Dear Phil Robertson: Let me explain why rape is wrong


“Wait, where are you going? I’m just getting to the funny part.”

…Since you obviously don’t understand it.

I am writing this in response to a request from Miri Mogilevsky of the Brute Reason blog here on FTB. As has been widely reported, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson went off on a rant in which he fantasized about a male atheist (men presumably being the only people Robertson’s audience can identify with) being tied up and forced to watch strangers rape his wife and daughters. “And they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?'”

Miri is writing an article and requested “perspectives from atheist leaders/activists about how we know that rape is wrong without believing in god and also how it feels when a Christian concocts a rape fantasy about atheists in order to make a point. For my purposes, a leader is anyone who has a position in a secular organization or group, or who has a blog or some other position of influence.”

Most atheists I know take a consequentialist view of morality. The right or wrong of an action can only be judged by the consequences it has on the lives of sentient beings. Rape is wrong because it causes pain and suffering to a person. If you kill somebody, the consequence is that a person is dead. If you steal something, the consequence is that a person loses property that they may need, and also feels threatened and insecure. If you rape somebody, the consequence is physical and emotional trauma and the experience of betrayal and fear, not to mention the usual dangers of unprotected sex. None of this is at all hard to grasp for a person with a working sense of empathy.

On the other hand, the Bible frequently condones rape and murder, presented in many stories in which those actions are supported by the God character. On multiple occasions God commands the Israelites to “kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man” (Numbers 31:17-18) or similar instructions. Also, “if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife.” (Deuteronomy 21:11) Consent is never mentioned or required.

Modern Christians manage to overlook or downplay these verses, dismissing them by saying “But that’s the Old Testament.” This is just one of many cases in which morality is not determined by the Bible, but instead the Bible is retroactively justified in the context of consequentialist morality that has been derived from modern social conventions.

 

Comments

  1. Narf says

    Isn’t this douche-bag a born-again nut? Why does he think that his mythology has anything to say on this subject, when his god won’t punish a rapist who accepts Jesus as his personal savior?

  2. says

    Somebody needs to do a rendition of a Chick tract, where Phil Roberson lives his whole life raping and murdering people in front of their other family members, but accepts Jesus on his deathbed and God accepts Phil lovingly into heaven, and an atheist who leads a good life, constantly helping others, only to be murdered by Phil Robertson, but God sends the atheist straight to hell to be tortured for eternity.

    Also, does anyone else see an eerily dark similarity between Phil’s rape/murder/judgement story and the situations a certain type of philosopher will come up with to objecting to statements like “rape is always bad” or “murder is always bad”?

    I’m going to go throw up my lunch now…

  3. OneAlone says

    Phil makes a logical argument here though. The graphic nature simply makes the point. The very simple scientific fact is that without God, we all equal to 0. 0 energy, 0 mass, 0 calories, 0 consequence at some point down the line … No matter how much good you do in the world, it equals 0 energy for everyone who you helped. Without God, there is literally no logical reason to even get out of bed, because your just delaying the final result of 0, which directly contradicts the universal law which is to always follow the path of least resistance … aka: suicide. It’s harsh, I know … not exactly something we teach in church, but it is very real.

    Consider an actual equation which can describe the thought better here.
    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X.” Christians value morality because we believe in the soul, we aren’t just dust.
    Atheists: “0 x MORALITY = 0.” Atheists are good people and also value morality, but there is no logical reason for it unless the atheist subconsciously believes in something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.

  4. L.Long says

    In general xtians are not that bright, in specifics about their job they do OK, otherwise Meh!
    But this dude is flat out stupid!!! But the worse thing is that he is talking to thousands JUST LIKE HIM!!! ANd I’m willing to bet a dollar that they really do believe the BS.

  5. phil says

    #7 OneAlone

    I think most of what you wrote is silly rubbish. There is a logical reason, independent of any god, for everyone to be moral. Simply put it is both glue and lubricant that allows society to work. To suggest that xtians are moral because of their belief in god is to admit that xtians are not moral but merely following orders from a bully, or that xtians are too stupid to work out how to build a functioning society without being told.

    Xtians get their morals from the same source as everybody else, from interactions with society, otherwise slavery, rape, pillage and genocide would still be ok for xtians. The claim that they came from god is fantasy. The value of morality is in the here and now, not in some place after death. What would motivate Jews to be moral, they don’t believe in an afterlife?

  6. Monocle Smile says

    @OneAlone
    Living is its own damn reward. If you can’t understand this simple, easy concept, then why are you still alive? Have you even once considered why your religion has specific prohibitions on suicide?

    Also, your inane “equation” doesn’t provide any reason why a “soul” would be any more valuable than dust. Your supposed source of “morality” is much more arbitrary than ours. I find it extremely disingenuous when theists act as if appealing to their imaginary god somehow answers questions. It doesn’t.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    @OneAlone
    Also, Robertson doesn’t make a “logical argument.” He commits a logical fallacy called the appeal to consequences fallacy.

  8. bigwhale says

    “something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.”

    That is hilarious coming from someone relying on myths of ficticious deities. Atheists are not commiting suicide any more than believers, so you have no idea what you are talking about on that subject. Your theory, in addition to being no sense math, is contradicted by observed facts. Atheists have deep bonds and find meaning in life, some Christians feel nothing has a point. It was realizing that my feelings about life did not change when I abandoned belief in the existence of gods that confirmed my atheism.

    I also wouldn’t care how much you think “math” concludes dogs can fly, it just isn’t the world we obviously live in. I would rather live where FlyingDogs X Life = X than where 0 X Life =0.

  9. grumpyoldfart says

    In Robertson’s scenario the moral law does not exist and people feel free to commit atrocities because they have no fear of being judged for their crimes.

    If I was included in that scenario (where morality doesn’t exist) I still wouldn’t be able to rape anyone, or cut somebody’s dick off because I just can’t bear to see anyone suffer. And if I came across somebody committing those crimes I would try to stop them for exactly the same reason – I can’t bear to see anyone suffer.

  10. Mr. Dave says

    Robertson continues to display his sociopath tendencies for all to see. Those that consider him a moral icon in their lives, are just as morally bankrupt for putting their seal of approval on what that sick and twisted asshole gargles up in public.

    This OneAlone character follows in the footsteps of many other theists by projecting their own emotional deficiencies onto atheists, instead of examining themselves for the reasons they are saying such a thing. Every time I’ve heard this nihilistic attitude, it isn’t coming from an atheist describing an outlook on life, its a theist showing the underpinnings of what they think their life would be like without their beliefs. Like Roberson and his ilk, they don’t seem to have a way to find or determine meaning in their lives without being programmed like a robot with punch-cards pulled out of a bible. Atheists are the ones who have done work to put meaning into their lives and are not the hollow shells that OneAlone is the true representative of.

  11. Robert, not Bob says

    I think a good analogy here is to sensory deprivation. When your perceptions have no input from reality, you get wild hallucinations. When your morality is based on a deity, it’s not tied to reality, and anything can be righteous. Never mind the arguments. The real-world evidence shows that they’ve got this exactly backward, as is demonstrated by Leviticus and Sharia.

  12. says

    OneAlone:

    The very simple scientific fact…

    Protip: Learn what phrases like this mean and how to apply them, before using them in such a way that causes you to faceplant into a steaming pile of stupid.

    Otherwise, I’m fairly sure everyone here came dangerously close to losing actual IQ points from reading your comment.

  13. Narf says

    @3 – John Doe
    Umm, it isn’t really clear who you’re talking to or which sentence you’re referring to. Could you give us an attribution and a quoted sentence?

  14. Narf says

    @8 – Phil

    What would motivate Jews to be moral, they don’t believe in an afterlife?

    I’m not sure that that’s entirely true. I think what you meant is that there isn’t any dogmatically described afterlife in Judaism, beyond the vague Sheol. Observant, theistic Jews focus more on how to live, rather than what happens after you’re done living, as far as my understanding goes. They still get an impressive number of things horrifically wrong, of course.

  15. John Doe says

    @16
    The last sentence of the article.

    This is just one of many cases in which morality is not determined by the Bible, but instead the Bible is retroactively justified in the context of consequentialist morality that has been derived from modern social conventions.

  16. Narf says

    @18 – John Doe
    Hmm, could use a little elaboration there, yes. The first half of the sentence flows perfectly well from the previous thought, but I’m not sure what he was getting at with the second half. I would say that verses like that are ignored, rather than retroactively justified.

  17. Narf says

    about 5 – OneAlone (not really @5, since I doubt he’ll be back to justify the inanity he spewed)

    Phil makes a logical argument here though … The very simple scientific fact is that without God …

    Assertions like these are impressive, in their own way. We’re getting into the territory of fractal-wrongness here.

    For starters, we have a serious Inigo Montoya moment, when you immediately realize that OneAlone clearly has no idea what the words he’s using mean. Phil didn’t even make a logical argument, never mind a valid, sound one. What he did was make a taunting appeal to his fellow faith-heads. Even if you formed what he said into a more logical structure, it would be stupid and unfounded, given the most basic facts about his theology and the nature of morality.

    And considering that the existence of Yahweh isn’t a scientific fact, the claims about any attributes or details of that god-concept are that much further from being a scientific fact. This guy is like a slightly more structured version of Ray Comfort.

    It’s just like what you hear from some of the more stupid apologetics books. The best, uncontestable, scientific and historical fact that proves Jesus’s resurrection is the empty tomb. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

  18. discountdeity says

    The very simple scientific fact is that without God, we all equal to 0. 0 energy, 0 mass, 0 calories, 0 consequence at some point down the line … No matter how much good you do in the world, it equals 0 energy for everyone who you helped. Without God, there is literally no logical reason to even get out of bed, because your just delaying the final result of 0

    Well, yes, when we view everything on that sort of macro scale, the end result is, as you suggest, zero.

    But here’s the thing: why should we reduce our existence to the end result? We are subjective beings having a subjective experience of life, so it’s perfectly natural and reasonable for us to maximize our (and/or others’) subjective satisfaction in the process.

    Sure, the net result is zero if you look at time or space on a macro scale, but why would we? Our lives don’t exist on that scale, so there’s no reason to judge them on that scale. It makes more sense to judge them on a scale more in line with human experience.

    Everything you’ve been taught about God has you thinking about the entirety of the Universe, and the entirety of Time. That’s the scale and framework your faith deals in. But without that belief in God, those scales become essentially irrelevant to our human experiences. Who cares if everything I accomplish will eventually be 0? By the time that happens, I’ll be well past the point of caring, or indeed even noticing. Or, if you want a more selfless angle: even when I’m gone, humanity will continue, and if my life can improve things for others, it will have been worthwhile. And, again, eventually humanity will be 0, as you note, but again, by that time there won’t be any of us around to care, so why should we make that the scale we judge by?

    So your problem here is that you don’t really grasp the nature of the atheistic worldview, and you’re mixing and matching elements of your faith and our godlessness. So you end up with a horrible conclusion that doesn’t actually reflect what either of us really think. Indeed, it seems that your brain is so narrowly channeled into the worldview of your faith that you don’t even recognize how your perception of atheism is clouded by it.

    Or, more briefly: your nihilism is a side effect of your faith. Many atheists do not share it, and it is ignorant and vaguely insulting of you to assume that we must.

    The graphic nature simply makes the point.

    The graphic nature serves to illustrate how comfortable Robertson is devising such grisly, violent scenarios. It is not an indicator of what he believes is right (necessarily), but the fact that his mind naturally goes to such dark places says a lot about his psyche and his character, just as your assertion that life is utterly meaningless without a deity of some sort says a lot about yours.

  19. says

    OneAlone

    Without God, there is literally no logical reason to even get out of bed, because your just delaying the final result of 0…

    That’s a reason. Delaying something unpleasant is totally a reason. I eat now, knowing full well I’ll be hungry again later. I don’t see any problem with that. Why do you?

    My meal doesn’t have to last forever to be worth eating. My life doesn’t have to last forever to have meaning while I’m living.

  20. says

    Phil makes a logical argument here though.

    An appeal to straw-man consequences is not a logical argument, it’s a fallacy when used in a logical argument. At best, he’s either constructing a straw-man of what he thinks others would do if they stop believing in god or he’s actually telling us what he would actually do himself if he stopped believing in god. Neither of these things are logical.

    The graphic nature simply makes the point.

    No, the point is independent of the graphic, or non-graphic nature of the example. He could have said “People will come steal cookies out of your cookie jar if there is no god to judge them” to make the same stupid point. All Phil’s “graphic nature” does is appeal to emotions, which is probably the best tactic you theists have.

    The very simple scientific fact is that without God, we all equal to 0. 0 energy, 0 mass, 0 calories, 0 consequence at some point down the line …

    I’ll grant that the scientific consensus is that the universe will end in a heat death, but what does this possibly have to do with raping and murdering people? If anything, this fact means that the time we have in this universe is precious, a gift that we cherish. If we simply end when we die, the consequences of hurting others is huge; ending a life or ruining the remainder of a life is so much more consequential if there is no god than if there is.

    No matter how much good you do in the world, it equals 0 energy for everyone who you helped.

    No, it matters to the people you helped when they were alive. You can’t measure that in units of energy, nor does it matter what happens in the end. You’re trying to equate morality with energy and they are different things.

    Without God, there is literally no logical reason to even get out of bed, because your just delaying the final result of 0, which directly contradicts the universal law which is to always follow the path of least resistance … aka: suicide. It’s harsh, I know … not exactly something we teach in church, but it is very real.

    And yet atheists get out of bed, contemplate the heat death of the universe and our place in it, and still go about their lives. You want to know why? Because we know the things we do in this world *really” matters to both ourselves and to other *real* people.

    Consider an actual equation which can describe the thought better here.
    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X.” Christians value morality because we believe in the soul, we aren’t just dust.
    Atheists: “0 x MORALITY = 0.” Atheists are good people and also value morality, but there is no logical reason for it unless the atheist subconsciously believes in something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.

    You do know what simply believing in something doesn’t make it REAL, right? Even taking your equation literally, you have to establish that a soul exists, not just believe it does.

  21. JT Rager says

    As an engineer, I get a chuckle out of the redundant listing of both “0 calories” and “0 energy”, as well as the “0 consequences” as if consequences follow the fundamental law of conservation.

  22. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The answer is really simple: Temporary pleasure and happiness is better than nothing.

  23. Narf says

    @21 – discountdeity

    Many atheists do not share it, and it is ignorant and vaguely insulting of you to assume that we must.

    Only vaguely?

  24. tecolata says

    I’ve seen variations of this many times, although not with such sociopathic glee as this “Dynasty” (oi vey, and I thought the dynasty of the British crown was bad!) sadist.

    What is so obvious is that the shoe is exactly on the other foot.

    It is the believers who are apparently, and sometimes eplicitly, saying, there is no reason to be “good” without a god. Unless you have a Man Up in the Sky to spank your ass, there is nothing stopping you, you will rob, rape, torture, mutilate, murder et al. It’s atheists who are the ones saying that those things should never be done because they harm others, not because the white dude in the sky will throw a thunderbolt at you. And harming others is morally wrong.

  25. says

    tecolata: When you base your entire moral system on obedience to authority, and not such things as empathy and reason, things that are obvious to most sane and sensible people can seem bewildering.

    But they’re also dishonest, because Christians more or less comprehend moral precepts the same way we do. They evaluate the consequences of actions and understand by practical application what is right and wrong. But they’re slave to a set of beliefs that everything good in their life must be credited to God.

  26. says

    “One Alone” — ironic, since you ARE the one alone here preaching that garbage.

    There IS NO SCIENTIFIC FACT that includes “God”. If you want to discuss the “zero sum” idea, and especially apply it to “why do we get out of bed?”, and “why not just commit suicide?”, I’d ask YOU that same 2nd question — if this earthly life is of such low value, and all that matters is the ‘heavenly afterlife’, WHY are YOU still here? (Don’t try to answer, I already know, I was a christian for fifty years) Be passive-aggressive about it — stumble in front of a train or something, and go to your eternal reward.

    Here’s a SCIENTIFIC FACT for you — life developed NATURALLY, over millennia, growing and evolving, becoming more diverse, and it’s NOT DONE YET. We haven’t reached the pinnacle (thankfully!). And since the universe is STILL EXPANDING (AND still in “acceleration mode”), we have a LOOONNG way to go. ‘End times’, my hairy behind.

    Tell me the truth — did it make you feel like you accomplished some purpose, to come here and proselytize to the ‘poor, lost atheists’? Did you get your ‘witness’ points? HOPE SO, that way it wasn’t a TOTAL waste of time. I can’t even be more than a little irritated, since your effort was so weak.

    Next time, give us some MEAT on the plate — quote the bible for us. Let us dig our fangs in, tear and shred, send flesh flying hither and yon, while we feast upon you…….. I’m sorry, not YOU specifically, but your “offering”……………………

  27. Esquilax says

    @ OneAlone

    Atheists: “0 x MORALITY = 0.” Atheists are good people and also value morality, but there is no logical reason for it unless the atheist subconsciously believes in something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.

    Or perhaps we just don’t see any reason to accept your completely unjustified presupposition that if something eventually, ultimately ends, it has no value at all. A lot of you theists make this assumption, that unless something goes on forever and ever, it has no value at all, but I’ve never once seen any of you even attempt to support that idea.

  28. Cimmerius says

    Rape and murder are infinitely more immoral if there is no afterlife. If you steal five dollars from a billionaire he’s not likely to notice, steal that same five dollars from a starving homeless man and you have severely impacted his life. If the family in this disturbingly gleefully imagined scenario were Christian and got to go to Heaven after it would still be horrifying, but then they would get to live in paradise together forever, it’s still immoral but the impact is lessened.

  29. theignored says

    It gets worse.

    http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=95965

    [You do not have an objective moral standard.

    For instance: baby-killing is OK if god orders it, is it not? William Lane Craig seems to think so.]

    Of course. Whatever God commands is absolutely moral because God himself is the absolute standard for good. In fact, if God really did command to do something, such as kill babies, then it would be immoral not to do it. And on what basis do you have to disagree with this outside of mere opinion?

    And the owner of the blog backed the guy up when it was brought to him:
    http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=95965&Page=3#1587560

    http://www.jasonlisle.com/2012/11/09/deep-time-the-god-of-our-age/comment-page-2/#comment-7376

    Lisle says, quoting me at first:
    Remember Joseph saying that it would be immoral to NOT kill a baby if god commanded it?

    [Dr. Lisle: Joseph is right. What God commands is necessarily right. Any other definition of morality is ultimately arbitrary and therefore logically unjustified.]

  30. Muz says

    As an aside, I know it’s trite and somewhat lame, with a side of racially questionable, to point out Ol’ Phil looks like a crazy Imam, but…
    He looks like a crazy Imam!

    Given his target audience aren’t usually the most broad minded about Islam, that is still kinda amazing.

  31. Narf says

    It isn’t even racially indicated, really. Hell, plenty of Semitic people barely look different than some mostly-Caucasian groups. I’ve seen a lot of Iranians who are barely visually-different from lots of Europeans. If you get rid of a stereotypically racial/cultural accent and adjust someone’s grooming and presentation to fit another cultural, it can be difficult to pin down racial indicators, even if you’re inclined to do so.

    At most, you have a culturally questionable element, and I think that’s fine, when you’re pointing out the ironies in the stereotypes of someone else’s discriminatory stereotypes. Even at a racial level, you’re often okay, although you have to worry about acquiring the criticism of ironic, hipster racism.

  32. ironchops says

    Indiana religious freedom law hitting the news.

    No God = No eternal life=No eternal judgment=No eternal burning in hell=No problem. How is that for a formula? I am just a dumb shipbuilder and I can figure that out. Hate is stupid no matter how you slice it. Hurting people, animals or the creation in general is wrong, especially for reasons of personal greed or lust.

  33. Narf says

    Ah, this one is the one you meant, over in the post for episode 910. Yeah, I’ve heard of that one. I can’t wait until we get some company stupid enough to think that that law will protect them, despite the repeated court decisions to the contrary. I wonder if the resultant court case will last longer than opening arguments.

  34. Hippycow says

    @36 Narf:
    Don’t you love how the defenders of the historicity of the empty tomb have everything except evidence? It is like defending the historicity of the Sorcerer’s Stone by citing different passages of different Harry Potter books and explaining how they all corroborate the story and how embarrassing certain “facts” about the story are, yadda, yadda, yadda, … and therefore it’s true! But actual physical evidence?

    Last night, I saw a piece of the current CNN special on Jesus. They had this big build up about a piece of the actual cross that the (actual!) Jesus was supposedly pinned to, one of the most precious relics that was apparently a big part of what converted Constantine. After carefully carbon dating tests, it turns out to be circa 1100 AD. Rather than outright stating the factual conclusion that it was a fake, they emphasize its “spiritual importance.”

    The only “evidence” we have for any of this stuff, including this supposed person Jesus, is the propaganda of ancient cultists. William Lane Craig’s erudite-seeming exegesis, however copious the footnotes amounts to nothing more than the old computer science cliche: “garbage in = garbage out.”

  35. says

    Ugh WLC…

    Not quite as unctuous as Berlinski, but pretty damn close.

    I’m going to head deep into ‘ad hom’ territory here, but I always feel like I need to shower after hearing them speak. It’s like I’ve been doused in self-important, self-congratulatory smarm oil.

    Ick

    On other days I have better arguments. Today I’m going with ‘ick’

  36. Chris J says

    @OneAlone:

    Consider an actual equation which can describe the thought better here.
    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X.” Christians value morality because we believe in the soul, we aren’t just dust.
    Atheists: “0 x MORALITY = 0.” Atheists are good people and also value morality, but there is no logical reason for it unless the atheist subconsciously believes in something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.

    So, this is a dumb argument that makes no sense. But hey.

    Atheists don’t think the value of a soul is 0. They don’t believe that a soul is even part of the equation. Thus:

    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X”
    Atheists: “MORALITY = X”

    As for not valuing something if it isn’t permanent, the delicious turkey sandwich I had for lunch just now disagrees. Things can be valuable in the moment even if they aren’t valuable a million years from now. We have a life to live and a process to go through no matter what the end is, and what happens during that process is important to us while we are still around to care about importance.

    Meanwhile, you’ve just admitted that, if not for the soul, Christians would not value morality at all. And what does that actually mean? That they only value morality because they have to; God commanded them to and will send their soul to heaven or hell based on how well they follow instructions. That morality isn’t meaningful beyond an authority figure making demands for some arbitrary reason.

    If you dispute this, and claim that morality is important to Christians beyond just following orders, than you are admitting that there is some value to morality beyond what the soul provides. You’ve proven that, to an important extent, the SOUL is not needed in your equation, or that it is a label for something (be it human exceptionalism or something else) that Atheists can label as well.

    If you do not dispute this, you are a monster.

  37. RomanGirl says

    It’s Xian, not Xtian, because the X stands for Christ!!! Sorry. It’s just a pet peeve. Feel free to ignore me. Just don’t yell at me! 😉

  38. lotta joy says

    What a man thinks shows his character. Which certainly applies to Phil. Yet he is too demented to realize his statement said more about himself regarding the sexually perverted scenario than the bible he thinks he’s representing.

    He was mentally envisioning raping while wringing his hands in glee. Most fundamentalists seem abundantly filled with thoughts regarding penis’s and rape. While their religion covers it like a shield, their mouths tell the truth

  39. says

    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X”
    Atheists: “MORALITY = X”

    Interestingly, it follows from that, that:
    Christians: Morality = X / Soul
    Atheists: Morality = X

    From that, we conclude that Christians value morality less than atheists, to a degree corresponding to how much they value their souls.
    This seems to fit what we know from actual behavior: The more a Christian is concerned about his fate in the afterlife, the more they’re willing to compromize on basic moral ideas. I.e. they’re willing to do things thtat would otherwise be considered immoral, in order to secure themselves a place in heaven. They justify this immorality by appeal to their god and his ability to grant rewards.

    For an atheist, morality stands on its own. For a Christian, morality is a means to an end… and the end is the personal benefit of attaining heaven.

  40. Ortega Peru says

    Could the point be made that Phil is undermining his own case in that, these hypothetical criminals do all this wrong, and the atheist thinks, “something about this just ain’t right.” Meaning, the atheist, without god, already knows this is wrong. It’s not that there are no rules and killing/rape is okay, it’s blatantly wrong and the atheist can already tell, without a moral law giver. Therein, Phil inadvertently reveals secular/atheist/non-god morality, which is the only legitimate kind without knowing it.

    Or maybe this bubblegum kush is more powerful than I thought..

  41. Bone says

    Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t like them to do unto you.

    As an atheist my moral decisions are based on a idea of the world I would like to live in.

    Stealing from someone could improve my life but “stealing is ok” is an approach that would detract from my ideal world.

    Therefore although I may benefit from stealing, I choose not to because I want to live in a world where people dont steal.

  42. houndentenor says

    I thought Penn Jillette had the best response to this: He said he rapes and murders exactly the number of times he wants to which is zero. What keeps atheists from doing horrible things? Mostly lack of desire and occasionally fear of prison. Just like EVERYONE ELSE.

    But here’s the big secret in all of this. This “reward in heaven” nonsense is and always was a way to keep those being treated like shit in their culture in their “proper” place. Don’t worry that the people who have all the money and all the power are horrible people. They’ll go to hell and you’ll go to heaven. It’s a way of making people who are denied justice feel better because otherwise they might rise up and demand justice and fair treatment in THIS life.

  43. quentinlong says

    sez onealone @ 5: “The very simple scientific fact is that without God, we all equal to… 0 mass…
    If that’s true, how come my mass is 115 kilograms? I mean, I’m an atheist, so according to you, my mass should be zero, and it definitely isn’t!

    Still, there might be a money-making opportunity here… the God-Free Weight Loss Plan. No expensive, unappetizing foods; just renounce god, and sit back and watch those pounds melt away!

  44. kudlak says

    OneAlone
    Why are you multiplying God to everything when the actual equation is one of addition?

  45. kudlak says

    Yes, his math makes no sense. Multiplying God by morality means … what? A God number of moralities? Maybe a morality number of Gods? Its like saying that you can have apples number of oranges instead of saying that having oranges with your apples is better than just having apples alone. At best, Christians can say that they have God to add to their morality, but OneAlone was being rather presumptuous in assuming that we have zero to add to ours.

  46. Narf says

    For that matter, what are the units that you use to measure god? What are the units of morality? What about unit conversion? How many millirapes is a lie?

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s apples and oranges. Mathematics uses compound units all the time. Speed = distance/time, for example. Acceleration = speed/time.

  47. kudlak says

    His actual equation was “SOUL x MORALITY = X”, but even in mathematical expressions that use constants which are represented by letters or symbols, these constants are still numbers, usually of units of some kind, right?

    Even if you take it as a single soul and a single morality, his explanation leaves no reason to multiply them together in order to get “X” except to force a zero result for atheists, and that just doesn’t make any mathematical sense.

    Besides, most atheists would easily substitute “empathy”, “conscience”, or some other guiding force for “soul” and get the same result. His argument, like the failure of Pascal’s Wager to recognize that there actually is a cost to believing in things without evidence, depends upon baseless presumption.

  48. Narf says

    Well, morality sure as hell isn’t a constant, despite what the absolute versus relative morality-apologists stupidly say. So, you need a unit for that.

    But no, that isn’t what a mathematical constant is. A constant is a number, but it has no units. The number is the result of the other units in the equation. Take the gravitational constant, G, in the gravitational equation: F = G x m1 x m2 / d^2. The masses are expressed in an arbitrary unit, and the distance is expressed in an arbitrary unit. To get the numbers to match up to reality, you need to tune the expression of the variables to the actual workings of reality, particularly within equations that start using squares and cubes.

  49. kudlak says

    I guess I was giving him the benefit of the doubt and seeing his equation as describing something scientific-ish, with constants like C, for example. Upon closer examination, what he seems to be wanting to express is more like Christian T-shirt and coffee mug math. You know, like “1 cross + 3 nails = 4given” and the like.

    Like that little equation, he seems to be arguing that ADDING the SOUL to MORALITY is what makes doing good things actually worthwhile, but adding zero for atheists doesn’t get the cute result that he wants to illustrate, so he arbitrarily multiplies it instead. He makes a poor mathematician.

    He might also wish to consider that the same Golden Rule that Jesus taught actually works better as a moral teaching without a God dictating what’s universally moral for everyone and enforcing consequences only after people have died. Why bother considering how your actions might affect the other guy during our time here on Earth when pleasing God and securing your seat in heaven is all that ultimately matters, right?

  50. Narf says

    I guess I was giving him the benefit of the doubt and seeing his equation as describing something scientific-ish …

    Heh. Why would you do something like that? 😀 I’ve read far too many books on Christian apologetics, and I’ve seen far too many YouTube Christians spewing the most vapid nonsense that they heard some megachurch pastor say to his uncritical sheep. Any religious argument is assumed vapid and wrongheaded, until demonstrated to be otherwise, at this point.

    Why bother considering how your actions might affect the other guy during our time here on Earth when pleasing God and securing your seat in heaven is all that ultimately matters, right?

    Because their god commanded them to be empathetic. I dunno, man.

    I’ve heard many Christians say that they only care about other people because Jesus commanded them to do so. Ray Comfort comes to mind. While he seems like he might be enough of a piece of shit for this to actually be the case, when most Christians say this they’re just parroting what their preacher said about morality, in church, without stopping to think about it for 5 seconds.

  51. kudlak says

    The ones who really believe that they are commanded to be empathetic aren’t the ones fighting against things like same-sex marriage, right?

  52. Narf says

    I never said they were good at following instructions. 😀

    Besides, the most aggressive, homophobic bigots are the closet-gay preachers. Maybe they ARE following the Golden Rule, since they would get off on the abuse and degradation, themselves.

  53. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Note: It was enjoyable and all, but you guys are reading way too deep into the psuedo-mathematical equations.

    My usual take on this silly argument:

    Christians: “SOUL x MORALITY = X.” Christians value morality because we believe in the soul, we aren’t just dust.
    Atheists: “0 x MORALITY = 0.” Atheists are good people and also value morality, but there is no logical reason for it unless the atheist subconsciously believes in something REAL in this life that goes beyond the endstate of 0.

    As the Great Russell Glasser once said, when dealing with a presuppositionalist, the only proper retort is to say “I’m sorry. I don’t accept that unsubstantiated assertion.”

    The above quote of the Christian has the implicit starting position: “It is logical to have value and morality if we have immaterial souls, and there is no other reason to have value and morality.” To that Christian: I’m sorry. I don’t accept that unsubstantiated assertion. I happen to believe strongly with good reason that we are “just dust” (to use your terminology), and I think I have great reasons for valuing some things and having morality. In fact, I believe that my reasons for valuing some things and having morality are very likely the same reasons you have. I want to enjoy my life. I want to be happy and satisfied. I want to have pleasure and pleasant experiences. I want to have joy. I also want to bring happiness and joy to the lives of everyone else. I want to avoid pain and suffering, and I want to help others avoid pain and suffering. That’s my starting position, and I know you the Christian very probably have the same starting position. For example: Why try to avoid hell? Because you want to avoid pain and you want to seek pleasure. We both want to improve the human condition. We both want to make the world into a better place. We want to improve the lives of our fellow human beings.

    Finally, it is simply true that some temporary happiness and pleasure is better than nothing, and thus we can have value and morality with or without an immaterial eternal soul. If there was an eternal afterlife, then our cost benefit analysis would change, but we would still act to seek the good and avoid the bad, and that basic standard is the same regardless of a finite life or an infinite life.

    /rant

  54. Narf says

    Note: It was enjoyable and all, but you guys are reading way too deep into the psuedo-mathematical equations.

    Heh, well yeah. The vapid, drive-by preacher never came back to provide us with anything else inane to mock. He was pretty content-light, even for a roving, preachy Christian.

  55. kudlak says

    @ EnlightenmentLiberal
    It is also simply true that whatever temporary unhappiness and discomfort our soulless, short lives may experience is no reason to wish we were never born and is certainly better than the eternal punishment God reserves for those who do not toady up to him. Funny how this system only seems fair to those dead certain that they won’t be the ones sent to the gulag. It’s the same in any dictatorship, I suppose?

  56. Narf says

    @51 – quentinlong

    If that’s true, how come my mass is 115 kilograms? I mean, I’m an atheist, so according to you, my mass should be zero, and it definitely isn’t!

    Hell, even if we’re dealing with the heat-death of the universe, all of my current matter will still be there. It’ll just be spread so thinly that it won’t be doing much.

  57. Narf says

    48 – Ortega Peru

    It’s not that there are no rules and killing/rape is okay, it’s blatantly wrong and the atheist can already tell, without a moral law giver. Therein, Phil inadvertently reveals secular/atheist/non-god morality, which is the only legitimate kind without knowing it.

    No, actually. I’m sure that Phil is one of the idiots who would say that all atheists know his god is real, and we’re just mad at him or rebelling or something. God put something inside of us, and that’s the only reason we know what is right and wrong … and that’s why we all know that gay people are icky, apparently, because it goes against his god’s word.

    Of course he’ll also say things that blatantly contradict that position. So, you have to pair off things that he’s said and show that he’s making it up as he goes along and changing his position to fit his current inane argument.

    It’s fun to do this with apologists like Ray Comfort. In one of his books, Ray argues that atheists can’t fail to recognize that this creation is absolute, scientific proof of his god, but we’re just in moral rebellion against his god, because we want to fornicate and commit other sins.
    One or two chapters later, when he’s responding to a question that an atheist posted to Ray’s blog, Ray says that the atheist doesn’t feel any moral pangs about his atheism, because atheism isn’t a moral issue but an intellectual one.

  58. Narf says

    @44 – RomanGirl

    It’s Xian, not Xtian, because the X stands for Christ!!! Sorry. It’s just a pet peeve. Feel free to ignore me. Just don’t yell at me! 😉

    I’ve always wondered about that, myself. What happened, did his cross fall over or something?

  59. kudlak says

    If “Xian” comes from “Xmas” then I believe we have the Catholic Church to blame. It started that abbreviation.

  60. kudlak says

    It also gives them a certain whacky, alien feel, like Superman’s enemy Mister Mxyzptlk, although their arguments tend to make me think more of Bizarro.

  61. Narf says

    @71 – Melinda Judy
    Into the approval queue, I imagine. I don’t think the moderators are paying quite as much attention, since the show is off the air for a few weeks. It’ll show up when one of them clears the queue.

  62. danielwall says

    First the man compares the virtues of a vagina to those of an anus, then he gives us this. Phil is less of a preacher than a pornographer. Damned shame that conservative Christians can’t seem to tell the difference.

  63. Narf says

    You expected something more coherent out of the guy, after his insane anti-gay bigorty, Daniel? Silly boy.

  64. cros says

    Phil presents a good argument. Where do you think we get the understanding of right and wrong and “what will hurt someone?” The fact that we all have a sense of right and wrong points to a Supreme Lawgiver from which morality comes. Without an absolute standard of morality “what hurts someone” is relative. The rapist might interpret his actions as not hurtful because of the pleasure he receives from his actions.

    The passage in Deuteronomy that you so conveniently ripped out of context was actually doing the woman that they found among the captives a favor. She was a prisoner of war. They would have probably taken her back and she would have either been killed or put into a persons house as a slave. In this case you were doing her a favor by taking her as your wife.
    The passage in Numbers is a passage that you need to have knowledge of the original languages to fully understand. If you go back to the Hebrew the word ‘girl’ comes from two words translated female child. So it makes sense that they were still virgins. The reason the older women were being killed is because they were involved with the Israelite males in adultery.

    It is very easy to misinterpret the Bible if you pick random proof texts and don’t understand the original languages.

  65. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The fact that we all have a sense of right and wrong points to a Supreme Lawgiver from which morality comes.

    Or a shared evolutionary ancestry.

    Without an absolute standard of morality “what hurts someone” is relative.

    False dichotomy. We can operate to make the world into a better place without having an absolute standard of morality imposed from on-high. All you have to do is be an empathic human being, and give a shit about your neighbor.

    Also, what you wrote is not right, and it’s not even wrong. It’s nonsensical. Your argument rests on an implicit premise that whatever god commands is an absolute standard of morality. I object to that unsubstantiated premise. Why should what god have to say on morality have any more importance than what I have to say? Because he’s powerful? Might does not make right. Because he made us? Again, might does not make right, and children are not the slaves of their parents. God’s personal opinions on morality are no more binding than anyone else’s.

    The rapist might interpret his actions as not hurtful because of the pleasure he receives from his actions.

    That’s just factually wrong. The rapist hurts someone. This is demonstrable. The rapist is simply wrong. Questions of happiness, safety, material wealth, self determination, and general well-being are not arbitrary or relative. There are right and wrong answers. For example, one person might think that the Earth is flat, but that doesn’t change the material facts of the matter. A rapist might think that they’re not hurting the victim, but that doesn’t change the material facts of the matter than harm has been done (whether physical and/or emotional).

  66. Monocle Smile says

    It is very easy to misinterpret the Bible if you pick random proof texts and don’t understand the original languages

    I love how every apologist on the internet thinks they’re a Greek and Aramaic scholar.
    Loads of what you said is flat-out terrifying. What’s wrong with you?

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The passage in Deuteronomy that you so conveniently ripped out of context was actually doing the woman that they found among the captives a favor. She was a prisoner of war. They would have probably taken her back and she would have either been killed or put into a persons house as a slave. In this case you were doing her a favor by taking her as your wife.

    So… maybe maybe maybe instead of slaughtering all of the males and older women, forcing this horrible choice, couldn’t they have just not wandered around engaging in a war of slaughter for a tyrannical god?

    The passage in Numbers is a passage that you need to have knowledge of the original languages to fully understand. If you go back to the Hebrew the word ‘girl’ comes from two words translated female child. So it makes sense that they were still virgins. The reason the older women were being killed is because they were involved with the Israelite males in adultery.

    Wait what? I missed something. The Israelites were purportedly running around, slaughtering whole villages except the young virgin girls alive, right? How was there adultery going on between the foreign invading army of the Israelites and the native population? I missed something. Further, if the adultering women were put to death, why not also the adultering Israelite males? I can answer that question – because it was a naked war of conquest and rape, whether commanded by your god or not.

  68. Narf says

    Let me add my voice to the others, pointing out what bat-shit insane rationalization you’re engaging in, cros.

    Phil presents a good argument.

    No. No, he doesn’t. What he presents is hyperbolic language that appeals to other horribly indoctrinated, scientifically ignorant people. What he presented was nothing approaching a rational, sound argument.

    Where do you think we get the understanding of right and wrong and “what will hurt someone?” The fact that we all have a sense of right and wrong points to a Supreme Lawgiver from which morality comes.

    This is what I’m talking about, when I speak of scientific ignorance. The development of social, proto-moral behavior amongst social species is fairly well understood, and if you had the slightest glimmering of knowledge of any of the many fields that deal with human behavior and animal behavior, you wouldn’t say something so stupid.

    Without an absolute standard of morality “what hurts someone” is relative. The rapist might interpret his actions as not hurtful because of the pleasure he receives from his actions.

    You realize that this actually works against your argument, right? You’re referring to sociopaths who have no empathy for other people. They’re the exception to the religious claim about your god putting his morality into everyone’s hearts. Your god seems to have missed a few.

    This violates the claims of your holy book, but it fits perfectly with the evolution of social species, as explained by the theory of natural selection.

    The passage in Deuteronomy that you so conveniently ripped out of context was actually doing the woman that they found among the captives a favor. She was a prisoner of war. They would have probably taken her back and she would have either been killed or put into a persons house as a slave. In this case you were doing her a favor by taking her as your wife.

    He didn’t pull it out of context. It’s just as immoral with all of the surrounding text.

    Are you seriously trying to tell us that you think that allowing Jewish soldiers to skim the beautiful women off of the captives, for special treatment, before the rest are sent off into slavery or murdered, represents anything vaguely moral? I think you just lost the argument completely, man. Any following argument you might attempt about morality is preemptively invalidated, because you clearly don’t understand what is moral.

    How about some sort of rules for the humane treatment of war captives? Your god never thought to include anything about that, instead commanding people to run swords through the bellies of pregnant women.

    The passage in Numbers is a passage that you need to have knowledge of the original languages to fully understand.
    .
    .
    .
    It is very easy to misinterpret the Bible if you pick random proof texts and don’t understand the original languages.

    Why? Why did your omniscient, omnibenevolent god decide to write his word to his creation in an ancient language that he knew was going to become a dead language? Why didn’t he give an updated, clarified authentic version of his holy word?

    This is the worst sort of excuse-making, because what you’re saying is that your god doesn’t care enough about us to make himself clear.

    If you go back to the Hebrew the word ‘girl’ comes from two words translated female child. So it makes sense that they were still virgins. The reason the older women were being killed is because they were involved with the Israelite males in adultery.

    A death sentence for adultery is immoral enough on its own, but if that was going to be the standard, it’s even more immoral if the Israelite soldiers were not also put to death for the same thing.

    You’re pulling this whole thing out of your ass, though. Nowhere in that chapter does it say that the older women were to be put to death for having sex with the Israelite soldiers. You’re fucking making that up.

  69. Narf says

    @79 – EL
    I see you hit a lot of the same points. I wanted to respond, before reading your comments, so I wouldn’t corrupt my own response.

    How was there adultery going on between the foreign invading army of the Israelites and the native population?

    Yeah, this is one of those many instances of apologists making shit up and treating it as established fact, in a desperate attempt to win an argument by any means. I love how he conflates rape of defeated villagers with committing adultery. The one-sided punishment of that supposed adultery, which both you and I pointed out, shows how bankrupt this guy’s morality really is, on top of his desperate flailing and excuse manufacturing.