Bill Hemmer = Ron Burgundy? »« Bryan Fischer Award Nominee: Dan Gainor

Newcombe Defends Psychotic Mass Murderer

In all the furor over Bill Maher accurately calling the Biblical God a “psychotic mass murderer,” I’ve finally found someone who actually wants to defend that God rather than just rail at how “hateful” Maher is. Jerry Newcombe gives it a shot, with predictably terrible arguments.

On his HBO program Friday, Maher said about the Noah story, “It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God.”

He adds, “What kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at?”

The “few”? The few were those who He wasn’t mad at – the ones He saved on the ark.

Maher also said, “Conservatives are always going on about how Americans are losing their values and their morality, well maybe it’s because you worship a guy who drowns babies.”

I was a guest four times on his show when it was on ABC. Bill Maher seems to hold to moral relativism. Therefore, he does not believe there is a real right and wrong. Then who is he to say that God was wrong to judge humankind in the flood?

Actually, no. Maher is not making an argument from moral relativism, he’s making an argument from moral realism. He’s saying that mass genocide is morally wrong. Would anyone really care to dispute that? This is the typical Christian right argument — anything other than “God said so” is “moral relativism,” ignoring lots and lots of forms of moral realism that do not rely on “God said so.” I call it the Simon Says argument.

This is the primary reason I left Christianity. After actually reading the Bible, I concluded that the God portrayed there is barbaric beyond anything any human has ever done. And terrible justifications like this only forced me to conclude that there is no intellectually honest way to believe that the God of the Bible is anything but a genocidal maniac. Even if such a god exists, I will not worship him. Of course, God has a perfect excuse for all of this — he doesn’t actually exist.

Comments

  1. eric says

    Bill Maher seems to hold to moral relativism. Therefore, he does not believe there is a real right and wrong. Then who is he to say that God was wrong to judge humankind in the flood?

    Under moral relativism, WE are to say what is right and wrong because there is nobody and nothing else who can do it for us. So even if Maher is a relativist, his comment is completely valid.

    I’ve never understood this argument against moral relativism. It’s like saying “Gee, since God doesn’t strike people with lightning for committing crimes, who is going to stop crimes?” Answer: we will, of course. Who else?

  2. Sastra says

    When this typical Christian argument is introduced as a theodicy, it’s really only an attempt to change the subject. Would a Wiccan who worships the Goddess be allowed to ask the question? And what would the answer be?

    The usual excuses for God the Psychotic Mass Murderer (is it ‘psychotic’ or ‘psychopathic?’) is some variation of

    1.) The Bad Guys were all really, really bad all of the time, so they totally deserved it. If you’d been there, you would have wanted them drowned, too.

    2.) The ends justifies the means. Yes, it’s a shame God had to do what He had to do — and nobody knows this better than God — but if this hadn’t happened then the glorious plan of salvation and eternal relationship with God couldn’t be implemented for those who accept it. We can be sure that God adequately compensated any innocent victims in the afterlife.

    3.) So fucking what? God is creator and can do what He wants with the tools He makes, including us. Deal with it.

  3. says

    I wish (Oh, how I wish) that there was an edit feature on one’s comments.
    As soon as I poster I thought…

    Compared to letting people live out their lives, killing almost all of them is relatively immoral.

    (Relative morality in a nutshell.)

  4. Sastra says

    eric #1 wrote:

    Under moral relativism, WE are to say what is right and wrong because there is nobody and nothing else who can do it for us.

    There are different views and meanings of “relativism.” Inter-subjectivity is a reasonable position for reconciling the subjective with the objective.

    The definition invoked against atheism though is a chaotic “morality is up to the individual to decide for themselves.” Perhaps this is because this is more or less what Divine Command Theory advocates actually believe. They then simply define their own Individual as “right” and make it very, very powerful — so powerful it can eliminate or punish those who disagree.

  5. tbp1 says

    I’ve said for years that most theology, and essentially all theodicy, is simply an attempt to justify the idea that might makes right.

  6. sigurd jorsalfar says

    Seems to me it’s the christian making the moral relativism argument, i.e. it’s wrong when others do this, but OK when god does it.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Yahveh acts like the archetypal abuser – “I love you, why do you make me smite you all the time?”

    By amazing non-coincidence, most of his followers come from strongly patriarchal family backgrounds, where beating children happens regularly and with much sanctimoniousness.

    Pathology perpetuates itself fractally. Today we call this “traditional values”.

  8. acrawford says

    God didn’t just kill all the children in the world, he tortured and killed them. Anybody who disagrees should lobby for slow drowning to be used in states where the death penalty is carried out.

    Now consider a slight variation on the story: God kills everybody, but he does it while they are sleeping. Loses its punch, doesn’t it?

    The “moral” of the story is blind obedience

    And I thought moral relativism was: when a person tortures and kills another person it’s a heinous crime; when God tortures and kills nearly everybody (and nearly all the animals) it’s a wholesome children’s story.

  9. eric says

    The definition invoked against atheism though is a chaotic “morality is up to the individual to decide for themselves.”

    Yes, I understand that’s the point Newcombe is trying to make. What folks like Newcombe seem to miss is that this assertion leads directly to Maher’s morality is up to Maher to decide and therefore Maher is doing nothing wrong or hypocritical in labeling God a psychotic killer. One can only argue against Maher’s label by saying Maher is wrong to label God’s acts immoral. But to do that, one must impose their (or some objective) definition of morality on Maher.

  10. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    This is the primary reason I left Christianity. After actually reading the Bible, I concluded that the God portrayed there is barbaric beyond anything any human has ever done. And terrible justifications like this only forced me to conclude that there is no intellectually honest way to believe that the God of the Bible is anything but a genocidal maniac.

    In 1978 I left at 18 for a different reason; the extraordinary claims Christianity makes lack an iota of evidence where many also fail logically. I learned this by simply reading the Bible, going to church, and listening to the sermons and Sunday School lessons.

    A few years back I was grateful to Bob Altemeyer for revealing why other young people coming out of an authoritarian environment to this. That’s because we’re pounded the importance of objective truth in church, we agree, we test the claims made by that same church, and find they’re so absurd a high schooler with no formal training can see through the bullshit.

    I wish I could say I was emotionally mature enough at that time to also leave because I found Christianity morally repugnant and for Hell-believers, objectively evil. But I wasn’t cognizant of this fact though I had some reservations about how church elders hated gay people and others. I started to realize Christian failures in this area only when I was at college and realized the unimaginable degree to which Christians lie, where those same Christians ardently promoted objective truth – which I did then and still do; exactly as Altemeyer predicts.

    Because all accepted facts as understood by credible experts reveal that that the Christian god was created by humans alone; a moral person is forced to condemn the very humans who attempt to promote and justify immorality and evil. Promote them simply because their holy dogma commands them to do so. Pointing to the Bible to defend immorality doesn’t allow one to escape culpability for immorality. Just because your church condemns gay marriage, that is not a get out of jail free card when it comes to supporting the bigotry toward gay people.

  11. Michael Heath says

    sigurd jorsalfar writes:

    Seems to me it’s the christian making the moral relativism argument, i.e. it’s wrong when others do this, but OK when god does it.

    I’ve long observed the same thing. I hear about moral relativists but only find them in insulated in ivory towers hanging with out the politically correct speech advocates. I.e., having hardly any influence at all. However I’m constantly confronted with conservative Christians practicing moral relativism.

    This observation parallels U.S. conservative Christians claiming we need to more closely follow biblical edicts of while being the predominant force obstructing our effectively carrying out much of what Jesus of the Bible repeatedly emphasized.

  12. doublereed says

    Gah, cognitive whiplash, jesus. He’s the one defending genocide and claiming the other guy is morally relavistic? That’s just baffling.

    If he’s going to say “Who’s he to judge?” calling him morally relativistic, then by that logic, shouldn’t he be judging God himself because he’s NOT morally relativistic. Well come on, cowardly Newcombe, give it a shot. Judge God.

  13. Nemo says

    Newcombe isn’t saying that Maher is arguing from moral relativism; rather, Newcombe himself is making an ad hominem argument that Maher is a moral relativist, and is therefore unable to label any actions as right or wrong. Which is silly.

  14. sigurd jorsalfar says

    The “few”? The few were those who He wasn’t mad at – the ones He saved on the ark.

    See, god’s not a tyrant at all, Bill Maher. No innocent people were drowned to punish the few. God had good reasons for being mad at absolutely every baby and toddler on earth (except for the one or two who might have been on the ark) and drowning them all.

  15. says

    To be fair, God also saved everybody else who owned a boat. He doesn’t mention that part, though. Too modest. Or He’s embarrassed that so many people found a loophole in His plan, probably.

  16. sigurd jorsalfar says

    “God also saved everybody else who owned a boat”

    … a boat and a bailing bucket.

  17. dugglebogey says

    Wait, all those rich people who live on yachts are just preparing for the next biblical flood? I just thought they were tax dodgers!

  18. DrVanNostrand says

    On Overtime they talked about it more, and the guy who wrote about overpopulation said that the story was a great parable about punishing humans for being bad stewards of the Earth. Maher’s response was that teaching them a lesson by destroying everything sends a mixed message. The analogy I came up with is that it’s like beating your kid’s puppy to death because they weren’t responsible enough pet owners.

Leave a Reply