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When the Internet Gives you Lemons…

What is not OK?

A long time ago, someone made an Internet video reading an e-mail I had written to them during an e-mail exchange. Everything was fine until they reached a point in the letter where what they were “reading” was not what I had written. I defended myself here at the blog because they were claiming I had made substantially hateful comments about homosexuals. Because it was defamatory and untrue, this expression was slanderous and illegal. And after a few nasty days of TAE working with this individual toward a resolution, the person was finally compelled to remove the content and issue an apology and clarification that I had never issued such comments.

While this was occurring, I kept having to explain to people that it was not that someone said nasty things about me that was upsetting. It was that what they said was not a stated opinion, but a false, defamatory fact regarding comments they claimed I had made. When I was first informed of the matter, my initial reaction was “OK, someone is saying poopy things about me on the Internet; it happens—not everyone is going to agree with me or like me.” When I viewed it, however, I was totally unprepared for the content. I am not fazed or manipulated by insult and insinuation. But slander is an entirely other matter.

What is OK?

Had I encountered a video where the person simply gave negative personal opinions—such as. “I bet Tracie Harris is a fake, and she just pretends to support LBGT rights—but really she hates gay people!” I honestly would not have cared, nor would I have bothered to even respond. I’d have thought “Silly goofball ranting…and…?”

So, here is the page I hope we’re all on: Negative, nasty, hateful opinions about me, expressed publicly—are fine. And I want people to really understand that. I do not care about other people’s opinions or assessments of me. I don’t care if I don’t please everyone. I don’t care if people hate me. What I do care about, is knowing if I’m doing harm. I do not wish to harm anyone, but if someone simply doesn’t like me or my views—I’m far more interested in their reasons for disagreeing. I am willing to assess their evaluation of me, and that is far more useful (to me, anyway) than simply telling the Internet that you find me repugnant. Let’s say someone finds me repugnant, because I support gay rights—and they are anti-gay rights. In such a case, I am content that they find me repugnant. That is precisely the person whose approval I do not desire. But if I’ve said something bone-headed that has disparaged some group, unwittingly or undeservedly, and it’s not something I was aware of, I actually do appreciate something like that being civilly brought to my attention, so that I can assess the nature of my comment and correct as needed. I’m happy to back off of beliefs or statements where I am able to be convinced I am actually in error. But this is not the same as being swayed because I want approval. It’s being swayed because someone has taken the time to show me where I was wrong. If you can’t make it clear how I am in error—then you’re free to continue to hate me and express your horrible assessments of me as much as you like. I don’t see any reason I should care.

Why am I telling you this?

So, recently a few people sent me a quote of someone saying something nasty—presumably about me. But the thing is—it really isn’t “about me.” My name is certainly in there, but this is about an idea—a concept—and not about me. I first heard of this awhile ago, and just chuckled. You really can drive yourself nuts if you feel a need to rush around the Internet defending everything you ever say or do to everyone, so, I recommend choosing your battles. And this particular “battle” was just goofball, and not even close to something I was concerned about.

Then over the weekend, I got a call from Matt. And it seems someone had pointed this same thing out to him. He also found it funny, but asked if I had seen it. I told him I had either seen it, or something similar a bit ago, and we had a chuckle and then went on to discuss scheduling for TAE. Then this morning, someone I regard also noted it to me, and I thought “Sigh…is this going to keep coming up? Do I need to address it?” I mean, don’t get me wrong—I don’t have a problem with someone saying “Hey, did you see this thing?” It’s certainly fair to apprise me. But I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. I’m an outspoken atheist. I expect that to piss some people off. And expecting fundamentalists not to be loud and ridiculous about their replies would be to expect the impossible. It’s something you have to understand is going to occur, going in.

I do wish, though, that people could focus on the dialogs and the ideas and the arguments underlying the conversation, and not focus on the people. Like the Argument from Authority—this really isn’t about who said it. It’s about what is being said—what can be justified by good reason and evidence? I don’t care what a random person on the Internet thinks of me. I do care whether or not their thoughts are justified. If they’re not—then why should I care? Irrational person is irrational…whaddya gonna do?

Remember this call?

TRIGGER WARNING: Child rape mention coming up

Most people who view the show saw the caller who called the hypothetical raped child “evil” or “not innocent,” or whatever he said. For some reason, this spread around the Internet as a minor meme. I thought that was odd at the time. And I still think it’s odd. When I first saw the meme with my own image and the quote—along with my name on it. I thought something along the lines of “WTF is this?” I started to get more people pinging me about it, and it culminated with me in the Huffington Post, which was, frankly, surreal, and I believe unwarranted. The call took on a life of its own, and the reaction went well beyond my control. To this day, I cannot explain why it had this sort of impact. I’d heard many other atheists express the same sentiment a million times. So, it wasn’t as though I’d said something unique. It was actually mundanely derivative. But I was most disappointed at seeing the item in Huff Po, because it wasn’t “news,” in my view.

Every Christian Calvinist—and there are many—believes that people are born inherently depraved and worthy of damnation, torture and death. Those Christians who don’t believe in original sin, still expect you to eventually come of age, when you will begin acting like a human being, and end up in that same depraved and reprobate state. So, it’s a hair-splitting difference between denominations. The idea that this was being treated as newsworthy, then, was what made me most sad, because it meant that there must be a lot of people who don’t really understand that this is the lynch pin of Christian doctrine. Salvation would not be needed—Jesus would never have had to die—if you could somehow be worthy based upon your own good deeds, hard work, or merits. If you didn’t deserve death and eternal damnation, you wouldn’t need what Christianity is selling you. And seeing the furor around the TAE call, just made me painfully aware that people thought this caller was part of some extreme minority—rather than representative of the most necessary and standard Christian doctrine of “Salvation.”

I thought, “How can people not realize this, with the large majority of our population being part of this religion?” There were even other Christians posting in the comments at articles about this call, repeating what the caller had said, and defending it. In their effort to “clarify” what he was “trying” to express, they were simply re-wording the exact same views—that people are reprobate and deserve whatever horrors befall them in this life—and the next.

How to lower the bar on the public dialog.

It should surprise nobody that someone got bent and tried to personally insult me. What bothered me about the retort, though, had nothing to do with my name being invoked. It had to do with—one more time—someone stretching to make this about a particular person, rather than about the ideas.

Pro Tip: Don’t tell me why you think I’m shit. Tell me why you think I’m wrong!

At any rate, someone posted a comment that a few people now have brought to my attention, that “Tracie Harris would not only stand by and watch that rape but if she held to any human flourishing ethical system or situational ethics she would participate in that rape as would all other atheists holding to the same or similar ethical system.” The only thing offensive about this statement is that the person who issued it, failed to address anything at all about the content of the conversation with the caller. They do nothing here but reiterate where our caller started off his call, with entry level apologetic attempt Square One: “Nobody can be good without god.”

Intelligent rebuttals to this are all over the Internet for anyone who wants them. Matt alone has put out sufficient content in this area to put it to bed once and for all. This person might as well be saying “Tracie Harris is poopy, and evolution is a lie!” Does anyone still believe it—who doesn’t sound ridiculous? Even when I used to attend a fundamentalist church, the preachers routinely preached that people could still be “good people” without being part of the church. We were taught they were going to end up in hell fire, anyway—because a “good person” could never be “good enough” to not deserve that. But we didn’t claim they could not be generally decent people without god. So, even when I was a fundamentalist Christian, this concept was over the top, to me.

News for those who’ve been living under a rock:

There were several points I believe came up during that call. I’m not going back to review it, so this is off the cuff. But Any of these points would have been interesting to hear intelligently rebutted. However, simply reasserting that “nobody can be moral without god,” yet again, is uninteresting and a waste of everyone’s time. Start your apologetic response at the current point. Don’t drag the dialog back thousands of years by acting as though you’ve never considered the counter-points to that original apologetic. Did you just get access to the Internet yesterday!? Please, in the name of efficiency, read the arguments and the counter arguments, and then supply an informed opinion. Contribute something. Don’t pull everyone back, by making us repeatedly re-explain what you’re too lazy to Google for yourself. The dialog has moved beyond this. Try and keep up! It is tiresome, continually going back to provide you with remediation. Some of the points this person simply pretends have never been raised, include:

  1. Social species require an evolved morality in order to function as a society. Bonding is required, as well as cooperative trust and interaction. Moral metrics have been identified in a number of other social species, and even been shown to become more robust through artificial selection in breeding programs where greater communication and socialization were demonstrated results.
  2. Should authoritarian mandates even be considered “morality”? Telling me that you do what you’re told, even if it seems wrong to you, does not demonstrate to me morality. In fact, it would be the opposite of morality, in that you’re describing a situation where you aren’t using any moral judgment whatsoever, but actually proceeding contrary to your moral inclinations, in order to merely follow orders regardless of whether you think they are appropriate courses of action.
  3. Appealing to a Moral Authority as your guide creates a paradox once you explain that your reason for following the moral authority is that your own moral compass is faulty. If you are unable to judge morality—how did you assess your guide as morally superior? If you follow your own faulty compass in life, at the very least you would be taking personal responsibility for your actions. You would be able to explain to others why what you did or did not do seemed like the reasonable course at the time. But if you follow without question, how can you defend your actions as morally correct, when you have to admit that what you did went against your only realized moral metrics of compassion, empathy, equity and fairness? By doing what you think is best—even if you are wrong—you at least take responsibility for yourself and your actions, and become a real moral agent. Your choice is to be responsible and be the best moral agent you can defend, or to not accept moral responsibility, defer it to another agency, and divorce yourself from whatever morality you may have, all together. If you aren’t assessing your actions as moral/amoral/immoral—how are you being moral? Is following orders and not questioning, moral?
  4. In short—Euthyphro, as always, wins the day. The caller created his own disaster and brought the roof down upon his own head. He is either acting as a moral agent—by assessing what he does, and what he believes god asks him to do; or he is not acting as a moral agent—by assigning responsibility for the morality of his actions onto an authoritarian figure, whom he admits he cannot assess as moral/immoral.

Did you mean to say I suck even more than your god does?

When he finally added that the child is not “innocent,” in the child rape scenario—that was no surprise to me. And it was disappointing to understand what a huge surprise it was even within our own “Christian society.” What this caller said was par for the Christian course. It was not out of the mouth of a “Christian extremist.” It was completely in line with where I could have predicted he was headed. When he was asked whether his god allowed rape or caused it—there really was nowhere to go, but to blame the child. Any other response would just have been a more long-winded way of explaining that god allows children to be raped (at best), or causes children to be raped, in the cause of some mysterious “greater good” (at worst). But it wasn’t going to end well for the caller.

That all being said, it saddens me that even a theist could sit through that dialog and come away simply ignoring everything that was discussed—grasping nothing at all about the problems, paradoxes, the need for reason, and deference to evidence, and retort with what amounts to “Nuh-uh! I know you are, but what am I?” Seriously, “Tracie would do the same as god—she’d just watch or even participate! Yeah—she’s not only as crappy as my god—she’s even worse!”

Pro Tip: Telling someone they suck even more than your god, may not be the defense you really want to go with.

And to wrap an already lengthy post, let me add that when I hear someone say “Everyone cheats on their spouse!” or “Everyone cheats on their taxes,” I don’t know what you think, but I think, “I’m talking to someone who cheats on his spouse and also on his taxes.” It’s particularly interesting when theists express that they don’t see how a human being could not go around raping and murdering—and in this case sexually molesting children—without threats of hell to stop them. One has to wonder: Are they plagued by wanting to rape and murder and molest children? Do they really think “Wow…if it weren’t for the promise of heaven and threat of hell—I’d be going postal and raping everything in sight”? On occasion we have asked some theists if they believe they would do this, and they have honestly replied to say that they do not, themselves, have such impulses. The question then is—why do you assume all other people have them?

Honestly, if other social species can have cooperative, functional, successful societies—what would be the rationale behind assuming a human being would be any less capable of naturally understanding this, even without the capacity to reason it out? Should we believe humans are less capable of cooperative living than rats, wolves, lions, or gorillas? It boggles to consider that these people can see other species achieving successful social relationships and interactions, and somehow still be certain that human beings would not ever be able to achieve this without help from the gods. It boggles, but it shouldn’t be newsworthy, because it’s a sadly common perspective.

I know you are better than you will let yourself admit.

I honestly do not believe the person who made this ridiculous “Tracie WOULD SO rape children” comment harbors child rape tendencies or fantasies. In fact, unlike their view of humanity, I would be willing to wager he knows all too well that if he were truly honest, he’d have to admit he really is not sexually attracted to children at all. His own internal motivations—of which he is certainly aware—more than likely undermine his claims about the horribleness of human beings. I don’t flatter myself enough to think this comment was really about Tracie Harris. It was most probably just one more straining theist trying to insist nobody can be good without god. A particularly silly theist trying, in a painfully obvious way, to find some way in which to be offensive about it in hopes of making a splash on the Internet. The only thing I see they managed to offend, however, was Reason, and possibly Intellectual Maturity? If anyone deserves apology, I suggest it would be them.

My recipe for lemonade.

I’m happy to find a use for anyone’s ideas as a springboard to a more productive public dialog, even a random Internet troll. But there’s no purpose to be served to make the retort “about them.” It should remain in the realm of ideas and assessments. There may be some part of them that was hoping to see their name at the TAE blog (or Huff Po?) merely by saying something negative about me, I honestly can’t say. If that was their goal, I offer one more Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: If you want notoriety, try to say something far less sophomoric, achieve something far more substantial, and learn to be far less obvious. (Maybe try focusing more about what you’re contributing than whether you’re going to be recognized for it.)

Comments

  1. says

    Tracie, your point 3 about the Moral Authority Paradox is solid gold – in fact, your section on morality deserves its own mega-post.

    If you are unable to judge morality—how did you assess your guide as morally superior?

    Great soundbite. I’ve asked variations of this myself, many times if you can’t judge, how did you judge your Judge a worthy judge?

    I’m assuming “faith” would be a popular theist answer here (as it is, tiresomely, for every sodding thing else), but that really doesn’t solve the problem for the theist. The theist has been ordered, by their Moral Authority, to have faith that their Moral Authority, appointed such by itself, is in fact moral enough to make moral decisions on their behalf and they should therefore follow its moral orders. It just adds another layer of witless obedience.

    Seriously, “You must have faith that I have the authority to order you to do moral things” is no better than “Do what you’re told.”

  2. moarscienceplz says

    I am not phased or manipulated by insult and insinuation.

    Not trying to be a smart ass here, but I think the word you meant was ‘fazed’.
    :-)

  3. caroline kelly says

    I remember that show and I liked the response from you and Matt. I have wanted to let you know for some time now that I am an atheist because of TAE and in particular because of a clip featuring you and Matt that I linked to from Raw Story that I found while waiting for my new age teacher to come on line for a course I had signed up for. I never took the course(90.00 I will never see again) and I kept watching TAE and then found Free Thought Blogs. I Hope the Huffpo article brought you a wider audience.

    I had a very abusive shitty childhood and as a Catholic/ Fundamentalist the thing that always confused me was the whole 4th commandment thing. Confessing I was being hurt in the home was met with requests to be more obedient and to seek gods forgiveness and pray more?
    A big thanks to the whole cast and crew and I love the Godless Bitches too.
    Caroline

  4. Narf says

    Nor does it cause her to quantum shift out of this reality into a parallel reality in which she’s visible but intangible to us … so she was technically correct, either way.

  5. Narf says

    “Everyone cheats on their spouse!” or “Everyone cheats on their taxes,” I don’t know what you think, but I think, “I’m talking to someone who cheats on his spouse and also on his taxes.”

    I dunno, does it count as cheating on my taxes if I report every bit of income that I get but fail to report all of the deductions that I’m allowed, because I’m too lazy to hold onto all of my receipts, and I refuse to claim anything that I can’t quantify and demonstrate? Does cheating myself out of money that I shouldn’t have to pay count as cheating on my taxes? That’s the only scenario in which that could possibly be a true statement.

    And I don’t have a spouse, but if I did, I could only sleep with another woman if I had the permission of my wife … if we had some sort of arrangement in which it would be okay. That, by definition, would make it not cheating.

    I’ve heard this sort of shit from lots of people. They try to excuse themselves for engaging in horrible behavior, because everyone does it. No, I don’t do that, and yes, it makes you a horrible person; at least own up to it.

  6. Narf says

    Caroline, you’re off script. The fundies and apatheists keep telling us that we’ll never have any effect and won’t break anyone free of their brainwashing. Now, stop lying and admit that you know God exists, but you’re too in love with your sin to admit it. :D

  7. Narf says

    Hell yeah. I watched the entire archive, something like 6 or 7 years ago, and I’ve watched every show since. Thanks to the show, the first knock-down-drag-out argument I had with a preacher who was harassing some poor girl in Walmart, I ripped the guy a new one, since I had seen every single one of his points brought up on the show and had a number of arguments to choose from, which I had seen presented by you guys.

    It still takes a bit of practice to get your presentation down solid, but submerging yourself in the arguments beforehand can give you a huge head-start. You guys are awesome for that. I might not have done as well against someone more skilled in rhetoric, but this guy was some joker who had probably never spoken to anyone who had ever thought much about the subject.

  8. Narf says

    Should we believe humans are less capable of cooperative living than rats, wolves, lions, or gorillas? It boggles to consider that these people can see other species achieving successful social relationships and interactions, and somehow still be certain that human beings would not ever be able to achieve this without help from the gods. It boggles, but it shouldn’t be newsworthy, because it’s a sadly common perspective.

    I can almost perceive the counter-argument to this. It’s something about how humans were the ones who caused the fall, so those animals are still in an innocent state. So, we sinful, retched creatures need God to show us how to be moral, while the animals …

    But none of this squares with anything else in their fallen world scenario. The animals are vicious creatures that show how the whole world is fallen because of man’s sin, when the apologist needs them to be, and the animals are innocent, when the apologist needs them to be. You can only construct the argument from a few carefully selected details while ignoring the rest of the picture … not that there are any other theistic arguments that don’t suffer from this problem.

  9. StNimbus says

    GREAT write-up, Tracie!
    (this post is getting archived for certain)
    _
    Your (understandable) frustration↓, I totally feel you!
    “simply reasserting that “nobody can be moral without god,” yet again, is uninteresting and a waste of everyone’s time. Start your apologetic response at the current point. Don’t drag the dialog back thousands of years by acting as though you’ve never considered the counter-points to that original apologetic. Did you just get access to the Internet yesterday!? Please, in the name of efficiency, read the arguments and the counter arguments, and then supply an informed opinion. Contribute something. Don’t pull everyone back, by making us repeatedly re-explain what you’re too lazy to Google for yourself. The dialog has moved beyond this.”

  10. says

    Tracie — Thanks for this. Your clarity, wit, and smarts make discussing ideas something I always look forward to. You (and the rest of the ACA crew) were instrumental in my coming to atheism two years ago. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  11. xxxxxx says

    I agree, it is a really awesome point to bring up. In a more general sense, this point is why Christianity is such an incoherent philosophical position. Not only does declaring oneself a Christians automatically recuse a person from any discussion on morality (because of the flaw Tracie so sagaciously explains above), much for the same reasoning — when someone posits a belief in an omnipotent creator deity they are, in essence, recusing themselves from any philosophical discussion, be it about morality, or reason, or purpose, or knowledge, or even about reality itself.

    This is simply what follows logically from any religion that posits a bigger, better, faster, smarter god that was our ultimate designer-creator — the great “programmer” in the sky, so to speak — who has the power not only to build us, but to also make us think, behave, and act in any way it so desires. Thus anyone who believes in such a being can never seriously claim to know anything for certain. because by positing such a god, they have essentially defined all of humanity as nothing more than god’s puppets, who may be “reprogrammed” to think anything at any moment by the very god they believe to be “good.”

    Christianity has so defined reality that we can never be confident about concluding, say, that God is good, or that God’s plans are good. By their reality model, for all we know, we are merely made to perceive god as good, and that any godly heinous act, any godly irrational behavior, any godly mistake, or any godly act of evil would thus be indistinguishable from what humanity is programmed to accept as good (It’s a variation on the Euthephro dillemma).

    So — much to the chagrin of modern presuppositionalists — it is the act of believing in god that actually makes one unsure about knowing anything at all to be true. If you believe in such a creator god, you draw into question everything you might know, every motivation you might have, and every decision you might make — In short, Christians not only abdicate their moral responsibility, they actually abdicate their entire identity as an autonomous being altogether.

  12. Narf says

    By their reality model, for all we know, we are merely made to perceive god as good, and that any godly heinous act, any godly irrational behavior, any godly mistake, or any godly act of evil would thus be indistinguishable from what humanity is programmed to accept as good …

    Well, then their god is a doofus, because I saw right through that crap. :D

  13. azhael says

    It´s really strange that “everybody else does it” should be used as an excuse to justify wrong behaviours rather than to point out that holy fucking shit, it´s an epidemic! It strikes me as a particularly infantile perception, the reason being that small children have yet to figure out that they are their own judges. Their authority based “morality”(sound familiar?) makes it seem like it´s very unfair to be singled out for something that everyone else is doing. It´s a “why are you picking on me?” kind of thing. It´s only when one leaves behind that model and develops an actual moral system where one holds oneself accountable that the whole “everybody else does it” thing just desintegrates into nothingness because the number of people engaging in the same bad behaviour becomes utterly irrelevant to your own responsability for your own actions.

  14. corwyn says

    It’s something about how humans were the ones who caused the fall, so those animals are still in an innocent state. So, we sinful, retched creatures need God to show us how to be moral, while the animals …

    But, but,… The ‘fall’ was what exactly? Humans eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So we have a moral sense precisely *because of* the fall. The tyrant of the garden purposefully placed the tree within easy reach, and made a moral command to avoid it, knowing we lacked the knowledge of good and evil to follow the command, which we could only get by breaking the command. Did he tell the other animals not to eat from the tree? What prevented them from falling as well?

  15. John Kruger says

    As clips of the show go, that one struck me as particularly powerful because the theist willingly walked right down the path of where his moral system lead to a particularly horrible conclusion. He then got the appropriate response, basically “fuck that”.

    Moral arguments like that one resonate for a lot of Christian apostates, the horrifying scenarios tend to finally break the emotional attachments that are so strong. The hard logical arguments are dead simple. Most people bump up against them without any outside prodding at all. Using the exact same tactics religion uses for selling someone a car instead of “finding salvation” would never work, because there is no emotional attachment there. Changing the subject really lays the arguments bare. The entire enterprise of religious thinking is using whatever you can to deny the simple and obvious conclusion that you are deluding yourself. Practically all believers I have talked to about it have given at least some thought to why bad things happen, they just find ways to push it aside in a myriad of ways and maintain belief anyway. Often times it takes a moral argument that hits a strong emotional chord to break the back of the rationalizing, and that is exactly what the clip presented in succinct and dramatic fashion.

  16. John Kruger says

    Isn’t there some nonsense about how animals never used to kill each other before “the fall”? I remember something about lions eating straw and laying down with a lamb. Or perhaps that was just in Eden, or in the kingdom of heaven? I can’t keep up with all the fiction, but I think the animals were supposed to be affected by the fall as well.

  17. says

    Good! I would say that is a great use of the content of the program–to stand up to someone bullying/intimidating another person who was simply unprepared. These types of preachy theists rely on other people’s unpreparedness. They really don’t like it when someone can rebut them. It makes them fluster pretty quickly.

  18. Narf says

    I never said it was a good, morally-acceptable argument.

    As for what prevented the other animals from doing the same … well, the fable says they didn’t, right? Most Christians don’t put much more thought than that into it.

  19. Narf says

    Well, Genesis says that God took away the snake’s legs. I guess he didn’t get all of the bits out.

  20. Narf says

    The bit you’re thinking of is a prophesy of the future … Ezekiel, I think it is. They also believe that animals didn’t eat each other before the fall; that just isn’t the passage you mentioned.

  21. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn
    I always love that argument. How the hell can they be held responsible if they didn’t have moral understanding and knowledge? I’ve seen people weasel in various directions on this one.

  22. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    With some of my friends, I stepped it up a notch. My “favorite” goto example is that one poor women kept in a basement dungeon for 10s of years, with horrible things happening daily.

    I had a friend say that suffering is necessary to grow to get into heaven. I hit him with that example, and asked if that kind of suffering is necessary to grow to be ready for heaven. Thankfully, he couldn’t do it. He did ask “What if I did?”. My reply: “Then I would say you are a miserable excuse for a human being, and end the conversation.”

    Unfortunately, he went round in circles. He went from excuse A, which I knocked down, to excuse B, which I knocked down, and back to excuse A. It would be funny if I didn’t consider it to be so serious.

  23. John Kruger says

    Yeah, somebody going around inflicting suffering in order to help people get to heaven needs to go to jail and stay there.

    It stuns me how far some people will go to try and reconcile “god is good” with “bad things happen to people”. The whole “suffering is good” bit (a Catholic this guy?) is even more outrageous than the horrible “they had it coming”.

  24. says

    TRIGGER WARNING: Child abuse

    That’s the thing–once you start questioning, and they have to go “off script”–you’re in for some really bizarre responses. There was a child abuse case when I lived in Orlando. A little boy named Bradley MacGee was beaten to death by his dad. The kid was actually killed by being held by the ankles and repeatedly slammed head-first into a toilette bowl–because he’d soiled his pants–he was three years old. Prior to this, he’d been so mistreated that his parents had ALREADY been repeatedly in court for hearings, and even the grandparents–on both sides–had testified to the courts that the parents were dangerous to the child’s welfare. But the courts felt it was more important to keep the family intact, and kept Bradley with his mother/father–where he ultimately ended his short life in a horrendous way.

    Exactly what did Bradley “learn” from this experience? In what way did he grow?

    Believe it or not, I was told by some people that “Well, we don’t know what would have happened had he not died. I mean, living with those people–he might have endured even MORE years of hellish treatment, and even grown up to become an abusive person himself.”

    Oh, well, merciful god, thank you, for having this child beaten to death for his own good. Praise Jesus!

    *Addendum–I just looked it up. Bradley was only 2, not 3:
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2014-03-03/news/os-mom-buries-daughter-beth-kassab-20140303_1_nubia-barahona-kayla-mckean-dcf

  25. says

    I have this image of a squirrel (they can get at anything you try and keep them from in the way of food) munching on the fruit and squirrels ultimately becoming the world’s most esteemed moral examples.

  26. says

    The Christian god has to be insane. His #1 go-to solution for any problem is death and carnage.

    For the Great Flood, instead of just snapping his fingers, all Q-style, and doing a personality wipe on the Earth’s population, he decides to override their free will to live, and drown them all. He set the rules for the game, as to how to get into heaven, and decided to have a son, Jesus, who did a publicity stunt that involved him being tortured/executed, and tada! Problem fixed.

    So this boy was going to turn out to be a bad person.. so instead of just having the mother miscarry or something, God lets him grow the 3 years old, and then have him beaten to death… before he was to apparently do something bad?

    That’s seriously messed up problem-solving skills.

  27. mig06 says

    I cannot begin to tell you how I love TAE and all you guys do. Loved this post. Love you Tracie. Keep it up! :)

  28. adamah says

    Narf said-

    But none of this squares with anything else in their fallen world scenario. The animals are vicious creatures that show how the whole world is fallen because of man’s sin, when the apologist needs them to be, and the animals are innocent, when the apologist needs them to be.

    Actually, the concept of “the Fall” is a separate matter, being a later Xian addition that’s eisegetically-overlaid on top of the older Hebrew story of Adam and Eve (found in Genesis 3).

    Most Xians are unaware that ancient and modern Jews don’t believe in the concept of the Fall of mankind due to Adamic (original) sin, which explains why Jews also reject the concept of a need to be redeemed by Christ (“the perfect sacrifice”): no original sin, hence no need for Jesus. That theological concept would seem absolutely insane to the Yahwist and his Hebrew contemporaries, the elite class who played a role in assembling the final written version of Genesis into scrolls.

    Remember too that in the context of the story from Judaism, animals ALSO had given into their ‘inclination for evil’ (yetzer hara) before the Flood: that’s exactly WHY animals were wiped out in the Flood, and are ALSO mentioned in Genesis 9 AFTER the Flood and also forbidden to spill blood (ie the prohibition applied not just to humans, but animals)..

    Hence in Yahweh’s eyes, even animals have the ability to commit bloodshed, and they (and their owners) needed to be held accountable for their actions.

    Exodus and Leviticus expound on this concept, and include specific laws about how to punish the animal that gores humans, hence fleshing out the details of the broad Divine prohibition against bloodshed found in Genesis 9.

    Of course, the Torah doesn’t allow animals to offer another animal as a sacrifice to atone for their bloodshed, i.e. the goring bull couldn’t repent of their sin and offer up a lamb as a blood sacrifice.

    :)

    Adam

  29. says

    But see, you’re not thinking it through. Maybe these people would have had more kids if they didn’t go to prison, and have tortured them, too? So, Bradley’s death saved other kids from this same fate…AND maybe the parents will find god in prison…?

  30. says

    Wow, yes, the whole morality argument rather blew the rest of the article from my memory, it was so good. So now I have to re-read to take in your original points about people saying things and lemonade.

  31. adamah says

    F [i’m not here, i’m gone] said:

    Also, squirrels fall rather spectacularly. When they do.

    Hence why God made a few flying squirrels (eg Rocky)!

    Along those lines, you have to wonder what Xians thought when they first saw a legged reptile, eg a salamander which looks like a snake, only with legs? Obviously not a descendent of the snakie in the Garden of Eden story…

    Adam

  32. Reginald Selkirk says

    I remember something about lions eating straw

    That’s just silly.

    Hay maybe, but not straw.

  33. says

    Label it what you will or won’t. The point is that the fact that Calvinists have a despicable opinion of humanity should no more be a headline than “Someone had lunch today!”

  34. Slestak says

    You can be sure they’ll find God in prison. Especially around parole hearing time.

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