willing to work hard to overcome an inherent disadvantage, is another topic.

  98. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Firstly, you’re wrong…I don’t advocate an “absolute” standard. I’m an advocate of situational ethics. Secondly, criticizing our understanding of morality as incomplete is like criticizing science for not having the answers to everything.

    You said, “morality itself doesn’t change”. I assume that any unchanging standard must be absolute. My criticism is that we don’t know where this standard even is. Where also crippled by the fact that we will most likely never know everything. This leaves us in the unfortunate situation of only ever getting “good enough”, and it may take forever to get there.

    In my experience (and probably yours if you think about it), it’s not important to have all the answers. It’s a waiste of time trying to discern all the possible variables. It’s usually better just to have an “intent”. In otherwords, no matter what happens, “this is the goal”. This is how almost all succesful companies work, and this is how the military opperates as well. There’s simply too many variations in life for “situational” morality.

    It’s not even necessary to hit the goal everytime. Lifes just not that neat. But at least you know where the line is, so you can aspire to be better next time. Does that make any sense?

  99. says

    But that’s not the point, I’d rather the standard for morality be above me or you. It gives us something to aspire too.

    You don’t get it. It’s not just you, it’s everyone. It’s impossible not to be hedonistic (by a wide definition of the term). What ever you value is what youvalue. Even if you’re perfectly selfless, it’s because you prefer being selfless.

    If you’d rather the standard for morality be above us, it’s because you prefer the standard of morality to be above us. I.e. you gain some level of satisfaction from adhering to a higher standard. This ties right back in to the points I’ve previously made:
    1) Value is inherently subjective
    2) Despite your supposed agreement, you haven’t really understood or internalized point 1. You still maintain a basic idea of absolute morality.

    I agree that gender doesn’t tell you about a person in relation to skills on a job. But i think there are a number of situations where a person’s gender would give them an automatic advantage or disadvantage in certain situations.

    And you’d be wrong. To illustrate, women don’t have to exert themselves to be taller (for example). Yet, some women are taller than men, even though men are, on average, taller than women.
    It’s not a matter of how much work you put in, it’s a matter of the fact that gender doesn’t have a necessary effect, only a statistical one. A given woman can, without any particular effort, be better than a given man at any particular task; and vice versa.

    If you control for gender and control for effort, you’ll still find individuals who break the supposed gender norms. These people are not weird, one-in-a-million aberrations; it happens all the time.

    Being a certain gender does not, in fact, grant any kind of advantage in any situation. Unless we’re talking child birth or erections, that’s simply not how reality works. The variation far outweighs the difference in means between the two groups on just about every measure.

  100. AhmNee says

    There’s simply too many variations in life for “situational” morality.

     
    You have that so bass ackwards. There IS only situational morality and you’d see that, too, if you think about it. After all, does “thou shalt not kill/murder” apply in every situation? No. It’s situational, like every moral question.
     
    In case you haven’t seen Matt’s talk “the Superiority of Secular Morality” or seen morality addressed by he or Sam Harris in debates. In any moral question, if you start from causing the least amount of harm, in any situation there is going to be a finite number of possible actions that can be taken. Now, once you rule out the ones that cause more harm, you’d have an array of actions that you can take and you can narrow it to the least harmful possibilities. In that situation the best action could be debatable or there even may be multiple right answers. We may not even know all of the possible actions. But secular morality can be judged and the best answers found scientifically though observation and testing the outcomes of our actions to find which worked best, making the next time a similar situation comes up the chance we pick the best outcome even more likely.
     
    Honestly, secular morality is the only morality we have. No matter what the bronze age storybook says.

  101. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    You don’t get it. It’s not just you, it’s everyone. It’s impossible not to be hedonistic (by a wide definition of the term). What ever you value is what youvalue. Even if you’re perfectly selfless, it’s because you prefer being selfless.

    I think you’re being so “wide” with this definition, that you’ve almost made it meaningless. It’s no different then if I said, “God is in everything”.

    Hedonism, as I understand it, is focused around pleasure. It’s the idea that pleasure is the highest good. If I engage in an action that has no intent of providing me pleasure, then it’s not hedonism.

    Setting a standard for morality that would force me to make sacrifices, and do things that I would not enjoy doing, would not fall under the definition of hedonism. The fact that I might in some cases derive some sort of benefit down the line, doens’t make my initial actions hedonistic.

    As far as me preferring an elevated standard of morality, it’s not because I derive some sort of satisfaction by appealing to a higher standard. In fact, I would probably have to sacfrice pleasure in order to appeal to this higher standard, Which would put me outside the relm of hedonism.

  102. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Being a certain gender does not, in fact, grant any kind of advantage in any situation. Unless we’re talking child birth or erections, that’s simply not how reality works. The variation far outweighs the difference in means between the two groups on just about every measure.

    I really don’t get what you’re saying here. If ( for example ) your argument is that X women could run faster than X man, even though X man should be able to run faster on average. Then I agree, of course. But if your argument is that there’s no situation where the opposites gender would hold enough of an advantage to make a difference overall, then I completely disagree.

    All you have to do is look at sports like basketball, football, track, swimming, or boxing to see that there are clearly areas where one group has a significant advantage over the other. So much so that, we have seperate divisions for both girls and guys.

    It’s not because we don’t want to see both genders compete. It’s because it wouldn’t be fair. No professional female basketball team is going to win a championship in any competiton where professional male basketball teams are competing as well. It’s just not going to happen. No female fighter is ever going to take the heavy weight title from the men, even if her last name is Ali. It just not possible.

    I think this is one area where there are clearly genetic differences that can’t be overcome consistently no matter what “mean” chart you’re looking at.

    In the same way women, on average, have a greater capacity for empathy. How does this translate? One way is that women are far more philantropic then men. simply put, they give more. They might also be smarter as studies now show they have higher IQ’s in places like North America, Western Europe, and Australia. We might see many examples of how this advantage will translate into the real world, once more and more barriers start falling down for women.

    At the end of the day, I think there are clear areas where one gender has enough of an advantage over the other to make significant differences in various aspects of life.

  103. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    In the same way women, on average, have a greater capacity for empathy.

    Citations please. Furthermore, those citations better distinguish between genetic causes and environment (such as upbringing and cultural) causes.

  104. corwyn says

    Being a certain gender does not, in fact, grant any kind of advantage in any situation. Unless we’re talking child birth or erections, that’s simply not how reality works. The variation far outweighs the difference in means between the two groups on just about every measure.

    I sympathize with your point, but your math here does not support your claim. The fact the variation is greater than the difference in the means, does not imply that there is no advantage. Especially when you get to the tail ends of the normal distribution curve. Remove the emotional context and this will seem more sensible.

  105. corwyn says

    but we have more evidence for Jesus existing then 99% of all people who have ever lived.

    I just want to point out that 7% of all people who have ever lived* are currently alive. I think that is a bit more evidence don’t you?

    *-based on the evolutionary model, for the creationist model it is of course MUCH higher.

  106. corwyn says

    Who said anything about a crucifixion?

    Steele. My mistake, I got confused about who said what (hate this blogging software). Sorry.

  107. Monocle Smile says

    At the end of the day, I think there are clear areas where one gender has enough of an advantage over the other to make significant differences in various aspects of life.

    Not only is this tenuous and only the case the “average” time, but WHAT IS YOUR MOTHERFUCKING POINT? It appears that you’re content to tap-dance, which leads me to believe I was right earlier about your motives. You were attempting to indicate that the Bible treats women as they should be treated based on your perceived value of men vs. women. I can’t think of any other reason you’d bring this up, and your behavior isn’t helping your case.

  108. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    You were attempting to indicate that the Bible treats women as they should be treated based on your perceived value of men vs. women. I can’t think of any other reason you’d bring this up, and your behavior isn’t helping your case.

    You’re so far off Monocle. I was never going to say any such thing, as I don’t believe that, and I’m sorry you have such a low opinion of me. But please show me where I’ve ever said women have less value than men? I’ll wait…

    What started this whole thing, was the alligation that women are treated as nothing more than “hurd beasts” in the Bible. I planned to argue against this statement, by showing that the Bible in fact has a higher opinion of women ( and people as a whole ) than atheists do.

    That’s why I asked what value you believe we actually have as people. What I expected was similiar to what I got, and that was “a person is only as valuable as we say they are”. From there I was trying to determine, what value you think “we say” people have. This was the grey area.

    I didn’t know what to expect there, and consequentially the conversation kind of shifted from just value, into critisizms of secular morality, and the roles men and women play in a society. I was more interested in this convesation because the conversation of morality in the Bible has been done to death.

    For extra clarification ( because looking back I think this is where you got that idea from ) :

    My two-people-on-an-Island-end-of-the-world scenario was simply supposed to determine the fundemental value you believe men and women have. But I admit, it was a poor scenario, that didn’t really get to the heart of what I was looking for. So that’s why I just went ahead and asked, “what value do you beleive men and women have”.

  109. AhmNee says

    I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make and I wish you’d stop dancing around the topic and just fucking get to the point.

    Is this the intrinsic value argument? That god values everyone but atheists/secular people assign value on an individual basis? Fine. There still is no proof outside of your storybook this is true and the stories in the bible don’t match your rhetoric. Women have been abused and continue to be marginalized because of what is in your storybook. And your storybook is filled with commanded kidnapping, rape and torture of women.

    Your storybook is the reason dumbass senators still say that marital rape isn’t possible because it’s a woman’s duty to submit to her husband. The reason women are still unable to hold leadership roles in some sects of christianity. It has held back and continues to hold back equality for women because of people who believe the retarded shit written in that book by ignorant serfs and mentally unbalanced priests.

  110. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Captain
    If this is your position: why can god grant inherent value, and I cannot? Is your answer appealing to “might makes right”? This really is the fundamental sticking point. You may not like “secular morality”, but I can turn your arguments against secular morality back onto your biblical morality and they apply just as well, if not better.

    About your two people on a deserted island. The world is the way it is. The world does not care how we might wish it to be (although we can work to try and change it). In this case of two people on a deserted island, perhaps evil will triumph. I seek to understand the world as it is without delusion, because the best way to change it for the better is to understand how it really is without delusion.

  111. Monocle Smile says

    I planned to argue against this statement, by showing that the Bible in fact has a higher opinion of women ( and people as a whole ) than atheists do.

    Not only can’t you do this (and it’s sad that you think you can), but atheism by itself isn’t a religion. There’s no dogma, no teachings, no tenets, no commandments, no nothing. So trying to make a philosophical argument about what “atheists” believe is already committing a category error. Again, why are simple things so hard for you?

  112. steele says

    Enlightenment,

    About your two people on a deserted island. The world is the way it is. The world does not care how we might wish it to be (although we can work to try and change it). In this case of two people on a deserted island, perhaps evil will triumph. I seek to understand the world as it is without delusion, because the best way to change it for the better is to understand how it really is without delusion.

    Change the world for the better how. I mean this absurd based on atheism, there is no better other then your subjective feelings about it. Seriously the universe is doomed for destruction and sit on a merry-go-round pretending like any of it matters in the cosmic scheme of this. I sometimes wonder how atheists can call theists delusional when what atheism ultimately entails is nihilism. I mean atheism is nihilistic by definition.

    Your self righteous indignation is more sad than pathetic. We are all just farts in the wind based on your view and shortly we will all blip out of existence and nothing we did will have mattered in the ultimate sense. I commend you Enlightenment for doing good but don’t patronize us with your holier than thou attitude, we are all just trying to just make sense of things down here. I mean seriously if all the worlds problems where gone tomorrow, what then Enlightenment, hit the glide track to oblivion.

    “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

    “I know not who put me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I myself am. I am in terrible ignorance of everything. I know not what my body is, nor my senses, nor my soul, not even that part of me which thinks what I say, which reflects on all and on itself, and knows itself no more than the rest. I see those frightful spaces of the universe which surround me, and I find myself tied to one corner of this vast expanse, without knowing why I am put in this place rather than in another, nor why the short time which is given me
    to live is assigned to me at this point rather than at another of the whole eternity which was before me or which shall come after me. I see nothing but infinities on all sides, which surround me as an atom and as a shadow which endures only for an instant and returns no more. All I know is that I must soon die, but what I know least is this very death which I cannot escape.

    “As I know not whence I come, so I know not whither I go. I know only that, in leaving this world, I fall for ever either into annihilation or into the hands of an angry God, without knowing to which of these two states I shall be for ever assigned. Such is my state, full of weakness and uncertainty

    History shows how well your “secular morality” works and frankly I am not impressed by your Temple of Reason, BTW what gives your “secular morality” its authority its not like you have a god or even reason to back it up? Just your subjective feelings, I guess right?

  113. Monocle Smile says

    steele, you just don’t get it. Not even a little.

    there is no better other then your subjective feelings about it.

    Well, no, because there’s this thing called “data,” but that’s never meant anything to you.
    Also, this is true of YOU as well, because as much as you want to deny it, your book was written by some dudes in the desert, not a supernatural agent. So in fact, your notion of “better” is just some other guy’s subjective feelings on it.

    Seriously the universe is doomed for destruction and sit on a merry-go-round pretending like any of it matters in the cosmic scheme of this. I sometimes wonder how atheists can call theists delusional when what atheism ultimately entails is nihilism. I mean atheism is nihilistic by definition.

    If your life is so empty that you find no meaning or purpose if there’s no god and no afterlife, that’s YOUR problem, not the problem of atheists. By this reasoning, you might as well not eat since you’re just going to shit it out later. It mattered at the time, just like our lives matter RIGHT NOW.

    In the grand scheme of the universe, we ARE meaningless, and this is a fact regardless of your delusions. But I don’t spend much time worrying about whether I matter to the universe because I matter to the people in my life. And that’s more than enough.

    if all the worlds problems where gone tomorrow, what then Enlightenment, hit the glide track to oblivion.

    I was planning on mocking you mercilessly for this, but I think this turd mocks itself well enough.

    Holy shit. You quoted a PAGAN proverb, Blaise Pascal, and then Pascal again. You DO know Pascal wasn’t an atheist and that Pascal’s Wager is perhaps the worst theological argument in existence, right?

    Of course you don’t. Because you’re a child.

    History shows how well your “secular morality” works

    Let’s add ignorance of history to your long list of shortcomings.

    what gives your “secular morality” its authority its not like you have a god or even reason to back it up?

    1) a god doesn’t confer authority unless you’re a coward and believe might makes right
    2) Secular morality IS backed by reason. It’s not our fault you don’t understand what any of these words mean.

  114. says

    Seriously the universe is doomed for destruction and sit on a merry-go-round pretending like any of it matters in the cosmic scheme of this. I sometimes wonder how atheists can call theists delusional when what atheism ultimately entails is nihilism.

    Gee, I might as well not eat this yummy pizza, since I’m just going to digest it and defecate it later.
    Gee, I might as well not fall in love with anyone, because eventually we’ll just get old and die, and no more boners!
    Gee, I might as well not listen to this song, because it will just end five minutes later and then no more song!
    Gee, I might as well not read this book, because it will just end and then I will be staring blankly at the back cover, wondering why I even bothered.
    Gee, I might as well not watch any movies, unless Peter Jackson makes them, because at least they take a little longer to end than most others, but they still end, and then what will I do!?!?

    NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING UNLESS IT LASTS FOREVER!

  115. steele says

    monocle,

    I think you need to fix you eyepiece. I shouldn’t bother but let me clarify a couple things for you.

    In the grand scheme of the universe, we ARE meaningless, and this is a fact regardless of your delusions

    Well thanks at least you admit it, many atheists want to pretend that there is some meaning, you appear to have more courage then them but you don’t embrace the conclusions of your reasoning I mean “Everything is Permitted” why pretend to be moral then….I know monocle you don’t need a god to be moral and I am the weakling that needs a tyrant to reign in my immoral life. Seriously though monocle free yourself from all these fictitious fetters and become Nietzsche’s ÜBERMENSCH. Don’t let all us weak pathetic blobs of protoplasm get in your way.

    Sorry for the dramatics but you get the point, I know childish right. I actually feel bad for you but that must be the delusional part of me again.

    Holy shit. You quoted a PAGAN proverb, Blaise Pascal, and then Pascal again. You DO know Pascal wasn’t an atheist and that Pascal’s Wager is perhaps the worst theological argument in existence, right?

    two things:

    A) I quoted the Bible, I just didn’t put it out there for you to critique again because I was being thoughtful of your feelings monocle but since its come up I will just quote it entirely

    1st Corinthians 15:30-34

    30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”[d] 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

    Isaiah 22:13

    13 and behold, joy and gladness,
    killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
    eating flesh and drinking wine.
    “Let us eat and drink,
    for tomorrow we die.”

    I’m not sure what is Pagan about this quote

    Actually I believe it is verse

    33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

    That is from Menander’s comedy Thais, but don’t trust me look it up.

    but even if some Epicureans said it so what all truth is God’s truth.

    2nd Corinthians 13:8

    8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

    B) Did you even read the Pascal quote? And what does Pascal Wager’s have anything to do with what I quoted, oh that’s right nothing! Monocle try and read what Pascal is saying first rather than just spewing nonsense at me, thanks.

    Secular morality IS backed by reason. It’s not our fault you don’t understand what any of these words mean.

    Oh I understand what they mean, but seriously monocle reason may give you moral epistemology but it doesn’t give you moral ontology. You have no objective basis for morality.

    Have a good weekend.

  116. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    on atheism, there is no better other then your subjective feelings about it.

    It’s just as absurd with your god. Your god changes nothing, unless you’re about to argue that might makes right.

  117. says

    By “objective basis for morality,” you just mean “Bible quotes that tell me what to do”?

    What kind of “objective basis” for morality exists in simply following the edicts of a divine all-powerful lawgiver? Because it would appear the “morality” you practice is all about making sure you don’t piss this being off. Doesn’t seem to have much to do with human welfare or happiness, or even getting along with others.

    While you’re answering that, try to resolve the Euthyphro Dilemma.

    Reason and empathy are an entirely sufficient basis for moral understanding. Of course, if you have neither of those to begin with…

  118. says

    The reason “arguments” like Steele’s are so risible is that even if our “subjective feelings” were all that were motivating our moral behaviors, the fact remains that more atheists generally live morally upstanding lives than our theistic fellow citizens (there is a lower percentage of atheists among the prison population than there is even in the general population). So guess what that proves? That our “subjective feelings” are entirely adequate to inform our morality, and that his Sky Daddy isn’t needed as part of the equation, at any time.

    So as an attempt at rebutting secular morality, the “subjective feelings” gambit is a complete nonstarter.

    And anyway, isn’t Steele’s view that our morals are rooted in his God’s “subjective feelings” of right and wrong? A God, by the way, who thinks slavery, mass rape and drunken incest are A-OK, and who thinks an entirely appropriate way to deal with naughty children is to have them slaughtered by bears?

    Yeah, I’ll stick with my heathen “subjective feelings,” thanks. They’re at least moral, for one thing.

  119. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @oCaptainmyCaptain
    My perspective is that there is no purpose of men and women, because men and women were not designed.

  120. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @oCaptainmyCaptain

    Is it really immoral? On what basis did you determine that?

    I take the values of humanism as given. If you disagree, then I might try to persuade you to come to my position working under the assumption that you already hold the values of humanism but you’re just confused. Otherwise, the conversation is over, and I will take any necessary precautions to guard myself and others against your immoral behavior.

    The basic definition and values of morality are not up to debate, any more than basic logic is up to debate. When you ask “on what basis” for morality, it’s almost nonsensical. It makes as much sense as “on what basis did you determine to value logical consistency of your beliefs”? See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    To illustrate the point, I watched a movie a while back called the Purge. In this movie, all crime was down to about 1 or 2 percent. It was the most peaceful time in history. The reason for this was that one day out of the year people where allowed to kill with impunity. Now under your definition of morality I can’t find a “good” reason as to why this wouldn’t be acceptible, seeing as the rest of society, recieved astronomical beneifits from this situation. People felt safer, your neighbors where generally happier, the economy was on the rise, and so on and so forth.

    Except … you know … that one day everyone lost all benefits and had horrible things happen to them.

    Also, most of us don’t hold to naive utilitarian math which says that the trivial needs of the many outweigh the important needs of the few. We aren’t going to implement a slave class of 10% of the population even if it would be really good for the other 90%. That’s why I’ve been clear and mentioned “the values of humanism” and “human well-being”. Don’t take a ridiculously naive interpretation of our position and then strawman us with it.

    Finally, and most importantly, psychology and sociology doesn’t work that way! What kind of idiot do you have to be to think that one day of unrestrained violence will stop almost all crime?

  121. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Some people are taking a naive understanding of the historical method.

    Imagine we have some guy writing that some event happened 2000 years ago. Let’s imagine it was a local event, not of much prominence, like he wrote that he ate an apple that morning for breakfast. Great.

    Imagine instead he wrote that the sun stopped in the sky, or that the whole Earth was covered by darkness for 3 hours. Now we have a problem. If those things were true, we expect that others should have noticed. We have many reliable astronomers from all over the place who kept records of such things, and this event wasn’t recorded by those astronomers. So, if this event happened, only one guy – who wasn’t even an astronomer – mentions it, but all of the actual astronomers don’t notice and write it down? Yea…

    Similarly, if some historian writes that a man came in and cleared the temple area of moneychangers – a roughly 35 acre area – this is not some unimportant incident. This is a major incident. Either the guy came in as a one-man kung-fu army, or he brought in a small army to clear the area. Either way, we should expect that someone would have noticed and wrote it down. There were thousands(IIRC) of Roman troops stationed in the area to prevent exactly this kind of stuff from going down, yet the Roman records don’t take notice of a small army coming in and attacking their shit, or of a one-man kung-fu genius wrecking their shit. So, again, what’s more likely?

    You need to adopt a proper, more-encompassing method. See “Proving History” by Richard Carrier as an example.

  122. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    The reason “arguments” like Steele’s are so risible is that even if our “subjective feelings” were all that were motivating our moral behaviors, the fact remains that more atheists generally live morally upstanding lives than our theistic fellow citizens (there is a lower percentage of atheists among the prison population than there is even in the general population). So guess what that proves? That our “subjective feelings” are entirely adequate to inform our morality, and that his Sky Daddy isn’t needed as part of the equation, at any time.

    It doesn’t prove that at all. You’re not accounting for the fact that there might be many atheists, who just don’t identify as such. Isn’t this what the whole “come out of the closet” movement is about? Giving closeted atheists the confidence to come out and declare what they really believe?

    Regardless, that’s not the point. Nobody is saying that Atheists can’t live morally ( at least I don’t think that’s what steele is saying ), where saying you have no good reason to do so.

    Turning the allegation around and saying, “well you don’t either because following the edicts of God isn’t moral”, doesn’t change a thing.

  123. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regardless, that’s not the point. Nobody is saying that Atheists can’t live morally ( at least I don’t think that’s what steele is saying ), where saying you have no good reason to do so.

    Turning the allegation around and saying, “well you don’t either because following the edicts of God isn’t moral”, doesn’t change a thing.

    Well, took the words right out of my mouth. That is the proper response. Now, you are lying. You are being dishonest. This turnaround does change a thing. You say it doesn’t, because you do not accept the argument. Thus making you dishonest.

    If the turnaround is right, and it is, then it changes everything. Once we recognize that there is no “good reason” to be moral (under your overly tight restrictions), then it’s time to look at loosening the restrictions. Again,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

  124. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    The main problem I have with secular morality is that it isn’t clearly defined. There isn’t even a clearly defined goal. Some people say that the goal is to discover the “laws” that lead to optimum human well being, but discovering all these laws could take an eternity. In the mean time, what you’re left with is that lying, cheating, and murder are okay sometimes, to some people, in some places, and under certain circumstances. This is a bastardization of what it means to have a moral system because it’s not a moral system, it’s an ethics system.

    In an ethics system, you do what society says is right to do. In a moral system, you do what’s actually right to do. The difference may seem small on the outside, but when you look closer they have very little in common.

    The approach to morality is even different because morality has to be objective. Therefore, your opinion doesn’t mean anything. You may like to harm people, and you may be in a society that completely agrees with your disposition, but sadism would still be immoral if it’s really wrong. It wouldn’t change under certain circumstances. Torture wouldn’t all of a sudden become moral just because you caught the guy that knew the codes to armed nuclear bombs in your backyard. You might decide to torture him to save millions of lives, but you wouldn’t get to say “we did the right thing”. No, you may have done the only reasonable thing, but it would still be immoral.

    I think a moral system like this forces us to be honest. We can’t fall back and say, “well…it was a grey area”. You would be forced to face the fact that you did something wrong, and you couldn’t change that by attempting to justify your actions.

  125. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And the existence or non-existence of a very powerful creature (a god) has absolutely nothing to do with any of that.

  126. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Well, took the words right out of my mouth. That is the proper response. Now, you are lying. You are being dishonest. This turnaround does change a thing. You say it doesn’t, because you do not accept the argument. Thus making you dishonest.

    What are you accusing me of lying about this time EnlightenmentLiberal? I don’t understand.

    To be clear, I’m not saying that “following God’s commandments” isn’t moral. It is. It’s the height of morality. What I’m saying is that claiming God’s commandments aren’t moral, doesn’t make secular morality “more” moral.

  127. says

    The main problem I have with secular morality is that it isn’t clearly defined. There isn’t even a clearly defined goal.

    Just because there aren’t Ten Secular Commandments codified in holy writ somewhere?

    Generally, the goal of secular morality is the goal of any morality: maximize human success and happiness, minimize pain and suffering. Aristotle got a lot of the basics down. Religion has simply co-opted basic moral precepts in such a way as to insist that fidelity to the faith and obedience to the deity of choice must be humanity’s top moral priority, from which all else flows.

    It’s like I told a recent caller to the show: theists want to make human morality this thing that’s just so hard to wrap your head around. I cannot think of a subject simpler to grasp, myself.

  128. says

    The main problem I have with secular morality is that it isn’t clearly defined. There isn’t even a clearly defined goal.

    I’d describe secular morality as a description of something that occurs on its own… not something we set out to do. It’s typically religion that overrides that with its own agenda.

  129. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    What I’m saying is that claiming God’s commandments aren’t moral, doesn’t make secular morality “more” moral.

    Is not the same thing as:

    Turning the allegation around and saying, “well you don’t either because following the edicts of God isn’t moral”, doesn’t change a thing.

    It changes everything.

  130. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also

    To be clear, I’m not saying that “following God’s commandments” isn’t moral. It is

    And I say that promoting human happiness, safety, freedom, material wealth, self determination, well-being, and the other values of humanism is the height of morality. I have no justification for my assertion, and you have no justification either. This is the point where I respond to your presuppositional strategy with: Sorry, I do not accept your unjustified naked assertion.

  131. AhmNee says

    Torture wouldn’t all of a sudden become moral just because you caught the guy that knew the codes to armed nuclear bombs in your backyard.

    True, but it would be if consent was given to be tortured. Your point is demolished by the BDSM crowd.

    Your “objective” morality is bullshit anyway. It’s not objective and if it were it would be immoral. The moral ‘laws’ given in your storybook have caveats and conditions and don’t stand up when examined. I’ve already brought this up but I’ll do so again here. Thou shalt not kill/commit murder has to be taken on a case by case basis. Is self defense murder? Is killing in the defense of another murder? Is euthanasia murder? Your storybook has no better answers than any secular moral system. Indeed, how do you know the commands from on high in your storybook really are moral? Some obviously aren’t so how do you decide which are and which aren’t? Or do you believe that marrying a victim to her rapist is moral?

  132. Monocle Smile says

    @oCaptainmyCaptain

    Some people say that the goal is to discover the “laws” that lead to optimum human well being, but discovering all these laws could take an eternity.

    And learning all there is to know about the universe could take two eternities, but that doesn’t mean science is meaningless and futile. I mean, do you even think before you post?

    This is a bastardization of what it means to have a moral system because it’s not a moral system, it’s an ethics system.

    Only if you insist on black-and-white morality, which you stupidly do. I don’t understand how any sane, rational person could honestly classify every action in binary fashion.

    We can’t fall back and say, “well…it was a grey area”.

    I don’t advocate “falling back on” ambiguity for actions that are clearly harmful with no redeeming benefit. The truth is that there ARE grey areas and we’re forced to work this out as humans.

    Doesn’t it suck to not know everything? Well, not really. It means there’s much left to be discovered.

    However, it behooves us not to LIE and pretend that we DO know everything there is to know about morality, like you and pretty much every other Abrahamic theist does.

  133. steele says

    Martin,

    Euthyphro’s Dilemma is a false dichotomy. I don’t find it nearly the dilemma you do apparently.

    http://www.str.org/articles/euthyphro-s-dilemma#.Uy0anIXSOpo

    further note what WLC says in Reasonable faith

    “Neither are God’s commands arbitrary,for they are the necessary expressions of his just and loving nature. God is essentially compassionate, fair, kind, impartial, and so forth, and his commandments are reflections of his own character. God’s character is definitive of moral goodness; it serves as the paradigm of moral goodness. Thus, the morally good/bad is determined by reference to God’s nature; the morally right/wrong is determined by reference to his will. The divine will or commands come into play as a source of moral obligation, not moral value.

    As necessary expressions of his nature, God’s commands are not arbitrary, and so we need not trouble ourselves about counterfactuals with impossible antecedents like “If God were to command child abuse . . .” On the customary understanding,counterfactuals with impossible antecedents have no non-vacuous truth value.

    Even if we reject the customary semantics and allow that some counterfactuals with impossible antecedents may be non-vacuously true or false, how are we to assess the truth value of a statement with an antecedent like this? It is like wondering whether, if there were a round square, its area would equal the square of one of its sides. And what would it matter how one answered, since what is imagined is logically incoherent? I don’t see that the divine command theorist is committed to the non-vacuous truth of the counterfactual in question or that anything of significance hangs on his thinking it to be non-vacuously true or false.

    If the non-theist should demand, “Why pick God’s nature as definitive of the Good?” the answer is that God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being, and a being which is the paradigm of goodness is greater than one which merely exemplifies goodness.

    Unless we are nihilists, we have to recognize some ultimate standard of value, and God is the least arbitrary stopping point.”

    God is the summum bonum of existence and as such the objective standard of morality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summum_bonum

    Your canards about God’s commands in the Old Testament are not even worth responding to. But to end let me just say in response to you and Enlightenment that it is not “might that makes right” but “right that makes right”. God being right and true makes his commands right and true.

    Romans 3:4

    4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

    “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

  134. AhmNee says

    By those standards you either:
     
    1) Are horrible human being. Because you believe the the genocides, rape, kidnapping, eternal torture for finite crimes, slavery and abdication of one’s personal responsibility as offered by the bible is good and moral because they were all commanded by god. In which case you have earned both my pity and my revulsion.
     
    2) Are dishonest. Because you don’t really believe that the above were good and moral but you’re going to ignore them in order to hang onto your flawed argument. In which case you still have my pity. I understand how hard it is to realized you’re gullible and cannot admit it.
     
    3) Do not believe the bible to be the true and infallible word of god in which case it is as useful as Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes.

  135. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    There may be a designer of the big bang. The best the cosmological argument can do is arrive at that. If you want to show that it’s also good, e.g. if you want to show that it’s a (good) god, then that is extra work. How do you distinguish between a (good) god and an evil creature which designed the big bang? In other words, how did you determine that Jesus didn’t lie, and is the good one, and Satan is the evil one?

  136. Monocle Smile says

    Euthyphro’s Dilemma is a false dichotomy

    Wrong. This stupid appeal to “god’s nature” is a word game and nothing more. Where did this nature come from? You won’t answer, mostly because you don’t feel the need to explain ad hoc bullshit, which is half of your religion anyway. Portraying the second horn of the dilemma as necessarily being contingent on willful arbitrary decrees by the god rather than including “innate” features is a straw man.

    The fact that you think WLC is anything more than a windbag who uses $60 words to convey a 2 cent point speaks volumes. The man is PAID TO LIE. That’s it!

    God is the summum bonum of existence and as such the objective standard of morality.

    Not only is this a tautology, but how did you make this assessment? Certainly not by reading the Bible, unless you think that the “highest good” has nothing to do with the welfare of humanity. If you think that’s the case, then piss off and your god can fuck itself despite not existing.

    What continues to amuse me is how the only reason these discussions happen is because you toolbags have utterly failed to provide a shred of evidence that your deity even EXISTS. So we’re merely humoring you in the first place and you continue to fail.

    Your canards about God’s commands in the Old Testament are not even worth responding to.

    Pathetic. You can’t respond, so you choose to pretend the atrocities don’t exist. Self-imposed ignorance and cognitive dissonance appear to be requirements of Christianity.

    And you’re still so caught up in your own stench that you think quoting the Bible means anything to anyone else here. Again, what’s wrong with you?

  137. says

    Ah, of course. You think you’re making valid points when quoting the Bible to me, but when I quote it you, I’m offering “canards.” At no point has it occurred to you, when offering the above copy-paste, that Craig’s rebuttal is just a big “NUH-UH” rooted in unsupported assertions. Just define God’s “nature” as being “the summum bonum of existence and as such the objective standard of morality,” simply declare God to be “the greatest conceivable being, and a being which is the paradigm of goodness,” and presto! — problem solved.

    Except not. What reason can you give me to accept as axiomatic the declaration that “God’s character is definitive of moral goodness; it serves as the paradigm of moral goodness”? Especially when I can point to a being who exhibits higher standards of moral goodness — like myself. For all my faults, I would never deliberately have anybody mauled by a bear or offered into slavery, or have them executed for eating shellfish or gathering sticks on the Sabbath, let alone sentence anyone at all to infinite punishment for finite crimes. So why should I accept Craig’s assertion that God is the paradigm of morality when even a cursory glance reveals that God is demonstrably less moral than the average person?

    In order to say that God has a “just and loving nature,” one must have an understanding of the concepts of justice and love, and proper standards of both, independent of God in the first place, so that one can apply that judgment to God’s character based on said understanding. When Craig (and you, since you seem to think he’s actually good at arguments) defines God to be not only “just and loving,” but to exhibit those virtues in an “ultimate” manner, how is that conclusion reached? Based on what standard? If you’re judging God’s morality by comparing him to himself, then you’re simply spinning around a wild tautology. “God is good because goodness is God.” Declare a being to possess a trait without placing that trait into any context outside of that being, and the trait is reduced to a word, stripped of any meaning.

    So how do you judge God to be this being of ultimate moral perfection?

    Your canards about God’s commands in the Old Testament are not even worth responding to.

    Translation: “You have brought up moral difficulties concerning God, the implications of which frighten me, so I will put on an air of pompous righteousness and hand-wave them away. Problem solved.” Except not.

    This is where Euthyphro’s Dilemma comes in, and where Craig’s attempt to rebut it is actually just a lame evasion of the key issue. Once more with feeling: are there reasons to consider God’s words and deeds morally perfect, or is anything God does de facto morally perfect because it’s God doing it? Does God say a thing is good because its goodness can be demonstrated, or is a thing good because he says so? The latter is really what you and Craig are arguing, and yet if true, then God’s morality is plagued by the very arbitrary quality you think plagues secular and reason-based morality. Literally anything God says is good becomes “good” by fiat, including mass rape and murdering kids. And when apologists say “God would never command those things” (in effect conceding the argument as they’ve just shown they have a concept of morality independent of God), and you go on to show them where God actually does so in their own holy scripture, they freak out and declare those scriptures “canards.” It’s all quite fun.

    Seriously though: Explain why it was morally correct for this ultimately good being to have 42 children torn to shreds by bears simply for making fun of an old man’s bald head.

    Be honest. You can’t.

    Try again, and do better than pasting walls of text from Craig.

  138. steele says

    Martin,

    I do like your responses, probably one of the reasons you are on the show because they are good. I will respond to the verses you cite more later but for now check out these links.

    http://www.jasonstaples.com/bible-studies/a-bald-man-two-bears-and-forty-two-children-misinterpreted-bible-passages-6/

    http://www.gotquestions.org/Elisha-baldhead.html

    http://www.cracked.com/article_15699_the-9-most-badass-bible-verses.html

    I am not trying to not answer but I don’t have the time at the moment to answer you as fully as I would like. The last link I just thought was funny lol. Thanks

  139. says

    Quick reply to first link, as I’ve got stuff to do too.

    It’s irrelevant. Interpreting the passage so that the victims of God’s ursine vengeance were strapping youths or even young men rather than boys just dodges the main moral question: Was sending bears to kill people, child or adult, a morally appropriate and acceptable response to mockery? Staples writes, “This is by no means a problematic passage if one is willing to take the worldview reflected in the text and accept God’s authority as judge.” Fine, but for those of us who don’t accept that, it’s still a very problematic passage, and not one whose morally dubious (to put it mildly) nature is at all fixed by adding a few years to the ages of the victims.

    Still, I always wonder, why can’t the divinely inspired word of a perfect-in-every-way deity ever just say what it means? Why does so much of it require interpretation to fix its flaws? Can’t God be a better communicator? If the gang mocking Elijah were young adults and not boys or children, why isn’t the passage abundantly clear on that point? I used biblegateway.com to check multiple translations of the passage to see how the victims are described, and here’s what I found right off.

    NIV: “boys”
    KJV: “children” (not only “children” but “little children”)
    ESV: “small boys”
    ASV: “young lads”
    1599 Geneva Bible: “little children”
    Douay-Rheims 1899: “little boys”
    NRSV: “small boys”
    Darby: “little boys”
    Good News: “boys”
    Wycliffe: “little children”
    Young’s Literal: “little youths”

    So there are 11 (just the ones I looked at randomly) long-established editions of the Bible that not only state that the victims were children, but some emphasize that they were little children. It’s funny to note how it’s only in the most recent translations, many of them likely spearheaded by American conservative Christians, that we begin to see the revisionism in full force. In the NKJV, the “children” graduate to “youths,” and in the Living Bible, a flick of the editor’s pen magically transforms them into “young men”! Voila!

    (You might object that the newer translations are more accurate to the originals, but you’d just be arguing that no scholar was very good at translating Greek or whatever the original language was until late in the 20th century, so you should tread careful there.)

    But here’s another observation: Why this rush to absolve God of the crime of child murder?

    It’s because despite what they might say, Christian evangelicals for the most part arrive at moral decisions the way anyone else does: by rationally evaluating the harm a given act might cause, and judging the act’s moral correctness accordingly. And to both theist and atheist, harming a child is generally held to be a grievous wrong (though I’d lean more towards atheists at being better and more consistent on that one as well, given that we aren’t in the habit of publishing parenting guides eagerly extolling corporal punishment). So the ability to recognize that there are acts God could perform (and that multiple Bible translations are quite clear in telling us he didperform) that would be grievously immoral constitutes a recognition that morality is a concept that exists independently of God, and that an immoral act cannot become a moral one simply because God does it.

    So Mr. Staples has scored a bit of an own goal here. Thanks, man. The prosecution rests.

  140. says

    This stupid appeal to “god’s nature” is a word game and nothing more. Where did this nature come from?

    I’d point out that this “God’s nature” thing suffers from the same Euthyphro’s-Dilemma style problem.

    Ultimately, “God’s nature” is either arbitrary, or determined by some external source.

  141. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    There’s no dogma, no teachings, no tenets, no commandments, no nothing. So trying to make a philosophical argument about what “atheists” believe is already committing a category error. Again, why are simple things so hard for you?

    Complete BS. You’re position isn’t simply passive disbelief in the existence of God. It’s become the active belief in a “cause” that advocates for the “non existence of God”. Atheism elevated from the former status when you guys decided to produce podcasts, TV shows, blogs, billboards, organizations, rallies, clothing lines, books, movies, and even Churches, all advocating for your “belief”.

    Don’t insult me or yourself by trying to claim that Atheism is nothing more than the passive statement of “I find no evidence for God”. You’re past that now, and consequentially you’ve opened your “belief” system up to critique.

    Diversity among Atheists doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very common and unifying beliefs, agendas, and ideals.

  142. Monocle Smile says

    You’re position isn’t simply passive disbelief in the existence of God. It’s become the active belief in a “cause” that advocates for the “non existence of God”.

    And now you’re accusing us all of being dishonest, and for that, you can fuck yourself. You’ve stooped to the “real atheists wouldn’t even care” shitpile that’s favored by the likes of Ray Comfort. We don’t care because we strongly believe in no gods. We care because religion is a plague upon humanity.

    Atheism elevated from the former status when you guys decided to produce podcasts, TV shows, blogs, billboards, organizations, rallies, clothing lines, books, movies, and even Churches, all advocating for your “belief”.

    NONE of that changes the definition of the word. Again, your religion is SO destructive that you’ve put us in the curious position of defining ourselves by what we are not. This is YOUR doing, and yours alone.

    Diversity among Atheists doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very common and unifying beliefs, agendas, and ideals.

    That’s because there are a number of worldviews that are CONSISTENT with atheism, but everything else is something else. Atheism is ONLY the lack of belief in gods. You’re conflating atheism with skepticism. You don’t get to bitch and moan because we’re starting to stop you from taking giant steaming shits all over us and force us into the closet out of fear. Fuck. You.

  143. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Finally, and most importantly, psychology and sociology doesn’t work that way! What kind of idiot do you have to be to think that one day of unrestrained violence will stop almost all crime?

    You know, that I know, that you know, exactly the point I was making here. But in case you don’t; it had nothing to do with wether or not the system would work. It showed that secular morality, as it’s been presented to me, would make murder moral under certain circumstances.

    Also, most of us don’t hold to naive utilitarian math which says that the trivial needs of the many outweigh the important needs of the few.

    I didn’t know that safety, happiness, and financial security where “trivial” needs. I thought those where pretty important?

    This example, regardless of wether you think it’s possible, shows that the most important needs of the society where being met, at the expense of murder. Sure, it was just a silly ( but entertaining ) movie, and yes you would hate this system, if your family was the one being killed. But I fail to see how your proposed definition of morality makes anything done in the movie immoral, when the greatest needs of the society are being met. Especially, when those needs seem to directly correlate with human well being.

  144. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    You don’t get to bitch and moan because we’re starting to stop you from taking giant steaming shits all over us and force us into the closet out of fear. Fuck. You.

    No, just the opposite. I want you to stand up and defend the things you believe in. I get annoyed when you try to run back in the corner, and wrap yourself in a warm protective coat of trivial semantics.

  145. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    More than that, since you guys love wikipedia articles, here’s one for you: Atheism

    Here’s a couple sections you might find interesting:

    “Implicit vs. explicit” Atheism

    “Positive vs. negative”

    “Atheist philosophies”

    “Etymology”

    you’ll find that there is a lot more to Atheism, than the BS definition you’ve given.

  146. Monocle Smile says

    I want you to stand up and defend the things you believe in.

    We’ve been doing that, but you’re too busy making shit up and lying your ass off to notice. You also don’t know what words mean.

    Oh, I believe very strongly that theistic claims have in all cases fail to meet their burden of proof. And I believe that accepting such batshit crazy claims for bad reasons generates a broad spectrum of negative effects. This does NOT mean that I strongly believe that no gods exist, because I can’t back that up.

    I get annoyed when you try to run back in the corner

    And I get annoyed when you tap-dance, spout dishonest apologetics, rationalize atrocities, and fail to fucking understand the difference between fact and fiction. But you’re not changing your poor behavior, are you?

    it had nothing to do with wether or not the system would work. It showed that secular morality, as it’s been presented to me, would make murder moral under certain circumstances.

    How fucking STUPID do you have to be to not spot the glaring error in this? The fact that such a fucked-up system would definitely NOT work like The Purge portrayed means those practices are therefore BY FUCKING DEFINITION NOT MORAL under secular morality! You missed the entire goddamn point and you’re too busy stabbing yourself in the eyes with crucifixes to notice!

  147. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    Especially when I can point to a being who exhibits higher standards of moral goodness — like myself. For all my faults, I would never deliberately have anybody mauled by a bear or offered into slavery, or have them executed for eating shellfish or gathering sticks on the Sabbath, let alone sentence anyone at all to infinite punishment for finite crimes. So why should I accept Craig’s assertion that God is the paradigm of morality when even a cursory glance reveals that God is demonstrably less moral than the average person?

    You introduce a lot of flaws into your argument when you say “I’m more moral than God.” I’m pretty sure you’re just as human as me and the rest of the people on this forum. That means that you’re not perfect, and you’re probably not omniscient. Since you lack these qualities, how can you claim that the judgments of a perfect being aren’t moral?

    Maybe if there is a God, and he does have infinite wisdom, he has a very good reason for punishing his people when they don’t obey expressed commands.

    As far as him mauling children, once again, he’s God. Simply put, he can do whatever the hell he wants with what he owns. Just like you can. The only difference is that he owns everything. Including life.

    So if he decides one day to drown every man, women and child, for being evil, he can do that and still be perfectly moral. If he gives life, then he has every right to take it. It doesn’t matter that you and I would strongly disapprove.

    I’m being extremely blunt but I feel the need to drive home this point. It’s not because “good is God, and God is good”, that God can do something and still be moral. It’s because he owns everything, and is therefore entitled to do what he wants with it.

  148. Monocle Smile says

    As far as him mauling children, once again, he’s God. Simply put, he can do whatever the hell he wants with what he owns. Just like you can. The only difference is that he owns everything. Including life.

    And now I’m done. I can’t respond to anything else you post. At least you’re finally honest You’re a coward and a shitstain of a human being. If you want to know what’s wrong with the world and why we’re so up in arms about your religion, look in the motherfucking mirror, you ass-scratching baboon. I hope you never reproduce, because you’ll probably end up fucking drowning your kids, you sick fuck.

  149. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    It’s not hard to understand. Our active fight against religion does not stem from our lack of belief in a god. It stems from the entirely separate belief that religion is a net harm by far. It stems from our valuing human well-being.

  150. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    This does NOT mean that I strongly believe that no gods exist, because I can’t back that up.

    Doesn’t matter. Skim over the article I posted above. ( Here it is again ) There’s a lot more to Atheism than, “I don’t find enough evidence to believe in God”. That wasn’t the original definition, and it’s certainly not the explicit definition now. Why don’t you understand this?

    And I get annoyed when you tap-dance, spout dishonest apologetics, rationalize atrocities, and fail to fucking understand the difference between fact and fiction. But you’re not changing your poor behavior, are you?

    Maybe I’ll take a look at my supposed “poor behavior”, when you stop wanting to be ignorant about the definitions you use to define yourself. Once again, read above.

    The fact that such a fucked-up system would definitely NOT work like The Purge portrayed means those practices are therefore BY FUCKING DEFINITION NOT MORAL under secular morality!

    What? First of all, I don’t even know all the inner workings of the system in that movie. It was pretty vague.

    Second of all, how do you know it wouldn’t work? You might be able to say that “you don’t think it would work”, but there’s no way you can be as absolutely certain as you seem to be. Unfortunately If you look at history, it’s clear that the majority of people will follow along with what’s socially acceptable. If it’s socially acceptable to murder undesirables on a given day, then I see no evidence that proves the majority of people wouldn’t conform to this system. You might have a few revolutionists that stand up for a greater good, but they would probably be “purged”.

    Third of all, the movie doesn’t matter. I could use a different scenario, and the point would remain the same. There’s many instances where murder or torture could be seen as moral in your secular morality system.

  151. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    And now I’m done. I can’t respond to anything else you post. At least you’re finally honest You’re a coward and a shitstain of a human being.

    I knew your where going to say this Monocle. I swear your reading comprehension is severely lacking. This has nothing to do with what I deem moral. It doesn’t matter that I wouldn’t want Children to be mauled. It doesn’t matter that I would think it’s an atrocity. It doesn’t even matter that I would think it’s immoral. If there’s a God, than he’s allowed to do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

    Nobodies going to come into my home, and tell me I can’t burn a book I just wrote. It’s mine. I can do what I want with it. God can do what he wants with whats his.

  152. AhmNee says

    Doesn’t matter. Skim over the article I posted above. ( Here it is again ) There’s a lot more to Atheism than, “I don’t find enough evidence to believe in God”. That wasn’t the original definition, and it’s certainly not the explicit definition now. Why don’t you understand this?

     
    You didn’t actually read the article, did you? You skimmed it and saw a whole bunch of words and assumed that was all simply atheism. The reason that there are subgroups is because in it’s most basic sense atheism is a simple the lack of a belief in gods and because that definition is broad, many people with diverse beliefs are atheists. Even people who don’t believe in gods for awful reasons and people who are not skeptics or rational.
     
    It’s not our fault you want to stuff everyone into the same pigeon hole.

  153. Monocle Smile says

    It doesn’t even matter that I would think it’s immoral.

    YES IT DOES. In fact, that’s ALL that matters! You WORSHIP this freak, you dumbass! That makes you EVERY BIT AS HORRIFIC.

  154. AhmNee says

    It doesn’t even matter that I would think it’s immoral. If there’s a God, than he’s allowed to do what he wants, when he wants, and how he wants. IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

     
    So we’re right back to might makes right and that god owns all people because he made them. Hense, slavery. Congratulations in your mental gymnastics to make the atrocious, in your mind, acceptable.
     
    People =/= Books
     
    And by your logic, if you have children, you created and you can drown them if you want to.
     
    Truly reprehensible.

  155. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    And by your logic, if you have children, you created and you can drown them if you want to.

    No. I cannot. I don’t own anybodies life. I may have an expressed interest in certain peoples lives, and they may be closely connected to me, but I don’t own them. When a child turns 18, they’re considered an adult and they can choose to do what they want without the permission of their parents.

    More than that, there’s nothing that would make me want to harm a child regardless of what they did. But God is not human. It’s atheists who try to reduce him to some kind of fallible being.

    People =/= Books

    Of course not, but any comparison I could make on ownership would be less than a human life, as I don’t own anything as valuable.

    So we’re right back to might makes right and that god owns all people because he made them. Hense, slavery. Congratulations in your mental gymnastics to make the atrocious, in your mind, acceptable.

    What’s this about being acceptable? It doesn’t matter wether I think it’s acceptable. It simply is what it is. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t change the facts. I also don’t serve a God that kills Indiscriminately and without purpose, but if he did, there would be nothing immoral about it.

    Maybe it is like slavery. Muslim means “surrender” and “submission” to the laws of God. Christianity is probably similar, we just dress it up and make it prettier. I choose to see it as “willing service” because there are benefits to following God’s laws. But Paul called himself a slave to Jesus, so maybe that’s not too far off.

  156. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    you didn’t actually read the article, did you? You skimmed it and saw a whole bunch of words and assumed that was all simply atheism.

    I did read parts of the article, but I didn’t have to. I already knew what the original definition of Atheism was, and it was never the passive “I don’t find enough evidence to believe in God”, statement that Monocle was using. It’s also evolved from it’s original definition ( as definitions often do ), and it’ become something more. To reduce it to a position of passivity is disingenuous. The only reason you would attempt to do this is to place yourself above criticism.

    Plus, I’ve never met a passive atheist, and I’ve never had a discussion with one. It seems to me that when you go out of your way to call yourself an Atheist, you don’t have a passive state of mind. I don’t go out of my way to call myself a non hockeyist, I just don’t play hockey. But if I had a position against playing hockey, then I would probably end up defining myself under some term.

  157. AhmNee says

    Historically, religions have had the nasty habit of attempting to convert people by the sword and the rack, and controlling people through guile, fear and force. How strange that one would adopt a term to distance themselves from that.
     

    It’s also evolved from it’s original definition ( as definitions often do ), and it’ become something more.

     
    What secret do you think you know about the origin of the word? It simply means without gods. And it still means that. The “a” prefix just means “not”. Atheist = Not a theist and it holds no belief system. Groups of atheists have taken on other ideologies. Skepticism, rationalism, naturalism or humanism to mention a few but that doesn’t mean atheism encompasses those ideologies.
     
    It’s the most basic of logic problems. Like all Firebirds are a TransAm but not every TransAm is a Firebird.
    Skeptics may tend to be atheists but not all atheists are skeptics. Strong Atheists are atheists but not all atheists are strong atheists. Because strong atheism isn’t atheism. It’s strong atheism. So you can’t assume you know what an atheist believes outside of their rejection of your god claim, simply because they’re atheists. Just as I cannot assume you believe in catholic saints and molesting children just because you’re christian. Because not all christians are catholics and not all catholics are child molesters.
     

    I’ve never met a passive atheist, and I’ve never had a discussion with one.

     
    You do realize what a stupid thing that is to say, right? Right up there with I’ve never met a closeted gay. Or I’ve never met a priest who was an atheist. Because you’re not going to know unless they tell you. You might suspect, but how do you know that you haven’t met a multitude of passive atheists who just don’t talk about it in passing or who actively keep it to themselves.
     

    I don’t go out of my way to call myself a non hockeyist, I just don’t play hockey.

     
    Does everyone in your community play hockey? Are people who don’t play hockey shunned or ridiculed or is it assumed they’re missing something in their lives because they don’t play hockey?
     
    Yeah, totally not the same thing.

  158. AhmNee says

    More than that, there’s nothing that would make me want to harm a child regardless of what they did. But God is not human. It’s atheists who try to reduce him to some kind of fallible being.

     
    Congratulations on your recognition that you are more moral than your god. Atheists don’t need to attempt to reduce the invisible sky wizard to some kind of fallible being. Theists and their storybook do that pretty handily themselves. And then try to explain away the crazy that is your contradictory, amoral, impotent, unstable, imaginary god.
     

    I also don’t serve a God that kills Indiscriminately and without purpose, but if he did, there would be nothing immoral about it.

     
    The firstborn children of Egypt, the global flood. How is that not indiscriminate and without purpose?
    That you don’t see it as immoral simply speaks to your poor character.

  159. corwyn says

    I also don’t serve a God that kills Indiscriminately and without purpose, but if he did, there would be nothing immoral about it.

    So you, and he, are, by definition, EVIL. Got it.

  160. corwyn says

    L. Ron Hubbard.

    Elrond, Half-elven of Rivendell. Wielder of the Ring of Water.

    I looked for a youtube compilation of him saying ‘DOOM’ but alas couldn’t find one.

  161. Monocle Smile says

    I choose to see it as “willing service” because there are benefits to following God’s laws. But Paul called himself a slave to Jesus, so maybe that’s not too far off.

    So you’re a cowardly toady deep-throating a tyrant because of some imagined benefit. That makes you pretty much the worst thing imaginable.

    I repeat: Fuck. You.

  162. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    As far as him mauling children, once again, he’s God. Simply put, he can do whatever the hell he wants with what he owns. Just like you can. The only difference is that he owns everything. Including life.

    Ah, finally, divine command theory.

    If Stargate SG-1 has taught me anything, it is the proper response to evil gods is not to bow down and worship, but to blow them up. Nuke god!

    You have the mentality of a slave. You make me sick. You are a miserable excuse for a human being. You think that your worth is so little that it’s ok for your god to end you on a whim. Get some self-respect.

  163. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Also: Please explain to me how the hell you can possibly hold to both of the following:

    I also don’t serve a God that kills Indiscriminately and without purpose, but if he did, there would be nothing immoral about it.

    As far as him mauling children, once again, he’s God. Simply put, he can do whatever the hell he wants with what he owns. Just like you can. The only difference is that he owns everything. Including life.

    How the hell do you reconcile those beliefs? You serve a god who owns everything and is justified in doing anything, but you also don’t serve a god who kills indiscriminately? Sorry. One of those has god to go. You can’t have both. Either you would serve a god who is justified in killing indiscriminately because he owns everything, or you wouldn’t.

  164. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    How the hell do you reconcile those beliefs? You serve a god who owns everything and is justified in doing anything, but you also don’t serve a god who kills indiscriminately? Sorry. One of those has god to go.

    Easy. He’s justified in killing indiscriminately, but I simply see no examples in which he does. But if he did, he would logically be justified. Can you give me a reason as to why a being who owns everything, wouldn’t be logically justified in doing what he wants with it? If you can give me even one irrefutable argument, than I will change my opinion.

    As far as him mauling kids, I don’t remember the passage exactly, but I think the story is when Elisha is walking, and he’s met by a group of kids who start heckling him. ( There’s a lot of reasons why they where probably young adults and not kids, but that’s not really important here )

    Atheists say that God had them mauled for insulting a bald man. But that’s not whats going on here at all. First of all, Elisha was almost certainly not bald, as it was a shame for men to be bald and more of a shame for a prophet to be bald. So, this is most likely an insult making reference to something else.

    Also, I believe the passage says they where “mauled” not killed, which kind of ends the argument of an indiscriminate killing. But even if they where killed, they where not killed for heckling a bald man, and they certainly weren’t killed indiscriminately.

    They where attacked because they gathered in a large group, and went out on the road for the specific purpose of insulting a prophet of God. Since a prophet is essentially God’s earthly spokesman, it’s like insulting God to his face. And they didn’t do it out of ignorance. They knew exactly who Elisha was, and in the context of this story, they knew for a fact that Elisha wasn’t a false prophet and what he was capable of.

    They also knew their actions carried grave punishment, as there was multiple examples of what happened to people who insulted God’s prophets.

    An indiscriminate killing is to kill carelessly or in an unfair way. I don’t think anything is unfair about punishing kids or anyone who goes out of their way to insult God to his face. It’s not like an atheist writing on a forum and saying “God sucks”. It’s more like God appearing in front of you, standing in your face, and you insulting him personally.

    I think if you have the “balls” to do this, than any punishment you get is far from indiscriminate.

  165. says

    Dagnabbit! I take a break for a few days and you people blow up the thread. I barely know where to start catching up on this.

    And why the hell are people talking about Elrond? I swear, kids these days. All hopped up on goof balls and watered-down soda pop.

  166. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m going to assume that you do not think it justifiable for you to “maul me” with your pet attack dog if I insult you on the street by calling you bald, fat, a lair, etc., right? But, it’s ok for god to sic his pet attack bears on me if I insult it on the street by calling it bald, fat, a lair, etc., right? You don’t see the problem here?

    I have no irrefutable argument for you, just like you have no irrefutable argument for me. It actually makes me sad. I hope you’re a troll. It makes me sad to consider the possibility that I’ve met a person with so little self-esteem, so little self respect as an adult, that they feel that their life has no value. That they are worthless scum, and that their tyrant may deal with them as they like. I don’t. I have no argument why you should value yourself.

    I say but this: I value myself, and I value my fellow human beings, including you, and that’s why I am going to try my best to completely and utterly crush your world view. I am going to do my best to raise a generation of people who have self respect and self worth, who care about their fellow human beings, who do no not have a slave mentality. We are going to rise up, and we are going to fight people like you, with our every breathe, in order to make this place, our lives, better, including for you if you would stop fighting us.

    Someone once said that if god did not exist, it would necessary to invent him. That’s wrong. Stargate has taught me that if your god existed, it would be necessary to destroy him. I spit in your god’s face, and I spit in yours. I have nothing but contempt for your views. I am no one’s slave. If your god exists, and if he smites me for this, then I. Die. Free!
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDieFree

    “Live free or die.” – Official motto of the US state of New Hampshire.
    “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – Part of a rousing speech which tipped the scales and caused Virginia to put troops to fight the tyranny of the British.

  167. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    I have no irrefutable argument for you, just like you have no irrefutable argument for me. It actually makes me sad. I hope you’re a troll. It makes me sad to consider the possibility that I’ve met a person with so little self-esteem, so little self respect as an adult, that they feel that their life has no value.

    Well, then I guess there isn’t much left to be said. If you can’t logically refute my argument that a being with absolute ownership over everything, isn’t justified in their actions. Then i see no reason to change my opinion that they are.

    That being said, I really think you have no concept of my argument. Your view of my God is the epitamy of a straw man. From everything you’ve written, it’s clear that you see God as some kind of corruptable dictator sitting on a throne.

    Please,for a second, take your hardened Atheist hat off and at least acknowledge what my position is before you start to attack it. At least take the time to recognize how I see God, before you tell me that my values are weak, imoral, and disgusting.

    I don’t see God as human, and neither does any other Christian. I don’t believe he’s capable of corruption, vanity, carlessness, greed, lying, or any of the other negative traits that you might associate with a human. In fact, I see God as perfectly good and all knowing. I see God as the very source of truth itself. I see God as the purest form of Good.

    So by asking me to reject God, your in a sense telling me that I shouldn’t conform to a higher standard of morality, I shouldn’t do what’s right, and I shouldn’t follow after the truth.

    Instead I should appeal to something much lower and more base. I should appeal to the standards of a small subset of humans, who haven’t figured out morality yet, but believe that eventually they might get close, and believe that ultimately their “close enough” will be better than perfection.

    You want me to see humans as having no more value than what me, society, or science subscribes to them. You want me to see my family and friends, as potentially more or less valuable depending on the evidence. And because I reject this, because I see people as valuable no matter what, I’m a monster.

    Because I believe that people where created in the image of God, which in effect means that I believe we’re all a simlitude of perfection, you think I’m devaluing myself and others.

    You want me to be a slave to the fleeting ideals and values of society at large. You think it’s nobel to do whats right in my own sight, and I think it’s nobel to do what’s right period. You think that morality is ever changing and situational, and I think that goodness doesn’t care what you think.

    So yes, I choose to be a slave to the truth. I choose to be a slave to whats right. I choose to be a slave to the constant persuit of perfection. And if this means that I have to dodge spit, than so be it. At least at the end of the day, I know that you where only spitting at me because you value autonomy and self righteousness above what’s actually true and right. You value hedonism above self sacrifice. You see life as only as valuable as what you say. And for that I will always reject your world view as well.

  168. Monocle Smile says

    I see God as the purest form of Good.

    So your idea of “good” has nothing to do with the best interests of humanity. I think you’re making EL’s point for him. If you don’t hold the well-being of humanity as a priority, then you’re probably a fantastic slave to your imaginary friend, but you’re a shitty human being.

    I choose to be a slave to the truth. I choose to be a slave to whats right. I choose to be a slave to the constant persuit of perfection.

    Just shut the fuck up. Truth is demonstrable. Truth can withstand scrutiny. Your deity meets neither of these. Truth is that which comports with reality, and human beings are evidently part of that reality whereas your god is evidently not.

    I should appeal to the standards of a small subset of humans, who haven’t figured out morality yet, but believe that eventually they might get close, and believe that ultimately their “close enough” will be better than perfection.

    No, we’re saying that “perfection” doesn’t exist, dumbass, and so we go with “close enough.” And pretending that “perfection” or “absolute certainty” exist because “magic” is extremely dishonest.

  169. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    From everything you’ve written, it’s clear that you see God as some kind of corruptable dictator sitting on a throne.

    I don’t see God as human, and neither does any other Christian. I don’t believe he’s capable of corruption, vanity, carlessness, greed, lying, or any of the other negative traits that you might associate with a human. In fact, I see God as perfectly good and all knowing. I see God as the very source of truth itself. I see God as the purest form of Good.

    I didn’t vote for him. You didn’t either. That is the definition of a tyrant. A benevolent tyrant is still a tyrant. I’d rather be dead than a slave. Give me liberty, or give me death!

    Because I believe that people where created in the image of God, which in effect means that I believe we’re all a simlitude of perfection, you think I’m devaluing myself and others.

    You yourself have said that you have so little value that your god can kill you on a whim, and it would be ok. Your stated position is that you have no inherent value. On the contrary, my position is that your god would be wrong to torture and kill you on a whim.

    I think it’s nobel to do what’s right period.

    I don’t see God as human, and neither does any other Christian. I don’t believe he’s capable of corruption, vanity, carlessness, greed, lying, or any of the other negative traits that you might associate with a human.

    So yes, I choose to be a slave to the truth.

    You have not demonstrated your god exists. You have not demonstrated that your god has these properties. You do not care about the truth. You do not use the methods that allow us to reliably arrive at truth, including evidence, reason, skepticism, science.

    Moreover, you are the one whose position is that humans are inherently worthless, that we are mere property to your god, and that our only value derives from its whims. My position is that humans have inherent worth.

    And even if your god exists, and even if it is benevolent, fuck him. Who wants a parent to be around when you’re 30, deciding for you what you can and cannot do, what is best for you. You want a parent for eternity. Hell, the job of a parent is to raise you to live on your own, not to micromanage your life at 30. That’s not a parent. That is a master of a slave. You want to be a slave. I don’t. Give me liberty, or give me death! This is what it means to hold to the values of the Enlightenment, which brought our culture out of the dark ages.

  170. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Well, then I guess there isn’t much left to be said. If you can’t logically refute my argument that a being with absolute ownership over everything, isn’t justified in their actions. Then i see no reason to change my opinion that they are.

    No one can. If we do not exist in a universe of shared axioms, then no conversation is possible. It’s basic Münchhausen trilemma.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    I can no sooner form a logical argument that your axioms are wrong than you can for mine.

  171. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    So your idea of “good” has nothing to do with the best interests of humanity. I think you’re making EL’s point for him. If you don’t hold the well-being of humanity as a priority, then you’re probably a fantastic slave to your imaginary friend, but you’re a shitty human being.

    You don’t get it do you. By placing your interests to the highest form of good possible, humanity benefits by inclusion. It’s like when Jesus says, the two greatest laws are to to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The second one sounds like it might be good on it’s own, but there’s a problem. There’s people that don’t actually love themselves… so what then?

    By including the first law, you’re commanded to love yourself and the people around you. It’s included. You can’t honestly say you love God, and don’t love your brother.

    Also “Love” in this context doesn’t really have much to do with holding hands and singing Kumbaya. I can love somebody and not actually like them.

    No, we’re saying that “perfection” doesn’t exist, dumbass, and so we go with “close enough.” And pretending that “perfection” or “absolute certainty” exist because “magic” is extremely dishonest.

    The problem is you can’t prove that. You can’t prove there’s no such thing as absolute truth, and you can’t prove that there’s no such thing as perfection. Don’t believe me? Attempt to say the statement “There is no absolute truth”, and see if you don’t recognize the inherent contradiction.

    And I also can’t prove that there is. It’s impossible to prove. Therefore, I choose to believe in certain absolutes. I choose to believe that lying, murder, stealing, and the rest are absolutely wrong because everything that I see in history and in my own life tells me that this is true. In the same sense, you can’t prove that you’re not a brain in a testube, but you choose to live your life as if you do actually exist because your reality corresponds to this assumption.

  172. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    I didn’t vote for him. You didn’t either. That is the definition of a tyrant. A benevolent tyrant is still a tyrant. I’d rather be dead than a slave. Give me liberty, or give me death!

    We are all slaves to something. Even if you gained complete freedom, and you moved to your own island, you will most likely come to the realization that you are a slave to yourself. You would be a slave to you own thoughts and ideals. Even if they were to change, you would still be subject to them.

    The only choice you have is what your going to be a slave to.

    You yourself have said that you have so little value that your god can kill you on a whim, and it would be ok. Your stated position is that you have no inherent value. On the contrary, my position is that your god would be wrong to torture and kill you on a whim.

    Yes, God could kill me at a whim ( even though I would prefer he didn’t ), and morally it would be okay. That in no way decreases my value. It just shows what tremendously infinite value God must have in order to place all life in his hands.

    Also I believe God has inherent value, and we are created in his image, so I have inherent value and purpose by inclusion. God killing me doesn’t reduce my value.

    You have not demonstrated your god exists. You have not demonstrated that your god has these properties. You do not care about the truth. You do not use the methods that allow us to reliably arrive at truth, including evidence, reason, skepticism, science.

    None of those methods can get me to absolute truth. They might be able to get me close, but that’s it. So ultimately I have to make a choice, as I’ve said in the post above this one.

    I think choice is one of the greatest gifts we have.

    Moreover, you are the one whose position is that humans are inherently worthless, that we are mere property to your god, and that our only value derives from its whims. My position is that humans have inherent worth.

    What?? This whole time you’ve said that we don’t have inherent worth. That are value is derived from what we decide based off our evidence and reasoning. Which one is it?

    Who wants a parent to be around when you’re 30, deciding for you what you can and cannot do, what is best for you. You want a parent for eternity. Hell, the job of a parent is to raise you to live on your own, not to micromanage your life at 30.

    In my experience, a parents job is never done. As long as they are alive, they are around to give advice when needed, and guide you when they see you going down a path they know will harm you.

    God does not micromanage your life. If you read the Bible, you see God constantly pleading with Israel to turn from “their wicked ways”, and come back to doing whats right. But he allows them to go down the wrong path, if that’s what they want, and only corrects them when they’ve gone too far.

  173. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Therefore, I choose to believe in certain absolutes.

    On what basis did you associate those absolutes with a book of ancient semitic folklore?
    Why that one and not not another? Or any book?
     
    And why do you associate the highest good with one of the characters in that book?
     

    By placing your interests to the highest form of good possible, humanity benefits by inclusion.

    So YOU chose the absolutes.
    And no one can tell you you’re doing something wrong, because you’ve chosen to declare yourself to be absolutely right. You chose a book of violent stories. Any atrocity committed is for the greater good greatest good: mass slaughter is for the benefit of humanity.
     
    You chose… poorly.

  174. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Slightly out of order for better reading.

    What?? This whole time you’ve said that we don’t have inherent worth. That are value is derived from what we decide based off our evidence and reasoning. Which one is it?

    I’ve objected to your “objective morality” as ill-defined and meaningless. I say that we have inherent value, because I say so. I take humanism as my starting moral values, which more or less is that humans have inherent worth. I might have said otherwise above, and if so I apologize. It was probably because in the context you were talking about “moral realism” and “objective morality”, which are ill-defined nonsense. My position has always been that humanism is right, that we shouldn’t kill each other, and might does not make right, and no thing has the right to own another person as property. Your god fails on all counts.

    You can’t honestly say you love God, and don’t love your brother.

    Can I love Bob but not Jill? I assume the answer is yes. Why doesn’t this same logic work for “god” and Jill? I fail to see how what you said makes sense. I can love someone without agreeing with every belief they hold. I can love someone without following every command they give. You say in order to love someone, you have to submit to their every whim and desire. Again, everything is slavery to you. Have you no self-respect?

    you will most likely come to the realization that you are a slave to yourself.

    I am a slave to myself?
    “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four
    (This is me mocking you. If you do not understand the joke, then there is no hope for you. Read a book.)

    I don’t collect stamps. Next you’re going to say that I have a hobby of not collecting stamps. Sheeshe.

    Come back when you’re willing to use the English language in an honest way.

    Yes, God could kill me at a whim ( even though I would prefer he didn’t ), and morally it would be okay.

    so I have inherent value and purpose by inclusion.

    Sorry, in the sane world, these are logically inconsistent. If you have some inherent value, then god cannot give you on a whim. That’s what inherent value means. “Your ‘god’ has infinite value” crap functionally identical to saying that you have no inherent value. Either you have inherent value, and it’s wrong to torture and kill you on a whim – regardless of who does so – or you don’t have inherent value.

    None of those methods can get me to absolute truth. They might be able to get me close, but that’s it. So ultimately I have to make a choice, as I’ve said in the post above this one.

    I think choice is one of the greatest gifts we have.

    “Science doesn’t know everything. Religion doesn’t know anything.” – Aronra

    Making pretend and believing really hard doesn’t make it true. It just means you’re an adult with imaginary friends who refuses to accept the world as it is, and tries really hard to ignore it and pretend it was otherwise. There is a term for that – willful delusion.

  175. oCaptainmyCaptain says

    I say that we have inherent value, because I say so.

    Making pretend and believing really hard doesn’t make it true. It just means you’re an adult with imaginary friends who refuses to accept the world as it is, and tries really hard to ignore it and pretend it was otherwise.

    So you find it logical that you can decide absolutes, but you find it illogical or childish that I choose an absolute. Makes no sense.

    I can love someone without agreeing with every belief they hold. I can love someone without following every command they give. You say in order to love someone, you have to submit to their every whim and desire. Again, everything is slavery to you. Have you no self-respect?

    Why don’t you seem to be getting it? If Bob or Jill where absolutely perfect, all knowing, and incapable of being wrong, then not following what they said would mean that I don’t really love truth. And since that’s what they would embody, it would mean I didn’t love them either.

    The only reason to not follow what they said would simply be because I didn’t want to be told what to do. Which would also be a choice, but there would be nothing virtuous about it.

    I am a slave to myself?
    “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

    Thank you for ripping what I said out of context. Please go back and read, there was obviously conditions to that statement. Although I admit, you could be anywhere and still feel like you’re a slave to yourself. There’s plenty of people that would tell you the same. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “I couldn’t help myself”.

    Sorry, in the sane world, these are logically inconsistent. If you have some inherent value, then god cannot give you on a whim. That’s what inherent value means.

    Please explain to me how God’s ability to kill me, means my life doesn’t have inherent value? Happiness potentially has inherent value, but I could do something that could take your happiness away. This wouldn’t make the value of happiness less inherent. I’m not changing it’s inherent properties just because it’s no longer with you.

  176. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So you find it logical that you can decide absolutes, but you find it illogical or childish that I choose an absolute.

    Basically, yea.

    Makes no sense.

    Makes perfect sense. My world view of logic, rationality, reason, humanism, science, skepticism, etc., is better than yours, because I say so. Yes, this is the tactic of a presuppositionalist. My presuppositions – my axioms – my starting values – are better than yours.

    The key is, you already hold to my values. You alreay use logic, rationality, reason, skepticism, and science (maybe not humanism – no accounting for evil people). You already hold those values, but you have a glaring blind spot when it comes to your religion. I’m doing this in the hope of setting up some cognitive dissonance. I aspire to make you feel uncomfortable about the perceived and very real contradictions of your world view.

    Why don’t you seem to be getting it? If Bob or Jill where absolutely perfect, all knowing, and incapable of being wrong, then not following what they said would mean that I don’t really love truth. And since that’s what they would embody, it would mean I didn’t love them either.

    Because I accept the possibility that there is a powerful creature that matches the description of your god in your bible, and that it’s imperfect, selfish, and evil.

    Thank you for ripping what I said out of context.

    Let’s see about that, shall we? Here’s a fuller context:
    Me:

    I didn’t vote for him [EL: your god]. You didn’t either. That is the definition of a tyrant. A benevolent tyrant is still a tyrant. I’d rather be dead than a slave. Give me liberty, or give me death!

    You:

    We are all slaves to something. Even if you gained complete freedom, and you moved to your own island, you will most likely come to the realization that you are a slave to yourself. You would be a slave to you own thoughts and ideals. Even if they were to change, you would still be subject to them.

    Me:

    I am a slave to myself?
    “WAR IS PEACE,” “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY,” “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

    You:

    Thank you for ripping what I said out of context.

    Nope. I’m pretty sure that’s in-context. We were talking about what it means to be a tyrant, to have freedom, and to be a slave. I say that I will not be a slave to your god. I say that I will not be a slave. Then you have this backwards asinine remark that I am a slave to myself, which can only be read to equate 1- my slavery to myself to 2- slavery to a celestial eternal tyrant. Which subsumes all possible states of freedom, which means that you did literally say that freedom is slavery, although not verbatim.

    That, or you’re an idiot just posting shit without even being able to remember back 2 or 3 posts.

    Or a troll. Troll is still a strong possibility.

    PS: You’re 2 for 3. You’ve already taken the stances that freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Unfortunately, I don’t see how conventional christianity can get to war is peace, but 2 for 3 isn’t bad. Then again, I should keep my hopes up. Maybe you’ll surprise me.

    Please explain to me how God’s ability to kill me, means my life doesn’t have inherent value?

    This is perhaps an accidental confusion on your part. It might also be a purposeful strawman. I said that your belief that it’s ok for your god to torture and kill you on a whim logically entails that you believe that you have no inherent value. The difference between 1- what you said I said, and 2- what I actually said is: “ability to kill” vs “justified if it tortures and kills on a whim”.

  177. steele says

    Martin,
    Hey how’s it going? Hope everything is going ok. Alright to your points.

    I think OCaptain hits on some of the points I would mention, primarily God is God and can do what He pleases. As I stated before I don’t really buy into Euthyphro’s Dilemma. So are God’s commands moral, yes….rational to you or I all the time, not necessarily. I know Matt loves to use the slavery passages in the Old Testament frequently but Matt has never had to deal with human evil on the scale God has, so cut Him some slack He is working with an inferior product.

    http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/slavery_bible.html

    There are plenty of other sites I could direct you on all the passages you mention to but why bother, you have probably seen them or they say the same sort of thing that has been said since the Bible has been around a long time and people have been debating it forever. But let me direct you to what Alvin Plantinga says about atheism.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/is-atheism-irrational/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    in the article he states:

    Think about it: The first being of the universe, perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, creates free creatures. These free creatures turn their backs on him, rebel against him and get involved in sin and evil. Rather than treat them as some ancient potentate might — e.g., having them boiled in oil — God responds by sending his son into the world to suffer and die so that human beings might once more be in a right relationship to God.
    God himself undergoes the enormous suffering involved in seeing his son mocked, ridiculed, beaten and crucified. And all this for the sake of these sinful creatures. I’d say a world in which this story is true would be a truly magnificent possible world. It would be so good that no world could be appreciably better. But then the best worlds contain sin and suffering.

    Why do I mention this, because I believe it goes to the heart of your objections to the God of the Bible. Your argument is an argument from ignorance. You can’t possibly understand why God would allow slavery, incest, murder, rape, etc…..so this God much not exist, and if He did exist and had reasons for these things he would have explained them more clearly as opposed to veiling them in some old Semitic writings.

    Obviously Jesus being the Son of God and dying on the cross for sinners is the most absurd proposition of all the so called contradictions, errors or mistakes in the Bible. But here we have the example of God’s character on display, morality is not separate from God but is grounded in Him. God’s mercy, love, judgement, and justice are displayed through and in Christ; who is the image of the invisible God.

    One of your fellow atheists agrees there is no meaning to it all, yet feigns morality so the rest of the herd doesn’t get upset with him. Which is worse a God who try’s to regulate human slavery through sinful humans or someone who lies to themselves that anything at all matters much less slavery. I mean lets be honest if nothing matters then what difference does a little slavery matter. Besides the law was given to show people that they can’t live up to the righteous requirements of it, so even if God had said “absolutely no slavery” do you think humans would have listened any better than the one on not stealing?

    Reason can only take you so far Martin, Faith supplies the final step to the reasoning process. They are not opposed to each other but have a symbiotic relationship with each other, each informing the other of their validity. I don’t know why you would want to limit yourself in this way unnecessarily by excluding one of them.

  178. AhmNee says

    What an unmitigated crock of horse shit.
     

    Think about it: The first being of the universe, perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, creates free creatures. These free creatures turn their backs on him, rebel against him and get involved in sin and evil.

     
    First, the bible never mentions free will. Anywhere. And in the bible, god interferes with free will all the time.
     
    But putting that aside and assuming “free creatures” is an accurate description, the free creatures turn their backs on him and rebel against him and blah blah blah sin and evil. Exactly as he designed them to be. If god is perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, he knew exactly how his creation would act, he had the power to design us not to act in such a manner and being perfect would have. After all, how could a perfect being create an imperfect creation? The only answer is god wants there to be atheists who don’t believe in him. Religions that don’t worship him. He wants human suffering. He wants evil and sinning.
     

    Rather than treat them as some ancient potentate might — e.g., having them boiled in oil —

     
    Again, highly illogical considering those “free creatures” are functioning as designed. As an interesting thought experiment, lets not immediately assume that this god is all powerful, all knowing and perfectly good. If you don’t start with those assumptions, how does one even begin to describe this being as good? Well, maybe good but incredibly inept and bad at his job.
     

    God responds by sending his son into the world to suffer and die so that human beings might once more be in a right relationship to God.

     
    Because this makes a tremendous amount of sense. Sacrifice your child (kinda evil and dickish) so that you can forgive the creatures for performing to specifications with which you designed them.
     

    God himself undergoes the enormous suffering

     
    Can a perfect being suffer? Doesn’t that assume some sort of imperfection?
     

    involved in seeing his son mocked, ridiculed, beaten and crucified.

     
    Again, this could not have been unexpected. After all, since he designed them, he had the user’s manual.
     

    And all this for the sake of these sinful creatures. I’d say a world in which this story is true would be a truly magnificent possible world. It would be so good that no world could be appreciably better. But then the best worlds contain sin and suffering.

     
    This guy has really low expectations and no imagination what-so-ever.
     

    I know Matt loves to use the slavery passages in the Old Testament frequently but Matt has never had to deal with human evil on the scale God has, so cut Him some slack He is working with an inferior product.

     
    Bullshit. How did your perfect being create an inferior product? Your god, the all knowing, perfect being would have known exactly what he was creating. So whatever “evil” humanity had in it was put there by god. Created broken and commanded to be whole.
     

    Your argument is an argument from ignorance.

     
    There’s irony for you.
     

    You can’t possibly understand why God would allow slavery, incest, murder, rape, etc…..so this God much not exist

     
    No. The god you describe created us to do these things to each other. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist, it means he’s incredibly evil as he wanted humanity to suffer and designed us to do just that. It’s because this is inconsistent with the way you define god, all powerful, all knowing, perfect and good. Those contradictions say your particular god concept cannot be true. Maybe there’s some other god concept that might be true. Yours, however, nooope.

  179. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @steele
    Your god does not exist. The ignorant goatherders who wrote that book wrote down a pleasing story. Their idea of a god was one that demanded human sacrifice, who wanted to smell burnt offerings, who demanded other blood sacrifice. They have a system of justice where justice is only gotten through letting of blood – that’s why Jesus had to die you know. It’s an elaborate blood magic ritual, because the ignorant goatherders didn’t know any better.

    And don’t bring up some other atheist. You’re talking to me now, and AhmNee. Neither of us are lying to ourselves nor you. Life is just as meaningless with a god as without one. A god adds nothing to meaning, nor morality. It’s entirely irrelevant. My life has “meaning” to the extant that I will enjoy my life, and I will try to better the lives of other around me. You can take your lack of meaning and shove it.

    Reason can only take you so far Martin, Faith supplies the final step to the reasoning process. They are not opposed to each other but have a symbiotic relationship with each other, each informing the other of their validity. I don’t know why you would want to limit yourself in this way unnecessarily by excluding one of them.

    Completely and utterly bullshit. Faith is the excuse people give for believing in things without good reason. Faith is the assertion that something is true without any justification that it is true. That is dishonesty, and you recognize it as dishonesty in every other circumstance. Faith is the epitome of being foolish. Faith is wishing for things. Faith is wishful thinking. It is making pretend. You are an adult with an imaginary friend, who refuses to see the world as it is. You are willfully delusional.

  180. steele says

    Enlightenment,

    You don’t like that I point out that based on your worldview existence at best is a joke, at worst a delusion. Your definition of Faith is funny I just wish you would pick one though and go with it, is it wishful thinking or foolishness.

    Here is my definition of Faith, I’m sure you know it but i will just repeat it for clarity.

    Hebrews 11:1

    1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

    Enlightenment I like you but you are a little predictable, “Nuke God”, “Why does god need a starship”, etc…

    A) Not that you could “Nuke God” maybe your myopic version of Him but not the God of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Way the Truth and the Life. No with Him you can’t nuke nor can you mock.

    B) I like the enlightenment ideals, studying them and the founders actually led me to Christ. I became a deist after reading Paine, Jefferson, and Locke (even though Locke was a Christian). However the enlightenment had its Reign of Terror, Temple of Reason, and the Jacobians as well so it wasn’t all wasn’t all exactly mai-tais and Yahtzee.

    You need to expand your repertoire a little, here is one a guy over at the Friendly Atheist gave me, very creative and funny, I give it to you as a gift for further study, lol. It was after I quoted some Bible verses at him.

    “…and off he went, like a frigatebird, his chest distended and filled with pride at having done his imaginary god’s work, even though he had in fact been pissing in the wind. And the chill he now felt was from the soaking he’d given himself, but even when he would later begin to smell offensive, still he would think it a gift and that he’d done a great service on behalf of his god to the people who looked on, some bemused, some disgusted, while he rejoiced as he pissed all over himself.”
    90Lew90 1:1

    Oh BTW, Morality is still grounded in the being of God, and the cosmological argument is completely valid. So keep trying and maybe one day you will get there. Thanks I have to go clean the piss off, lol

    Romans 1:19-20

    19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

  181. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    A) Not that you could “Nuke God” maybe your myopic version of Him but not the God of the universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Way the Truth and the Life. No with Him you can’t nuke nor can you mock.

    Says who? Your bible? Have you considered the possibility that it’s lying? The goa’uld of Stargate SG-1 also lied about being invincible, and their shields also defended against some nukes, but after you get by their shield technology nukes work just fine.

    However the enlightenment had its Reign of Terror, Temple of Reason, and the Jacobians as well so it wasn’t all wasn’t all exactly mai-tais and Yahtzee.

    Perhaps the most important value of the Enlightenment is Voltaire’s: I might disagree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. Thus the bad parts of the French revolution in no way represent Enlightenment values.

    Oh BTW, Morality is still grounded in the being of God, and the cosmological argument is completely valid. So keep trying and maybe one day you will get there.

    Nope and nope. There is as much morality with god as without god. Might does not make right. You nakedly asserting otherwise changes nothing.

    I can name a different and equally plausible god hypothesis for every star in the obserable universe (take the Christian bible, replace “Earth” with “other planet” and “humans” with “aliens on that planet”), and thus arguments for a mere first-cause god are a non-sequitur for Christianity.

    bible quote

    You never did answer my question – what does god need with a starship? You have a record of your god in the bible. I also have a recod called Star Trek 5, where we meet your god, and it asks for a starship. I mean – both accounts are about as reliable. What does your god need with a starship?

  182. AhmNee says

    @Steele
     

    Oh BTW, Morality is still grounded in the being of God

     
    We’ve established your god is evil as I made apparent above. If your god existed, he would have created humans to sin, disbelieve in him, worship gods other than him, rebel against him and suffer. After all, how can a perfect being make a flawed creation? Since you didn’t argue against it, I take your silence as tacit agreement with my argument.

  183. steele says

    Ahmnee,

    Created broken and commanded to be whole

    Your Hitchen’s quotes are showing but that aside, I don’t agree with you at all that God created man broken and flawed.

    Isaiah 43:27

    27 Your first father sinned,
    and your mediators transgressed against me.

    Ecclesiastes 7:29

    29 See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

    Genesis 4:7

    7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for[ you, but you must rule over it.”

    God predestined those who would “freely” choose Christ for glory and those who don’t for damnation but it is a choice Ahmnee not a “fait accompli”, so exercise your free will and put your Faith (trust) in Christ.

  184. corwyn says

    God predestined those who would “freely” choose Christ for glory and those who don’t for damnation but it is a choice…

    Can you please give *your* definitions for “predestined” and “free choice” because mine says that they are antonyms?

    Or perhaps answer this simple question:
    Could your god have chosen to create a universe alike to this one in all respects with the single exception that AhmNee ‘freely chose’ to follow Christ in that one?

  185. AhmNee says

    @Steele
     

    Your Hitchen’s quotes are showing

     
    It’s actually a paraphrase of a quote by Fulke Greville, but that aside …
     

    “Quoted Bible Trash”

     
    Your storybook convinces me not. And find a thing that mentions free will, you did not.
     
    Faith leads to foolishness.
    Foolishness leads to gullibility.
    Gullibility leads to suffering.
     
    I see no good reason to believe in your petty, jealous, cruel, contradictory, make believe god or the bastard son of that rapist. And you’ve produced exactly zilch to convince me to reevaluate that position.
     
    You’re going to have to do better. And better would begin with actual evidence that you’re not placing your faith in fictional characters.

  186. praestans says

    I wish people would realise that when God commands the killing of breast fed babies 1 sam 15:3 , or sterilising women Gen 20, or making parents eat their children lev 26;deut 28; Jer 19 etc, or setting children on fire for unauthorised fires it is necessarily Jesus who is commanding this. I mean Jesus ante incarnation. Since in the Creed it is Jesus who is Yahweh/Ego Eimi. Jesus, in a pre-incarnation Christophanydeclares

    ‘I will compel people to eat their own children’

    Of course, in Christian apologia in attempting to circumvent and neutralise Euthyphro, Jesus is explicated to be love by his very nature.

    Part of His love therefore has been making parents eat their own children, part of that love is saying ‘let the children come to me’ or ‘love your enemies’ This love includes means drowning everyone.

    Christiana in their kerygma/diakonia – if they have self respect for themselves, their beliefs, their Lord and God -Jesus, would do well to say, ‘Yes, Jesus is love, and part of this love has been creating the universe – the prime cause, and part of that love has also been to cause parents to eat their own children, as revealed in scripture.

    Hence, pace Dawkins

    “[JESUS in the] Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    All this since Jesus is the author and definer of love by his essence – not peccable human beings.

    There is an anologue with Muslim thinking, since it is God who knows but mankind knows not:

    Qur’an 2:216 reads

    كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

    It has been translated into English by the Islamic Scholar, Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali (saudi publication) as:

    “ Jihâd (holy fighting in Allâh’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.

    ***
    On Russell/Tracie, I wish as well that they’d talkt about women in Islam more. Muhammad said ‘Give due regard to women because they’re prisoners in your (men’s) hands’. The Qur’an at 65:4 is implicit in allowing marriage to minors, which is agreed upon by the four sunne schools as well as the she’as.Muslims ofn rely on the ignorance of the others to present their religion…

    Afzal

  187. Russell Glasser says

    Regrettably, fundamentalist Rapture-believing Christianity is also not compatible with Western Society.

  188. says

    Russel – The “Repeat the Statement of Belief” is a joke about racists. There is a belief that Muslims will trick you into saying the statement of conversion and this will enable them to convert you on the sly. It’s not allowed in Islam. You cannot be conned into joining, it doesn’t count.

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