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No One Is Good but One?

Ken Ham is chortling over those silly atheists and their National Day of Reason. No One Is Good but One, he says. It’s the standard Christian anti-human self-loathing crapola that insists we need a tyrant in the sky to tell us what is good.

There is only one absolute standard by which anyone can determine what is “good,” and that is from the absolute authority who is all “good”—God! Outside of such an absolute standard, “good” is whatever you want to make it to be (if you can get away with it)—it is totally subjective. Some people think it is “good” to steal, for instance. When a culture abandons the absolute standard for what is “good” (as this culture is progressively doing in throwing out God’s Word), then we will see people doing what is right in their own eyes—as we are increasingly experiencing. The recent announcement by the president of the USA in support of “gay” marriage is just one such example—he abandoned the absolute standard for what is “good” and now is wanting to impose his subjective opinion on the nation.

Unfortunately, this God-thing doesn’t seem to be able to tell us all about this goodness: it all seems to be filtered through a cacophony of self-styled prophets and mutually contradictory holy books. It’s pointless to tell me there’s an absolute standard, but that I don’t get to see it.

Also, atheist morality is not totally subjective. We can ask ourselves what works for the majority of people: what rules and behaviors minimize conflict, maximize productivity and happiness, and produce stable, long-lasting societies that get along well with others. We do have a standard — a human standard, one that is real and measurable.

I think it is entirely rational to see that about 10% of our nation is discriminated against and treated unfairly, and to make changes in our policies that promote equality and make that 10% happier. Especially since those changes do no harm at all to the other 90%.

And then I look at the absolute morality that Ham proposes should rule our nation, and see that its solution to those 10% is to stone them to death, and I think, “I think I can objectively determine that making people happy is good, and killing them is evil, because I value humans, not voices in hateful people’s heads.” And I conclude that Ken Ham is a wicked cretin.

Also, coincidentally, I notice that NonStampCollector has a new video on a similar point.

Ken Ham says we must obey the Bible literally, in every word. In Exodus 21, the Bible clearly and unambiguously says “Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.” So, I want to know: in his ideal world based entirely on Biblical morality, when his neighbor mows the lawn on Sunday afternoon, would Ken Ham kill him? Or just gather a group of his friends and kill him in a communal exercise? And would they wait until Monday to do it?

Would that be moral?

Comments

  1. raven says

    Ken Ham says we must obey the Bible literally, in every word.

    Ken Ham is a cafeteria xian, a hypocrite, and a conman.

    Deuteronomy says false prophets are to be stoned to death.

    That would take care of our fundie xian problem. All their leaders would be dead under piles of rocks, including Ken Ham.

  2. says

    Ken and his fellow believers should wait till the Sabbath is concluded before killing their lawn-mowing neighbor, lest they violate the Sabbath themselves. But first they should argue among themselves whether the early Christians were right to switch to observing the Lord’s Day on Sunday rather than Saturday. They might end up having to kill themselves, which would be a relief to the rest of us.

  3. jaybee says

    The claim that there is absolute right and wrong and that it has been handed down via the Bible is so laughable on its face, yet pointing out the obvious never sinks in.

    Christians fail immediately. When you point out all these old testament codes which nobody follows, the Christian will say, “Why bring up all that old testament stuff. Jesus rewrote the rules when he died for our sins,” or, “God has revealed his desires for us incrementally because humans weren’t as sophisticated back then, but Jesus clarified the message, like a book which is fundamentally the same but comes out with a second edition which clarifies earlier points.” So, in short, those rules weren’t absolute. Moral relativism, anyone?

    Jews fail a different way. They don’t have to deal with the Jesus reset button, but it is easy to point out the 500 rules they don’t abide by, so why would they get to make a stink about the handful which are still culturally relevant?

    Islam has the same problems — Mohammed revised old laws and introduced new laws, and nobody obeys most of them.

    Yes, there are hundreds of other versions of God which don’t use the Bible as their basis, but they aren’t causing me any problems in the US, so I can happily ignore them.

  4. don1 says

    Yeah, but.

    According to a Jewish friend most of these harsh laws were meant to apply only to the priestly class, plus there is no legal contemporary authority which could mandate these penalties so they are obsolete in real terms. Until Eliah returns. I left the conversation at that point.

    The gay thing was reintroduced by Paul and so is still valid even though Jesus is not recorded as having an opinion. I guess Paul trumps Jesus.

    According to christian friends, Jesus fulfilled the law, whatever that means, so they only have to pick the bits they like, despite Jesus saying very specifically that the law was not to be changed one jot.

  5. david says

    Jesus was the greatest moral relativist of all time. John 5:24, Romans 10:9, or a host of other passages show this: you can break all the laws you want, so long as you believe in the big J. So go ahead, if you wish, and mow the lawn on the Sabbath. Call the Sabbath Saturday, or Sunday – it doesn’t matter. Eat pork, get divorced, whatever.

    Just don’t break the laws that Ken Hamm likes.

  6. says

    Zeno@2: “whether the early Christians were right to switch to observing the Lord’s Day on Sunday rather than Saturday.”

    Jews: Saturday
    Christians: Sunday
    Muslims: Friday

    I’m just disappointed the Mormons didn’t take the opportunity to shuffle the Lord’s Day yet again, and designate Monday as their day of worship. Can you imagine the hilarious culture clash that would result?

  7. flapjack says

    A variant on the Old Testament cherrypicking argument I’ve heard from fundamentalists posting on LGBT websites runs something like this…
    – Gayness is wrong, in leviticus 18 it says that man shall not lie with man as with a woman.
    – Well leviticus says a lot of stuff, including thou shalt not plant wheat and barley in the same furrow/ eat shellfish/ pick up sticks on the Sabbath/ wear clothes of mixed fibres etc. etc. I take it you’re not against people wearing poly-cotton socks.
    – Ah, but that’s Mosaic law!
    – Are you refering to laws laid down by Moses which were contemporary to the old testament but are discounted as archaic and out of touch in these more enlightened times?
    – Nope, I mean ‘Mosaic’ as in a collage you can create by cutting up arbitary fragments of bible verses and sticking them together in whatever order suits your preconceived ideas.
    (actually they usually claim that Mosaic laws are the ones you only count if you’re Jewish, but they tend go get a bit vague regarding the specific set of scriptural footnotes they follow telling them “This applies to both Abrahamic faiths, and this one only applies to folks who visit synagogues”).

  8. says

    impose his subjective opinion on the nation.

    :Snort: Given the amount of time you impose your subjective opinion all over the place, you’ve no room to talk, Hammy. You’re just jealous you don’t have a similarly sized bully pulpit.

  9. flapjack says

    I take it Ken Ham isn’t overly troubled by the implications of the Euthypro Dilemma then.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma
    To summarise, if god wills it because it’s good there’s already an independent standard for good which god is merely carrying out.
    If it’s good because god says so, then anything goes.
    He’s just the big tyrant on high who can be as capricious as he likes cause he can’t be wrong by definition.
    In the first instance he’s just the middle man and good would still exist as a universal concept in his absence, in the other instance he’s a capricious totalitarian git.

  10. =8)-DX says

    It doesn’t *say* that! I mean God’s laws for the Israelites were just his convenant with them because they were sinful and they were his chosen people, that was a good law for the people of the time, subject to local customs and predjudices and ignorance of the time, it wasn’t some objective universal moral standard for everyone! Oh. Oops.

  11. Pteryxx says

    in his ideal world based entirely on Biblical morality, when his neighbor mows the lawn on Sunday afternoon, would Ken Ham kill him? Or just gather a group of his friends and kill him in a communal exercise? And would they wait until Monday to do it?

    *snrk* I remember making more or less this argument (minus the killing) in Sabbath school: I argued that since bullying wasn’t worship of God (the only kind of voluntary work allowed on the Sabbath) that the other kids should leave me alone and save it for the rest of the week. Fortunately the bullying-as-God’s-work meme hadn’t arisen yet.

  12. bahrfeldt says

    Zeno @2- “But first they should argue among themselves whether the early Christians were right to switch to observing the Lord’s Day on Sunday rather than Saturday”

    Saturday is still the Sabbath. Just because we English speakers have renamed it after the pagan Roman god Saturn, the Latin(ish) speakers refer to it as the sabbath (Sabado, Samedi etc). Note also that Saturday is still, on our calendars, the seventh day, the day of rest. In the 380′s AD (IIRC) the Roman Emperor Theodosius I convinced the bishop of Rome to declare that Christians would no longer observe the Jewish Sabbath but celebrate the weekday of the resurrection. In exchange, the bishop received the ancient Roman office of Pontifex Maximus (the highest priest), previously held by every Roman emperor (including Caligula and Nero) up to Valens who died in 378. This office is the basis for the title Pope and is still used by the Popes today. Theodosius received an obligated ally with enhanced power to counteract the activities of other, less compliant, bishops.

    So basically, if the Catholic Church is correct, all nonCatholics are damned and going to hell. If it is wrong, all Christians including Catholics are damned for failing to honor the Biblical Sabbath day. Unless they are all wrong.

    Off topic (somewhat)- from the text above “Outside of such an absolute standard, “good” is whatever you want to make it to be (if you can get away with it)—it is totally subjective. Some people think it is “good” to steal, for instance.” Seems like a great argument for tougher business regulation.

  13. says

    I’ve got a bit of a problem with PZ’s bit about ‘standard Christian anti-human self-loathing crapola” because my deepest complaint about Christianity is precisely its absurd humanism, which strikes me as the merest vanity. Christianity’s central myth, after all, is that a man become a god and that we can become gods ourselves, immortal, perfect, and eternally happy by following him. In Ecce Homo Nietzsche pointed out that the prospect of an eternal Saint Peter is insufferable; but no mammal, even a very clever one, is really a very credible candidate for godhood. Christianity may be crapola, as PZ says, but at a deep level it really isn’t about self-loathing except in the sense that the candidate for salvation is disappointed with himself that he hasn’t become a god yet. The believer, in his extraordinary metaphysical pride, actually thinks that apotheosis is a meaningful aspiration. That’s the guilty secret of religious humility. It’s the nth degree of pride.

    I don’t think that anybody or anything created heaven and earth, but surely the notion that an alien intelligence of some sort is responsible for reality makes a lot more sense than the Abrahamic proposition that it was a being similar to us who pulled it off. Created in God’s image? That’s a laugh. The snake told Eve that she would become like one of the gods once she knew about good and evil. I don’t know about Eve, but I didn’t become much like a god when I found out the difference between right and wrong.

  14. desoto says

    Ham conflates individual moral choice with the morals of a society. Society as a whole looks down on killing, stealing, etc. To say that individuals will do what they want without absolute morality is stupid. Many of them do that now; even believers.

  15. julietdefarge says

    Let’s move from Ham to Hammurabi. How do Xians deal with the fact that there were so many legal codes before the half-baked Biblical rules? The bible is so self-contradictory in both admonitions and by the example set by the “good” characters, that any claim of absolute authority is absurd. Check out Hammurabi’s code, and note how overwhelmingly secular it is, in spite of living in a god-riddled society. Caste, property and patriarchy seem very important, unlike the taboos of Leviticus.

  16. says

    In exchange, the bishop received the ancient Roman office of Pontifex Maximus (the highest priest), previously held by every Roman emperor (including Caligula and Nero) up to Valens who died in 378. This office is the basis for the title Pope and is still used by the Popes today.

    Nope. The title is not used by the popes today. In fact, “pontifex maximus” is not even recognized as one of the Roman Catholic pope’s many official titles. I guess he figures he has enough of them already.

  17. KG says

    I immediately heard “No one is good but one” in the voice of our revered monarch, Liz Windsor, with the second “one” being a reference to herself.

  18. KG says

    Zeno,

    Accoring to the pfft of all knowledge:

    The word “pontifex” later became a term used for Christian bishops, including the Bishop of Rome, and the title of “Pontifex Maximus” was applied within the Roman Catholic Church to the Pope as its chief bishop. It is not included in the Pope’s official titles, but appears on buildings, monuments and coins of popes of Renaissance and modern times.

  19. Dhorvath, OM says

    Beat to the punch by Nigel. Obedience can just as easily promote horrid behaviour.

  20. stonyground says

    Mr. Ham also has to deal with the simple reality that throughout the entire planet, the more religious a society is, the more dysfunctional it is. Societies in which everyone ‘does what is right in his own eyes’ actually function better than ones that follow the rules laid down by a god.

    It was interesting that on that video link the religious guy actually denied that the immoral rules that were pointed out to him were actually in the Bible. I recall Dan Barker saying that when he cited barbaric Bible passages on a TV show, Christian callers were asking “What Bible are you reading?”, they actually have no idea what is in it.

  21. somenameorother says

    Some people think it is “good” to steal, for instance.

    That’s ok… God himself commanded the Jews to commit genocide and steal land, cattle and virgins. Stealing is therefore Absolutely Good.

    Oh, that’s Old Testament and doesn’t count? Ok then… Jesus commanded two of his Disciples to go steal a horse for him. Stealing is therefore Absolutely Good.

  22. Reginald Selkirk says

    Outside of such an absolute standard, “good” is whatever you want to make it to be (if you can get away with it)

    So; if you decided getting rid of slavery was good, in defiance of God and his Word…

  23. says

    Christianity’s central myth, after all, is that a man become a god and that we can become gods ourselves, immortal, perfect, and eternally happy by following him.

    No. Christianity’s central myth is that a god became a man to rescue us from the almighty fuck up of finding knowledge and coming way to close to the Tree of Life, which would have allowed Adam and Eve to actually become gods in the same pantheon as El Shaddai, and as he was the weak sibling in his god family, he didn’t want that, oh noes!, so he kicked mankind, such as it was, outta da garden.

    All the rest of it is fear and obedience crap, hoping against hope that if you’re self-abasing and self-loathing* enough, you can get the opportunity to spend eternity on your knees in worship.

    Now all that gets twisted about too, depending on which flavour of xianity one goes for. The Calvinists, frinst., believe it’s all determined, if you’re damned, you’re damned and there’s nothin’ anyone can do about it, even that all powerful god critter.

    Of course, if you go by the bible, only 144,000 Jewish male virgins are getting in and they will spend eternity literally on their knees, singing praise.
     
    *Sin, evil, horrible, nasty, awful, disgusting sin! Thought crimes! Heart crimes! Nooooooooo, don’t think, don’t think, don’t think, grovel, grovel, grovel! Obey! Pray! Get on your knees, sinful little pissant, now!

    Seriously, if you’re unaware of just how rampant that is in xianity, you haven’t hung around xians enough. Not that all the self-abasement and self-loathing stops xians from the ‘sins’ of pride and being full court asswipe judgmental. But that’s okay, ’cause they can just grovel and bit and ask for forgiveness, ya know.

  24. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ken Ham says we must obey the Bible literally, in every word. In Exodus 21, the Bible clearly and unambiguously says “Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.” So, I want to know: in his ideal world based entirely on Biblical morality, when his neighbor mows the lawn on Sunday afternoon, would Ken Ham kill him? Or just gather a group of his friends and kill him in a communal exercise? And would they wait until Monday to do it?

    Would that be moral?

    Ah, the answer here is simple – ‘sophistimicated theology’.

    Of course you abide by the absolute morality of the bible, but only the absolute morality of some of the bible.

    You know, the good stuff.

    Only the worst kind of shrill, militant person (a terrorist really) would point out that the entire thing is supposed to be the word of an inerrant god, and that thus picking and choosing which bits to adhere to, while discarding the stuff that would make even the most fanatical xian blanche, makes no sense.

    Any person of wit and wisdom would see that it is obvious that some parts of the bible are to be taken literally, while other bits are simple allegory. And how do you distinguish one from the other? That is easy too – just follow the bits Ken Ham tells you to. It is surely self-evident that he knows which bits are to be strictly adhered to and which bits would garner too much bad press need to be reinterpreted through the lense of a modern understanding of christianity.

    Thus, killing someone for mowing the lawn = bad, while hating a person for being a homosexual = good.*

    Why risk getting one of those awful headaches with pictures? Just let good old Uncle Ken do all that onerous thinking stuff for you…

    —————————————————————-

    * As for stoning homosexuals – Uncle Ken will get back to you on that one in when the the Republicans get back into power…

  25. Gregory Greenwood says

    The above primer on sophistimacated theology is brought to you by Ken Ham Infomationals PLC, a subdivision of Jeebusliar Corp. Have a nice day, unless you aren’t a xian, in which case burn in hell for all eternity you subhuman monster…

  26. Aquaria says

    Christianity may be crapola, as PZ says, but at a deep level it really isn’t about self-loathing except in the sense that the candidate for salvation is disappointed with himself that he hasn’t become a god yet.

    If you dug around in christardery, you’d know that it is about self-loathing because we are all born sinners.

    The concept is called “original sin”. It’s only been around since, oh, the fourth century, when Augustine of Hippo came up with the idea.

    If you think it doesn’t cause a shit ton of self-loathing, then find a Catholic. Any Catholic. Ex or current. They can instruct you, quite well, in how original sin has fucked them up, usually for life.

  27. raven says

    I recall Dan Barker saying that when he cited barbaric Bible passages on a TV show, Christian callers were asking “What Bible are you reading?”, they actually have no idea what is in it.

    That is normal and usual.

    The vast majority of xians have no idea what is in their magic book. The churches go out of their way to hide all the barbaric and evil stuff, which is most of it.

    The fundies have a few dozen or hundred carefully cherry picked proof passages taken completely out of context and that is about it.

    When you point out the cuckoo stuff, they either looked dazed or start to lie about it.

  28. raven says

    Christianity’s central myth, after all, is that a man become a god and that we can become gods ourselves, immortal, perfect, and eternally happy by following him.

    That is Mormonism. God is just one of many gods and is just a human who has been around longer.

    Mormons say, “As god is, we will be”.

  29. Ichthyic says

    So basically, if the Catholic Church is correct, all nonCatholics are damned and going to hell. If it is wrong, all Christians including Catholics are damned for failing to honor the Biblical Sabbath day. Unless they are all wrong.

    I’ll take “C”, final answer.

  30. reynoldhall says

    So Ken Ham believes

    There is only one absolute standard by which anyone can determine what is “good,” and that is from the absolute authority who is all “good”—God! Outside of such an absolute standard, “good” is whatever you want to make it to be (if you can get away with it)—it is totally subjective.

    Well, let’s see.

  31. Ichthyic says

    That is Mormonism. God is just one of many gods and is just a human who has been around longer.

    Isn’t that part of the plotline for Stargate?

  32. kagekiri says

    @jimharrison:

    As a former Christian who sank into intense self-loathing and suicidal depression because I felt utterly worthless to the point that I didn’t even want Jesus to die for my sins (I wanted to die and go to hell like I deserved to escape the guilt), I disagree.

    Besides the original sin thing and believing we all deserve eternal punishment for even existing as non-perfect beings, the purpose of humanity (according to God) is to glorify God, not ourselves. That makes the religion incredibly dehumanizing, where your ultimate purpose is to become a mindless drone existing only to please another being.

    There is no power promised in heaven, nor domains of rulership, their paradise is one where all they do is worship another being without free will, mindless slaves for another’s pleasure. The only reason we have any worth in that world-view is because God “loves” us.

  33. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Ichythic, Stargate – and Battlestar Galactica – are *thisclose* to being TV versions of Mormon theology.

  34. says

    Aquaria:

    They can instruct you, quite well, in how original sin has fucked them up, usually for life.

    Oh yeah. That mortal sin business sure as hell didn’t help. No one can quite drive the intense fear of hell into a body like the catholics, along with that whole “you’re being watched every second and every little fuck up is being counted!” business.

  35. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Original sin will fuck you up.

    I was raised Presbyterian, which is Calvinist. *shudder*

    Oh, and when I was a kid, my mother was only just beginning to question the whole “born again” thing.

    WHEE WHAT EXCITEMENT

  36. Janine: History’s Greatest Monster says

    I would suggest that Ken Ham read some Oolon Colluphid. He should start the God trilogy, Where God Went Wrong, Some More Of God’s Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This God Person Anyway?.

  37. 'Tis Himself says

    There is only one absolute standard by which anyone can determine what is “good,” and that is from the absolute authority who is all “good”—God!

    Considering that according to the propaganda Yahweh is a sadistic bully who kills people just because he can and orders folks to commit genocide in his name, I have to really doubt how “good” god is.

  38. Janine: History’s Greatest Monster says

    God and Lucifer gets into a barroom debate and as a result, all of Lot’s children are killed, Lot loses the farm and his body is wrecked. And it is not moral for Lot to question his lot.

    I found the story of Lot to be almost as horrifying as the story of Abraham and Isaac. I also felt very sorry for the wife of Lot. All of her children are murdered and as a reward, she gets to have twice as many children. Whee!

  39. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Janine, you’re thinking of Job.

    Lot was the one Good Person™ in Sodom. So good, in fact, that when there were angels at his house and his neighbors came by all-mob like and demanded that he turn them over to to them, Lot, knowing his duty as a host, offered the mob his virgin daughters.

    After the destruction of Sodom, Lot and the aforementioned virgin daughters had kids together in a cave. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back at Sodom as they were fleeing.

  40. Amphiox says

    There is only one absolute standard by which anyone can determine what is “good,” and that is from the absolute authority who is all “good”—God!

    This should mean that any being that behaves in an obviously evil manner cannot possibly god.

    Thank you, Ken Hamm, for finally, ultimately, and definitively FALSIFYING the “Yahweh is God” hypothesis.

    You can now join the atheists, where you clearly belong. We’ve reserved a seat for you, WAAAY back there, in the corner with the kids, beside the rodeo Triceratops machine.

  41. Janine: History’s Greatest Monster says

    You are right Esteleth. My mistake.

    Yet an other lovely story, over you daughters to be raped. Better that it happens to lowly women than to angels who can defend themselves.

  42. says

    That’s an odd notion, that there is a system of morality that is absolute and yet does not, in itself, rule out any specific action. Killing and raping children is A-OK, as long as God commands it. As I got one of our frequent godbots to admit recently, there is no action so inherently vile that it can’t be condoned under the biblical system of morality.
    Something less than absolute, I’m afraid. Any workable system would have clearer protocols; this whole “check with God” on every question is far too unwieldy in the field.

  43. says

    There were systems of laws before the bible, such as Hamurrabi’s code, ancient Greek philosophy, and Confucian ethics. How do christians explain that? Did the christian god hand down those people a version of morality that was wrong, as some kind of joke, until he decided to hand the jews the one true correct version of morality? Or were there other gods handing the Greeks, Babylonians and Chinese moralities? For some reason I’ve never been able to get a straight answer out of a christian about that question…

    I always loved Hitchens’ take on this question – “for hundreds of thousands of years, the divine stood by, arms folded, and finally decided, two thousand years ago, to reveal the truth to a little tribe of barely literate…” And then there’s Lewis Black’s take on the whole thing – “Moses came down and had to tell the jews ‘No shit, having sex with goats is NOT OK’ you’ve had it wrong all this time…”

  44. says

    Janine, my favourite this is what the wimmins is worth story is in Judges 19. As Steve Wells puts it:

    Do you know the story about the Levite and his concubine? You know the one in Judges 19 where the Levite and his concubine are staying at a guy’s house when a mob comes and asks to have sex with the Levite, and the host says no you can’t have sex with him but I’ll give you my virgin daughter and his concubine instead, so the Levite gives them his concubine and they rape her all night and she crawls back to the house and dies the next morning, and then the Levite puts her body on his donkey and goes home and chops her body into 12 pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel? Yeah, that one.

    I’ll let that speak for itself.

  45. Porco Dio says

    Saturday is still the Sabbath. Just because we English speakers have renamed it after the pagan Roman god Saturn, the Latin(ish) speakers refer to it as the sabbath (Sabado, Samedi etc).

    The Romans called Saturday dies Saturni long before “we English speakers” even had a language we could call English.

    Interestingly enough, Constantine changed that in 321 to Savvato (Sabbath) and Sunday became Kyriaki (Greek for Lord’s day).

    This makes fuck-all sense of course but making sense is not a strong point of the religiously motivated.

  46. Esteleth, Raging Dyke of Fuck Mountain says

    Do people know the story of the daughter of Jephtath?

    Jephtath made a vow that when he came home, he would sacrifice the first thing he saw of his to god.

    The first thing he saw was his daughter, running to greet him. The babble says that she was his only child.

    37And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. (Judges 11:37-39)

    CREEPY. D:

  47. naturalcynic says

    I think it is entirely rational to see that about 10% of our nation is discriminated against and treated unfairly, and to make changes in our policies that promote equality and make that 10% happier. Especially since those changes do no harm at all to the other 90%.

    Nope. Many of the 90% get their panties seriously in a bunch about what the 10% think and do [and what many of the remaing of the other 90% do too]. This torsion causes them immeasurable pain. It’s just the nature of those caught up in the radical notion that some are enjoying a life free from their constraints. They simply allow themselves be harmed.

  48. unclefrogy says

    @55>>Nope. Many of the 90% get their panties seriously in a bunch about what the 10% think and do [and what many of the remaing of the other 90% do too].<<

    well it is more accurately to say what they think the other 10% think and what they think the others are doing. it usually is unencumbered by any need for outside observation or you know facts about what people really think or are really doing.
    they live almost entirely in their heads.
    heaven forbid they should really face reality that they will surly die and they really know nothing for sure just some stories which they hope (believe) will be true and they will live forever. so they will gladly grovel before anything no matter how horrible, cruel, capricious or absurd just as long as they can live forever.
    one of the most irrational reasons I have ever heard about why to believe in jesus as god is because he said he was god ? not making that up I have had that argument given to me

    uncle frogy

  49. 5i5i says

    Good post.
    The frequent claim of believers that morals can only be derived from religion is fallacious. That somehow morals as derived from a religious text are absolute whereas any study of anthropology will show moral relativism to be a more realistic viewpoint. And the corollary that society would somehow descend into anarchy as a result of secularism is asinine.I would surmise that we have evolved as social animals and so working together necessitates an agreed system of rules by which we must interact, albeit a rule-set that varies depending on the group. Game theory shows the advantages of being “moral”. In fact neuroscience points towards the existence of a bit in the brain that is primarily concerned with fairness. As such I would reverse the flow here, i.e. morals come from humans and hence feed into religion; a source that bodes well for society.

    Here’s the core of christianity: very immoral in my view:http://unfebuckinglievable.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/my-story-burning-flesh/

  50. footface says

    Of course Ken Ham believes every word of the bible is literally true. When his cup runneth over, when the lord is his shepherd, when Jesus is the lamb of god, these are all literally true things. Literally.

  51. procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now says

    From jimharrison:

    Christianity’s central myth, after all, is that a man become a god and that we can become gods ourselves, immortal, perfect, and eternally happy by following him.

    A couple of my neurons elbowed their neighbors and said “Hey, why didn’t we think of that.” Go to heaven for eternity = god is obvious now that you mention it.

  52. hypatiasdaughter says

    #55 naturalcynic
    Well, really! Don’t you know how uncomfortable it is when your panties get all bunched up?

  53. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    @Caine

    It absolutely counts – Jesus upheld the OT and the laws multiple times throughout the NT.

    Apart from when he didn’t, which doesn’t tell us much due to the amount of biblical retconning!

  54. Moggie says

    Unfortunately, this God-thing doesn’t seem to be able to tell us all about this goodness: it all seems to be filtered through a cacophony of self-styled prophets and mutually contradictory holy books. It’s pointless to tell me there’s an absolute standard, but that I don’t get to see it.

    Ah, but the True Christians have a dialogue with God, and he tells them what to do – what is “good” in their case. Which often seems to involve killing someone, or, in extreme cases, invading a country. You just need to listen carefully for that special voice.

  55. says

    Stone people to death for working on Sunday. I wonder if his creation mooseum is open on Sundays? Would the old fraud really let God get in the way of mammon?

  56. says

    Hairy Chris:

    Apart from when he didn’t, which doesn’t tell us much due to the amount of biblical retconning!

    Indeed. Not long ago, we had a Cupcake here, one Philysiss (or something like that), who was actively denying that any xian would ever do anything nasty, they certainly wouldn’t pray for anything nasty to happen to anyone, and why? Because Jesus said some lovey-dovey, fuzzy-wuzzy stuff in the NT. When scripture of Jesus saying downright nasty, lethal shit was provided, repeatedly, the fingers went in the ears and the “lalalalalalalalalalala” commenced.

    Apparently, to Cupcake, the fuzzy-wuzzy verses canceled out the nasty, lethal verses. The bible – all things to all people, therefor utterly pointless and useless.

  57. says

    Garydargan:

    I wonder if his creation mooseum is open on Sundays?

    A quick search shows that it is open on Sundays, 12 noon to 6 pm. Perhaps the fleecing of sheep isn’t considered to be work by ol’ Hammy?

  58. says

    Next time you run into someone who believes that the Bible should be obeyed in all things, ask them if police, firefighting, utilities that supply their electricity and fuel, ambulances, radio & TV, emergency repairs of all kinds, and hospitals should all shut down for 24 hours to respect Sunday. And the previous 24 hours to respect the Sabbath. Ask them if they ever shop on Sunday and why. Laugh at them.

  59. says

    What is with the loathing of self and humanity that these idiots need to invent? Is it necessary so that the loudest grovelers can appear the most chaste and closest to gawd? It completely ignores an environment of societal cooperation that exists already, not just in humans, but the larger animal kingdom as well.

    You can find sea anemone colonies working in frantic coordination to wave their arms in sequence to force nutrient carrying water closer to their strange little mouths. You see groups of hunting animals coordinating movement and tactics to help the survival of their group. You find musk ox forming a protective circle, with the horns out, against an attacking wolf-pack. Cooperation is survival. It started hundreds of millions of years ago.

    It has evolved with the more advanced creatures somewhat. You don’t see geckos bringing food to other injured or old geckos, but you do see it in apes, chimps and gorillas. The cooperation intended for group survival takes on an embryonic version of empathy. That we have had seven or eight million years to develop that empathy, turn it into ethics for entire cultures, and develop it to an art form isn’t much of stretch of deduction to take from simple observation. It’s ours and of our own making. Tribes of remotely located humans, free of the mind-dirt of the Abrahamic religions, are very capable of high ethical standards within their groups. They have no gawd to punish them. They are working from simple empathy, and a sense of making their small society better for the most people as possible. They may have shyness or even hostility against other groups of people, but that has always been a matter of survival and a carry over of the animal violence that still exists to some extent in all of us, when it comes to competition for the resources necessary for group survival.

    Having some ignoramus like Ham throwing all of that out the window and turning it into some self-detesting sickness in a vainglorious attempt at placating a vapor just puts yet another despicable black mark on the sales-tag of features that religion is trying to sell you. These insane twistings of reality and the diminishing of wondrous natural sequences and processes are indicators to me of a sick desire to force oneself into a dark and creepy mental prison. Someone desiring this, and trying to sell it as something good, has some serious issues. The worst of it is that it counters the heightening cooperative spirit that nature has been working on for billions of years, to culminate in our calmer and reasoned minds. Dung beetles and vultures, while considered vile among the lesser informed, have yet to issue a fatwah, engage in an inquisition or crusade, rape an altar boy or lie on behalf of an imaginary friend to coerce donations from the credulous. Ham is a parasite living outside of a natural sequence for good, and religion holds itself up as virtuous but has long done the opposite. It has probably held up a long-overdue evolution of even higher standards and ethics. That he pretends to be able to identify the source of the best of our inner nature, empathy and spirit of cooperation is a grotesque joke.

  60. WhiteHatLurker says

    I think your “10%” is intended to represent the GLB population of the United States, correct? That is a long discredited figure from Kinsey. The current estimates are between 3% and 5%. (Most seem to be between 3.5% and 4%.)

    I don’t think the exact number matters – you’re dealing with poor treatment of people meted out for no reason. However, you do not explicitly say which group you’re speaking about, possibly leading to confusion. You’re also incorrect in a factual item, inviting attack on your argument.

  61. David Marjanović says

    – Ah, but that’s Mosaic law!
    – Are you refering to laws laid down by Moses which were contemporary to the old testament but are discounted as archaic and out of touch in these more enlightened times?
    – Nope, I mean ‘Mosaic’ as in a collage you can create by cutting up arbitary fragments of bible verses and sticking them together in whatever order suits your preconceived ideas.

    Thread won.

    he was the weak sibling in his god family

    That was Yahwe, who wasn’t the same as El Shaddai yet.

    If you think it doesn’t cause a shit ton of self-loathing, then find a Catholic. Any Catholic. Ex or current. They can instruct you, quite well, in how original sin has fucked them up, usually for life.

    Not if their Catholicism was liberal enough. I was Catholic, and it was explained to me as merely our innate capacity and inclination to sin.

    WHEE WHAT EXCITEMENT

    *hug*

    Do people know the story of the daughter of Jepht[h]a[...]h?

    I learned it here on Pharyngula.

  62. says

    Caine, fantôme élastique MQ #39:

    That mortal sin business sure as hell didn’t help. No one can quite drive the intense fear of hell into a body like the catholics, along with that whole “you’re being watched every second and every little fuck up is being counted!” business.

    Not only counted; I was taught that it was all recorded, even my thoughts, and the tape would be replayed at the Last Judgment, in front of everybody.

    I don’t know what was worse, trying to not-think certain thoughts, which proved to be impossible, or dreading the embarrassment of having them all proclaimed in public. Or the guilt that I carried, no matter how well I behaved.

    And I wasn’t even Catholic!

  63. David Marjanović says

    I think your “10%” is intended to represent the GLB population of the United States, correct? That is a long discredited figure from Kinsey. The current estimates are between 3% and 5%. (Most seem to be between 3.5% and 4%.)

    Doesn’t that depend on the definition? Few people are 0 on the Kinsey scale, so I doubt “GLB” is defined as “anything but 0″ in any of these sources, but is it defined the same way in all of them?

    I learned it here on Pharyngula.

    No, wait, that’s wrong. I learned it in the Louvre 3 years ago.

    in front of everybody

    What!?!

  64. says

    Susannah:

    I was taught that it was all recorded, even my thoughts, and the tape would be replayed at the Last Judgment, in front of everybody.

    Oh yes, I was taught that, too. It would be something akin to a home movie, my whole life, every little shameful act, every wrong thought, all of it, exposed, in front of god and all of heaven. Yep.

  65. says

    That Christianity has cultivated guilt and mental anguish to a spectacular degree is not in question. My point is that this obsessive self-loathing is the other side of a really grotesque vanity. Martin Luther recognized this connection, even though he didn’t draw the most obvious conclusion from it. The consciousness of sin depends upon the pride of the believer who somehow imagines that he ought to be as perfect as a perfect being. To use a fancy phrase for it, guilt and pride are dialectically related. If you read some of the long quotations from Jean Delumeau’s incredibly depressing book Sin and Fear: the Emergence of Modern Guilt Culture, you see how the no-fooling misery of the would-be saints arises from their spiritual hubris.

    When some Christians (by no means all of ‘em) insist that morality is impossible without belief in god, they aren’t usually denying that there are perfectly good earthly reasons for most ethical rules. What they find missing, or so they tell me when I draw them out, is not a basis for practical social life but something vastly more absolute, a perfectly good and, indeed, cosmic good. It seems to me that this demand for an absolute standard requires a belief that there is something metaphysically privileged about humanity. It’s not enough if your sense of right and wrong keeps you from stepping on a rake. Conscience has to point to your membership in some sort of heavenly hierarchy.

  66. says

    Doesn’t that depend on the definition? Few people are 0 on the Kinsey scale, so I doubt “GLB” is defined as “anything but 0″ in any of these sources, but is it defined the same way in all of them?

    I would have to imagine that it’s defined the same in all of the sources, as “if you identify as gay, you’re gay”. That’s the only way I could see polling about sexuality working. Couldn’t quite use the Kinsey scale, because it’s hard to draw a definite line at where “straight” ends and “gay” begins on the scale(or for that matter, to determine just where you are on the scale).

  67. robro says

    Ing #49

    Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt…as…a plot contrivance.

    I’ve read that this story is thought to be folk etymology for a geographic feature. Makes sense. A la “song lines” in Australia, people had myths about places, their importance to their cultures, relationships to other places, and how they got their names which are often associated with a person, event, god, etc. The OT is laced with them, of course, and they have parallels with other stories from the region.

  68. Pteryxx says

    Next time you run into someone who believes that the Bible should be obeyed in all things, ask them if police, firefighting, utilities that supply their electricity and fuel, ambulances, radio & TV, emergency repairs of all kinds, and hospitals should all shut down for 24 hours to respect Sunday.

    Some sects do believe this, more or less. I was raised with the rule that we could not have TV, radio, non-God music, non-God books, or outdoor play on the Sabbath. Nor could we go to a restaurant to eat, because that would be inducing *other* people to work on Sabbath for our benefit. Shopping, cleaning and such were right out. I did ask if, say, cooking food at all, or turning on light switches, constutited “work” and I was told that God understood the need to not disrupt our normal lives to the point that it would interfere with our ability to dedicate the Sabbath to worship, since that was the whole purpose.

    Similarly, necessary work that prevents damage or suffering was permitted on the Sabbath, because *failing to* provide medical care or stop a fire would be a worse sin than working on the Sabbath. Other sects, however, were stricter than ours and did in fact eat only cold food, not turn on lights, not drive cars (hence walking to church or worshiping at home) and so forth.

    On a quick search, I find prohibitions like this in some variants of Judaism:

    LIGHTS AND ELECTRIC
    1) Ambient Lighting. Since Shabbat is to be a “delight,” make sure your home is comfortable. Sufficient light should be available, so decide which lights will be left on and off.
    2) Timers. You can use timers so that lights will come on and off automatically throughout Shabbat. Simple timers that your lamps plug into can be picked up at most hardware or department stores and are quite affordable. Set them to go off Friday night about 11:30 or so (depending on your own sleeping schedule), and have them come on in the late afternoon Shabbat day, perhaps around 5:00, or whenever it begins to get dark.
    For overhead lighting such as chandeliers, wall timers can be easily installed in your light switches.
    3) Switches. Many people put a piece of tape over the light switches in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, so that there is no involuntary switching on and off. Jewish bookstores sell special decorative light-switch covers.
    4) Fridge. The most important light is the one in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Unscrew the light bulb inside, so that it is off during the whole Shabbat. Otherwise, opening the fridge will be just like turning on a light, which is not permitted on Shabbat.

    Source: http://www.aish.com/sh/ht/bs/48971511.html

    This is from a Puritan discussion board:

    I understand the “plucking” of the ears of corn (pulling them off the stock, shucking them in preparation to eat) as bearing on your question. Food preparation is permitted on the sabbath (as is doing mercy good).

    Does that mean there is no qualification, or no other consideration? Can one could spend the entire day focused on food preparation and still keep the sabbath? No. I take it to mean ordinary eating and food preparation are okay on the sabbath, but should not be the focus of the day, nor should there be undue preparation time or effort (as the Catechism alludes to).

    Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f54/cooking-preparing-food-sabbath-day-issue-non-issue-52542/

    This is from Adventist Review, the group I was raised by:

    Sabbath was a time for wearing your best, whatever that was. You dressed in a manner that showed you valued the day enough to save the best you had for it. And it was considered a part of good Sabbath practice to come to church smelling fresh. When Ellen White spoke about the baths being taken before Sabbath, I think she was talking against the background of her time. In those days, taking a bath was a major effort. The water had to be fetched—likely from a well—and carried into the bathroom. If it was winter, a fire would have been needed to heat it up. And when you consider that in most cases we’re talking about large families, it’s not hard to see the need to have these chores cared for before the Sabbath.

    The principle behind that standard still holds today, I think. And I find it hard to begin the Sabbath properly without taking a shower first. With a good deodorant, one shower can hold most people through the Sabbath; but for those whose body chemistry demands it, it would seem appropriate for them to take a second shower Sabbath morning. Christians should not smell, and we should not interpret Ellen G. White in such a way as to give us excuse for offending other worshippers in this way.

    Source: http://www.adventistreview.org/article/1207/archives/issue-2007-1517/keeping-the-sabbath

  69. No One says

    McCthulhu – resentful that McHastur is taller. @ 67

    Yeah that pretty much sums it up eh?

  70. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    How Jews get around religious restrictions on things plays an interesting background part to the excellent novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon.

  71. jaybee says

    I love how it is an offense to God to flick a light switch on the Sabbath, so the light is left on the entire day so no “work” needs to be done. Yet there is some machine, somewhere, working at generating electricity the entire day.

    That is akin to Catholics who have repeated abortions because each abortion is one sin, but using condoms would be sinning every time they had sex.

  72. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    4) Fridge. The most important light is the one in the refrigerator and/or freezer. Unscrew the light bulb inside, so that it is off during the whole Shabbat. Otherwise, opening the fridge will be just like turning on a light, which is not permitted on Shabbat.

    Whilst shopping for a nice fridge I was astonished to discover that a lot of higher-end models actually have ‘sabbath mode’ settings of one sort or another. I think it leaves the light on, or doesn’t turn it on, or projects a holographic movie of {insert god-name here} forgiving you. Weird.

  73. Pteryxx says

    I love how it is an offense to God to flick a light switch on the Sabbath, so the light is left on the entire day so no “work” needs to be done. Yet there is some machine, somewhere, working at generating electricity the entire day.

    That’s addressed in the article, actually… work that a machine does on its own, without human intervention or command, doesn’t count because machines aren’t expected to worship and don’t need rest. Just the humans, guests and animals need to stay clear of work.

    However, there’s a prohibition on ‘lighting fires’ which means no hot showers or hot wash water, because you’d be causing cold water to go into the heater which turns on to heat it up. So, there are instructions on how to fill a big sink with hot water the previous afternoon and cover it to keep the heat in, so it’ll be available for washing the Sabbath dishes. (Bonus: obviates the need to turn a faucet handle, which would also be work.)

  74. DLC says

    Furthermore . . . if there is no morality without Jesus/yaweh/I AM/ or whatever you call it, why is it that Non-Christians — even non-Abrahamics — have a code of behavior ?
    Of course, Ken will simply shift the goalposts and state that as yaweh is the god of everything, even nonbelievers who never heard of him have a code of morality as dictated by Yaweh. Fucking brilliant. Hey Ken, is it Turtles all the way down ?

  75. Janine: History’s Greatest Monster says

    Furthermore . . . if there is no morality without Jesus/yaweh/I AM/ or whatever you call it, why is it that Non-Christians — even non-Abrahamics — have a code of behavior ?

    That is easy, everyone is born with an innate sense of morality. They were just waiting to be saved. That is why the kidnapping of Africans was good, the survivors were able to hear about the word of god and could be saved.

    (Do not think I am being sarcastic, The Promise Keepers used this line of reasoning. It was how the big sky daddy brought good out of bad.)

  76. The Laughing Coyote (Canis Sativa) says

    37And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. 38And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. (Judges 11:37-39)

    I stumbled across this verse back when I was still into Bible Study. My bible had this little footnote or whatever where they explain that what REALLY happened is she just stayed a virgin and devoted her life to God as a literal ‘living sacrifice’ or someshit… (sounds like the First Nun?)

    It sounded pretty contrived and horseshitty, considering the bible uses the same sort of language elsewhere when clearly describing actual sacrifices that involve killing things and burning the remains.

    I dunno if the term is appropriate or not, but I’ve recently taken to calling this ‘Christplaining’, where some christian tries to explain to me that words mean different things when the bible talks about horrors like that. Like one guy who told me ‘it’s not clear’ that the term translated in the bible as ‘lay ahold of a woman’ actually refers to rape. Right.

  77. says

    However, there’s a prohibition on ‘lighting fires’ which means no hot showers or hot wash water, because you’d be causing cold water to go into the heater which turns on to heat it up.

    Richard Feynman told a story about one time when he was doing a Q&A session and someone asked him if he thought that turning on a light switch was “like making fire” – apparently it took him a second or two to realize why he was being asked such a ridiculous question, at which point he went on and fielded the next one. The idea of wasting an opportunity to ask Feynman a question on something as silly as that… Ugh!

  78. cowalker says

    Yeah, that absolute morality is so great. As an ex-Catholic, sometimes I like to hang out on some conservative Catholic sites and comment as an ex-Catholic. Catholics have the scriptures, two thousand years of Church laws and a living leader selected by God who is guaranteed to speak infallibly on Church doctrine. So it’s very interesting to hear the bickering and name-calling they get up to, discussing among themselves whether torture is morally wrong, whether the Jesuits are evil, whether the social security tax is morally wrong, whether capital punishment is moral and whether it’s licit to use Natural Family Planning to limit one’s family size or whether couples should take the higher road and simply screw like crazed weasels, loftily trusting God to decide the family size right for them.

    And that’s just among the two percent of Catholics who don’t sanction contraception.

    Among the others you find Catholics who accept gay marriage, abortion, and socialism. Most Catholic Americans practice the same morality as other Americans with their level of education, in their socio-economic class.

    Absolute morality, my fanny pack. Who can believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, beneficent being who thinks that the best way to convey absolute morality is to plant various ancient texts full of ambiguous, contradictory stories and claims that one supersedes another among humans? That would be a god who wanted the destruction of Native American cultures, the Holocaust, and 9/11.

    Yeah, I can resist the urging to fall on my knees to worship that god.

  79. edwardseedhouse says

    I have long thought that perhaps the most effective way to turn Christians into Atheists would be to force them to actually read the bible, cover to cover, every word.

    Mind you personally I have no particular desire to convert anyone to or from anything, but if I was I would think it far more important to convert people from the current dominant macroeconomics theory to one that actually made sense and doesn’t contradict itself.

    That might actually do some good.

  80. keri says

    jimharrison #75

    That Christianity has cultivated guilt and mental anguish to a spectacular degree is not in question. My point is that this obsessive self-loathing is the other side of a really grotesque vanity. Martin Luther recognized this connection, even though he didn’t draw the most obvious conclusion from it. The consciousness of sin depends upon the pride of the believer who somehow imagines that he ought to be as perfect as a perfect being. To use a fancy phrase for it, guilt and pride are dialectically related. If you read some of the long quotations from Jean Delumeau’s incredibly depressing book Sin and Fear: the Emergence of Modern Guilt Culture, you see how the no-fooling misery of the would-be saints arises from their spiritual hubris.

    Yikes.

    The ex-Catholic in me knee-jerks at this statement as being from someone who doesn’t really understand the self-loathing instilled by the guilt. The idea that one hates oneself as a result of vanity? That’s…kind of backwards, though I suppose that must be why you call it “grotesque vanity”.

    TBH, I actually find these kinds of statements a little offensive and triggering, because it’s the exact same kind of shit that I was put through in Catholic school starting in kindergarten. That I am a horrible sinner and am not even worth spitting on if I were aflame, and to think I’m worth more than that is pure vanity, since we’re all awful sinners – luckily, god loves me/us anyway except when he’s disappointed in me/us lol. I’m not sure where the vanity or pride comes into it except for wanting that little bit of affirmation that I am worth the air that I breathe. It’s not about being perfection (though I was told that I should strive for it and anything less isn’t any good).

    I guess you must be speaking in generalities or something for the history of Christianity, going by the transition to your second paragraph there, but sometimes it’s hard to look at these kinds of statements and not flash back to reciting the sinner’s prayer as a five-year-old before being allowed to check out a picture book from the school library.

    It also makes it hard for me to disentangle the historical origin of the self-loathing idea from the way it’s passed down generation to generation since then, so that it’s not become an accepted fact as is, and not some greater theological thing. It’s horrible.

  81. says

    No One @80:

    Well, if citations were demanded, and I didn’t have a separate real life outside the weblogs, I am pretty sure I could put together enough research papers about evolution, animal behaviors, reams of primate research, anthropology and archaeological papers, sociological studies, psychological studies and a note from my mom to make a really decent case before a panel of disinterested, non-partisan space aliens.

    Ken Ham will have a book about a never-seen loving dad that wants entire races murdered, parents killing children, even stoning them if the mood was right, raping of young girls, and all the other stuff Mr. Deity has already run around the bases, a museum featuring people riding dinosaurs (despite there never having been evidence of both existing at the same time), museum models of the grand canyon being gouged out by a global flood – despite all geological evidence pointing to the contrary, and a note from a co-conspirator saying he can’t help with the case because he’s visiting his dad in prison, because teh fraud.

    I’m really hoping the aliens aren’t their planet’s version of Tennessee hillbillies. I would have a good chance at persuasion then. Did I mention I would bring snacks for everyone to the presentation?

  82. petrander says

    We do have a standard — a human standard, one that is real and measurable.

    This.

    Nuff said.

    Now I know why I frequent this site: To get gold nuggets like this that I can throw back at the irrationalists.

  83. Azuma Hazuki says

    Another ex-Catholic here, and plenty messed up by it. At the tender young age of six I had the doctrine of eternal hellfire drilled into me, and it’s a good thing I couldn’t even comprehend eternity at that point because that would have broken me right then and there. It has been a long, painful journey out of this mindset, beset with much fear and loss, but it’s been a good one to make.

    I had a sort of Zen/satori moment a while ago, which basically goes “All reality, such as it is, is an iterated Prisoners’ Dilemma.” An understanding of this on emotional, innate terms, even without this precise language, is where our morals come from. We evolved them. We cannot help BUT be moral. We had them before Yahweh was a nightmare in some Canaanite’s fever dream, and we will have them until we cease to exist because to be human is to be moral and it’s ingrained in our very brains.

    There is our ontological grounding for morality, apologists! And your feeble, false, contradictory gibberings wilt before it like a mosquito in a blowtorch flame.

  84. says

    Kevi,

    I don’t discount the suffering of those whose guilt has been stoked by church propaganda, especially the children subjected to moral blackmail by parents and other authority figures. I’m not speaking so much about the laity as about the adult thinkers who have evolved the whole system, which, or so it seems to me, only makes sense if human beings are actually godlike beings. Jonathan Edwards famously informed his listeners that they were as loathsome as a spider, but it really doesn’t make a damn bit of sense for an eternal god to get angry about loathsome spiders if that’s all we are. Similarly, when Dante claimed that Hell was built by eternal love, the implication is that the damned are worth tormenting forever in a complicated inferno. Various Catholic theologians have expanded on this theme, which they sometimes refer to as Christian Humanism. (People are always suggesting that atheists ought to read some theology before they reject the faith, but it seems to me that knowing more theology is liable to deepen rather than moderate one’s unbelief. Of course that’s just my experience.)

    I do think that one of the reasons that some folks are reluctant to dispense with Christianity is that they realize on some level that an exalted view of the status of human beings is an intrinsic part of the religion.* It’s not just that you can’t have a hope for heaven if you don’t submit to the fear of Hell. Lots of folks don’t believe in either heaven or hell but don’t want to give up the idea of Heaven, i.e. the fantasy that we are, at least potentially, divine beings.

    *It’s also part of Islam. Supposedly Iblis and the other fallen angels rebelled out of envy when they learned that Allah was going to create humanity and give it a special status in the divine plan.

  85. says

    pfft, like religion can guarantee any objectivity over the illusion of it. “I think X is wrong” is no different to “God thinks X is wrong”, just that the latter statement carries a supposed authority that the former does not. The problem of an objective morality, and then reasons to act upon it, are problems for everyone – theists just have codified all the things they say harms atheist notions of morality.

  86. jfringe says

    Ironically, Ham posted that message on Sunday (May 13).

    Clearly, his is making a living from that, so we’re no speaking about his neighbor any more.

  87. says

    The strive for absolute, or even objective, morality is quite silly. What makes for a good ethical statement is not whether or not it can imply ought, but what outcomes that statement would have. If one needs an authoritative voice in order to think killing is a bad idea, instead of looking at the suffering or that it take away another’s autonomy, then they’ve completely missed the point. That killing is wrong only makes sense when it follows from those points, not the other way around.

  88. John Morales says

    I do think that one of the reasons that some folks are reluctant to dispense with Christianity is that they realize on some level that an exalted view of the status of human beings is an intrinsic part of the religion.

    What?

    It is the very opposite; the Abrahamic religions consider humans to be worthless wretches who (though they are undeserving) are fortunate to have an overlord.

    (Hey, I used to be an altar-boy: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you; but only say the word and I shall be healed.”)

    It’s also part of Islam.

    You do know what ‘Islam’ means, no? ;)

    (If not, it means ‘submission’)

  89. consciousness razor says

    I do think that one of the reasons that some folks are reluctant to dispense with Christianity is that they realize on some level that an exalted view of the status of human beings is an intrinsic part of the religion.

    What?

    It’s just one human, not all of them. And it’s not much of “an exalted view,” but obviously being crucified does raise one a few feet off the ground, if only temporarily. How one is supposed to have a better sense of ethics by approving of human sacrifice is something I’ve never quite understood though. It’s hard to believe it was ever taken seriously at all; but if they didn’t have such ridiculous beliefs, how would they make themselves feel so persecuted?

  90. concernedjoe says

    Religious moral and behavioral codes always go beyond the rules necessary for healthy and ethical communal life.

    Most rules that have life utility are conceived and followed because people need to stay healthy and people in groups need to avoid discord and self-destruction.

    But Abrahamic religious moral draping seems to go way beyond these impetuses and center mostly on:

    * costly signaling phenomena to ensure distinction and group rallying around the leadership’s flag pole

    * control mechanisms usually for the benefit of the powerful (usually patriarchal and privileged)

    * mind control by shaping fundamental mental models (e.g., in regards to sexual urges and behaviors) thus fostering the brain’s blind obedience mode and also a diminution of self.

    My point is religion has little to do with morality – its premise and reason for being is control of the masses. To me it was (when I “converted” to atheist) and remains obviously so.

  91. Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce says

    And it’s not much of “an exalted view,” but obviously being crucified does raise one a few feet off the ground, if only temporarily

    Always look on the bright side of life….

    ***whistles***

  92. says

    Lots of folks don’t believe in either heaven or hell but don’t want to give up the idea of Heaven, i.e. the fantasy that we are, at least potentially, divine beings.

    If that’s true, then there’s a certain irony in the complaints that atheists just want to be their own gods (or something to that effect). It’s interesting, at least to me, that we have these psychologies that can think in terms of ideals, and see potential for the notion that we are better than we are. The gap between is and ought, for the most part, seems to me a gap between how we perceive how we are and how we perceive we expect to act. Thus the religious explanation has a superficial appeal.

  93. Michael Zeora says

    Apparently the NonStampCollector video had an error and was taken down by him. He re-uploaded it to his other channel (watch?v=sGfPNcQti28) is where it exists now. It’s sorta funny. Personally.

  94. gardengnome says

    I really wonder if the ramblings of an Australian con-artist are worthy this much discussion.

  95. jimmauch says

    Nonbelievers have this annoying moral limitation. Their actions can not be justified unless they can show that their actions aid in bringing the maximum possible well-being to all of society or at the very least does not inflict damage. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could discriminate against every minority group imaginable, rape and and pillage then all we would have to do is simply state that our justifications for our actions come from the moral absolutes set down by our all good and all just spaghetti monster.

  96. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    work that a machine does on its own, without human intervention or command, doesn’t count because machines aren’t expected to worship and don’t need rest.

    As evidenced by the fact that there are no restrictions against hiring a shabbos golem.

  97. says

    Euthyphro’s dilemma: unsolved since 399 B.C.E

    There are “solutions”, or at least ways of avoiding the problem directly. Whether or not one can get a satisfying conception of morality from that is another issue.

  98. Azuma Hazuki says

    @114/Kel

    What ways would this be? I saw Craig’s lame attempt on Tekton and all it did was push the problem back a step. So Yahweh now has an innate but objective moral compass that defines good and evil? How do we know whether it truly defines good and evil or not, then?

  99. says

    I saw Craig’s lame attempt on Tekton and all it did was push the problem back a step.

    That would be one way of avoiding the problem directly; the dilemma as it stands would be a false one in Craig’s view, but from there it gives a useless conception of morality – and a dangerous one when combined with Craig’s assumptions about the bible.

  100. consciousness razor says

    It could be that there are many gods, and that what is good with respect to one isn’t good with respect to another. So Euthyphro stipulated that the goodness (piety, actually) he was talking about was only the relationship of goodness/piety to all of the gods.* There’s no reason to think that many gods necessarily have anything like that in common: there may be no overlap from one to another. There’s also no reason to think there’s only one god (whatever its relationship to goodness), but that’s obviously not an option for monotheists.

    *So it’s already about a rather limited notion of goodness that only refers to something the gods supposedly have in common, not every conceivable sense of goodness. Plato wasn’t discussing the Form of the Good, but that of Piety, which is a nonsense of a different color. It’s a specific kind of virtue (or vice) about gods. Take those out of the picture (if there are no gods), we’d have no reason to be pious, but that doesn’t mean we’d have no reason to be good, because those are two separate concepts.

  101. Colin J says

    Pteryxx #84:

    So, there are instructions on how to fill a big sink with hot water the previous afternoon and cover it to keep the heat in, so it’ll be available for washing the Sabbath dishes. (Bonus: obviates the need to turn a faucet handle, which would also be work.)

    Wait… what?

    A water heater heating water is “work”. Turning a tap or flicking a switch is “work”. But washing the dishes is… what? Something the ladies do for fun??

  102. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    How do they get to the water anyway? Surely lifting the cover off is work.

  103. Pteryxx says

    But washing the dishes is… what? Something the ladies do for fun??

    Hey, I didn’t claim it made sense. One of the issues I got punished for was asking why the women and girls were supposed to work on Sabbath by serving, clearing, and washing, while the men just sat around and talked, and the boys played. (I also got in trouble for *helping* with the jobs I wasn’t supposed to be doing. If any of this crap had made sense I might’ve believed some of it.)

  104. Pteryxx says

    Oh – pardon, turning the COLD tap is okay (if absolutely necessary) (I think) not because of the work thing, but because causing cold water to go in the heater and be heated is “turning on a light” which is “lighting a fire” which is forbidden on Sabbath. Or something.

  105. says

    gardengnome @107:

    Discussion makes people aware of the stupid and why it’s stupid. Ham ‘n’ his cheese certainly aren’t something a person WANTS to waste their precious life ticks talking about, but a few seconds wasted here on our part will reduce the numbers of others who have to waste their time.