Matt Dillahunty & Tracie Harris show how to handle a Christian

This is the risk of taking call-ins on an atheist show — you have to deal with some of the most repulsive people in the country, Bible-believin’ Christians. So there they are, arguing the problem of evil with a caller like they do, and the caller makes one of the usual Christian excuses.

“I don’t think that God exists but if we’re talking about the God character in Bible as God is represented, you know, it’s a pretty horrible, jealous, angry being that advocates slavery,” Dillahunty pointed out. “I don’t know why he’s that way. Maybe he’s just a dick.”

“You either have a God who sends child rapists to rape children or you have a God who simply watches it and says, ‘When you’re done, I’m going to punish you,’” Harris agreed. “If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God.”

“First of all, you portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent, she’s just as evil as you,” the caller shot back.

With that comment, Dillahunty disconnected the call.

“Goodbye, you piece of shit!” he exclaimed. “You know what? I was a better Christian than you when I was a Christian, and I still am.”

BAM! That’s how you do it!

Now let’s hear the cries of “Censorship! Free speech!” from the usual crowd.

Comments

  1. Cyranothe2nd says

    This reminds me of the time I was talking with Douglas Wilson (yeah, the same douchebag Chris Hitchens toured with) and he was telling the heartwarming tale of how he held his little granddaughter in his arms for the first time and said, with a straight face, “She was a little bundle of sin that needed to be brought to Christ.”

    Yep, totally loving and reasonable view to hold. *puke*

  2. Tigger_the_Wing says

    Well done, Matt and Tracie! That is indeed the way to do it. For far too long these horrible lies have been allowed to be spoken. Whatever the caller said, people aren’t born evil. Some are warped by their upbringing into saying or doing evil things (and religions have a large part to play in that). But people aren’t evil.

  3. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    What does EVIL even mean if children and adults are all evil? Or is it just children and atheists?

  4. Hugo says

    I had the joy of being in the audience there that night, but sadly had trouble understanding the caller’s line over their studio speakers (as evidenced by Matt Dillahunty having to stop and have Tracie restate one of the caller’s questions if you watch the video). What tipped me off was the rest of the audience’s collective groan. It’s amazing they’re able to perform so well every week in responding to callers when one can barely understand what they are saying.

    Oh, and if I remember correctly, the caller was not actually a christian, simply a non-christian of some sort dissatisfied with Matt’s basis for objective morality in a universe without a god.

  5. Chuck says

    I’ve heard that excuse so many times: “The Canaanites were eeeeeevil, so they deserved death!”

    When you start justifying the murder of little children — for whatever reason — the conversation is over. I don’t care how “evil” you think a two year old can be. Go talk to someone else.

  6. says

    What gets me; if these people truly do believe in the Old Testament god, why the hell do they praise it? Fear it, yes—that’d be sensible. Laud it and call it loving? No bloody way.

  7. congenital cynic says

    Wow! Religion is so fucked up.

    I have two daughters and neither one of them resemble in any way a sack of evil. Boggles the mind that one could be so brainwashed with ancient mythology that one could take on such a belief. Phew.

    Religious people who think and talk like that seem to me to be iron clad proof against the argument of intelligent design. But years of exposure to these people leads me to believe that there is a hefty chunk of them who are impenetrable to any kind of rational argument. Which is why I more or less stopped engaging them a long time ago.

  8. says

    Well, if we were properly good individuals filled with the loving spirit of Jesus like her, we would better understand how to hate tiny children whose only crime was being inconvenient to her ideology.

    I mean, it’s like us atheists don’t even want to better ourselves or something!

  9. malachite says

    Censorship! Please can Tracie’s post-call comments be credited, as they were clearly the inspiration for Matt’s dismissal remarks.

  10. says

    And so many people want to gripe about plus.

    But, but … it’s perfectly fine to target religious sexism!

    Not, of course, that I’d accuse said gripers of sexism… Oh, wait, yes I would.

  11. hypatiasdaughter says

    #5

    I’ve heard that excuse so many times: “The Canaanites were eeeeeevil, so they deserved death!”

    Now, why didn’t god, for whom time and space means nothing, send prophets to convert those Canaanites from their evil ways before the Israelites showed up? Like the people who sent the Terminator back in time, he can keep doing it until succeeds.
    Answer: Because he only cared about his chosen people, the Israelites. Which means that he really didn’t care if millions of his creations didn’t worship him or about their fate. Pretty sad attitude for a loving god.

  12. says

    Daz:

    But, but … it’s perfectly fine to target religious sexism!

    Yeah. I guess as long as it aids their sense of superiority, it’s okey dokey. Taking a look at their selves and the community which reflects them? Not so much.

  13. says

    hypatiasdaughter:

    Because he only cared about his chosen people, the Israelites.

    Not really. Just about every other chapter in the OT starts off with how pissed off God is with the Israelites, so he sells them into slavery. Again. Or sends a plague. Again. Or has all the women raped. Again. Or lets one of the “evil” peoples wipe them out battle. Again. Or sends a famine. Again. And on and on it goes.

  14. hypatiasdaughter says

    All the folks on the AE show (and the Godless Bitches) are awesome – but Tracie has one of the most incisive minds I have ever seen. She dissects religious arguments like a pathologist dissecting a body.
    Hey, convention planners. If you’re looking for some truly well informed, rational, funny and all round brilliant women speakers, the Austin Atheists seem to have a passal of them.
    (And some danged good male ones besides Matt. I do not sing his praises only because anyone who has heard speak or debate him knows how good he is.)

  15. says

    Tracie said what was needed to make her point, but could also have said, “When you’re done, I’m going to punish you…eventually…unless you’re really sorry about it later on.”

  16. hypatiasdaughter says

    But Caine, Fleur du mal +, he was only doing that out of LOVE! If he didn’t punish them, like a loving father, they might have done bad things and he would have had to punish them.
    I think my brain hurts, now.

  17. rrhain says

    Hmmm…

    Premise 1: All life is evil until brought into the graces of Jesus through the act of being born again.

    Premise 2: Life begins at conception.

    Conclusion: That fetus you’re carrying is evil and thus it is not sinful to destroy it before it has a chance to wreak its sinful ways upon the earth.

    Hmmm….that can’t be right. I know! It’s the contact with a vagina that does it! A fetus is innocent because it hasn’t had any direct contact with that nasty passageway (but, the sperm used to create the fetus did…gonna have to think about that.) See, abortion is bad because the fetus is innocent but as soon as it touches the vagina, it becomes sinful.

  18. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Hmmm….that can’t be right. I know! It’s the contact with a vagina that does it! A fetus is innocent because it hasn’t had any direct contact with that nasty passageway (but, the sperm used to create the fetus did…gonna have to think about that.) See, abortion is bad because the fetus is innocent but as soon as it touches the vagina, it becomes sinful.

    That implies that in vitro fertilization + c-section produces a sinless baby. No wonder the Raping Children Church is against the former.

  19. says

    the caller makes one of the usual Christian excuses.

    Actually, as I pointed out to a couple dumb ass, likely Christian commenters on that page (I assume they were Christinas because they were defending Christianity), that’s the core of Christian theology… the idea that all humans are sinners (or, as this caller put it, “evil”) and deserve to be sent to hell, which is why Jesus had to be killed to be our “Savior.” This is the sickness of the foundation the religion is built upon.

    Unfortunately, one of the dumb asses proposed that this guy is a follower of the Old Testament. Wrong again, Bob. The other suggested that this person is not a “True” Christian. Just a lot of stupid. I was glad to see this was only a couple commenters, but they were getting a lot of up-votes for their stupidity. (My best guess is they were getting reactionary votes…people who were happy to see this Christian get bashed, regardless of the irrationality of the argument.)

    Anyway, reading those comments made me pissy about the stupidity of the more liberal Christians because they go about defending a religion they apparently don’t even understand themselves.

  20. Tigger_the_Wing says

    Cerberus! I have really missed you!

    You forget, rrhain – it is perfectly OK for God to destroy the fœtus, which is why it is evil for scientists to try to prevent miscarriage or for a woman to use contraception.

    It’s also OK to destroy an embryo if you mutilate the womb-haver at the same time (removing any or all of the reproductive organs to remove ectopic pregnancies).

    It is only women who aren’t allowed to make any decision at all regarding their fertility!

  21. Nepenthe says

    @hypatiasdaughter

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses that I was using as friend substitutes for a while explained to me that the Canaanites were sent prophets, in that prophets of the Israelites had told the Israelites that the Canaanites’ land was theirs. The Canaanites didn’t listen to the prophets of the Israelites, because they were totally evil.

    I asked them why the average Lotan living in Canaan deserved to die when they probably had no idea what the Israelite prophets had told the Israelites hundreds of years before. They told me that their rulers knew and so the average Lotans and Ishats were evil for following those rulers.

    After I stopped blinking at them in disbelief, I asked why the Canaanite toddlers deserved to die, since they neither followed the Canaanite kings nor worshiped the Canaanite gods, but mostly just shit themselves. They explained that because their parents were totally evil, they were totally evil and all deserved to die. God certainly wouldn’t do anything unjust, after all!

    As far as I can tell, it’s evil all the way down.

  22. says

    I was going to post a snarky comment along the lines of “well, of course that little girl was just asking to be raped, look at how she was dressed” but then it occurred to me that that’s probably a fairly spot-on description of how people like that caller think. (It would also have been in pretty bad taste, but since when has that ever stopped me?)

  23. says

    The Vicar:

    I was going to post a snarky comment along the lines of “well, of course that little girl was just asking to be raped, look at how she was dressed” but then it occurred to me that that’s probably a fairly spot-on description of how people like that caller think.

    It’s how too many people think, religious or not. When you convince yourself that women are, on a fundamental level, evil (think “Bitches!” for the non-theist crowd), it’s easy enough to convince yourself that a young girl was drenched in the sin of women, also known as being an evil seductress. This plays into all the attitudes that all females, regardless of age, are selfish manipulators who carefully calculate every move they make.

  24. says

    @Caine:

    Yep, that’s just about it.

    We have the word “Poe” for a parody which is indistinguishable from the real thing. We need a word for someone whose attitude (not necessarily religion) is so extreme that it is impossible to parody via exaggeration.

  25. larosita says

    The Raping Children Church: Azkyroth, that’s a brilliant name. It goes so well with the Right to Fright lobby.

  26. michaelpowers says

    Ah, original sin. The most successful and enduring part of the scam. “You were born with a disease, and we have the only cure.” Useful for ensuring that women bear the blame for the crimes against them. After all, it was all Eve’s fault, so the actions of all of them are suspect.

    To me, it’s the cornerstone of the whole perversion. People with low self-esteem are easier to control.

  27. says

    The Vicar:

    We need a word for someone whose attitude (not necessarily religion) is so extreme that it is impossible to parody via exaggeration.

    Perhaps Bulwer-Lytton could be used here, as in unbelievably bad/assholish. Who else is there?

  28. Randomfactor says

    A fetus is innocent because it hasn’t had any direct contact with that nasty passageway

    So caesarian babies are spotless…until they have sex (I’m talking about the males here, of course, the females are gestated in contact with their own vajajays and therefore irredeemable.)

    Oh, wait, exclusively homosexual males delivered by caesarian should be okay, right?

  29. larosita says

    Hey, guys, you are missing a rather valid point here.

    If you listen to the original podcast you will discover that only the word “child” was used in the hypothetical story, not the word “girl”.

    The AE caller simply jumped to the conclusion that the child was a girl.

    After the caller’s incredibly crass comment, Matt gave the child a gender: male. That was a sensible designation, considering the recent history of the Raping Children Church. In the case of good “saved” Catholic Priests who rape the “evil” “saved” Catholic children in their care, the gender of the victim is overwhelmingly male.

    In other words, the caller to the Atheist Experience show was displaying a doctrinally correct case of Pauline misogyny. If you subscribe to the beliefs of some biblical scholars, this Christian doctrine is based on fraudulent additions to the original (cough, cough) text. According to the “fraudulent addition theory”, the misogynist text was conjured up and inserted by pious Christian Romans who were applying the Roman moral values of that era instead of Paul’s gender inclusive text. Of course, that excuse adds an even more problematic twist: how does the common or garden variety Christian know whether the biblical words they are reading are “god’s very words” or just the words of pious Christian frauds? Oh, the dilemma!

    ;

  30. says

    larosita:

    the gender of the victim is overwhelmingly male.

    Yes, a lot of the victims of Catholic priests were male, however, the extent to which girls and women have been raped by priests has been even more covered over than the rapes of boys. When you get into Catholic reasoning, it’s not as sinful for a man to rape or sexually assault another male as it is for a man to rape a female, age notwithstanding.

  31. says

    @Caine, Fleur du mal +:

    Yes, a lot of the victims of Catholic priests were male, however, the extent to which girls and women have been raped by priests has been even more covered over than the rapes of boys. When you get into Catholic reasoning, it’s not as sinful for a man to rape or sexually assault another male as it is for a man to rape a female, age notwithstanding.

    In a sense, it’s irrelevant. The whole notion of “sin” in the context of Catholicism is to control people. Catholic clergy don’t really sin, not the way laypeople do (and certainly not the way non-Catholics do — and at the bottom of the heap come non-Christians, who obviously sin a lot worse than anyone else).

    The only Christians who have thought about the whole notion of “sin” without trying to use it as a bludgeon tend to be the ones who are not in line with the thinking of official dogma, like Lewis Carroll (look at the moral relativism set forth in chapter 8 of Sylvie and Bruno Concluded) or G. K. Chesterton. (I’m convinced that if Chesterton had lived five years longer, he would have repudiated Catholicism — which is funny, considering that the Catholics regard him as a model apologist, but if you actually read what he says and look at what he did, the Catholic Church during World War II would have absolutely disgusted him.)

  32. says

    The Vicar:

    In a sense, it’s irrelevant. The whole notion of “sin” in the context of Catholicism is to control people. Catholic clergy don’t really sin, not the way laypeople do (and certainly not the way non-Catholics do — and at the bottom of the heap come non-Christians, who obviously sin a lot worse than anyone else).

    That’s true. And the sense that Catholic clergy are extra-special with specialness sauce with a direct line to God hisself gets across to the laity. Or at least it used to do so. I was raised Catholic, old school. (I was in private Catholic school during the 60s, taught by nuns, mass 3 times a week, confession 3 times a week, yada, yada, yada.)

    I agree about G.K. Chesterton. I’m always amused that he’s held up as such a Catholic paragon.

  33. kpbvic says

    “Maybe he’s just a dick.”

    38 comments so far, and nobody has yet mentioned how pernicious gendered insults are?

  34. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    @22:
    I never thought religious misogyny could get an upgrade until now. Sinful Vagina. Sounds like a bnd name. The American Pussy Riot?

  35. ckitching says

    Confession is quite the racket, isn’t it. The priest gets to know everyone’s dirty little secrets. You wouldn’t want to tell the world about the priest’s dirty little secret, would you? I mean, something bad like your own secrets getting out could happen…

  36. says

    @ckitching:

    The priest gets to know everyone’s dirty little secrets. You wouldn’t want to tell the world about the priest’s dirty little secret, would you? I mean, something bad like your own secrets getting out could happen…

    Oh, of course that threat is always there, but there are much less crude mechanisms a priest in a confessional can play with. For example, he can set people up so that someone with a particular temptation is put in a position where it will be hard to resist, or where (if it’s something that isn’t actually secret) they will be put under a lot of pressure by people who know about them. They can also control people politically by way of penance: suppose believer A is doing something politically inconvenient, like running for office against an incumbent member of a Catholic machine, or organizing a pesky labor union in a Catholic-owned business. Well, the priest can assign them penance which makes it difficult to carry on the inconvenient activity at the same time, or tell them to avoid doing something which is actually crucial to the success of their operations. It’s not like they can go get a second opinion or something; a Catholic priest is supposed to be the local voice of god, after all.

  37. says

    ckitching:

    The priest gets to know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

    Not always. I am, by far, not the only kid who had to go to confession so much ( 3 x a week), that there was nothing to confess. So, you made shit up and lied, which gave you a handy confession for the next round. The most popular lie amongst the boys was “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…I had impure thoughts.” :D

    Well, maybe it wasn’t a lie so much at a certain age…

  38. Tigger_the_Wing says

    Ugh, confession. The nuns would give us a list of things we had to confess to. ‘Stealing’, ‘lying’, ‘impure thoughts’, ‘disobedience’ and ‘laziness’ were favourites.

    Of course, small children cannot possibly be real sinners, which is why it was so important for them to impress upon us that perfectly harmless thoughts and actions were exactly the same as the sins denounced by the priest at the pulpit every mass. That way, he only had to use the same word – ‘sin’ – and everyone from the youngest to the oldest would feel guilty, and dirty, and unworthy to be in the presence of such holiness, as we each imagined our own behaviours to be what he meant.

    The list was supplimented by explanations during class that meant we thought ‘stealing’ included helping oneself to a slice of bread without asking first; ‘lying’ covered almost everything a small child says, of course; ‘impure thoughts’ included thinking about fibbing even if one then told the truth (so they could ALWAYS get you on that one!); etc.

    How else were they to drum into the heads of innocent small people that we were filthy sinners that needed our souls to be washed clean by confession before we would be worthy to attend mass? And non-attendance at mass meant that your soul was doomed to Hell if you died before your next confession!

    These days, small children have a reasonable expectation that they WON’T die, from one week to the next. But back in the ‘sixties kids DID die. Disease, disabilities and disorders couldn’t be cured, managed or treated as well as they can be now. In just one family at my primary school, all the children died of congenital heart disorders that these days would be fixed immediately after birth. So we were all terrified that we would die in our sleep each night.

    Now, imagine how much worse it had been in previous centuries. Add in widespread illiteracy and poverty.

    Small wonder the Raping Children Church (thank you, Azkyroth) has exerted such powerful control over people. And why they are so vehemently against any and all measures to reduce misery.

  39. procyon says

    That’s the point where I usually get
    1) The rapist was exercising free will. God is not responsible.
    or
    2) The rapist had allowed himself to come under the influence of Satan. God is not responsible.
    3) God tests us all. It is how we react that is important. God is not responsible.
    4) God works in mysterious ways

    I’ve yet to personally encounter “the (insert appropriate sinner) deserved it because he/she was sin-filled to begin with.

  40. says

    Vicar ‘We have the word “Poe” for a parody which is indistinguishable from the real thing. We need a word for someone whose attitude (not necessarily religion) is so extreme that it is impossible to parody via exaggeration’

    Taking a hint from the Ohm and the Mho, why not the Eop?

  41. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    My one year old son was born via IVF and c-section, but he’s still full of evil. At least, that’s the only way I can think of to explain the 2% digested food and 98% pure concentrated evil that he regularly vents from his arse…

  42. Ogvorbis says

    The priest gets to know everyone’s dirty little secrets.

    In the time of the Angevin kings in England (1100s?) priests were specifically forbidden asking a man confessing to adultery who the woman was. Apparently too many priests were using the knowledge of the confessional to coerce adulterous women into sex.

    But remember — priests having sex with their flock is new and directly attributable to liberals.

  43. mofa says

    Saw it live on the AE and well done Matt and Tracy. But Caine Fleud Du Mal + what has Atheism+ got to do with this story? And PZ the last line of your peice is ‘wet’. You are feebly trying to demonise your adversaries. It wears thin, and when it wears thin you get a hole and when you get a hole a lot of sensible and valuable things can fall out and get lost.

  44. Matt Penfold says

    And PZ the last line of your peice is ‘wet’. You are feebly trying to demonise your adversaries. It wears thin, and when it wears thin you get a hole and when you get a hole a lot of sensible and valuable things can fall out and get lost.

    In what way is it wet ? You “forgot” to support your assertion with evidence, so it can be dismissed without evidence. You are talking crap.

  45. killyosaur says

    I really have nothing to add of substance to the conversation, but I listened to that show earlier this week, and it is always nice to relive such a wonderfully epic smackdown. Matt did add that he didn’t really think the guy was immoral, but that he just hadn’t realized that he was more moral than his god.

  46. sundiver says

    I usually try to have a hazmat suit on any time I have to handle a christian. And a set of heavy-duty tongs. I mean, those fuckers are toxic!

  47. Thorne says

    ‘lying’ covered almost everything a small child says, of course;

    I remember an incident when my own boys were young, something minor, where the mother of their friends said, “My children never lie!” implying, of course, that mine were lying. I so badly wanted to say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. When did they die?” Instead, I settled for, “Neither do mine,” and watched her head explode.

  48. says

    But Caine Fleud Du Mal + what has Atheism+ got to do with this story?

    The caller used a sexist trope (women are evil + he assumed it was a female child, not a male one) to excuse a god’s immorality. Atheism + was formed in response to people objecting to the addition of things like feminism to the Atheist movement.

    Because I doubt that you will understand the connection even with that let me spell it out:
    The best way to counter it is to point out that he assumed not only evil but also the gender of the child. Can’t male children be evil? If so why would he assume a female child? Thus feminism is a very good tool in the atheist arsenal, contrary to what those opposed to feminism in atheism claimed (which eventually led to the emergence of Atheism +).

    And PZ the last line of your peice is ‘wet’. You are feebly trying to demonise your adversaries.

    He’s not demonising them, he’s pointing out that if exercising editorial control over the comments in one’s blog/facebook page is a violation of free speech then so would cutting that guy off be. Who knows, maybe Thunderf00t will make a video criticising Matt for cutting him off and thus denying him his free speech.

    I didn’t know that expecting logical consistency in one’s ethical stance was “demonising”.

  49. RFW says

    Something always to keep in mind: in private, at least, RC laity are often quite dismissive of the pretensions of the clergy. A friend of mine, 1st or 2nd generation daughter of Italian immigrants to San Francisco, once told me that when growing up her mother said to her about priests: “they’re just men.”

    And Dante’s Inferno is well populated with popes. Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger will fit right in.

  50. Spoon says

    This guy (not Matt, obviously, the caller) IS a piece of shit. I’ve only ever heard this kind of stuff from Christians online, as my few Christian friends tend to be either fairly liberal or tend not to talk religion in polite company. How wide spread is this disgusting mentality?

    Also, I really need to get caught up on AE.

  51. Ogvorbis says

    How wide spread is this disgusting mentality?

    Among the very religious Christians, quite widespread. This idea that every one of us is born a sinner is, for most Christians, a given — otherwise, why would Jesus have shown up to save us if everyone didn’t need to be saved? Unfortunately, it can also be an excuse for child abuse (I have known people who have been beaten to get the devil to leave).

  52. steve84 says

    So-called moderate Christians aren’t much better though. When they want to say something nice, they may say “I don’t care that you’re sinning, because we are all sinners”. They think that’s a positive statement, but it comes from the same fucked up place.

  53. Spoon says

    #60 Ogbvorbis

    That’s…disturbing. They really, legitimately believe their children are possessed and that a beating will solve that problem? That’s insane.

    And yes, steve84, that’s pretty messed up too.

  54. Ogvorbis says

    Spoon:

    Not so much that they are possessed, but that they are born as sinners — they can’t be saved until they are old enough to accept Jesus. Which means that a temper tantrum, or a prolonged crying jag, or slow potty training are not viewed as normal parts of being an infant, toddler, young child, but are viewed as the child embracing sin by failing to honour his or her mother and father and being willfully disobedient. Not insane, just the way that (possibly) a majority of children are raised in the US.

  55. rr says

    God is not responsible.

    I wish Christians would hold their imaginary idiot god responsible for his crimes. But I guess that would require the self-esteem they’re not supposed to have.

  56. Spoon says

    Og: Oh ok, I think I misinterpreted what you meant by “get the devil out” to mean they honestly believed they were possessed, rather than acting in sin.

    Wow I’m so glad Hindu parents aren’t this batshit crazy.

  57. Gregory Greenwood says

    “First of all, you portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent, she’s just as evil as you,” the caller shot back.

    The best this idiot can manage is to assume that the child was a girl, and then to essentially say “yeah, well, what if she deserved it?”

    That is feeble, stupid and offensive even by the low, low standards of religious apologists. Cutting the nasty little git off then and there was definitely the right call.

  58. says

    I wish Christians would hold their imaginary idiot god responsible for his crimes. But I guess that would require the self-esteem they’re not supposed to have.

    It a curious thing about these people. They keep saying that their morality is objective and yet god never has to follow the same rules as we do. If any human acted the way god supposedly does, they’d be rightly called out as the biggest monster since Hitler and Stalin’s lovechild.
    For some reason god, despite being “good”, doesn’t have to follow the same code of conduct that any other person would have to in order to be called “good”. Having more power and knowledge means that the standard is lower for him.

    Personally, I would think the standard should be higher, the more power you have. It’s easier to excuse someone for doing bad things if they don’t know any better or don’t have the ability to refrain. If they know it’s wrong and they have other options, then what’s left?
    Oh yes, mysterious ways. That’s right. The ultimate get out of jail free card because no matter how painfully obviously evil the act is, god always gets to claim (or rather, the believer claims for him, of course) that he knows what’s best. Any contrary evidence must be a result of our lack of understanding.

    That’s a great scam. Oddly, you notice that political leaders are eager to try to sell people on the same notion? Oh sure, it looks bad, but you just don’t see the big picture. Yeah, blowing up innocent civilians might seem a bit extreme, but those drone pilots have access to classified intelligence. They probably knew something we didn’t. After all, can you prove that none of those school children were going to grow up to be terrorists? I didn’t think so.

  59. Gregory Greenwood says

    LykeX @ 68;

    Personally, I would think the standard should be higher, the more power you have. It’s easier to excuse someone for doing bad things if they don’t know any better or don’t have the ability to refrain. If they know it’s wrong and they have other options, then what’s left?
    Oh yes, mysterious ways. That’s right. The ultimate get out of jail free card because no matter how painfully obviously evil the act is, god always gets to claim (or rather, the believer claims for him, of course) that he knows what’s best. Any contrary evidence must be a result of our lack of understanding.

    One of my favourite variants of this is the claim that since we are ‘fallen’ our moral judgement is imperfect; therefore the fact that we judge the actions ascribed to their god as evil is meaningless, since we lack the capacity to make ‘true’ moral judgements – god supposedly always has some conveniently unknowable good reason for whatever it does or allows to happen, and all no matter how heinously and self-evidently evil those actions or omissions are, as you point out.

    Then there is the outraged squawk to the effect of:-

    “How dare you presume to judge a supreme being? We are all insects before him, but at least I am humble. I know my limitations and my failings, unlike you arrogant goddless heathens who believe in nothing greater than yourselves/are conceited enough to believe you exist on a par with the creator of the universe!!11!!1″

    All naturally delivered with the same mortally offended tone one might expect if one had just informed them that their mother was a hamster and their father smelt of elderberries

  60. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Hypothesis: Given the demonstrated phenomenon of believers becoming atheists after closely reading the Holy Text of their faith, this can be ascribed either to:
    (a) A rejection of the rules set down in the Text for the faithful, or
    (b) A conclusion that even if Text is accurate regarding the existence, power, and past activities of the deity, said deity is objectively amoral, evil, bad [etc] and undeserving of worship.

  61. says

    One of my favourite variants of this is the claim that since we are ‘fallen’ our moral judgement is imperfect; therefore the fact that we judge the actions ascribed to their god as evil is meaningless, since we lack the capacity to make ‘true’ moral judgements

    Of course, that makes all our judgments suspect, including the ones about god. If they take that angle, they can’t use the “I feel it in my heart” argument anymore. Hell, how can they know that Satan isn’t the real true god and the dude from the bible is just an impostor? If all you have is blind obedience to an authority with no ability to make any personal judgments, then how do you know which authority to pick?

    Furthermore, whenever you ask them how they know that their god isn’t lying to them, they usually say “god wouldn’t do that,” to which one might reasonably ask, how the hell do you know? We’ve already established that god might do things that conflict with our most basic moral instincts and that those moral instincts are fundamentally unreliable, so how do you know what he would or wouldn’t do? How could you possibly make any kind of statement about which acts god would consider good or evil?

    At that point it usually devolves into a circular argument about how god said he wouldn’t lie and we know that’s true because he wouldn’t lie about it and that’s about where I usually get a headache and start calling people “fucking morons.”

  62. says

    It’s almost as if they’ve gotten the point about needing to start from true premises, but rather than trying to figure out which premises are true, they’ve just taken some, declared them to be true and then proceeded from there.
    I guess that’s why so many of their arguments eventually boil down to “because I said so.”

  63. says

    LykeX:

    Hell, how can they know that Satan isn’t the real true god and the dude from the bible is just an impostor?

    Especially given that everything they know about Lucifer comes from the propaganda machine of Yahwe.

    Yahwe, the first politician to use attack ads.

  64. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    I do have to recommend again the book Mogworld, where there is a scene with people meeting their creator and doing a decent job at presenting a scenario where the moral judgements of the creation are valid irregardless of their creator’s opinion.

  65. Gregory Greenwood says

    LykeX @ 71;

    Of course, that makes all our judgments suspect, including the ones about god. If they take that angle, they can’t use the “I feel it in my heart” argument anymore. Hell, how can they know that Satan isn’t the real true god and the dude from the bible is just an impostor? If all you have is blind obedience to an authority with no ability to make any personal judgments, then how do you know which authority to pick?

    Furthermore, whenever you ask them how they know that their god isn’t lying to them, they usually say “god wouldn’t do that,” to which one might reasonably ask, how the hell do you know? We’ve already established that god might do things that conflict with our most basic moral instincts and that those moral instincts are fundamentally unreliable, so how do you know what he would or wouldn’t do? How could you possibly make any kind of statement about which acts god would consider good or evil?

    Now, now – don’t go confusing the faithful with your demonic logic and reason…

    @ 72;

    It’s almost as if they’ve gotten the point about needing to start from true premises, but rather than trying to figure out which premises are true, they’ve just taken some, declared them to be true and then proceeded from there.
    I guess that’s why so many of their arguments eventually boil down to “because I said so.”

    That is the trouble with even the most ‘sophistimicated’ of theology – it all boils down to schoolyard level arguments in the end.

    ———————————————————————————————————————-

    Julien Rousseau @ 73;

    Especially given that everything they know about Lucifer comes from the propaganda machine of Yahwe.

    Yahwe, the first politician to use attack ads.

    It is doubly appropriate given how the fundie infested GOP chooses to try to depict their Democrat opponents as being (sometimes quite literally with all their blather about ‘possession’) the devil incarnate…

  66. rr says

    Gregory:

    …our moral judgement is imperfect…

    And yet superior to Biblical morality. Civilized people know that murder is wrong but Yahweh the super-being never figured that out. Criminals are allowed to pay their debt to society and move on but the great Yahweh holds grudges forever. Punishing children for the crimes of their parents is so obviously wrong and yet it’s the very foundation of Christianity. Countless atrocities justified by Biblical morality while the faithful stand by and pray.

  67. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Yahweh doesn’t give a crap about “right” or “moral.”

    Yahweh wants to be obeyed. And given praise.

    Yahweh, in a nutshell, is a bratty 2-year-old who tantrums when asked to share their toys.

  68. says

    Not to mention slavery, genocide, rape as a means of marriage or some of the more bizarre ones, like capital punishment for animals.

    Yes, seriously: Exodus 21:28
    Don’t just kill it. No, no. It must be stone, just like a human offender.

  69. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    There was a meme-graphic going around awhile back that listed all of the “Biblical” varieties of marriage.

    Including “man + rape victim, after he pays her father” and “soldier + female POW.”

    Yes, “man + woman” was listed, but it was only like one of fifteen.

    It is almost like the religion holds the nonpersonhood of women as a core tenet or something…

  70. Ogvorbis says

    Yahweh, in a nutshell, is a bratty 2-year-old who tantrums when asked to share their toys.

    Gotta disagree with you, Esteleth. A two-year-old sleeps. And learns. And isn’t having a tantrum all day, every day.

  71. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Oggie, plainly Yahweh is a Cosmic Quantum Toddler, for whom time has no meaning.

  72. d.f.manno says

    @Ogvorbis (#60):

    Among the very religious Christians, quite widespread. This idea that every one of us is born a sinner is, for most Christians, a given — otherwise, why would Jesus have shown up to save us if everyone didn’t need to be saved? Unfortunately, it can also be an excuse for child abuse (I have known people who have been beaten to get the devil to leave).

    Here’s what I hope is an extreme example (but which I fear is not):

    When should a parent start using the rod of correction on a child that the Lord has brought into the family? There is no clear and specific answer to this very good question. However, it is my opinion that the correction of children should start as soon as the need for that correction is made manifest. Every discerning parent who has been blessed with a little child in his home realizes that his initial impression of the sweetness and the innocence of the child is in reality an illusion. A child very quickly demonstrates his fallen, depraved nature and reveals himself to be a selfish little beast in manifold ways. As soon as the child begins to express his own self-will (and this occurs early in life) that child needs to receive correction. My wife and I have a general goal of making sure that each of our children has his will broken by the time he reaches the age of one year. To do this, a child must receive correction when he is a small infant. Every parent recognizes that this self-will begins early as he has witnessed his child stiffen his back and boldly demonstrate his rebellion and self-will even though he has been fed, diapered, and cared for in every other physical way.

    [emphasis added]

    It’s is the #2 quote in the Top 100 at Fundies Say The Darnedest Things.

  73. Ogvorbis says

    d.f.manno:

    Back when I blogged, I did a post on the teachings of the Pearls, advocates of extreme child punishment. One of the commenters who showed up, an asswagon named Matthew, wrote:

    My wife and i have found To Train Up A Child a most useful book. Admittedly the Schatzies went to far which shows a misunderstanding of Scripture and the Love of God on there part, but children are willful. They are disobedient. They are connivng. The are manipulative. If it is not nipped in the bud at a young age tehy grow up to become ciriminals or liberals or atheist bloggers

    I have not used the plumbing hose as my Wife told me that ws too much, but a belt, paddle, even a hand will cotrrect the child and put them on the path to obedeince, removing the manipulation and conniving from their person. They learn to not be willful but to obey. In this way when they become adults they will be obedient to God and to our Inspired Laws in America.

    And it got worse from there. So yeah, that quote from FSTDT rings very true for some Christians.

  74. says

    @d.f.manno

    Holy Crap. That bolded bit is just nuts. How could anybody actually write that without realizing that something was wrong? But then I guess they view “self-will” as something bad, given how depraved and evil we all are.

    The link is messed up, though.
    This should be right.

  75. Esteleth, Ultra-PC Feminist Harpy Out To Destroy Secularism says

    Re: TTUAC:

    My mother was a librarian and then a public schoolteacher. She has a degree in child development and psychology. When she says that so-and-so is “the kind of person to burn a book,” that is just about the worst thing she can say.

    She is also a fundamentalist born-again Christian.

    At some point (I am fuzzy on the dates), when her kids were young, she was given a copy of TTUAC as a gift. Knowing that this book was lauded in Christian circles (to the extent of being given near-Gospel status), she read it carefully and took notes.

    And then she set it on fire.

  76. rr says

    Reminds me of the Remnant Fellowship and their goddamn glue sticks:

    In fact, Joseph Smith told investigators that he dealt with his own strong-willed child by spanking him with glue sticks.

    “Glue sticks are actually sort of common within the Remnant Fellowship culture to be used to physically discipline children,” says Adam Brooks, who was once recruited to join Remnant and now counsels former members.

    It was a suggestion that Teri Phillips says she heard from one of her Remnant sisters.

    “I said, why. She said, well, because they hurt like switches, that it really hurts, but it doesn’t make marks on your children.”

    Religious Movement at Center of Child Death Investigation

  77. Ogvorbis says

    rr:

    There are also court cases in which members of the Mormon Church have been found guilty of child abuse for the water treatment.

    “They spank the baby and when it cries, they hold the baby face up under the tap with running water. When they stop crying, they spank it again and the cycle is repeated until they are exhausted.”

    It’s typically done by fathers and it’s called “breaking in.”

    From The Good Atheist

  78. says

    “I said, why. She said, well, because they hurt like switches, that it really hurts, but it doesn’t make marks on your children.”

    It lets us beat the carp out of defenseless children, but it doesn’t leave any evidence that could give the state cause to protect those children.

  79. stanton says

    What gets me; if these people truly do believe in the Old Testament god, why the hell do they praise it? Fear it, yes—that’d be sensible. Laud it and call it loving? No bloody way.

    Because they’re authoritarian bigots who seek to create a super-alpha authoritarian bigot to worship, and claim to emulate.

    Of course, if these Bigoted Assholes for Jesus really did obey, or even honored Old Testy Old Testament YHWH, then they’d follow all of the Kosher Laws to the letter, under pain of death.

  80. Gregory Greenwood says

    I have often thought it interesting that yahweh – the ‘supreme moral authority on the universe’ according to christians – really is perhaps the nastiest, most petty, most manipulative, most sadistic, and most given to casual genocide of all the fictional villains ever conceived. Just as an illustrative example, if we look at their bible we find that god – being omniscient and all – must have known what Lucifer would do before he even created the archangel. That’s right – he deliberately set up the devil in order to create his own personal torturer to be used against the humans who he also deliberately set up to fail a completely arbitrary and nonsensical test and then suffer the grossly disproportionate eternal punishment of death and pain that is – according to the christian’s own ‘holy book’ – passed down all generations in a fashion that is obviously unjust. This is proper trickster god supervillain stuff, except he has so much more scope and ambition than those amateurs from the likes of comic books.

    The christian god effortlessly ‘out-evils’ even those fictional characters written to be as cartoonishly, one-dimensionally evil as possible, and yet the christians still think that their nasty little god construct is the ultimate expression of morality and ethics imaginable. It gives you some idea of why so many of them are so messed up.

  81. Rey Fox says

    but children are willful.

    The only way one could consider “willful” to be a negative quality is if one considers the willful being to be property.

  82. maia160 says

    @d.f.manno

    That comment you posted reminded me of the blog ‘Raising Godly Tomatoes’.

    http://www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com/default.php

    The blogger, Elizabeth Kreuger, advocates hitting babies, although she calls it a ‘gentle’ or ‘firm’ swat, as young as 6 months old. She dominates the children and ‘cheerful submission’ is the rule of the day. One of the story she relates involves the two hour ‘training’ session with her 2 year old when he refused to come to her on command. This session involved spanking and making sure that he completely submitted before the training was over.

    Her children are home schooled to isolate them from the rest of the world and she’s thrown out most curriculum in favor of only the areas that god would approve. She freely admits that history, science and other areas not involving the bible, reading, and math are rarely touched upon.

    This idiot even has a book out and it’s popular enough with the fundies that it has over 90 reviews on amazon. I feel sorry for her children and wonder if the only lesson they’ve learned in life is to submit to the biggest bully.

  83. larosita says

    There is something very wrong with countries that not only permit this form of child torture and deliberate educational disadvantage but financially ASSIST the perpetrators. Tax payers are thus required to support serious bullying and child abuse. There really can be no doubt that this IS child abuse. This is not just religious instruction, it is plain sadistic sociopathic behavior. This should not be nationally supported until child service departments happen to catch the perpetrator, it they are lucky. This is the type of child “care” that brings up criminals, psychopaths, sadists, masochists and suicidally depressed people. This is nationally supported crime and mental illness production. No wonder the U.S., the biggest home of fiscally supported sick religions, has the highest prison population in the world and a huge population of homeless mentally ill people. No wonder there is a correlation between the number of god believers in a community and the level of crime and social distress. Wake up, America.

  84. maia160 says

    I couldn’t agree more. This is child abuse. One of the things that strikes me most is that the children are taught to repress their emotions in favor of obeying orders cheerfully. Krueger believes that children should be trained to stop crying on command. Where is the room for emotional growth in these homes? These children don’t learn how to process and deal with normal emotions such as anger or sadness; they are taught to repress emotion to prevent punishment from the bully in charge.

    A lot is said about your religion when children are raised to be drones that obey. They will make great god-bots one day.

  85. says

    Not religion-related, but radio phone-in related:

    My local radio station used to feature “Late Night Love” with Graham Torrington — also known, unofficially, as The Erection Section. You could ring up and have a record played for your sweetheart. One night, the topic of conversation was “looks or personality”.

    A caller rang in — a lad no older his early twenties, with a broad Southern accent — and set off on a misogynistic tirade about how he thought looks were more important when he was “out on the pull” and he would never go out with “ugly birds” or “mingers”.

    “Are you good looking?”, asked G.T.

    “Yeah, I fink I’m quite good lookin’, innit?” replied the (in my mind, pimply and nylon-clad) youth.

    “That’s a good job,” replied G.T., “because you’ve got f**k-all personality!” With which he slammed the phone down so hard, everyone’s wireless shook a little. And we, the listeners, were left wondering (a) if he really just dropped the F-bomb and (b) whether there could ever have been a more deserving target.