God’s Hostages

Kajal Khidr was accused of adultery by her husband’s family and held hostage by six family members in Iraqi Kurdistan. … Continued

Kajal Khidr was accused of adultery by her husband’s family and held hostage by six family members in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kajal Khidr was tortured and mutilated; family members cut off part of her nose and told her she would be killed after the birth of her child. After fleeing to Syria, two of her abusers were arrested. However, they were both released within twenty-four hours because authorities determined they had acted to safeguard the honor of the family. No charges were ever brought against them. (Amnesty International Website)

In northern Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducts children, forcing girls into “marriage” and institutionalized rape. The men then have total sexual control over their “wives” and “domestic helpers,” subjecting them to rape and various other forms of violence. (Amnesty International Website)

Mary Ann Kingston was pulled out of school at 13 and told to prepare for marriage. At 16, she was forced to marry her 33-year-old uncle. The order teaches that incest is a preferred practice to preserve a pure family bloodline originating from Jesus Christ. When Mary Ann ran away, her father took her to a remote ranch near the Utah-Idaho line and beat her with his leather belt. She counted 28 lashes before passing out. [The number of people in polygamous families in Utah is estimated at as many as 50,000.] (J. Nichols. “Wives suing to bring end to abuse under polygamy.” The Arizona Republic. October 15, 2003.)

For millennia, the world’s great prophets and theologians have applied their collective genius to the riddle of womanhood. The result has been polygamy, sati, honor killing, punitive rape, genital mutilation, forced marriages, a cultic obsession with virginity, compulsory veiling, the persecution of unwed mothers, and other forms of physical and psychological abuse so kaleidoscopic in variety as to scarcely admit of concise description.

Some of this sexist evil probably predates religion and can be ascribed to our biology, but there is no question that religion promulgates and renders sacrosanct attitudes toward women that would be unseemly in a brachiating ape.

While man was made in the image of God, the prevailing view under Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is that woman was made in the image of man. Her humanity, therefore, is derivative, contingent, ersatz (Gen: 2-21-22 Koran 4:1; 39.6; 7.189). Of all the animals, woman was the last to be made but the first to sin (Gen 3:12). The Old Testament puts the monetary value of a woman’s life at one-half to two-thirds that of a man’s (Leviticus 27). The Koran elaborates: it requires the testimony of two women to offset that of one man (2:282) and every girl deserves exactly one-half her brother’s share of inheritance (4:11). God suggests in his tenth commandment that the woman next door is your neighbor’s material possession which, along with his house, slaves and oxen, must not be coveted (Exodus 20:17); Deuteronomy 5:21).

The God of Abraham has made it perfectly clear that a woman is expected to live in subjugation to her father until the moment she is pressed into connubial service to her husband. As St. Paul put it: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24). The Koran delivers the same message, and recommends that disobedient wives be whipped (4:34). The suppression of women under Islam achieved hideous precision through the writings of Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), perhaps the most influential Muslim since Muhammad:

She should stay home and get on with her spinning, she should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband and respect him in his presence and his absence and seek to satisfy him in everything… she must not leave the house without his permission and if given his permission she must leave surreptitiously. She should put on old clothes and take deserted streets and alleys, avoid markets, and make sure that a stranger does not hear her voice or recognize her; she must not speak to a friend of her husband even in need… Her sole worry should be her virtue, her home as well as her prayers and her fast. If a friend of her husband calls when the latter is absent she must not open the door nor reply to him in order to safeguard her and her husband’s honor. She should accept what her husband gives her as sufficient sexual needs at any moment… She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.
(Cited in Ibn Warraq’s, Why I Am Not Muslim, p. 300).

Recall the blissful lives of Afghan women under the Taliban, or reflect upon how many Muslim girls throughout the world are still obliged to wear the veil, and you will understand that this type of thinking has consequences.

The net effect of religion (especially in the Abrahamic tradition) has been to demonize female sexuality and portray women as morally and intellectually inferior to men. Every woman holds the dignity of men for ransom, and is liable to tarnish it with a glance, or destroy it outright through sexual indiscretion. From this perspective, rape is a crime that one man commits against the honor of another; the woman is merely Shame’s vehicle, and often culpably acquiescent—being all blandishments and guile and winking treachery. According to God, if the victim of a rape neglects to scream loudly enough, she should be stoned to death as an accessory to her own defilement (Deuteronomy 22:24). Every man’s daughter is a potential whore liable to grow drunk on the blood of good men—a Delilah, a Jezebel, a Salome. Every girl, therefore, must be mastered and locked away before she can succumb to the evil that is her all-too-natural enthusiasm.

According to God, women have been placed on earth to service men, to bear their children, to the keep their homes in order, and above all to not betray them by becoming the object of another man’s sexual enjoyment. And so it falls to every man to shield his women from the predations of his rapacious brothers and oblige them, until death or decrepitude, to fulfill their most sacred purpose—as incubators of sons.

If we ever achieve a civilization of true equity, respect, and love between the sexes, it will not be because we paid more attention to our holy books.

www.samharris.org

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  • Karen

    I, too, fail to understand why women put up with this nonsense. Religion has certainly treated us poorly. Another reason why I’m an aetheist and proud of it.

  • Ruben Rodriguez

    Wonderfully written, Sam. With this essay, you continue to prove how the holy books like the Bible and the Koran are repulsive.

  • C Van Youngman

    With respect to the Pericles allusion you have to remember Aspasia. She was one of the “guys” in Pericles’ small circle of intellectual males. Quite a lady.

  • Karen

    Sam,You cite some of the more extreme examples of discrimination against women here. Please write about the less spectacular, but more insidious restrictions religion places on women, especially those justified by the myth of Eve. Most women in the West will not be physically mutilated, but we are subject every day to the odd codes of behavior dictated by Eve’s supposed sin as, supposedly, redeemed by Mary. Someone mentioned Dan Brown. I can only hope that one reason for the success of his spectacularly silly novel is that he does in some sense rehabilitate women in Catholicism.

  • shirley

    grew up as an agnostic. became an atheist in college. fell in love with a “dobson, falwell christian like” late in life. was prosyletized, confused and reverted back strongly to sanity and atheism after the insanity of those religious beliefs. keep it up mr. harris – you are so right. it amazes me that people could live in such fear and stupidity to buy into the business of religion.

  • Diane Preciado

    Sam…I am always excited when I find a new email from you as I know I will, once again, be lifted by your words. The examples you printed should be read by everyone everywhere. It has taken me a long time to reach this point (I’m 73)but I am grateful that I found you and Dawkins. At last I have found the truth that I searched for so long in my misguided life of religious studies. Thank you for speaking out and writing so beautifully…I have learned so much!

  • ksskidude

    SamI need more ammo on the New Testament. That seems to be the claim from all of my Xtian friends. They don’t follow the old, only the new.

  • Spincast

    Rod R. said: “sam – take up the eugenics banner!! stop describing and complaining and propose solutions! love your stuff!”The solution is very simple and Sam voices it loudly, but most people, expecting a complex and profound answer, don’t hear it:(distilled and paraphrased by me)

  • Alexander

    There’s enough bad stuff in the Bible without distorting the good stuff. The passage in which Eve is created from Adam’s rib is in Genesis 2. The passage in which man is made in the image of God is in Genesis 1, and goes out of its way to affirm that it concerns both sexes:”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Gen. 1:27 (KJV).The pattern of treating women as men’s equals sometimes and as abjectly subordinate at other times continues throughout Scripture. There may be some internal consistency to be found on close examination, and I suspect some Jews and Christians have looked. But I have better things to do.

  • Alexander

    There’s enough bad stuff in the Bible without distorting the good stuff. The passage in which Eve is created from Adam’s rib is in Genesis 2. The passage in which man is made in the image of God is in Genesis 1, and goes out of its way to affirm that it concerns both sexes:”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Gen. 1:27 (KJV).The pattern of treating women as men’s equals sometimes and as abjectly subordinate at other times continues throughout Scripture. There may be some internal consistency to be found on close examination, and I suspect some Jews and Christians have looked. But I have better things to do.

  • Lenora Good

    The bible states that man is made in the image of God, right? (And the Bible is True, too. Right?) Well, then, if my knowledge (small and imperfect it is) is correct, then God is Female! As I understand biology, ALL humans begin life as female, and it is only after the fetus receives a couple jolts of testosterone that some morph into male.

  • Peter

    Sam,

  • Peter

    Sam,

  • Eric

    I still have trouble accepting the idea that there is a book somewhere that actually gives rules to what a woman can or can’t do while she is being raped, and this book is used for a source of morality in the modern world. The situations Sam spoke of where absolutely soaked with a feeling of barbarism. When you read passages of these books its almost like your reading a historical document illustrating just how primative it was back then. How, oh how, is this garbage still respected in this modern world?

  • James

    Sam is the man. I don’t understand how you are so calm though. If I looked as calm and collected as you did all the time, it would be safe to assume that I was stoned!Needless to say, excellent material as always. Nice to see it on something other than an Atheist website too. Its hard to spread the ideas without public ground.

  • Colin Nicholas

    As a little boy in a Welsh Sunday school I was asked

  • TJFRMLA

    Sam,I have printed all your post and “casually” laid them around in my house. (dumped all the Hollywood rag mags) Now when my daughter and her college friends drop buy… they are forced to pick up something to make them at least think about what’s going on in the world they are to inherit. Confronting the issue among my peers is a more daunting task. But I’m up for it as long as I can count on you for my periodic fix of reason and sanity.Much Luv,

  • Ron

    As a devout Catholic,(still),it amazes me how you continuously gloss over injustices committed by the non-Religious, while constantly casting aspersions at people of Faith. Certainly Religious people can be hypocritical toward women, and it’s good that you point that out, Sam!!! Congratulations!!! But so can non-Religious people treat women like dirt. The likes of people such as Hugh Hefner and others who enslave women into lives as pieces of meat, also shows contempt toward the fairer sex.Great women of Religion include the Virgin Mary,(Christ’s most exalted Apostle, she was with him from the beginning until the VERY end, more than you can say for any of Christ’s male Apostles), and Quan Yin in the Asian Religions has a VERY high status in organized Religion.People of Faith are FAR from perfect, but so is humanity as a whole. Still, the things you say NEED to be said, & I’m glad you are there challenging us!

  • Ron

    As a devout Catholic,(still),it amazes me how you continuously gloss over injustices committed by the non-Religious, while constantly casting aspersions at people of Faith. Certainly Religious people can be hypocritical toward women, and it’s good that you point that out, Sam!!! Congratulations!!! But so can non-Religious people treat women like dirt. The likes of people such as Hugh Hefner and others who enslave women into lives as pieces of meat, also shows contempt toward the fairer sex.Great women of Religion include the Virgin Mary,(Christ’s most exalted Apostle, she was with him from the beginning until the VERY end, more than you can say for any of Christ’s male Apostles), and Quan Yin in the Asian Religions has a VERY high status in organized Religion.People of Faith are FAR from perfect, but so is humanity as a whole. Still, the things you say NEED to be said, & I’m glad you are there challenging us!

  • CS

    It’s completely off the topic, but I’m going to disagree with the claim against Heff. As a woman, I’m an avid reader of Playboy, and I don’t think those women are “enslaved” in the least. The women that pose for playboy certainly do not do so under duress. In a way, posing for playboy would be incredibly liberating, as opposed to the opposite. I think Americans are too uppity about nudity anyway.

  • Bob

    If the genius of religion and religious leaders could have been so far off on the subject of “women”, why would we even consider any religious insight or viewpoint as anything more than irrational nonsense?

  • BernieBee

    A surefire solution to this cruel religious attitude to females would be for a large group of Mullahs, Ayatollahs, Imams, RC Cardinals and Bishops to be invited to some ostensible interfaith jamboree where an odorless aerosol is released to render the lot of them unconscious for a month or two during which they’re given the requisite hormones for producing nice shapely tits and hips, then the surgical removal of the male appendages for the full sex change and on awakening to be told to go forth and multiply!Sure something along those lines would work wonders!

  • J.

    Like Sam recently wrote: “Read scripture more closely and you do not find reasons for religious moderation; you find reasons to live like a proper religious maniac–”I suggest we change the spelling of the word scripture to sCRAPture to better relflect its true definition. Oddly enough, I woke up thinking about the oppression of women and how the bible promotes, justifies, rationalizes and even imperitivizes subjugation of women and homosexuals…and I began recalling thoughts I had as a 12-year-old girl being raised by mormon parents. Even then, as a child, it didn’t make sense that this all-knowing, all-powerful creator would:Well, I’m going on and on.

  • Randy Lee

    Hey, maybe what we need to do is start a group called Sanity’s Witnesses. Go door-to-door preaching the gospel of truth, rationality, and handing out copies of Harris, et. al. Only thing is we would have to go in large groups, well-armed, and a goodly number of soldiers in the posse. Otherwise we would never make it out of most neighborhoods alive. Religion IS terrorism IS religion!On a related note here’s my vote for bumper sticker I would most like to display, but don’t dare: “Sunday School is child abuse”.Ron, it still amazes me how people like you gloss over the horrors of religion while whining like a guilty child: “But they did it too!” As if the random acts of maniacs somehow ameliorate the institutionalized horror of religion. Let the delusions go!

  • Robert Schneiter

    Mr Harris: You have a sharp ability to point out humanity’s errors. We sorely need people like you. However, I believe you will be more effective if you will offer suggestions on how improvements can be made. I feel that women will never be treated farely until they unite and stand up against their oppressors. Any ideas about how to do that?

  • Bob Jennings

    Thanks again Sam for your thoughtful comments. You never cease to delight those of us who see a need to think about and to debate the absurdities of religion; as you obviously never cease to confound those who cling to their sectarian superstitions and fantasies. May you continue to delight and to confound for as long as it takes to completely expose this madness we call religion.

  • Judy

    Dominance by males of females is most probably genetically built in for survival and reproduction, etc., so that all the comments above, deploring the situation, will not find an easy solution. Not to say we women have not tried. We did get the vote here in the U.S., although there are women still alive who were not born with that right. And now we have women senators, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Hurrah!!

  • jeejeer

    Excellent article. That superiority of men to women and wife’s status not very diferent from slavery… wasn’t it typical for early human tribes long, long ago? ksskidude:What? Including Genesis and the Ten commandments? Most imporant of TC is metioned by Jesus, though; not sure regarding Genesis.

  • DeVon

    Sam once again you exposed what religion is all about. I am reading your two books now and they are great. I was a former volunteer preacher for my church and deacon, and many other duties. I lost faith in faith and resigned from the church and Christianity. I was told that because of my actions, I would burn in hell…so be it.

  • timmy

    Oh the bending of logic into a pretzel that religious moderates must do to re-interpret the scriptures into something that is not entirely repulsive. And for the Christians who try to distance themselves from the old testament, you can not. So long as the new testament remains firmly bound to the old. Here’s one from the new testament that shows no distancing from the misogyny of the old.Of course Timothy also the one who claims that the words in the old testament were “Breathed out by God” There’s your updated new testament for you.Keep it up Sam.

  • timmy

    Oh the bending of logic into a pretzel that religious moderates must do to re-interpret the scriptures into something that is not entirely repulsive. And for the Christians who try to distance themselves from the old testament, you can not. So long as the new testament remains firmly bound to the old. Here’s one from the new testament that shows no distancing from the misogyny of the old.Of course Timothy also the one who claims that the words in the old testament were “Breathed out by God” There’s your updated new testament for you.Keep it up Sam.

  • TNgM

    You’d think we’d have come to some level of maturity by now, wouldn’t you. You do know, of course, that major hotels here (Canada) still provide a bible in each of their rooms? What is that all about? TNgM

  • MG

    Dr. Harris,

  • TNgM

    You’d think we’d have come to some level of maturity by now, wouldn’t you. You do know, of course, that major hotels here (Canada) still provide a bible in each of their rooms? What is that all about? TNgM

  • Andrew James Riemer

    With all due respect, Mr. Harris’ comments read only as a list of annectdotal accusations. I cannot attest to his assessment of other traditions, but he is dead wrong regarding Christianity (though it should be noted that many claim to be Christian who are not followers of Christ). It is clear that Mr. Harris believes that religion has brought no good to womankind and thus his comments simply reflect that viewpoint. I challenge him to actually study the the true Christian view of women, not to simply repeat horrible examples of people who have done as they pleased and not as they were instructed by the full counsel of Scripture. In fact, I invite Mr. Harris to spend time with me and my family, to study Scripture with us, and then to formulate an educated view regarding how Christianity views women. It is likely that he and I will still disagree at some fundamental level, but at least then he will be making statements after having examined the evidence himself, rather than repeating tread-worn arguments that are spun out of context.

  • Andrew James Riemer

    With all due respect, Mr. Harris’ comments read only as a list of annectdotal accusations. I cannot attest to his assessment of other traditions, but he is dead wrong regarding Christianity (though it should be noted that many claim to be Christian who are not followers of Christ). It is clear that Mr. Harris believes that religion has brought no good to womankind and thus his comments simply reflect that viewpoint. I challenge him to actually study the the true Christian view of women, not to simply repeat horrible examples of people who have done as they pleased and not as they were instructed by the full counsel of Scripture. In fact, I invite Mr. Harris to spend time with me and my family, to study Scripture with us, and then to formulate an educated view regarding how Christianity views women. It is likely that he and I will still disagree at some fundamental level, but at least then he will be making statements after having examined the evidence himself, rather than repeating tread-worn arguments that are spun out of context.

  • CS

    J: I think the 2nd part of that question is the most philosophically interesting: are they actually oppressed? Answering ‘no’ to that question edges closer to cultural relativism than I would like. But it’s a tough one…what do you all think?

  • Anna

    Our slow return to matriarchal society has started. Look around. It is happening now, and it is what will save humanity from the evil wrought by religion. Read Barbara G. Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets….and don’t be post-feminist until we are in the post-patriarchy.

  • jeejeer

    timmy: Here’s one from the new testament that shows no distancing from the misogyny of the old…. and two next verses reference to Eve being created from Adam to support it.

  • Hemlock

    RE: Randy LeeI have a bumper sticker on my car that reads:If you ever get that bumper sticker, I’ll take one for each of my cars.I was kicked out of confimation classes in 8th grade, when I started arguing with the Pastor on the existence of God. His only response was the Bible tells us he’s there. I argued that the bible was written by man so therefore was inherently flawed since man by nature is imperfect. AND even if man wrote it directly transcribing from gods words to him, over the centuries the books been rewritten hundreds of time by people with a decided interest in what the bible says so therefore we couldn’t believe what the bible says because people in power would make the bible say what they wanted it to say to keep themselves in power. (A marixist on religion at the tender age of 11!!!!)I have to say, my life is so much simpler without God in it. I’m not worried what my neighbors are doing in the privacy of their own home, if they’re gay, married or cohabitants. Religious people worry too much about what others are doing and not what they are doing. My code of thought is easy: live, have fun, harm none, treat others fairly, respect yourself.

  • Dave

    As a Christian minister I greatly appreciate your insight, Sam, and the transparency with which you communicate it. As a follower of Jesus Christ I believe that he would agree with you regarding the suppression, oppression, mutilation, subjugation of women by men, would have railed against it as you are doing, and would condemn any institution or tradition that does so whether it refers to itself by his name or not. Thank you, Sam!

  • Craig Hendry

    Here is a verse from the last book of the Bible. Note how it says women defile men and that the chosen abstain from any contact with such creatures.Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. I think Andrew above needs to take the time to actually read the book himself “rather than repeating tread-worn arguments that are spun out of context”.

  • wm

    BugBuster, Re :”WM says that some Christians or Muslims don’t believe the religious doctrines cited in the article. How can that be?” That’s not exactly what I said, what I said was basically that not all Christians buy into the nonsense of women deserving a role as second-class citizens. Let me expand on this. Some Christians tend to do more reading of their bibles and take scripture more literally than others. I haven’t come across any groups of Christians that take scripture perfectly literally – they come up with various justifications for not doing so. The fact is, the God of the Old Testament isn’t a very admirable character – most people are morally beyond that sort of petulant, jealous, vengeful, murderous psycho-deity. I think that the more Christians who read their bibles, the fewer Christians there would be. My father’s church was as fundamentalist of a Christian church as I have ever encountered. They encouraged members to read the full bible, over and over, and all parts of the bible were quoted during hours of preaching. They were focused on keeping women in their place (under men, above children, as they emphasized). Not only could women not be preachers or deacons, they were not allowed to lead men in any way, including in casual bible study or in choir. Women were to obey their husbands in all things. The women in this church were a very subservient, subdued lot.I’m not saying that the religious moderates’ beliefs are harmless. They certainly do provide cover – and an air of respectability – to religious fundamentalists and prevent fundamentalist religion from falling under the criticism it deserves. And, from what I’ve seen, churches are often used by their leaders to promote political agendas (usually right-wing), which they advance based on their interpretations of scripture and their authority as “men (sometimes women) of God.” I actually think that as a group they are far from harmless. But religious moderates are certainly less harmful than fundamentalists. There are liberal Christians who cherry-pick their bibles and are focused on the “love thy neighbor” part of scripture and being good, Jesus-like people, who aren’t of harm to anyone – other than swelling the overall mass of Christianity. As a woman, I would much rather be a part of my mother’s church than my father’s. As an atheist, I’m glad to have abandoned both.

  • Pam

    “I think the 2nd part of that question is the most philosophically interesting: are they actually oppressed? Answering ‘no’ to that question edges closer to cultural relativism than I would like. But it’s a tough one…what do you all think?”Yes, I think they still are. This question brings to mind Stockholm syndrome. Those suffering from it may feel affinity for their captors, but they are no less captive.Great essay, Sam, as usual.

  • Montana Layne

    My son became a Muslim, married a Muslim, had three (my grandchildren) children of Muslim parents, one of which is a little girl, Saffiya. I call her Sophie. I mourn for the life that she will never know. Her mother covers from head to toe even as she lives in the USA. She believes that a woman is her husband’s to do with as he sees appropriate. I am sure this is what awaits my beautiful Sophia. What grieves me most is that it is my son that has given his mind, and life, over to this insanity called religion.

  • Abby

    I wonder how many muslim men know why they have nipples. That question might just be too scientific for them.

  • Dan Alexander

    This read adds another vote to the fact that, “we made it all up”. Religion and the concept of “God” are simply human constructs. We made up these silly laws that oppress others. We made up the dances of the Navaho and the Tibetans. We made up the size of the popes hat. We made up the Bible, and have the gaul to call it, “the word of God”. I’m thankful for this forum, and finally reading a balanced discussion regarding the myth of God. I’ve never bought this sky god nonsense, and have grown weary of holding my tongue to keep the peace. Thank you all for speaking up.

  • Mike

    So do we as the “enlightened” ones match their hate with hate? Should our intolerance toward them be proportional to their intolerance to the rights of women? The problem with this essay and those like it is that it presents the blackest of the black to us. We laugh at the evening news as the tail wagging the dog of society but this paints all believers Abrahamic traditions with very broad strokes as women-hating dolts. Living in the buckle of the Bible belt I will freely admit there are these folks, at least in Christianity, but like life itself these issues are much more complex and nuanced.

  • CS

    Dan–

  • victoria

    I am a muslim woman and i am anything but enslaved.here is a post from another panelist i made-your presumption that women in islam cover their hair for the same reason is incorrect.You would be amazed at the level of intelligent conversation that is freeto occur because there is no distracting sexual dramas being played out.Even non-muslim men who dont know what it means respond in a respectful way to my outward appearance.I am an ambassador of my religion in public at all times and my behavior must be sterling because of it-i have an automatic expectation that i will be respected- and it is very rare indeed that any man tries to cross those boundaries through inappropriately sexually oriented language or touching of any kind- which i shoot down immediately.I am a beautiful woman and have been subjected to unwanted attentions many times- i can tell when im getting the eye- and i can also tell when my hijab discourages further pursuit by the males of my species.i insist through my dress that i be treated as an equal in discourse- it is the greatest equalizer of all.

  • Arne Olsen

    Sam, you would have enjoyed meeting my father-in-law. A coal miner in rural Pennsylvania, he told my wife, “Margy, remember there is no man in this world better than you!” He had five daughters, made sure each of them left the coal-mining community and they all have had successful marriages and careers. Keep in mind, this happened over 50 years ago in a strict Catholic community so even in those dark ages there were some not trapped in the religous dogma of the time.

  • victoria

    i did not mean to be disrespectful- just as i dont ever speak for atheists but let them speak for themsleves- i expect the same courtesy in return.

  • Dave Kingsbury

    Keep ploughing that furrow, Sam! You are sowing the seeds of reason that will surely help humankind gather flowers of freedom in time, freedom from the suffocating centuries of superstition and dread that have stopped people thinking clearly and relating to one another properly. What makes your approach particularly powerful is that you have set out your stall against every metaphysical religion – ancient Greek gods, Christianity, Islam, whatever, and exposed them for the essentially amoral and often immoral belief systems they truly are. At the same time, you have advocated the study and development of human spirituality, the ways we connect with the world we amazingly find ourselves in. In the spirit of fairness and equality you have opened a door that cannot be closed and will receive the only immortality we can sensibly wish for, the honour that future generations of liberated men and women will bestow upon you.

  • deborah

    re/Randy Lee and Hemlock-My bumper sticker which I use is-the family that prays together is brainwashing the children- it is so true and the comment about Sanity’s Witnesses is great. If God made man in his own image I feel he must have been a poor example just by looking around.Also why did God need a whole rib to make Eve.Todays scientific experts only need 1 cell.And by the way it WAS ADAM and STEVE not Eve as everyone knows that “Eve” would have been an identical copy of Adam, therefore it would have to be male.And people still believe. And another thing that is promoted in the bible is incest.Think about it.Adam and Eve supposedly only had sons-when I asked the Jehovah’s Witnesses ,who love to door knock in my area,where were the females from who were to reproduce with these first peoples sons ,I was told other lands. Also in the Noah’s ark fiasco one elderly couple and their three sons and three daughter’sin law repopulated the whole planet after the flood-talk about inbreeding and did all the creatures that lived in the worlds water,oceans,lakes ,etc, die in this flood.Part science fiction with a touch of fantasy.Let’s hope the schools do not end up trying to teach religion in schools like some poeple are pushing for, it would be a dark day for humanity,especially women, it that happens.

  • sane1

    Correct on all counts, Sam.Hey, why doesn’t this post show up when you click on “see all posts” at the home page for this question???

  • Anonymous

    Sane1: I was wondering the same thing…very strange.

  • Ron

    Perhaps the freedom of all of the world’s women can happen in our lifetime, but not until the scared selfish suppressive male-dominance ‘demon’ begins to act on the courage to look around at the real world, grow-up, and actually care for and about the most incredible beings of the ‘creation’ they claim god made, our women.However, given the truth that the human mind can justify anything (and get into very solidified and group-agreement states), destroying the male fear of global & individual female freedom will only arrive when those individuals and our male progeny finally realize they have unappreciated and disrespected their mothers, and god’s creation. From personal experience, the only strategy I know to clearing is when self-awareness meets self-contradiction – respecting god while disrespecting god’s creation (or the arbitrary female-is-male-derivative idea) in the name of needs, wants, hopes and fears is their most core contradiction.Women and girls all over the world, in all cultures, once they see all of the possibilities of their freedom, realize that this life on earth is all they have in the eternity of the universe, and have simply had it being slaves to religious meaning-making of ink, will cry in regret, pain, and anger so deeply and loudly that scared religious men-of-suppression will pay for sins as vast as all the destroyed lives throughout the history of womankind. That collective global female force, once unleashed, will be powerful beyond belief. But if the male-suppresion monster can so seriously believe in the assumed meaning of one word, then they will certainly believe on the day of global female reckoning. I hope we all can handle it, and expedite its arrival.Truth, Hope, and Love

  • sane1

    actually its “all panelists responses” on the main page…

  • timmy

    Victoria,You said: “I am a muslim woman and i am anything but enslaved.”Then your male counterparts are not following the words of the prophet Mohammed and the Koran. For the book of your faith makes it clear that your position in society is for no other purpose but to serve your man.Try living in the homeland of Islam and see if you are respected as an equal to men.Any muslim man who does not enslave his wife is defying the word of God. It is written Victoria. In your book. Do you just ignore those parts?Religious moderation is hypocrisy.

  • timmy

    Victoria,You said: “I am a muslim woman and i am anything but enslaved.”Then your male counterparts are not following the words of the prophet Mohammed and the Koran. For the book of your faith makes it clear that your position in society is for no other purpose but to serve your man.Try living in the homeland of Islam and see if you are respected as an equal to men.Any muslim man who does not enslave his wife is defying the word of God. It is written Victoria. In your book. Do you just ignore those parts?Religious moderation is hypocrisy.

  • timmy

    Mike,You would have a point if we were attacking religious people.

  • timmy

    Mike,You would have a point if we were attacking religious people.

  • JainePaine

    I thought a while before making this post. One thing that disturbs me about bashing religious institutions, which I do believe is justified and I am proud atheist, is most of the arguments are just noise, the points made just don’t get to the heart of the matter or do much to change things for the better.Anthropoloically speaking most cultures came from some sort of religous activity. One can ask realistically thus, why did humans need religion to develop?My hunch is humans needed leaders and these leaders became deified. Humans began to understand the finality of death – thus a creation of the concept of after life.But to understand woman’s trunaction of rights one has to really understand Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene”. The passing on of our genes sexually means we die and our children inherit who we are. We maximize our genetic future by diversifying who the papa is. Once men began to realize they were papas to each child one at time it was in their interest to minimize the raising of other mens’ children. In Daniel Boorstin’s book, “The Discoverers” I got the impression that civilization advanced not due to religious control of society but rather through harnessing an understanding of the world and applying in the form of technology.One of my favorate quotes is from Ernst Cassirer:We can bash all the religions but bashing is easy, what we must do is show a better way to advance civilization. Whether it is how women are treated or how we polute we must learn to control ourselves and do this for future generations not some intangible reward in heaven or fear of eternal damnnation in hell.

  • wm

    JainePaine, I think that for more people to become interested in finding better ways of living that advance civilization, it is helpful to point out deficiencies in religions’ teachings. Many decent, religious people aren’t aware of the poisoned ground they stand on. Perhaps some of them, if they were aware, would seek healthier pastures. Pointing out the poisoned ground does not prevent us from working to create a better future for beings on this planet. It may help create allies in that work.

  • Grace

    I haven’t read all the posts but finally couldn’t be quiet a moment longer.The examples Sam provides and the postings that I read justifiably provoke our outrage about the way women are treated. I want to make a point that these unfair attitudes toward women don’t occur in obsure parts of the US or in Muslim areas only. This is occurring everyday in our country now. There are so many branches of Christianity in the US today that require women to never cut their hair, always where skirts, and make their prayers to God through a man. These practices keep them subservient to men not only for prayer-life but also for financial security. I knew a woman who finally left an abusive husband but her practice of always wearing a skirt as dictated be her church, prevented her from being promoted at a job that required her to wear a jumpsuit for safety. Neither the church nor the workplace would make an exception.It was only in the late 1970′s that states began to pass laws that recognized marital rape. Until then it was considered to be impossible to “rape” your wife because a man had a right to have sex with his wife no matter what she wanted.Women who leave their abusive husbands often lose their children to their abuser. They often are not protected by the law through protection orders, police often do not respond promptly or at all to domestic calls.All of this is a remnant of “religious” thinking that influenced so many of people’s attitudes, ideas, and fears. This is what we are still up against in the US, as well as throughout the world.Thank you, Sam, and everyone for your outrage and support for women.

  • J.

    Victoria is the perfect example for our philosophical question of “are the oppressed oppressed if they interpret that oppression as sacrosanct” or in a positive light as Victoria describes her burqa (spelling?): “it is the greatest equalizer of all”; by wearing it she and other muslim women are “defining ourselves as intellectual and spiritual beings.” (Wow. I didn’t know it meant something so noble. Most women look demur and scared behind that narrow slit.)One love, J.”We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”– Joan Didion

  • Grace

    Just a quick note to Timmy..

  • Bill

    Incisive and articulate but more than a little enervating.

  • M Mitchell

    When I see Muslim women wearing the veil in our streets, I try to feel a “live and let live” attitude. However, I do not accomplish this because, despite how they may say the wear the veil out of choice and as a symbol of modesty, I can only think of the subjugation that you speak of in your recent aricle. Fundamentalist christian and Judaic women suffer the same subjugation, but without the obvious outward signs. Unfortunatley, I think we Atheists are fighting a losing battle. My moderate Christian friends will listen to my views but are so brainwashed that they smugly tolerate them without any chance of changing their beliefs. Sad but true.

  • CS

    J: Well put. This question is really stumping me, and part of the problem is that I can’t truly see it from any other point of view than my own. But the point that freedom means different things to different people (and cultures) is a powerful one. The prof I heard lecture last night brought up the point that in a way our culture loses freedom through technology, for example. All the things that are designed to make life more convenient, in a way make things more difficult–when we get an email, we don’t have the leisure of taking several weeks to answer; we feel compelled to answer immediately; we’re constantly attached to our cell phones and computers, etc, and consequently spend less time in nature (and less time reading, talking face to face, thinking, etc). A tribe in the Amazon (for example) may seem themselves as more free than we are. Granted technological advancement can’t be compared in scale to the oppression of women in a culture, but it makes the point that freedom is somewhat relative. We see our technological advancements in a very positive light, but in a way they have a degree of control over us. How much does freedom come down to perspective? What is the standard for freedom? Is there an absolute freedom? Victoria, thanks for your input. Thought-provoking.

  • CS

    Off topic–but do you think there’s any way we could convince the site admins to set this up more as a discussion board so we could respond directly to one another instead of having to state who we’re replying to? I’m not liking this setup.

  • Mother

    If sam blames the holy books for the work of individual men claiming to be inspired to war, rape or you name it in their name and the fanatic male population continue the practice of polluting the holy book meanings in service of their evil, where does that leave us?With a bunch of men who can’t own what they are nor locate the cause of it, and holy writing that is lost under the horror of the actions stemming from this fact. Always with men the sophisticated burden that they have been left to carry is blame anyone but yourself .Sam has found a likely thing to point his finger at and has made extremely unscientific links as to the cause.Sam has been brought up and educated by the very system of inequality he decries so loudly and his evidence shouts so loud of his own ignorance that I can hear exactly what he is saying. Sam is right in a way that he does not understand yet.

  • timmy

    JainePaineGreat post. Love those quotes. I agree that simple religion bashing is not going to solve our problems alone. Just like slavery bashing alone, was not enough to end slavery. But a little more public slavery bashing combined with some political action may have subverted the need for the bloodiest war in American history.I know that you are aware of this. Because you closed your post with some very harsh religion bashing of your own. Although I’m not sure if you are aware of the irony of the first line and last line of your final paragraph. what we must do is show a better way to advance civilization. Whether it is how women are treated or how we pollute we must learn to control ourselves and do this for future generations not some intangible reward in heaven or fear of eternal damnation in hell.”I would be extremely offended by that last line if I were religious.

  • timmy

    JainePaineGreat post. Love those quotes. I agree that simple religion bashing is not going to solve our problems alone. Just like slavery bashing alone, was not enough to end slavery. But a little more public slavery bashing combined with some political action may have subverted the need for the bloodiest war in American history.I know that you are aware of this. Because you closed your post with some very harsh religion bashing of your own. Although I’m not sure if you are aware of the irony of the first line and last line of your final paragraph. what we must do is show a better way to advance civilization. Whether it is how women are treated or how we pollute we must learn to control ourselves and do this for future generations not some intangible reward in heaven or fear of eternal damnation in hell.”I would be extremely offended by that last line if I were religious.

  • Robert I. Wexelbaum

    And..So…Was it Eartha Kitt who spit at a president during the Vietnam war? Is it Senator Hillery Rodham Clinton who in my opinioin is both personally and politically controlled by her husband so that she may be a role of exploited control. Is it Conde Rice who echoes the presidents agenda or Nancy Pelosi who seems to become likewise a patsy of political softpedeling? Do any of these woman speak for themselves? I duno but I think that Eartha may have been the only one who spit for herself. This is politically debatable…so let me go on…Sam has not mentioned the role of women in Japan prior to their Americanization brought out by the American occupation, and traditionally remaining to some extent. I had visited an engineer in Japan, whose wife was also an engineer, in 1955. He humbly asked me if it was OK for his wife to be present when we discussed Ham Radio Communication. The role of woman in Japan was, and in some cases still is, extremely humble. This in spite of the fact that many Japanese women are highly educated and skilled and are efficient factory technicians. This is not in my opinion based on religion, for if it is based on an the same thing that the biological needs of organized societies have been based on and will continue to be based on. Woman were educated in Japan, primarily so that they could help their own children learn. Their education in science and math served other purposes after the exporting industrial revolutiuon. Arranged marriages were and probably are still practiced in Japan. A boy can refuse the arrangement upon seeing his proposed wife but a girl can not refuse. This is a matter of honor. Females who are not able to marry become “working women”…not necessarily prostitutes…but women who are often sterilized so they can bear no children. This has become a problem for modern Japan because there is indsignificant population increase. All this goes to show that there is a different role for females in modern society. There always will be a difference and viva la difference!Sociologist Francis Fukuyama looks at the unisexist evolving problem very objectively and explains it in his book “The Great Disruption”. He shows how the role of women has changed since WW2. There are now more women working outside of their homes in the U.S. and not personally caring for their own children. There is little doubt that children who grow up without a mother at home do not develop in the same way that children who have a mother’s attentive care. Also families are now smaller and there are often few or no natural siblings for a child to grow up with. There are pros and cons to it all,…and part of it is similar to the political correctness of giving minorities a chance in the work place. Often women who are raised to high positions can not function efficiently in those positions and in private lives as women at the same time.I am an Atheist Humanist. I believe that I can respect the equal rights of woman in society and in courts of civil law…but making woman into men or vice versa (unless they are naturally Gay or Lesbian) is a policy that is as inhumane as the religious fundamentalism that exploits and punishes woman for the reverse types of behavior.In short…Religious dogma is not the only reason for women’s subservient role in all societies (except maybe the society of legendary Amazons). The biological differences and thus the occupational differences have existed ever since men were the hunters and woman stayed in the cave with the kids. Perverting the biological differences in a unisex world may lead to the future extinction of humans on Earth…faster than global warming could.

  • Anonymous

    Robert-

  • timmy

    Grace Said:GraceLev 20:13Isaiah 13:13-16Please interpret. Put these words of God into context.

  • timmy

    Grace Said:GraceLev 20:13Isaiah 13:13-16Please interpret. Put these words of God into context.

  • Steve M

    Thanks again Sam. I am forwarding this article to my wife and two daughters. I never miss an opportunity to illustrate the “truth” of religion to my daughters. I think I should send this to my mother as well. She recently joined a church (after not belonging to one for decades).

  • CS

    I can’t say I understand people who take a “liberal” interpretation of the bible (or any other “holy” book). Who is to say what should be interpreted literally and what is a metaphor? Doesn’t that kind of picking and choosing to suit your own fancy undermine the supposed truth of a holy book? As an atheist, I am the last person that would advocate reading the bible or koran as anything but interesting fiction, but for religious people–how do you justify liberal interpretations? (Grace, I suppose this question is for you?)

  • Malini

    Thanks Sam for standing up and arguing for the sanity, safety and betterment of all mankind!I’m so happy to see so many participating in the discussions. The personal opinions expressed under each heading/topic are very interesting and fascinating.We do need intellectuals like you around right now, who come forward and suggest that adding “deeper thinking, meaning and reasoning” to our actions is of greater importance than just following the orders. Those involved in the discussions, under the topics you have brought up, are passionate about the subject matter and are making valuable contributions. It is great that you have the general public involved in these discussions!Keep up your good, hard work, and thanks for encouraging us to be “responsible for our own deeds”. In simple terms, we appreciate your guide to “Practical Common Sense”, “Honest to One’s Ownself” and “Self Help” approach in our daily lives!Sam, your PEN is definitely mightier than the SWORD (missiles/bullets/guns/etc.).With countless thanks & wishing you the best,Malini

  • JainePaine

    Tim,I can see how you interpreted my first and last statements and being contradictory. I think is is only true if one (you) pulls it out of the entire statement.My point being is we should strive to understand what advances civilization. If Dawkins is correct then we do it for our futre generations not out of a reward in heaven or fear of hell. The entire last sentence must be taken into account to show my causality is not just about bashing religion.But thanks for at least graping the length and breath of the post.I think in part my slam against Dawkins and Harris and many others is there is more than enough focus on how much releigious institutions have it wrong it should also be about the positive things that human creation has achieved ….. Dawkins does at least do this in part.It is very difficult to change peoples minds by telling them they are all wrong; they are illogical stoooopid etc. Rather it should be like Alexander Pope said or something to this effect, “You must teach men as though they are not being taught.”So far as women issues at being treated unfairly the focus should truly be more about what men do wrong. To just site how women are victims is like saying look at all the litter on the side of the road. Errr yeah and …..I can not for the life of me understand how a adolesent girl eating apple can be blamed for being erotic like Nazir Nafisi describes in, “Reading Lalita in Tehran” which by the way is fantastic and non-fiction. The poor child must take off her veil to eat! Why is not the grown man watching her own his own feelings and admit he can not control his own desires.If Harris wants to site instances where women are being taken advantage of using religious dogma as approval ….why doe he not get into the inequities men possess compared to women found in religous texts? He only goes part way.

  • Carol H

    I scanned this article. I don’t have to read about women and the worlds’ religions to know that religion is both misogynistic and androcentric.

  • Wicks

    The one thing the world really needs at this point is to GET OVER religion. I could chip into my doctoral dissertation (not really) on how it was a critically necessary component in the development of the modern human psyche from that of more primitive animalistic action/reaction, but we’re PAST that. So it would be a huge service to humanity if you, or someone with equivalently rapacious intellect and shrewd interpretive powers of religious texts to write the Antibible.

  • JainePaine

    Maurie,Did you get any kind of a reply from Graham’s daughter?I get a kick out of how bible thumpers just ignore contardictions. I think a while back she wrote some book about the proof of heaven …..The problem is you mentioned her and I replied about her ….what power! We need to stop pointing out the crazy things these people do and start pointing out all the great thing logical and critical thinking people do.Let’s talk about about Nobel Prize Laureates, how a cure for diabetes is just around the corner, how great Chris Botti is at the trumpet on and on about all the other wonderful things people are discoverieng and creating …..Their platform must be dismissed.

  • Randy Lee

    To Victoria: You’re a legendary tease in your own mind. Get over yourself, dear. Islam and Christianity are the foremost proponents of terrorism. This is the instrument through which they enforce their stark enslavement of the “flock”. That’s the truth Victoria – why participate in the brutality and horror??

  • rosie

    sam harris is an alarmist. He complains too much about religion and sounds false alarms to make you and I believe that the majority of religious human beings on planet earth mean us harm. If this is true, where is the evidence? Last time I checked, most human beings on earth are living productive and peaceful lives. If we were to take Harris seriously we would think that most religious human beings are dangerous. Truth is they are not. There are 5 billion people on earth…most are religious…they are not coming for Sam Harris!!!

  • Maurie Beck

    Jaine Paine,What is so funny and sad about Anne Graham Lotz is that she dutifully followed in her father’s footsteps, supporting him in every way, while Franklin was the prodigal son, sinning his way across America. Guess who took over Billy’s ministry? That’s right folks, Franklin. So much for equality among men and women.

  • E. Favorite

    Ron – Hugh Heffner does not set himself up as a moral leader — just as a sex enthusiast. So his attitudes about women don’t need to meet any standards besides “It it feels good, do it.”God has higher standards, no?

  • Tammy Irwin

    There have been so many excellent posts again this time around, I add mine only in the interest of being counted once again.

  • Phil C

    CS – discouraged because people in real life don’t speak out as athiests? start a trend – next chance you get, say “I’m an atheist!”

  • JainePaine

    Tammy,I am glad you brought this subject of women being more active in religious activies at church. I have a hunch about that one.Supposedly anthropologists say that women lost much power when we humans began agrarian socities, the idea being that they stayed in one location and families began to own the land and hand it down from genration to generation. Well this became problematic, who moved where and who inherited what …… women the weaker sex had no property rights and thus fathers, husbands and sons owned everything; problem solved. BTW huamns began to understand numbers about this time because the tax man had to figure out how much was owed to him from unusal shaped properties like along river sides.Women had a strong vested interest that the husbands only had one wife and that she would be looked after forever.Anything that threathens a wife’s singularity and promise of the husband to seek no other “till death do us part” is the source of much of womens devote to some scared text. Well, that’s my take on it.This notion is completely against natural tendencies. In mammals only about 3% are monogamous. But, I can also counter that humans have free will. Humans have huge frontal lobes to assess long term interets and consequenses in behavior. Most of the time humans assess in the long run unless things are really bad on their domestic front staying monogamous is the thing to do or at least don’t get caught.

  • CS

    Maurie–Thanks very much for the link. Approaching the question of why humans needed religion to develop from an evolutionary biological standpoint is absolutely crucial. I think Dawkins’ background in this area is what makes his criticisms of religion resonate so well with me. I’m eager to learn more about this topic–any suggestions for further reading would be appreciated.

  • Tammy

    Oh, yes, the sacrosanct status given (unfairly) to monogamous male/female sexual relationships. Jaine, you bring up an excellent point, and it brings me to one that may be equally unpopular or misunderstood.

  • JainePaine

    Thanks Maurie!Here is one question they are involved with, why did the difference in size become less different between men and women? Isn’t this interesting!

  • Tammy

    Maurie Beck, I, too, must thank you for the link & info.

  • Tammy

    Jaine, I only recently heard of evulotionary psychologists, like Geoffry Miller, and you’re right. It’s fascinating, and again I have to repeat how lucky we are to live in a time when technology allows us to uncover so much about our cosmos.Please share any more names of people I should be reading, or sites I should visit.

  • kaattie

    “Dan Alexander:I’m thankful for this forum, and finally reading a balanced discussion regarding the myth of God. I’ve never bought this sky god nonsense, and have grown weary of holding my tongue to keep the peace. Thank you all for speaking up.”Dan Alexander, I agree completely. The fact that ‘we made it all up’ is the central one.Victoria – do you believe that Allah dictated your holy book? If so, how can you account for the absolute barbarism contained in its pages? If not, why bother??? Why should you hold yourself bound to some ancient iron-age garbage??? Truly, your views exemplify the concept of child abuse, as you were brainwashed to believe (have faith in) such nonsense from an early age. Yes, give me those bumper stickers. [Like they will do any good, as it is the abuser who perpetuates the total un-reason and inflicts it on the child. Kind of like spanking.] Let’s get a law forbidding religious indoctrination. Let’s start by getting rid of “God” in the pledge of allegiance. I have brainwashed my children to say “Dog” when forced to recite such nonsense – and, guess what, it has worked!Who on this site believes that any of the “holy” books actually represent THE WORD OF GOD as you know it? If so, how can you justify the barbarism in the pages of these books?With regard to the evolution of women – Darwin again holds sway. In this day and age, the MAN who fails to court the strongest WOMAN will find his genes becoming extinct. Hooray! Now if only I could become immortal, I could live to see the triumph of woman over inanity….

  • Bill Manville

    We are told that Christ paid with his blood to redeem our sins. Who named that price, one that would have shamed Shylock himself?

  • Agnostic Anarch

    Where do I get myself one of these obedient Christian women I can alternately sex up and beat down at will? Sounds fun! I could just use the scripture to back up my pimp-slap like Bakker and Swaggart must have done. Sam, you should really write a quick guide to the Bible (similar to Ken’s Guide to the Bible) with your sharp sarcastic wit… something to show us all exactly how The Man uses the Bible to keep women, the masses and everything under control! You know your Bible (and apparently your Koran, too), and your guide to the Bible would be a very useful tool in fighting off the clueless Christian hordes.~AA

  • Agnostic Anarch

    Where do I get myself one of these obedient Christian women I can alternately sex up and beat down at will? Sounds fun! I could just use the scripture to back up my pimp-slap like Bakker and Swaggart must have done. Sam, you should really write a quick guide to the Bible (similar to Ken’s Guide to the Bible) with your sharp sarcastic wit… something to show us all exactly how The Man uses the Bible to keep women, the masses and everything under control! You know your Bible (and apparently your Koran, too), and your guide to the Bible would be a very useful tool in fighting off the clueless Christian hordes.~AA

  • Ken

    Sam, Proud of you and Richard, again. Hearing the product of our ancestral mythologies and superstitions reigning such distrubing terror on so many lives, with such ‘tribal’ acceptance, leaves me numb and embarassed as a human.And as so many attempt to dismiss these actions as extremist, they neglect to recall that religious moderation is the foundation of extremism; tolerance is the birthplace of fundamentalism.And it all begs the question; Does God ignore the prayers of woman? Omnitience would plead otherwise.

  • Ed Bleynat

    Pericles, in his funeral oration in the Pelopenesian War, honored the dead Athenian men. He also said that the best thing for a woman to do was stay home and out of sight.He was not of an Abrahamaic faith.He was from the first broad-based democracy (at least for free male citizens).The connection between the People of the Book and sexism is non-exclusive.

  • Thomas Davidson

    This should strike a few chords amongts the brethern of believers…….not!(they are like children,or sheep). Give them “candy” of platitudes and they follow any “leader of the faith”.

  • marlene

    I second WM. My husband and I, independent of each other, reached the conclusion of being atheists. After the lifelong Catholic indoctrination, we are free!!! My husband and I are equals working together as a team well over 22 years. He is my confidant, my best friend, a great father. I know he feels the same way about me. We teach our son that respect is earned and given to ALL people regardless of the useless labels that we ascribe to them (incl. the atheist label). Sam, I know how you feel about the term “atheist”; frankly, I use it as a badge of honor. All that matters is that I am here right now and what I do now matters now and not in some future “heavenly” place. Heaven and hell are part of this existence. Make the best of it. I hope that some day, Muslim women can take their rightful place next to the rest of us in the world. How can we help them NOW?

  • Nimbu

    Sam, you’ve done it again. Only you and Dawkins seem to be able to put in text what I and many like me feel about Christianity and Islam. I don’t understand why women in both religions don’t rise up against this sort of text. Have we gotten to a point where we don’t want to argue against fundamentalists, when clearly they can point to “holy” scripture?Thanks and keep it up.

  • DS

    This is very true and further illuminates the sad world we reside in. We seemingly progressed technologically, intellectually, but then again, certain groups of people still hold onto barbaric practices and primitive thinking, apposed to all logic.

  • Jezetha

    Religion is the invention of frightened men. If humanity wants to emerge from its infancy and puberty, it could do worse than to realize this.This century needs adults.

  • Raza Usman

    Once again a logical, rational, clearly written article that should be taught in the schools (along with “The End of Faith”) instead of the lies of history called religion.

  • Charlie Harper

    Yet another great read Sam. Organized religion is not applicable to this day and age. Since reading your books I can’t help but feel a huge lack of respect for anyone who believes in these old books anymore. We should no longer allow religion and their imaginary friends to ruin this world.

  • Charlie Harper

    Yet another great read Sam. Organized religion is not applicable to this day and age. Since reading your books I can’t help but feel a huge lack of respect for anyone who believes in these old books anymore. We should no longer allow religion and their imaginary friends to ruin this world.

  • Donna Allen

    As a little girl I used to come home from Sunday school and punch my inflated Bobo the Clown doll, pretending that he was God. And that was before I ever read Leviticus. Religion oppresses and divides. I picked up on that at a very early age.

  • eriebman

    Dan Brown depicted the oppressive nature of Christianity toward women in the guise of fiction. Needing no pretense, Sam Harris shows how the real arguments are much stronger and more shocking than fiction.

  • Bugbuster

    WM says that some Christians or Muslims don’t believe the religious doctrines cited in the article. How can that be? If you believe that God wrote the book and that God is infallible, then it is a contradiction to believe that anything in the book is wrong. WM is, I think, referring to “religious moderates.” At best these “religious moderates” are guilty of intellectual dishonesty, at worst, self-serving hypocrisy.

  • Carissa Robinson

    I guess this information should not come as a shock to alot of you readers, i mean we are still talking about the same “god” who orders his minions to stone to death a woman who does not scream loud enough when she is raped, because that woild make her an accessory to her own dishonor, the same god who says that if a woman grabs man’s genitals during the act of rape to protect herself, will have that hand amputated. but remember this is also the “god” that promises eternal paradise if you just follow these “minor” requests of his. When will people realize that the bible is the absolute biggest crock of dung ever?

  • Hobart Sphnow

    Thank you Sam Harris for pointing out the misogynist horrors of the religions we in the Western world encounter every day. I live in the United States, a country heavily influenced by Christianity. For me, the numbers say it all. All of the women I know have been affected by sexism, and many of them have been sexually assaulted and raped–horribly many. It’s just not OK to place the sexist myths of the Bible on such a pedastal. It’s an affront to civilization.

  • wm

    After reading this, I’m feeling depressed … I think I’ll go let my husband cheer me up. Thankfully he’s an atheist and over the last 10 years has never shown a single sign of viewing women as being inferior to men or deserving of subjugation. I’m sure glad we’re not Christians or Muslims who buy into that nonsense (not that all of them do)! I’m sure my daughter will be glad as well.

  • Aaron Zaber

    Given these examples, how can believers continue to say that their religion provides moral guidance worthy of any respect? Religious moderates are clearly using other benchmarks to guide them, ones that are more closely tied to drivers of human happiness and suffering, and also available to all of us.

  • Beverly Davies

    i like everything you write, i carry your book/s with me everywhere. right now am reading The God Delusion. he is as good as you are. love you both, bev

  • Kati

    To NIMBU: you ask “I don’t understand why women in both religions don’t rise up against this sort of text” – is it GOD (all-powerful, etc.) whose word tells you to be a (sex)slave and endure all because you are born a woman, then that’s unfortunately for many a more powerful argument than if it is just the guy next door…

  • janusz Kowalik

    Sam,

  • bud arkules

    Agnostic Anarch, above, asked Sam to write a guide to the Bible. A comprehensive guide exists: The Encyclopedia Of Biblical Errancy by C. Dennis Mckinsey. This wonderful, scholarly tome also has a section on the Koran and The Book of Mormon.

  • Ryan Hoffnagle

    Ed,

  • Village Green

    Growing up godless and female, I was never attracted to anything remotely patriarchal — whether religion, government or corporations. It amazes me that women continue to buy into Big Daddy in the Sky religions. They just set themselves up for abuse and degradation — at home, in church and in the workplace.

  • Village Green

    Growing up godless and female, I was never attracted to anything remotely patriarchal — whether religion, government or corporations. It amazes me that women continue to buy into Big Daddy in the Sky religions. They just set themselves up for abuse and degradation — at home, in church and in the workplace.

  • CS

    NIMBU says: “I don’t understand why women in both religions don’t rise up against this sort of text.”Because we can only rise up against something if we are consciously aware of its iniquity. That is more harmful thing about religion, in my opinion: its rationalization of backwards attitudes and hurtful actions in the “name of God.” Do many Muslim women see the scarf on their head as limiting their freedom, or do they see it as becoming closer to God (and hence actually more free)? How does a person recognize that they are being wronged within the context of a fundamentally wrong system? Our western conception of “freedom” is entirely different. I went to a fascinating lecture by a professor of Islamic Studies last night, and he emphasized that in Islam, spiritual freedom is the only true freedom, and that material freedom does not matter. If Muslim women buy into that standpoint, do they realize they are “enslaved”?

  • Joel Wheeler

    Thank you Sam, yet again, for being knowledgeable enough, and articulate enough to say what we’ve all wanted to say for so long, but couldn’t. My only contention with what you wrote is simply that you write of polygamy as though it were a bad thing in and of itself. I agree that there are polygamist cults out there who mistreat “their” women. But a modern polygamist relationship in which all partners are equal, and are treated like human beings, can be a huge benefit to those involved. So I just wanted to point out that polygamy isn’t evil or bad, it’s just the groups out there who practice it as a religious tenet.

  • Ernst Lurker

    What the world needs is a female Christ, Buddha or Mohamed to lift humanity from that religious barbarism. Secular politicians or scientists can’t do it, but a religious figure might succeed. The popes have obviously been asleep during the history of Christianity.

  • Chuck Wehner

    I can still remember being dragged to Christian Scientist sunday school by my grandmother when I was a young boy. I never understood why my parents didn’t go with me. I can also still remember, sitting in sunday school even as a young boy thinking “why” about what was being taught.I have tried several times over the years (I am now 64) to attain faith, only to again think “why” it just doesn’t make any sense. Its all archaic thought and not worth taking seriously.It really scares me to see the prominence of these fanatics in the world.

  • rod r.

    “we” indoctrinate our children with blind faith in gods, blind patriotism, blind allegiance to authority, etc. “blind” meaning “without thought”. why do people embrace faith? because thinking is work. faith is easy. those who will control men need only provide a bromide that will replace the thought process for those for whom it is painful to think (most of humanity). how do we expect education to “work” when we bombard kids with appeals to faith?sam – take up the eugenics banner!! stop describing and complaining and propose solutions! love your stuff!

  • Bob Bock

    Well done Mr Harris.

  • kaattie

    Hey, Anonymous, are there more than one of you? Are you of many minds? In any case, your posts belie the need you obviously have to remain nameless.’Anonymous’ said:”Isn’t it odd that atheists claim to be experts on a subject while at the same time proudly proclaiming their ignorance of or indifference toward that subject?”The persons posting on this site who self-proclaim to be without belief in “God” make no claim to expertise in the subject of an ancient, papyrus-thin bunch of hooey. We merely claim to reject said hooey on the basis of reason. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of evil (religious indoctrination), we shall fear no evil: for we have no fear of — evil anachronistic archaic sadistic (sheep-schlepping – ’cause what WOMAN would have them?) — bull-dung written by misogynistic morons who murdered millions of mothers.

  • Elconejo

    Alas,alas,yakity,yak. All this venting,as we slide deeper and deeper into the abyss of ignorance and arrogance. Oh well,the first step toward the light comes as one relalizes that one is in the darkness. There is a “PEACE” that is just beyond our physical understanding. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You can go there. Just be still and it will find you.

  • Anonymous

    Someone, did the rest of your education stop at 16? Is there any other subject about which you would be comfortable saying publicly, “I learned absolutely everything I will ever need to know by the time I was 16″?

  • CS

    Anonymous (presuming there’s only one of you), please use some kind of indentifying tag…initials or something. Makes it easier to discuss given the rather crappy forum we’re given here. Thanks.

  • CS

    Anonymous–in reference to your question to ‘someone.’ I can only assume that you’re religious. So can you say you’ve learned everything you need to to be certain of your faith? If not, are you skeptical and willing to question your beliefs?

  • Robin

    Abuse is alive and well in christianity.Some years ago, I had a female friend that lived a very abusive life with her husband and family.She often talked about leaving him except that her minister told her it would be a sin. She told me that the minister told her, although, since her husband was not a practicing christian that if he left her it would not be a sin of hers, but god would frown on her walking away from the marriage and recited the passage in the bible that backed this up. Even though she was being abused. She was told this was a test of her faith in God and she needed to believe that God was there beside her during her trials with this marriage.One night her husband did a bad number on her physically. She called me and I went to her house. I wanted her to leave with me. She said her minister was coming over. He came, I sat and listened to how he explained about this being a test of faith and prayed with her. I pulled him aside and told him I think she needs to get herself and children out of here before he (the husband) returns. He told me that that is not possible for a Christian. And on he went with his explanation. I told him that in my opinion he was just as much of an abuser for helping this situation perpetuate itself instead of giving her the proper guidance (in my opinion) on getting out while she was still alive.They had 5 children at that time. She stayed in that marriage till that man finally did leave 15 years later. Out of the 5 children, one went on to college, 1 became a stripper and drug addict. One of the others is sitting in jail. The other two have their share of problems with drugs and alcohol. Yep, this was her test of faith that took a toll on the whole family. In my opinion God and the Church failed her and those children, miserably.

  • Dave Mead

    “During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.”Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such a thing as a witch–the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. . .”There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell-fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. . .The texts remain; it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession–and take the credit of the correction.”~ Mark Twain (another Sam), from _Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race_.

  • kaatie

    The b-s really starts flying here in the early morning hours. What fun!El Conejo said:”All this venting,as we slide deeper and deeper into the abyss of ignorance and arrogance.”Who is sliding? I am rising, thanks to the inspiration of posters on this site, who were in turn inspired by Sam Harris’s fearless words. The abyss of ignorance and arrogance is where those who have “faith” in words of “God” “Yahweh” “Allah” or even “The Flying Spaghetti Monster” dwell.

  • CS

    Hey now, don’t question the validity of the FSM. RAmen. :0)

  • Tammy

    Because Twain is such a literary staple, it’s easy for us to forget what an iconoclast he was.

  • Someone

    Anonymous,No, my education and religious education did not stop at 16. At different stages in my life while searching for some meaning, attended several different faith based churchs’ and studies. I owned 5 different bibles that I read often. In the end, it still made no sense to me. In the end the only thing that worked for me was to understand that putting my faith in something that wasn’t there was hurting me more than understanding I had to put my faith in myself and my fellow human beings to have real understanding and meaning in my life. I search no more and no further than my library, amazon.com, my friends, family and myself. I couldn’t be more happier and at peace.Thank you.

  • Deena Unson

    You are barking up the wrong tree. Let’s say for a moment that atheism acheives complete success and eliminates all forms of religion all over the world. Do you believe that we will then have complete peace and justice on earth? Think again. Human beings will find some other means to justify/support/legitimize their natural tendency to oppress and violate the weaker members of humanity.

  • Anonymous

    CS says, “Theists base their worldview on blind faith, yet the[y] claim to have absolute knowledge of the truth.” That’s a pretty categorical statement. What about those non-atheists whose faith is not blind and who do not claim absolute knowledge (the majority of Christians, for example)?kaattie, after disclaiming any knowledge of the subject, rejects “an ancient, papyrus-thin bunch of hooey…on the basis of reason.” Is it reasonable to reject out of hand something about which one acknowledges his/her own ignorance? To my point, kaattie hesitates not a nanosecond to strongly characterize the object of her professed indifference and ignorance. Makes your head want to explode.

  • Anonymous

    does anyone else think Sam Harris looks like Ben Stiller’s evil twin? Scary-looking dude.

  • CS

    If the majority of Christians don’t claim to be sure of their faith, why do they call themselves Christians and not agnostics? Any truly thinking person, whether they lean more toward theism or atheism, should honestly consider themself an agnostic. Personally, I’m an agnostic of the teapot variety, in reference to Bertrand Russell’s famous analogy that there’s no way to prove that there isn’t a tiny teapot orbiting Mars, but there certainly isn’t any evidence for such a thing. I’ve never heard a Christian (or Muslim or Jew) describe themselves as agnostic…have you?In addition, I think all religious faith is blind in that there is absolutely no empirical evidence to base it on. You either accept it or you don’t, because there’s no way to test it. To me, that’s blind.Your thoughts? (And an identifying name, please?)

  • kaattie

    Hey CS you have a point, R’Amen. As I recall from my theology studies, the FSM has yet to speak. But just because the Holy One has a meatball or possibly Complex Semolina Carbohydrates for a mouth doesn’t mean It won’t speak yet. We might have to wait for rapture to find out Its Holy Purpose.

  • Dave Mead

    I forgot to add Twain’s last line:”. . .and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.”He was talking, of course, about the end of slavery. And, sure enough, ask any evangelical who has an opinion on the matter at all–Who was chiefly responsible for turning public opinion against slavery?–and they will credit the churches (especially Charles G. Finney and other leaders of the Second Great Awakening).So, Twain’s words were indeed prophetic (pardon pun). English majors unite!

  • CS

    English major right here! :0)

  • Not my real name

    CS, I’m formerly Anonymous and will use this handle for now (too late or early to be creative)… Thanks for your question and I will reply.

  • Peter C. Davis

    Marvelous piece, Sam. After 67 years on this planet, I’m convinced that most of humanity is terrified to the degree that it suffers from mass psychosis in the form of fanaticism. Not all, but most of this fanaticism comes in the various forms of organized religion.

  • CS

    Peter–

  • Anonymous

    Peter writes:”I think fear may be at the root of the pervasiveness of religious belief through the centuries. However, most people that are religious today are that way because they have been raised as such. Children become religious because their parents teach them to be; so many remain religious because skepticism, rationality, and introspection are not characteristics we value in mainstream society.”That may be true of many religious “moderates.” Most conservative Christians, however, are still very much motivated by fear. My own family is filled with them.

  • kaattie

    Okay, Anon, I have to bite back on your post:”kaattie, after disclaiming any knowledge of the subject…Is it reasonable to reject out of hand something about which one acknowledges his/her own ignorance?”I in no way admitted ignorance or lack of knowledge with regard to this topic, in fact likely we all possess sufficient knowledge to reject the notions espoused by the papyrus-books out of hand. Else one could ask, “Do you lack the expertise in the practice of magic? Yes? Well then how can you question that my magic act is a trick?”

  • CS

    Peter–You’re absolutely right. My conviction about a lot of moderate theists is that they give a lot of lip service to their belief and don’t necessarily believe with the degree of certainty they profess. I think that conservative (or fundamentalist) theists have stronger convictions, and since they truly believe in sin and the possibility of spending eternity in hell, fear is a stronger force. Do I have that right, or do you feel it’s something else your family members ‘fear’?

  • Me

    LOL Anon,I will admit that picture doesn’t do him justice. It also does not take anything away from his messages.

  • Robert I. Wexelbaum

    To anonymous…

  • Not my real name

    CS says, “Any truly thinking person, whether they lean more toward theism or atheism, should honestly consider themself an agnostic.” By your definition I would agree, and have no problem with it. Yes, there are Christians who acknowledge that in that very literal sense we’re all “agnostic”, since we have no way to know “for sure”.There is a common misconception that faith equals certitude and therefore admits of no doubt. But certitude has no need of faith. If I am certain of something, then I do not need faith because I have sure knowledge. Conversely, faith requires doubt, and must co-exist with doubt, because without doubt, I have certitude, not faith. Nor can faith exist without freedom, because I can not have faith except to the degree I freely assent.

  • Bernie Bee

    It has just occurred to me that Victoria is a fraud! May Allah strike me pink if it isn’t so!

  • Robin

    CSI am not sure I was clear on what I meant. Let me clarify.*Generally speaking these type of people cannot be controlled. I don’t mean that negatively. I mean as in brainwashed.* I meant the skeptical, rational and introspective folk can’t be controlled.And the masses want order in the court. Its human nature to want people to agree with you because then you don’t have to question yourself about your thoughts or beliefs about anything. So its no wonder that there is so much pressure on religionists. They give it all to God, then they don’t have to do the hard work.

  • CS

    N.M.R.N. –Your statement concerning freedom relies on the premise that human beings have absolute free will, an assumption that would be highly contested by many philosophers. I believe we have some degree of free will, but certainly not absolute. If a person is raised to be a Muslim, chances of them becoming a Christian or a Jew or very low–because of their circumstances, they are not wholly free to choose their worldview.

  • Dave Mead

    CS writes:Sorry, I’m the one who posted that–I accidentally posted anonymously.Oh, they fear hell alright, especially mine. By “mine” I mean the Hell of Unbelief, of the abyss of nihilism to which they’re afraid my views will lead them, should they venture beyond niceties at Christmastime and actually carry on a conversation with me.Of course, they fear a literal hell, too. They talk more often about the devil than they do about God!

  • CS

    Deena, The other, more fundamental point, is that if religion is indeed untrue, it is harmful because of just that. Progress relies on a human species that is ever searching for truth, not delusion. Thoughts?

  • CS

    Robin, “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

  • Not my real name

    Robin says, “So its no wonder that there is so much pressure on religionists. They give it all to God, then they don’t have to do the hard work.” Kind of a prejudiced assertion, don’t you think?Look, it’s human nature to think we’re “right”, either because [a] the alternative never occurred to us, or [b] we do challenge our own beliefs and freely change them, but require better arguments than ones we’ve already heard.I see precious little evidence that atheists are any more likely to “do the hard work” than those you call “religionists”. That’s my point above about people who claim they embraced atheism at age six and never looked back.

  • CS

    Ah, sorry Dave–I thought Peter had posted that. We really need a real discussion board on this site! I emailed the post…not really expecting a response. “Oh, they fear hell alright, especially mine. By “mine” I mean the Hell of Unbelief, of the abyss of nihilism to which they’re afraid my views will lead them…”That’s one of the worst misconceptions of non-belief. As a secular humanist, I find my “worldview” (though I hate to use that term) extremely fulfilling and not the least bit nihilistic. I find so much beauty in seeing the world and the universe as it truly is (to the best of my ability given the limitations of scientific knowledge) and so much value in my own life becaue it is finite. It astounds me that theists think non-believers must lead empty, “meaningless” lives.That’s another thing that bothers me…people always ask me, “If you don’t believe in God, what’s the purpose of life?” I don’t think there is a “purpose,” (an end goal) but that certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t “meaning.” Meaning is, to me, what you make of the life you lead…and you certainly don’t need a god to do that.

  • CS

    My views on the existence of a deity are complex, but they can be neatly summed up into yet another Carl sagan quote: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Atheists don’t need to “do the hard work”; they’re simply acknowledging the obvious: there is no evidence for god. Theists are the ones that have to do the work because they’re the ones claiming something exists despite the fact that they have absolutely no evidence. A favorite Sam Harris passage…”Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply an admission of the obvious. In fact, “atheist” is a term that should not ever exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non astrologer” or a “non-alchemist”. We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”

  • CS

    On that note, I’m off to bed. Look forward to continuing the discussion tomorrow. :)

  • Not my real name

    CS,I appreciate your taking the time to reply and your sincerity in doing so. The questions were offered in good faith (forgive the expression), and in a spirit of inquiry. I don’t imply any kind of criticism, nor do I seek to persuade you of anything, but I will respond as honestly as I can.You say, “…I would raise [children] to be independent and thoughtful, and those two things alone are two of the greatest prerequisites for a meaningful life.” Curiously you don’t mention the capacity to love, which I’d have thought would have topped the list. Why do you care about environmental sustainability? Why do you care about contributing to society, especially after you’re gone?I still don’t understand the purely rational basis for your belief that your life has meaning and value. Is it something you “know”, or something you simply choose to “believe” because that belief gives you comfort? If the former, *how* do you know? If the latter, just how does that differ from a leap of faith?In my experience most self-identified atheists respond by offering some variation of “because I say so, that’s why”. They fall back on the language of faith (all the while denying it of course, and invariably inserting the extraneous information that they don’t need no stinkin’ deity or afterlife — which wasn’t the question). The stories they tell themselves about “meaning” are not purely rational and amount to faith, however repugnant they like to think they find that word. In the absence of absolute knowledge, everything but suicide depends on faith.

  • JB

    It has been asserted here that some of us who are non-believers don’t have a comprehensive knowledge of the so-called ‘holy’ books.Well, that might be true in some cases, but it’s obviously not true in Sam Harris’ case.Nor mine. I was brought up in a fundamentalist christian family and was taken to sunday school and church every week where we were taught from and read from the bible. At home, every morning before breakfast my siblings and I took turns reading from the bible before we could eat. At night, we had to read the bible before we went to sleep. I probably read the whole thing from cover to cover three or four times. You want to know what made me an atheist? It was reading the bible and discovering what horrendous things there are in it! After a while my reason took over and I realized that the “Wholly Novel” was definately NOT the kind of moral guidebook that any clear thinking person would wish to live by.Its all there in black and white (or in some cases black and white with the words attributed to jesus printed in red) folks, the intolerence, the barbarism, the ignorance and the lies. You can choose to gloss over the disturbing parts like my parents or the people who went to my church did, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. They are and there’s plenty of them.A book on this subject has been written by Dr. Jason Long entitled “Biblical Nonsense”. I challenge any believer to read it and then tell me that the bible is a good guide for morality or is literally true. If that’s not enough for you, try Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion”, especially chapter 7. Then try to tell me that the “Good Book” truly is good.

  • Anonymous

    Gerry, you’re definitely not alone! I copped it as well for using dreamt in place of dreamed by another from the land of notorious bum spellers!

  • Not my real name

    CS says, “Meaning is, to me, what you make of the life you lead.”Uh, okay, but why? If it has meaning only “to me”, and “I” am finite, who cares?Are you certain it has meaning, or is that merely a lovely, faith-filled sentiment?Why would your puny existence have meaning if the universe doesn’t?If you have or expect to have children, will their lives have meaning? You sure? If you aren’t sure, is it moral to bring them into the world? How is that not an act of faith?If the meaning of your puny existence derives from its finitude, why not just end it right now? You have a single purely rational evidence-based excuse for hanging around?

  • Dave Mead

    CS writes:One of the wisest priests (Episcopal) I ever met, a man who has no truck with orthodox religion (I really believe he had become an agnostic by the time he retired) absolutely hated “Jesus movies.” “The only Jesus movie worth your time,” he used to to tell me, “is Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian.’”I agree with him. The “meaning” of life (another great Python flick, btw), for me anyway, is humor.

  • Anonymous

    “the end result of eradicating religion would be a world populated by, on the whole, more critically thinking people.”This statement supposes NOT that uncritical thinking sustains religion, but that religion actually is the primary CAUSE of such thinking, which would magically disappear in its absence. Both propositions are dubious, but the latter seems quite ridiculous.All of which begs the question, is your motivation really the advancement of reason irrespective of religion, or is it rather simply a childish animus against religion per se?

  • Ted Swart

    To Victoria and those who critique herI don’t think for one minute that Victoria is a fraud. She has posted thoughtful contributions on this and numerous other threads and comes over as perfectly genuine. That is not to say that she does not turn a blind eye to aspects of her faith which are less than savoury. She has, in other threads, said good things about the Muslim Haj (the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca) and the way in which it attracts Muslims of all races on earth but she fails to mention the crude sacrifice of animals involved — which, in this day and age, is inexcusable.

  • Dave Mead

    Not My Real Name writes:”If the meaning of your puny existence derives from its finitude, why not just end it right now? You have a single purely rational evidence-based excuse for hanging around?”We must imagine that Sisyphus is happy.

  • Bernie Bee

    Well Ted, what have us kuffers to make of the koranic injunction that it is quite in order for all good muslims to perpetrate all forms of deceipt and lies and harm on us.Vic’s subertefuge is mild by comparison what they usually get up to!

  • Not my real name

    JB, fundamentalism is a relatively recent and peculiarly American phenomenon. The majority of the world’s Christians are not fundamentalists. Rejecting fundamentalism is not the same as rejecting the Christian faith. I don’t get the sense from your reply that you pursued any serious formal education as an adult or investigated the Christian faith beyond the fundamentalist sect of your youth (and I don’t mean just reading scripture). I’m inclined to stand by my observation.

  • Tammy

    Okay, all you English majors, I must thank you for keeping me in good company. I’ve been hanging my head a lot lately because it seems all the really cool atheists are scientists:)Robert W., take heart! It may be true that most educated women are birthin’ fewer babies, but if you saw me with my 4, you might mistake me for one of those Quiverfulls.Things aren’t always as they seem! The only fitting comparison between children and arrows that I’ve seen is from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

  • Not my real name

    And what do you think “life’s longing for itself” is, if not God?

  • DuckPhup

    NOT MY REAL NAME wrote:”There is a common misconception that faith equals certitude and therefore admits of no doubt.”– That would seem to be YOUR misconception. Faith has to do with ‘trust’. ‘Faith’ (wishful, magical thinking) is a paltry SUBSTITUTE for evidence… it is the BASIS for ‘belief’. It is ‘belief’ that represents certitude… the internalized conviction that one knows the ‘Truth’ pertaining to some fundamental aspect of existence and/or reality. ‘Belief’ is a piddling SUBSTITUTE for knowledge. Faith + belief —> willful ignorance and self-delusion. –”But certitude has no need of faith. If I am certain of something, then I do not need faith because I have sure knowledge.”– Well, now, that’s a pretty absurd thing to say. So, if you are ‘certain’ that god stopped the sun in its tracks so that Joshua could have time to complete the destruction of Jericho, that makes your ideation ‘sure knowledge’? Sorry, Bubba… all your statement does is expose an absence of the capacity to differentiate fact from delusion, and a lack of prowess with the lexicon. –”Conversely, faith requires doubt, and must coexist with doubt, because without doubt, I have certitude, not faith. Nor can faith exist without freedom, because I can not have faith except to the degree I freely assent.”– That paragraph is rife with red herrings and misunderstanding of definitions. It is hard to figure out where to begin… but I’ll try. Is English your cradle tongue, or a second language?The first thing (as pointed out above) is that you are confusing ‘faith’ and ‘belief’. If one substitutes ‘belief’ where you have written ‘faith’ in the preceding paragraph, it begins to make sense. Oh, its still rife with fallacies… but at least it becomes possible to try to parse it without a pervading sense of futility. So now it becomes “… BELIEF requires doubt, and must co-exist with doubt, because without doubt, I have certitude, not BELIEF.” The sentence is still nonsensical, though, because ‘belief’ IS certainty (certitude)… and doubt is ‘non-belief’… the absence of certitude. What you have said then, in essence, is “…because without doubt, I have BELIEF, not BELIEF.” Belief and doubt (non-belief) do (abstractly) ‘coexist’… but NOT usually in the same mind, at the same time and with regard to the same idea. Otherwise, we are getting into some areas of psychiatric diagnosis that are a lot more complex than mere delusions.Again substituting ‘belief’ for ‘faith’: “Nor can BELIEF exist without FREEDOM because I can not have BELIEF except to the degree I freely ASSENT.” Freedom. Freedom to do what? Are you alluding, perhaps, to the concept of ‘free will’? Guaranteed political freedoms, perhaps? What? So, you perceive that some form of overarching enabler must give permission (i.e., grant ‘freedom’) in order for anybody to be ‘certain’ that something is ‘true’? Freedom… any kind… is irrelevant. Heck… all you need is gullibility… wishful thinking… intellectual laziness… Assent. Assent to what? Assent to receiving permission? Assent to be granted ‘freedom’ (whatever you might mean by that)? Assent to agree with YOURSELF that something is ‘true’?Also, I get the sense that you are attempting to attribute a Tao-like duality to something that is essentially a binary proposition.Well… whatever you mean by freedom, etc., I can’t see where it would make any difference in rendering the sentence, or the idea, any more intelligible. So, I’m not going to expend any more time or brain cells, trying to make sense out of the nonsensical. –

  • Robin

    Tammy,What a beautiful and very fitting addition to this thread.Thank you for sharing that!

  • Dave Mead

    Tammy writes:What we need is more renaissance people. Philosophy, literature, the sciences–these work together to further us along in our quest for truth.I bring science into my high school lit classes all the time. My students love it!

  • Not my real name

    Galileo never abandoned his faith. Copernicus was a priest. Mendel was a priest. They predicted things that “verifiably came to pass”.Again, take care with the generalizations.

  • Ted Swart

    This thread is concerned with unfair treatment of women And it is only fair to point out that unfair treatment of women by secular authorities has a long and not very distinguished history — with at least some religious offshoots of the formal religions such as Quakerism outdistancing the secular authorities by hundreds of years. Consider, for example, the issue of voting rights for women. The dates applicable to its introduction (for selected countries) are as follows: New Zealand 1893It would seem that in this regard the Muslim world is up to as much as a century behind the rest of the world.One other point worth making is that whenever we humans rectify a long-standing injustice we often tend to overshoot. And, in moving to equality for women, there is regretfully a tendency to down play the very real (dare I say precious) differences between men and women. Vive la Differance I say.

  • Robin

    Not my real nameI don’t know what Tammys thought on your question.They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.My interpretation would be longing for a life they can call their own. Make their own decisions and judgements not influenced by outside opinions. Be it parental, peer or religious influence.Not to be mistaken for social laws.

  • Tammy

    I think it’s our biological imperative. Life needs to make more life, it’s in the hard-drive, so to speak. It also gives life a whole new meaning! I’m an unrepeatable miracle of nature, and so are you. That gives us a sacred purpose. That purpose is do not waste any of our short time on this planet, and to claim responsible stewardship over it, not holy dominion to do what we will because we’ll get a new one eventually anyways.

  • Not my real name

    Duck, thank you for considering my modest thoughts, the expression of which I regret is not up to your standards of lucidity. What I wrote must be baffling, because your reply sure is. If a more elegant restatement seems within my poor powers, I will attempt it.

  • Dave Mead

    Not My Real Name writes:”Galileo never abandoned his faith. Copernicus was a priest. Mendel was a priest. They predicted things that ‘verifiably came to pass’.”Not as priests they didn’t. Galileo was condemned by his church, and Copernicus lived in fear that he would be. I would be careful about citing Medieval and Renaissance scientists who happened to belong to the Church (as nearly everyone did at the time) to support the notion that the Church has ever been friendly to science. Christianity loves “scientists” whose conclusions confirm its dogmas.

  • Tammy

    Well, I take great care with generalizations, and so never make any(unless to speculate, or ask others if they think this or that may be so)None of those guys did what they did because of or with encouragement from the religious establishment.

  • BernieBee

    Extract from report by Polly Toynbee in Guardian newspaper that might prove to be food for thought for Victoria….When it comes to something as basic as women hidden from view behind religious veils, is it really so hard to say this is a bad practice? The veil turns women into things. It was shocking to find on the streets of Kabul that invisible women behind burkas are not treated with special respect. On the contrary, they are pushed and shoved off pavements by men, jostled aside as if almost subhuman without the face-to-face contact that recognises common humanity. The veil is profoundly divisive – and deliberately designed to be. No one need be a Muslim to understand the ideology of the veil, because covering and controlling women has been a near-universal practice in Christian societies and in most cultures and religions the world over. Western women have struggled hard to escape, but not long ago women here were treated as chattels and temptresses, to be owned by men and kept out of men’s way, to be chaperoned, hidden, powerless, under compulsory rules of “modesty”. Women’s bodies have been the battle flag of religions, whether it’s churching their uncleanness, the Pope forcing them to have babies, the Qur’an allowing wife-beating, Hindu suttee, Chinese foot-binding and all the rest…

  • Robin

    Not my Real Name,Please scroll up and read my post about my friend.

  • Tammy

    Dave, thanks for the backup-we were posting at the same time. I never knew until I read Carl Sagan’s books that I could handle anything scientific. Now I wouldn’t be any good at explaining it to you….

  • Dave Mead

    Thanks, Tammy. Yeah, we teachers catch hell, especially if we don’t tow certain lines. And I teach in the infamous Cobb County, GA (I guess I shd hope the wrong parent doesn’t read this :).But I use some of Sagan’s writings in the classroom–after all, he addressed many controversial social issues, and part of learning to write (and to think) is learning to wrestle with such issues. One of the beautiful things about teaching English is that nothing is off limits–Nietzsche, Sagan, Camus, Flannery O’Connor, Pope John XXIII–you name it, I can fit it into the curriculum.

  • Not my real name

    Robin, I was horrified, as anyone would be, to read your friend’s story. If there is any risk of physical or emotional abuse, the attitude of the minister is incomprehensible and absolutely incompatible with everything I know about Jesus’ teaching or Christian belief.

  • Tammy

    Dave, you are right, and you are opening their minds. You can also take heart that if one of your parents does read this(man, are you brave), they are more likely to sympathize with what you’re saying. Now maybe you’d be in trouble if you’d tried to argue with Billy Graham’s daughter!

  • Rick

    So, did anyone actually bother to look up the scriptures Mr Harris uses to support his arguements and read them in context?Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is a reference to adultery not rape: “If a man who happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death – the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife.” The inference here is that the woman who does not cry out for help is a willing participant in adultery, which was punishable by death.As for the scripture quoted from Ephesians, yes it is true that some have, incorrectly, interpreted Paul’s comments to mean that the man has unlimited authority in the family. While the Bible teaches that the man is to be the spiritual leader of the family, he is also called on to serve his wife just as Jesus served the disciples. Any Christ-honoring husband – and this really is the key, as I believe that men who commit the atrocities Mr Harris describes against their wives are NOT honoring Christ – will not take advantage of his leadership role just as any Christ-honoring wife will not undermine her husband’s position of leadership.All of you non-believers out there can bash my Bible and attempt to deconstruct my faith all you want, but please don’t do it by taking scripture out of context and presenting your case as if your interpretation were the only one possible.

  • Gerry

    Anonymous,atheists in most cases are experts on “the subject” BECAUSE of their knowledge, not because of their ignorance of it.I have found, that many atheists know the Bible and even the Quran much better than the flock of sheep who were brainwashed with the benign cherrypicked excerpts (which Victoria is spreading here all over all the time to bolster her own belief and shout away possible doubts, which, to give her the benefit, she surely will have now and then) I remember the brainwashing and my reaction to it very well from my own childhood, when I had no possibility whatsoever to think for myself yet: I was forced to believe something incredibly improbable. So I thought lying is fine, you get along well with the others. That stopped, however, when I grew up and learnt to think for myself.Religion is an assault to human dignity: It forces you to lie from the very first day of getting acquainted with it. Once you are comfortable with the set of lies, you continue with the circular arguments: Because I believe in it, it is true. Because it is true, I believe in it.

  • Anonymous

    Duck,Thank you again for your thoughts. I think we’re in sync on the distinction between belief and knowledge. We differ in our understanding of certitude, which you identify with the former and I the latter. To use your example, it is quite impossible for anyone to be “certain” that God stopped the sun in its tracks, because there never will be any evidence for it and it is highly improbable. You credit as “certitude” a person’s irrational assertion, whereas I assume one can only validly claim certitude for what he actually knows. I’d be happy to substitute “rational certitude” if that is lexically required (which I would dispute).Regarding the relationship between faith and doubt, I stand by my comments and can’t say I follow yours. I *am* saying that faith and doubt coexist interdependently “in the same mind, at the same time and with regard to the same idea.” Faith is an act of will — will to believe, and to believe notwithstanding doubt. Doubt is not unbelief but uncertainty. Faith cannot extinguish uncertainty — only “rational certitude” based on knowledge can do that. Again, this is not to say that unreflective people do not disavow their doubts — obviously they do, but they cannot do so validly.I think you may overanalyze my remark on freedom. My point is that the word faith is wrongly construed (generally by atheists) to suggest some lack of freedom. But faith is an act of will, and thus faith does not exist where there is no freedom to act.

  • Lee

    Very ironic… I remember reading several times that women tend to support religion more than men.

  • Anonymous

    Rick, you’ll find that Harris and his disciples (he has quite a devoted following) are about the most literal-minded exegetes ever. It’s his schtick, and he’s having fun with it. Of course that doesn’t prevent him (as cited above, for example) from conflating different creation accounts when it’s rhetorically useful.

  • Not my real name

    Dog, perhaps you’d care to explain why you go on amidst such misery.

  • timmy

    On attacking, or not attacking Victoria,Yes, Victoria speaks politely, and respectfully. Victoria is doing nothing to help the hundreds of millions of Muslim women who are horribly oppressed into a sub human existence. In fact, she helps keep things that way by defending the religion that she and her male counterparts are not practicing according to their good book. Victoria’s brand of Islam is an anomaly. It is the most extreme minority when compared to the majority who practice that religion. Even here in the United States, most Muslim women are subject to Sharia law or worse at the hands of their righteously misogynist overlords. (Men)To pipe in to this conversation by saying, “Hey I’m a muslim and I am not enslaved” is dangerously naive. Shame on you Victoria for standing in the way of progress and freedom for these women just because your muslim life is just fine.

  • timmy

    On attacking, or not attacking Victoria,Yes, Victoria speaks politely, and respectfully. Victoria is doing nothing to help the hundreds of millions of Muslim women who are horribly oppressed into a sub human existence. In fact, she helps keep things that way by defending the religion that she and her male counterparts are not practicing according to their good book. Victoria’s brand of Islam is an anomaly. It is the most extreme minority when compared to the majority who practice that religion. Even here in the United States, most Muslim women are subject to Sharia law or worse at the hands of their righteously misogynist overlords. (Men)To pipe in to this conversation by saying, “Hey I’m a muslim and I am not enslaved” is dangerously naive. Shame on you Victoria for standing in the way of progress and freedom for these women just because your muslim life is just fine.

  • timmy

    Correction,That second last line should read:

  • timmy

    Correction,That second last line should read:

  • timmy

    What is religious moderation?Imagine an alien life form makes contact with us in peace.We then show them people living by literal fundamentalist interpretations of these books. Then we show them people living as moderates to these religions. Then we ask the aliens, which group of people are living correctly?The aliens say: Well, the fundamentalists have it right of course. The moderates are clearly a bunch of blasphemers who are going to burn in Hell. If these books are the true word of their God of course.Religious moderation makes absolutely no sense at all.Would one of you believers please explain once and for all, what is the God damn point of religious moderation?

  • timmy

    What is religious moderation?Imagine an alien life form makes contact with us in peace.We then show them people living by literal fundamentalist interpretations of these books. Then we show them people living as moderates to these religions. Then we ask the aliens, which group of people are living correctly?The aliens say: Well, the fundamentalists have it right of course. The moderates are clearly a bunch of blasphemers who are going to burn in Hell. If these books are the true word of their God of course.Religious moderation makes absolutely no sense at all.Would one of you believers please explain once and for all, what is the God damn point of religious moderation?

  • timmy

    Where did Charles Manson get the idea to cut babies out of the stomachs of women anyway? I know that he was a Christian, but it’s almost like he was reading the biography of Mohammed or something. Lot’s of that sort of thing in there.

  • timmy

    Where did Charles Manson get the idea to cut babies out of the stomachs of women anyway? I know that he was a Christian, but it’s almost like he was reading the biography of Mohammed or something. Lot’s of that sort of thing in there.

  • victoria

    Ok- i can see that i should have been more clear.A hijab is a square scarf that is over the head and pinned under the chin- tere are many different ways to wear them andyou can sometimes tell what country awomanis from by the style in which she wears it-HIJAB IS NOT A BURKA-Face veils were brought from byzantium (greek ruled) through and into persia- it was a custom of harem women- (not islamic- harems actually go against islam -” a man may have up to 4 wives if he treats them all equally which is impossible”thatis what the quran actually says verbatim- most today argue that it means there are no allowances for polygyny-(not polygamy as commonly misunderstood) but traditionally each wife must be kept in a separate household in accordance with the lifestyle of the husbands finances etc)the harem women wore face veils to hide their beauty from the impostition of male stares- only very very rich men could afford harems-when harems spread east- local women adopted this practice because they because it is such a cultural and widespread practice- it is actually forbidden in islam for a woman to cover her face when she goes to mecca and performs hajj(pilgrimage)BURKAS are quite simply an abomination.in conclusion i write this in the spirit of exchange of knowledge- and to foster understandingso J. perhaps that makes it much clearer to you- what you imagined is quite quite remote from what is.i will continue to define myself as we all doquite frankly J- your depiction of that woman you imagined was me-walking around in a cloth cage frightens me.

  • CS

    Not My Real Name: Thanks for the response; I’ll do my best to answer your questions. You note that I didn’t mention the capacity to love. I didn’t leave that off my top 2 list for any particular reason…I suppose that by raising children lovingly, the capacity to be loved would hopefully naturally follow. “Why do you care about environmental sustainability? Why do you care about contributing to society, especially after you’re gone?” For two reasons. One is because I genuinely and truly care what happens to our species after I’m gone. Our extensive study of the universe has shown us how incredibly rare life is, not to mention such complex life as the organisms on our earth! If we screw up our one and only home, humans thousands of years from now may not be able to enjoy the earth as we do now, or maybe not at all. It would be unforgivably selfish of me to care only for the earth as long as I’m living on it. The other reason has to do with my view of environmental ethics. I think that saving the environment so that humans can continue to survive is important, but I don’t think the environment is valuable solely because of its importance to human beings. I believe that we are merely one part of nature, and as organisms that have the capability to alter our environment, we have a responsibility to protect biodiversity and the natural environment for its own sake. This is not OUR planet, and we have no right to do things we are doing. I care about contributing to society for a similar reason–because I care about humans that haven’t been born yet. Just think of all the people that impacted have our world in one way another (all the authors, scientists, philosophers, human rights activists…whatever). What about those of them who were atheists (or deists) and had no expectation of reward for their good deeds or an afterlife? Why did they do the things they did?My realization that I enjoy my life is based on experience, which while it is certainly subjective, isn’t based on any kind of ‘belief,’ certainly not of the supernatural variety. I’m not sure what you were getting at there…maybe you can elucidate? I believe that I’m happy because I feel and think happy, I guess? I’m not sure how you equate my finding meaning in my life to ‘faith.’ Faith in what? My own happiness? What does that have to do with not being an atheist? My happiness is ‘rational’ in a sense because it is derived from earthly things. Am I making the distinction here? I think I’m rambling. :) “Do you promise to end it all if you wake up one morning and don’t love living, if you encounter adversity and heartache?”Absolutely not. It is living itself that I love because I consider the fact that I am able to experience superior to never experiencing anything (ie never being born.) Life is what it is, and I happily accept the bad along with the good. I don’t have a perfect life, but I do have A life, and that’s good enough for me. ‘Meaning’ doesn’t necessarily imply positive experiences and feelings; tragedy is also meaningful, though unpleasant. It is the experience of living that I value, and my reason for valuing it is that I’m alive. I’m here, and billions of other potential people (lost sperm and eggs) are not. Okay I’ve yammered on way too much, and I’m not sure that it’s been terribly articulate. Your thoughts…?

  • Not A Harris Fan

    What Bible is this guy reading? (Or maybe he’s SMOKING it!) No one who was so ignorant of any other major literary work would be given any credibility, so why is this clown getting away with this?

  • CS

    Anonymous (NMRN??–I’m losing track of people; I hate this posting structure): I don’t know that religion is the PRIMARY cause of uncritical thinking, but it is CERTAINLY a large contributor! Think of a child raised by fundamentalist Christian parents, taught to believe that evolution is a lie and the universe was created in 6 days and is about 6,000 years old. People taught to base their assumptions about the world on a book with no definite validity instead of on evidence and reason do NOT develop strong critical thinking skills! When you base your worldview on blind faith, how much value can be placed on rational thinking? Religion (esp fundamentalism) contributes to uncritical thinking, and in turn people are not critical of religion, and thus a cycle is created. I wouldn’t say either assumption is ridiculous–I think they’re both valid and go hand in hand.My motivation is certainly not a “childish animus” against religion; it’s a defense of reason and critical thinking that is IMPERATIVE if we are to continue as a species without destroying ourselves.

  • VICTORIA

    TIMMY i have to date- made no effort to defend islam- yet. i am peaceful with my decision to be muslim.you do not have to be peaceful for me.or even understand- mr stewart thank you for the unexpected kind wordspeace peeps

  • Maurie Beck

    1/20/07You wrote “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (Sagan), and Atheists don’t need to “do the hard work”.Exactly. Those that state that you have no proof that god doesn’t exist operate under the negative fallacy. In that same vein one could argue that there is no proof that men with aluminum heads don’t control gravity at the center of the earth or that there is not a flying spaghetti monster. The proof always falls on believers with extraordinary claims to provide the evidence.You also asked about literature on the evolutionary explanation for religion. I would read David Sloan Wilson’s book “Darwin’s Cathedral”. However, I would read it with a skeptics view. Sloan Wilson is very much into group selection explanations, which has engendered a great deal of controversy. Many colleagues disagree on the group selection argument, though partly that is the result of semantics and imprecise definitions. I also felt he cherry picked his examples as evidence for his preference for the group selection hypothesis. In reading the linked article I posted earlier, he does lay out the predictions that each hypothesis makes. Also, not all the hypotheses are mutually exclusive and certain processes may be operating simultaneously. Many researchers have written on this subject (including Dawkins and Dennett) and you can access a lot of material by going to wikipedia (general information and bibliography and google scholar. By the way, memes are not inherently parasitic. For example, a person who invents anything (e.g. the wheel, agricultural domestication, frizz bee, general relativity) and passes on that idea (meme) can certainly increase his or her own fitness, the fitness of others who use that idea, and the fitness of the idea itself (the idea is favored by becoming increasingly used). Jaine Paine, What is just as interesting is that humans have a very strange mating system. There is intra and inter sexual selection in both genders. Men and women both compete for access to mates and there is choice in both genders as well. In addition, women are always sexually receptive (except when they have headaches) instead having distinct periods of estrus. The only other species that has a similarly strange mating system are bonobos (pigmy chimps), though sex plays an even larger social role than in humans and bonobos have much more of a matriarchal social structure.

  • victoria

    to be honest-my observation of mr harris’ posting seems to be a condemnation of the male of the species- rather than religion.religion seems to be the excuse these men use to justify abusive behavior- i would contend that if it werent religion these same men would have found another vehicle to rationalize their own violence-i think its certainly a possibility and valid point

  • CS

    Maurie Beck–

  • NavynukeCDR

    Everyone…I can’t download the post “God’s enemies are more honest than his friends”; too large to download on this particular day it appears – I can only download posts thru Jan 4th or thereabouts. Please be sure to give Jason Bradfield my regards…JWR

  • J.

    Gerry: sorry mate, it’s been awhile since my ancestors came over various boats…I guess I’ve learnt something, thanks. (I just have to get the southern drawl out of my head when I read that word.)CS: you go grrrrl. You’re readin’ my mail as they say.And thank-you Timmy for explaining Victoria to me. It seems there is no way to break the spell…the oppressed who embrace their oppression deserve their oppression I suppose. : (One love, J.

  • Dorothy

    Questions on praying and educationI am a very religious person, converted from Hinduism to Christianity when coming to America and learning from Ted Haggard’s televangelist sermons, which were the most important moments of my spiritual life.I fervently believe in the word of God, as he gave it to us in the Holy Bible. I am an ardent creationist and I therefore believe that he created the world in six days, as the Bible explains, and, of course, I am convinced that the Grand Canyon in Arizona (where I live) was miraculously shaped through the Great Flood over there in Europe. (Somebody, however, told me the earth at those times was still flat – who knows? I am so religious – I am ready to believe even some improbable things – it just makes me so happy!)The other day, (I had posted this story in another thread of “On Faith”, asking for help, but the reactions somehow were unsatisfactory, therefore I try again) the baseball team of my 12 years old son Phil had a very important game against the team of another school in town. He was very afraid of this team, especially of two very good players, one Hamdi el Salah (nicknamed “Osama”) and the other Guido Ramirez (nicknamed “the Indian”). I asked Phil: Why don’t you pray for the victory of your team?Well, he said, it might not help, but it certainly won’t hurt. Before going to bed the night before the game, I overheard him praying something like this:“Dear Lord Jesus, who together with your father and your uncle (he must have referred to the Holy Ghost) created the universe with zillions of galaxies, could you please help me? You did so many miracles, for instance when you walked on water, which then turned into so much wine as to make 5000 people drunk (here he mixed up a few things), couldn’t you send a little flu to Osama and the Indian, so we might be able to win this important game? If we win, I might even consider getting myself be born-again, like our president. And bless Mom and Dad.And I tell you what: They won! The other team wasn’t half as good as they had feared, and Osama the pitcher missed quite a few strikes. Phil told me he had prayed (I didn’t tell him I listened) and thought praying was really cool (you know how kids talk). Victoria, who seems to be “omnipresent” in all these threads, although a Muslima, even congratulated me for getting Phil to pray!But then, a week later, they had their second game against the same team. Phil: Mom, why did we lose? I prayed at least equally hard as the first time when we won. Praying seemed so cool! I even promised to god definitely to be born-again like our president if we win again! But since we lost – does God not even want me to be born again?Phil: Hmmm…Mom, does God know everything? Phil: Mom, does God understand me when I pray? Does he speak English? Phil: But when god created everything 6000 years ago down there in the Middle East, even stars and galaxies millions of light years away, and everything in an astonishing 6 days, he couldn’t possibly have spoken English, because English didn’t exist then, I have read (Phil reads a lot of silly scientific stuff he really doesn’t understand yet). And if he had spoken English to Adam and Eve anyway, (knowing everything in advance), they probably wouldn’t have understood him! Maybe that is the reason they didn’t obey! They probably didn’t even speak any language at all, since nobody could have taught them, and there is no talk in the bible of Adam and Eve going to school, as far as I know.Dear fellow believers, can someone give me some advice how I can teach Phil so he finally wises up in order to go to heaven with me later?Dorothy Kitsonganama McGill

  • J.

    Victoria! It appears you’ve had an epiphany! you siad, “religion seems to be the excuse these men use[d] to justify abusive behaviour” Exactly! And they are still using it! That’s the point Victoria. And your contention that these same men would have found another vehicle to rationalize their own violence may indeed be true, and if it were and they were still using it to justify this subjugation we would rightly tear that vehicle to shreds as well!Oh, and I didn’t accuse you of starting your own sect; I merely asked which one you belonged to…unfortunately, if you don’t adhere to the strict koranic one you are defined by that self-same book: as a muslim worthy of destruction by the believer. But don’t fret, because Allah made the non-believers non-believers; the doubters doubters, all destined for hell…all for the glory of the believers he already chose!

  • Bob Marchioini

    Religion is patriarchal paranoia which forces man to take himself far too seriously. Scripture contains the dogma that demands he do something about it when others (including women) don’t. Write on, Sam.

  • berniebee

    JWR, your post makes for very depressing reading. But there are some very brave folk reporting from inside Iran on conditions that are every bit as ill making, if not more so, as a perusal of this site will confirm: A very strong constitution is required just to read the precepts of the late lamented Ayatollah Khomeini to be found there.Even so, such a brainwashed one as Victoria will probably still find it within her to palm it off in the same pathetic way she has done for the hijab.

  • Anonymous

    Bob Marchioini, scripture does not contain “dogma”.

  • Michael Karg

    Off topic. Yes, we here have progressed to go way off topic, thus I feel permitted.How about The Topic? Human’s attempt to organize civilization out of a kind of monothesim, attributed to Abraham, some four milleniums ago. From there we get to the beginnings of the ethical monotheism ideas of Moses. Among its primary purposes was to bring an end to human sacrifice to gods, especially the sacrifice of babies and children; and to establish property rights that did not change with a change of rulers — an idea coming out of God’s eternal law. Not a bad start.After the Ten Commandments — presented as the first eternal law — and after the Torah, the record shows that these believers — called Habirus, Israelites, Hebrews, Jews, in their various turns — have spent their entire history rationalizing the pronouncements of the Law.We here at “On Faith,” are continuing this tradition — panelists and posters, Talmudists all. For if there is a God, we would like It to have some common sense.Then, we have to deal with the heterodox movements within Judaism – Christianity and Islam. It must be acknowledged that Jesus and Mohammed knew the Torah better than they knew anything. Even within Judaism, there are as many different sects as there are in Christianity and Islam. It seems hard for humans, in agreement, to rationalize eternal law. However, as slow as has been the progress, great progress has been made.I think even Rabbi Steinsaltz would agree that the most progress in the rational — Reason — has come from the Jews — Hillel, Maimonides, on through Spinoza, especially Spinoza, and the many coming after these. I include Christians and Muslims as Jews, in the legal sense. Without Moses, there would be no Christians or Muslims. (Devoutly to be wished, by some here, it seems).Now, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are “picking up the ball,” so to speak. I admire them, I follow their efforts, I support them. However, I think they might gain more interest, if they would acknowledge more, the contributions of the original ethical monotheists. I don’t think there would be a Stanford and an Oxford without them.

  • Michael Karg

    Off topic. Yes, we here have progressed to go way off topic, thus I feel permitted.How about The Topic? Human’s attempt to organize civilization out of a kind of monothesim, attributed to Abraham, some four milleniums ago. From there we get to the beginnings of the ethical monotheism ideas of Moses. Among its primary purposes was to bring an end to human sacrifice to gods, especially the sacrifice of babies and children; and to establish property rights that did not change with a change of rulers — an idea coming out of God’s eternal law. Not a bad start.After the Ten Commandments — presented as the first eternal law — and after the Torah, the record shows that these believers — called Habirus, Israelites, Hebrews, Jews, in their various turns — have spent their entire history rationalizing the pronouncements of the Law.We here at “On Faith,” are continuing this tradition — panelists and posters, Talmudists all. For if there is a God, we would like It to have some common sense.Then, we have to deal with the heterodox movements within Judaism – Christianity and Islam. It must be acknowledged that Jesus and Mohammed knew the Torah better than they knew anything. Even within Judaism, there are as many different sects as there are in Christianity and Islam. It seems hard for humans, in agreement, to rationalize eternal law. However, as slow as has been the progress, great progress has been made.I think even Rabbi Steinsaltz would agree that the most progress in the rational — Reason — has come from the Jews — Hillel, Maimonides, on through Spinoza, especially Spinoza, and the many coming after these. I include Christians and Muslims as Jews, in the legal sense. Without Moses, there would be no Christians or Muslims. (Devoutly to be wished, by some here, it seems).Now, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are “picking up the ball,” so to speak. I admire them, I follow their efforts, I support them. However, I think they might gain more interest, if they would acknowledge more, the contributions of the original ethical monotheists. I don’t think there would be a Stanford and an Oxford without them.

  • Not my real name

    CS,Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I won’t prolong this unduly, and perhaps I just have some kind of stumbling block. But here’s what I’m struggling with: You’ve said you “base my worldview on reason and evidence.” Can you help me understand how one arrives at the following conclusions (may I call them “beliefs”?) through reason and evidence alone?[By way of preface, and someone can correct me, but I don't think we have the slightest idea how rare life is. Even if it's one in a billion, that's a lot of chances in the universe we know of. So we should be skeptical, should we not, of claims of value based on supposed rarity?]• It is the experience of living that I value, and my reason for valuing it is that I’m alive. • I consider the fact that I am able to experience [life] superior to never experiencing anything (i.e., never being born.)• I believe that I’m happy because I feel and think happy.• My realization that I enjoy my life is based on [subjective] experience.• Having a life is good enough.• Tragedy [suffering?] is also meaningful.• I genuinely and truly care what happens to our species after I’m gone. [Why?]• We have a responsibility to protect biodiversity and the natural environment for its own sake. [On this meaningless speck of a planet, out of a billion billion?]• This is not OUR planet, and we have no right to do things we are doing. [I give up. Whose is it?]• I care about humans that haven’t been born yet. [You know I have to ask: Do you really mean that? Or is the reality that you don't care about the unborn unlucky enough to have been conceived?]You also say, “Just think of all the people that impacted have our world in one way another….Why did they do the things they did?” My question EXACTLY: Why? And how do you answer that question through reason and evidence alone?Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, “Dorothy” [may I call you Dottie?], your satirical wit had me rolling! Talk about gut-busting hilarity! I mean, the bit about Jaysus’ “uncle” — too much! I lost it! And “Muslima” — what a knack for wordplay! And I dug the clever digs at Haggard and Bush!tler — so original! Have you been widely published?Anyway, my best advice for poor Phil is to get a smarter mom.

  • Not my real name

    CS, perhaps another way to approach this: You ask, “I’m not sure how you equate my finding meaning in my life to ‘faith.’” DuckPhup defines faith as wishful thinking. Why are the beliefs you articulate not just wishful thinking?

  • julia

    Victoria and all:One of the thing to remember is that for most of the women in the arab world wearing a veil is not a sign of freedom…on the contrary it is a sign of oppression.I am not sure where you live, I will guess in the West where wearing a veil will signify a differente experience as opposed to living in a different part of the world.I have read how many educated women (even in the Arab world) have taken to wear the veil for the same reasons you do but you must not negate the fact that the same action represents a different experience for most women in the Arab world. I think this is the difference. Wearing the veil in the Arab world is the but one sign of the oppression in which women find themselves in rather than a fashion statemente. For example, if they wore the veil, but were treated equally I don’t think anybody will be concerned about a piece of clothing.Yes, women participate in their own oppression but it goes back to how we have been socialized and internalize those roles and expectations. I am not about to blame the victim but it is true that women have internalized these ideas about being subservient to men, or the fact that men should be the head of the house. I have some young female students (in their early twenties)who come from Christian backgrounds who argue that men should be the head of the house. Of course they add, women should be involved in the decision making process but it is ultimately the men who should decide in all matters of the family.

  • JainePaine

    Since my last post last night I was surprised to see how much was posted! I didn’t read it – sorry.So if Max Fisher is the one and only member of the Max Fisher Players I will honor him by posting a question for all to respond.List the ten most frieghtening things about religion ala Letterman style silliest to most important.

  • Andrew

    I think it is noteworthy that the Bible-Pounding Fanatics were mostly silent on this post. (For a contrast see other Sam Harris Posts that deal with issues of less specific Bibilical relevence.) This time, since this post has the Biblaniacs dead-to-rights in the misogyny deparment they were oddly quiet. Seems stoning rape victims to death is hard to explain in the Perfect Book of God’s Love…

  • CS

    Phew–a lot of posts to catch up on since last night! I have a couple of comments to make that are back to being off-topic, so I’ll try to make them brief.Dave Mead: “What we need is more renaissance people. Philosophy, literature, the sciences–these work together to further us along in our quest for truth.You’re a modern-day hero…high school students (and all people) need teachers like you *so* badly. I’m thrilled to hear that you’re teaching in public school, esp in Cobb County. I was an English major in college and going to grad school (hopefully) in Philosophy, yet I never limit myself to just those areas…any hope we have at coming to a true understanding of our role in the cosmos lies in our ability to evaluate truth from many different angles and disciplines. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • J.

    Thank-you Victoria for responding in your usual sweet tones. (Looks like JWR’s given you lots more to ‘splain… could you, would you, please.)

  • CS

    Not My Real Name, “Uh, okay, but why? If it has meaning only “to me”, and “I” am finite, who cares?” Well, I care, for one. I don’t consider my life meaningless just because there’s no afterlife after it ends; I truly pity people who think that way. But there’s meaning outside of my own self, and that meaning lies in the things a person does while they’re on this planet to impact it. Some things are small, like living in ways that work toward environmental sustainability. Hopefully in my lifetime, I’ll become a college professor and maybe publish a book or two, and through those mediums I will contribute to society even when I’m gone. “Why would your puny existence have meaning if the universe doesn’t?”Again, I’m not sure we’re seeing eye to eye on what ‘meaning’ entails. The universe is meaningful simply because it is here, and has meaning to us. We couldn’t be here, clearly, without it. It doesn’t have meaning in the sense that it has any kind of higher purpose other than its existence; neither do humans. “If you have or expect to have children, will their lives have meaning? You sure? If you aren’t sure, is it moral to bring them into the world? How is that not an act of faith?”Considering the way I would raise children if I were to have them (which I don’t intend), I would do everything I could to help them towards a meaningful life. (They would be huge nerds at school, but I would be supportive and show them things in the world from which they may derive meaning.) Mostly, I would raise them to be independent and thoughtful, and those two things alone are two of the greatest prerequisites for a meaningful life. “If the meaning of your puny existence derives from its finitude, why not just end it right now? You have a single purely rational evidence-based excuse for hanging around?”End it right now!? Because the fact that I had the chance to be born is amazing, and I love living. As I said, I don’t need the comforting thought of an afterlife or a higher ‘purpose’ to give my life meaning and happiness. My life is more meaningful (to me) in its finitude because I am reminded on a daily basis that I have a limited number of years to spend (consciously, at least) on this planet…it’s a constant motivator. I hope that clarified some of my thoughts…I apologize for rambling.

  • J.

    Hey, Good morning CS! (I guess no one cares about defining freedom…where’s duckphup when you need him?!)Berniebee: Yo, good thoughts. (did I really just say “yo?”)and Gerry: you “learned” not “learnt” things. : )

  • CS

    Morning, J! :) “duckphup”?? Explain?

  • J.

    CS: My mistake, I thought you were hangin’ about on the previous post “Selfless Consciousness without faith” where duckphup impressed the hell out of me. (all my hell, all gone) Duckphup’s one bloody articulate man of reason with marvelous philosophic insight.I’m hoping Victoria will return.One love, J.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Timmy,Your last several post have been lucid and spot on. The one above in particular. Nice work!!

  • Tammy

    NavyNukeDR, every time you post, I learn something new. If I understand correctly, you are in deployment right now. Thank you for your perspective and your service to our country.CS, are you kidding? You’re supposed to be filling your quiver already! Thanks for all your excellent words:)As a married woman, I agree with Victoria, in that I wish not to elicit sexual attention from other men, but I’ve always been able to pull that off by the way I carry myself, as I think J. said yesterday. A lot of Muslim women and men say that women are more protected and cherished by being kept apart in the way that they are (in other parts of the world). It reminds me of the Amish. I know lucky Amish women who have sensible, even cool, husbands, but mostly, they don’t even look the waitress in the eye to order their own food in a restaurant. If you cherish a bird, you must cherish her song!

  • PAE

    Well, I am wondering what the course of human history might have been had the women been in charge. The men certainly have not done a very good job of it. I am not a historian, but I am having trouble thinking of a single evil woman leader, what woman leaders there have been. Women CEOs have not done very well, but hey, maybe that’s a good thing, considering that money is the root of all evil, is it not? Women have had a hell of a lot to do with the development of computers (Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace), but maybe we can let ‘em slide on that. If Hillary runs, I’m voting for her. Maybe a woman could straighten this mess out.

  • MCR

    Sam’s comments, once again, are very astute.I think most modern 21st century western Christians don’t believe that domestic violence in any shape or form satisfies the will of God. Most downplay what is taught in the Pentateuch as “behavioral regulations for women” as inapplicable to their own family life… check ‘em out sometime, it’s good for a few laughs.Most Christians I know imply that their family life is modeled after “God’s instructions in the Bible”, but in my observation their ideals obviously resemble a Western nuclear family that they learned about somewhere other than the Bible. Anyone in the U.S. who has a family structure similar to those described in the Hebrew scriptures, or treats anybody (not just women) in the true spirit of the Pentateuch, would be confronted by most any Christian church leadership in the U.S. today. I’m not sure how that is reconciled between believing the Bible as God’s “perfect word”, and picking and choosing to fit cultural norms. The latter is obviously what happens in the U.S. for the most part.In other parts of the world… it’s a different story. But you will probably find that in the third world, treatment of women is universally bad in both theistic and atheistic cultures.

  • Just some guy

    I think it is important to understand that people of religions are raised in a climate of fear. We as humans form opinions early in life that direct us unknowingly into adulthood. I personally never believed in God as a child. I had to keep that belief to myself as I was marched to church on Sundays and baptized in the Methodist and Baptist Churches because my parents change their brand of religions several times. I am noticing many more stepping forward. Keep it up there may be hope for my children and grandchildren yet.

  • anne greene

    I’m joining this rather late and haven’t read anything but Sam’s article, but all I can say is Thank you, yet Again, Sam!!! Until women stand up and enough is enough, we will tolerate this no longer, nothing will change—patriarchy is here to stay, as is the theistic male god—until WE make it change! and I am hoping this is the beginning of the change!

  • Anonymous

    Tammy says, “I think that there are any number of ‘ideal situatons’ [sic] in which to raise children, but the one basic ingredient is unconditional love from the person who is the daily caregiver.”Human beings don’t need “caregivers”. They need mothers and fathers.And no, there are not “any number” of ideals. That is sheer idiocy.

  • Mark Jaworski

    Out of the few religions I know, Christians seem to have most respect for women. Christ did not allow to stone adulterous woman and revealed herself for the first time to the woman who did not have a husband, but four men married to somebody else, were visiting her on regular basis, she was also a Samaritan, frowned upon by Jews. She was at the well at noon, to make sure that wives of those four will not attack her.

  • Anonymous

    Once again, there are several “testimonies” above from people who claim to have discovered they were atheists at the tender age of twelve (or six or three), and say they’ve had no formal religious education since.Isn’t it odd that atheists claim to be experts on a subject while at the same time proudly proclaiming their ignorance of or indifference toward that subject?

  • Gerry

    J:”Learnt” is the British version, sorry. Thanks for the education, anyway.

  • Tammy

    Anonymous, I agree with you that human beings need a mother and a father ideally.We don’t live in that ideal world. Most of us have pretty heavy crap to live through; some of us are fortunate to avoid the mistakes modelled for us, while many learn the hard way. I am a stay-at-home mom. I planned my life with my husband, and as someone with a bachelor’s degree, I give up a much bigger house to be at home with my kids. I’m lucky-in this day and age, if my husband made any less money, this ideal lifestyle of ours wouldn’t be possible. I recognize that life is more complicated for a good number of people, and that we only add to the world’s miseries if we elect ourselves to be the judges of all our neighbors.I’ll say it again; I’ve seen married mothers fail utterly, and I’ve seen gay couples with decent support systems turn out normal, happy, mature, excellent children.

  • CS

    Anonymous–

  • Tammy

    Once again, I may have committed the faux-pas of responding to a troll. I’ve only recently heard of this(I’m very new to cyber-chatting) and I apologize if I’ve contributed to any negativity in the conversation.

  • Someone

    Anonymous,I realized I was an atheist at 16. I also attended Catholic Schools, which has pretty stringent religious classes that are mandatory.So its not that a person is not educated on religion. Its just what makes sense and what does not. Also your statement of children don’t need caregivers they need mothers and fathers. That is too general. There are plenty of mothers and fathers that are sitting in jail as we speak for child abuse. Children need a person or persons that love them, teach them, discipline them and respect them.Be it caregiver or parent or both. (whatever one wants to call that loving responsible person/persons taking care of a child or children.) Let us not forget the loving homes of single parents, grandparents, homosexual parents and atheist parents.

  • CS

    Tammy: Forget protocol–I’m all for responding to “trolls.” Bringing the topic of religion into public discourse is worth the arguments that come along with it. We need people with opposite viewpoints, otherwise we’re preaching to the choir. So, no faux-pas in my opinion. :)

  • Richard Harris

    You are 100% correct in that “religion” has aided and abetted the subjugation of women. I believe that this aberration originated in our distant stone-age past. “Religion” was the offshoot of shamanism where the tribe or clan had hunters(warriors), chiefs and medicine men who subsequently became religious figures. While the men hunted the women were left in the cave to keep the fire lit and tend the children. Since this duty was considered inferior to the duties of the men they received second class treatment.

  • Tammy

    Thanks so much, CS:)

  • victoria

    No timmy- sadly here i am only defending myself-no gerry- i am hardly going to change my life decision on relgion becasue dorothy tried to make me look silly- i have nothing to say if people have no interest in dialouge- i am not interesred in one ups manship-

  • Matthew

    This saddens me more than anything else…I was a child of Catholics, Now, having a wife, two daughters and a gay brother, realize that the entity that expected my soul’s devotion deems those closest to me to be, at best, second-class beings, and at worst, abominations. How vile.

  • timmy

    Hell is not where the devil lives

  • timmy

    Hell is not where the devil lives

  • Anonymous

    Matthew, I wonder if you’d care to offer any actual evidence to support your very serious accusation that the Church regards any soul created in God’s image as “…at best, second-class beings, and at worst, abominations.”Essentially you accuse the Church of blasphemy. It’s a very, very grave charge and I’m confident you are prepared to back it up. Let’s hear it. What’s your evidence?

  • Ruth

    It seems to me many of you believe a person would be religious only if they were brainwashed into it at an early age.I doubt that is true. I personally know about a dozen or so people who were raised with little or no religion at all who currently practice a faith. My own sister-in-law’s teenage rebellion was sneaking off to church on Sundays with her friend, knowing her atheist stepfather would not approve. She and her husband, who was also raised non-religiously, currently raise their daughters in a protestant Christian religion. I don’t know of any study that would provide the statistics on how many people become religious at a later than childhood age, but I would be interested in seeing what such a study would suggest.If you have rejected the religion of your youth, more power to you. I’ve done the same, but I do still practice a different religion and I do believe in God. If you don’t practice a religion and don’t believe in God, I don’t have a problem with that, and I would never try to tell you to do anything differently.Just keep in mind if I were to stop believing in God because Sam Harris or you or anyone else says I should, I would be no different than a person who follows a religion because someone else brainwashed them into it. My belief in God is based on my own thoughts and experiences.

  • Lester Pearson bites

    No gig tonight then, funny Timmy?

  • Marianna Dupree-Pool

    Having been raised in Western Europe, in a part where most people do not waste time by going to a church, I, of course, wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Harris and enjoy reading his books since it echos my sentiment about religion. I do not belong to any organized religion, nor do I pray before I eat my breakfast, lunch or dinner. My mother always said that she worked hard for the food on the table, she didn’t need to pray.

  • victoria

    I notice that people here seem to be easily baffled-There is nothing to be baffled about- people are different and have different experiences.minw have led me to reject some in favor of others through study and prayer.peace

  • Richard Murphy

    The classical response of Muslims to criticism of how their religeon treats women (as well as homosexuals) brings an immediate accusation that one is being Islamophobic. What is this word ‘Islamophobia’? A phobia normally refers to a irrational dread of something, something that has an identity that cannot change. For example, I can understand that people can be xenophobic because they have an irrational hatred of people who have a different skin colour (one cannot change ones skin colour). Same thing for arachnophobia (spiders cannot change, no matter how hard they might try). Same for homophobia (sexuality cannot be changed – despite the demented ranting of some of the christian right).But Islamophobia? Religeon is a CHOICE and can be changed. So is their REALLY such as word as ‘Islamophobia’? Could it be that ‘Islamophobia’ is a word whose use has been instigated and encouraged by Muslim activists who are eager, Oh so desperately eager, to maintain their precious victimhood? Me thinks it is.

  • Bernie Bee

    There ye go again Vic! Talking about your decision to be Muslim. D’ye really mean ye had a choice? I mean there’s not that many muslims have the luxury of deciding other than being muslim.Then again is the name Victoria a play on the Julie Andrews flic ‘Victor/Victoria’?

  • Anonymous

    Marianna says she enjoys reading Harris “…since it echos my sentiment about religion.” Naturally. This may shock you, Marianna, but some people actually enjoy reading books that challenge one’s own views. You should try it.She goes on, “The popes are not in the [V]atican because they believe in God, they are there for the power.” Really? You mean Benedict XVI? Any evidence you feel inclined to share, or is this merely a prejudice that is particularly precious to you?She says, “Did you see the nuns pray and cry when [P]ope [John] Paul was terminal[ly] ill? Shouldn’t they have been happy that he is going there?” Again, this may shock you, Marianna, but the suffering of the terminally ill actually moves some foolish soft-hearted people to tears. And when the loved one passes away, it takes no profound insight into human nature to understand that the survivors often are moved to self-pity at their own loss. That in no way precludes their being at same time joyous that their loved one’s suffering has ended and that he is with the Lord.

  • timmy

    Victoria,You’ve told us that you are a muslim who believes in God. I guess the question is.If it is not to defend Islam from misconception, then what is your purpose here?

  • timmy

    Victoria,You’ve told us that you are a muslim who believes in God. I guess the question is.If it is not to defend Islam from misconception, then what is your purpose here?

  • timmy

    Victoria you said:Really?

  • timmy

    Victoria you said:Really?

  • Toronto – poor man’s Buffalo

    Funny Timmy asks, “What are you here for? What is your purpose here?”This is precisely the question we are trying to get an atheist — any atheist! — to answer coherently!The usual response is, “Because I say so and I don’t need no stinkin’ purpose!”It seems manifestly unfair to demand a purpose of Vicky when nobody else has one.

  • victoria

    i do not intend to justify my existence to you timmy my name is victoria because my mother virginia named me thatvirginia is a derivative of the name for the “virgin queen” victoriareally it is a desperate jibe to suggest any reference to the authenticity of my namei think i will not get constructive dialogue herei like to engage people in their ideasbut i have little patience with silly prejudices or debunking stereotypes

  • timmy

    Anony,You are absolutely right. I read books that challenge my point of view all the time.

  • timmy

    Anony,You are absolutely right. I read books that challenge my point of view all the time.

  • Bernie Bee

    Now just hold it there a minit Anon!

  • timmy

    I’ll answer Anony,I am here to challenge my opinions on the subject of the original article by Sam Harris in which he points out the abject oppression of women in the holy books of the Abrahamic faiths.

  • timmy

    I’ll answer Anony,I am here to challenge my opinions on the subject of the original article by Sam Harris in which he points out the abject oppression of women in the holy books of the Abrahamic faiths.

  • Tammy

    Victoria, every so often I still think about your cockroach poem and it still makes me smile:)Have a great day!

  • Bernie Bee

    Sorry Vic. You still come over as a fake.

  • timmy

    Victoria,What constructive dialogue have you started?You have shown no concern for these women. Only for your own hurt feelings.Victoria. Are you concerned for the hundreds of millions of women who are enslaved by men who will beat and murder them if they do not wear exactly what they are told to wear and act exactly how they are told to act?

  • timmy

    Victoria,What constructive dialogue have you started?You have shown no concern for these women. Only for your own hurt feelings.Victoria. Are you concerned for the hundreds of millions of women who are enslaved by men who will beat and murder them if they do not wear exactly what they are told to wear and act exactly how they are told to act?

  • J.

    Victoria, a key word you have used two or three times here is “mindset”–an appropriate term that describes your mind. It is set.

  • victoria

    you have no idea how ive spent my life or what service ive performed- i only responded here and i thik that shows respect to do so.i dont really feel inclined to justify anything to you one way or the other

  • timmy

    Wasn’t me that asked about your name Victoria.That is what I care about Victoria.

  • timmy

    Wasn’t me that asked about your name Victoria.That is what I care about Victoria.

  • Bernie Bee

    No doubt Mathew will easily provide the evidence Anonymous requests (there’s plenty to choose from) just as I, another lapsed Catholic can point to such as “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels…” and that for a lot less than being born an abominable noman!

  • timmy

    Victoria,Stop saying “I don’t have to justify myself to anyone”.We talk about Islam, and you pipe in with a comment that we are ignorant to Islam and you back this up by talking about your life as a muslim. Your life as a muslim does not reflect what Islam is to 95% of the muslims in the world. Do you not understand this?

  • timmy

    Victoria,Stop saying “I don’t have to justify myself to anyone”.We talk about Islam, and you pipe in with a comment that we are ignorant to Islam and you back this up by talking about your life as a muslim. Your life as a muslim does not reflect what Islam is to 95% of the muslims in the world. Do you not understand this?

  • Anonymous

    I hate to nitpick (that was a lie) but the Virgin Queen was Elizabeth I. Queen Victoria had dear Prince Albert (to say nothing of Mr. Brown), remember?

  • timmy

    Anony,

  • timmy

    Anony,

  • Richard Wade

    Ruth,Perhaps people focus so much on childhood indoctrination simply because there is so much of it, and it brings up questions about free choice. I have no statistics to quote, but I’d venture to say that the percentage of people sharing the same religious views as their parents is very high.Be that as it may, as you point out some people make new choices as adults. I admire and share your general respect for leaving people to find their own paths. I would only take issue with your equating someone who changes their views on these matters because of reading a book, such as one by Sam Harris, to someone who is “brainwashed,” or somehow indoctrinated by a powerful authority figure over them. You said:That aside, I’m respectfully interested in whether the changes you made in your beliefs were primarily the result of interacting with people who were persuasive, or more from something intrinsic in you that developed or changed. I would be most grateful if you would share on that.I’d like to extend that question to the others here: Did any of you adopt, alter or reject your personal beliefs or views as adults because someone else “talked you into it,” whether in a book or face-to-face, or more because of a change more deeply in yourselves? Or perhaps some third factor?

  • Bernie Bee

    Timmy, you may be right, Victoria is OK as a female name but hardly among the most beautiful when ye remember even piano legs had to be hidden in Victorian times as well as books on library shelfs kept separate in case they got up to unheard of hanky panky!Take it from me, despite her mammy’s name being Virginia, the Vic on here is def’nitly a bearded wonder, an imam at the least!

  • Pam

    “virginia is a derivative of the name for the “virgin queen” victoria”I hate to break it to you, but the “virgin queen” was Elizabeth I. Victoria and Albert had NINE children. :)

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Wow, Sam, I am actually surprised that you have a following. This little post of yours is an excursion in missing the point, and the point was hitting you point blank like a 2 x 4, Take a few well chosen verses from Scripture, alluding to a few others, all out of context, and you have a half baked article decrying religion.As I am a Christian, I will point out the Biblical errors, I’ll let a Muslim tackle the Koran.Genesis 2:21 states that the woman was created from one of the man’s ribs. The symbolism here is that the woman was created as an equal, not a servant, and not a master. As to Leviticus 27, God does not place a monetary value on the persons life, but the valuation of service to the Temple. Men were paid more, because they typically did more physically demanding tasks than women. It was a wage scale based on the work that men and women were likely to do in the Temple, it is not a valuation on their lives.At this point, might I suggest getting a commentary, or better yet, actually reading the Bible, not just looking for a section that can be easily taken out of context in a weak attempt to come across as authoritative and knowledgeable.The 10th Commandment that you reference is not about a husband “owning” wife, although Paul speaks of dual submission of the spouses, and that they “own” each other, rather it commands that we should be satisfied with what God has given us. Kind of like saying the grass isn’t always greener. And, don’t women have the right to not be viewed a sex objects? I checked with my wife, and she doesn’t particularly care to be coveted by someone. She prefers that the neighbors see her as a woman, not a sexual plaything.Now the New Testament misrepresentation that you do is really some of the funniest abuse of Scripture I have seen in quite some time.You only quote 3 verses, but ignore the rest. By quoting just these 3 verses, you miss the point of the text, so let me quote the rest here for you.Ephesians 5:22-33:Verse 32 indicates that the real point is not men and women, but the Church. However, there are some things mentioned about the relationship between husbands and wives. You have already, abusively, pointed out the role of women, so let me point out what the text says to men. Love your wife, even to the point of death. Love your wife as your own flesh, and care for her as you would your own body. Funny, one of a mans biggest desires is to be respected by his wife, and according to my wife, one of a woman’s biggest desires is to be loved by her husband. Seems to be that the commands in Ephesians fill that quite nicely.There is another place where husbands are commanded to love their wives. And, Sam, honestly, you cannot tell me that you did much, if any research for this article. There is plenty of free Bible software on the internet, and most of them have pretty good search tools. If you just search for the word “wife” and the word ” husband” you will find them also mentioned in Colossians 3:18-19:Really, Sam, it was not hard to see the poor job you did in misrepresenting Scripture. Perhaps, if you do a little more research, it might be a little harder to counter.Paul C. Quillman

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Wow, Sam, I am actually surprised that you have a following. This little post of yours is an excursion in missing the point, and the point was hitting you point blank like a 2 x 4, Take a few well chosen verses from Scripture, alluding to a few others, all out of context, and you have a half baked article decrying religion.As I am a Christian, I will point out the Biblical errors, I’ll let a Muslim tackle the Koran.Genesis 2:21 states that the woman was created from one of the man’s ribs. The symbolism here is that the woman was created as an equal, not a servant, and not a master. As to Leviticus 27, God does not place a monetary value on the persons life, but the valuation of service to the Temple. Men were paid more, because they typically did more physically demanding tasks than women. It was a wage scale based on the work that men and women were likely to do in the Temple, it is not a valuation on their lives.At this point, might I suggest getting a commentary, or better yet, actually reading the Bible, not just looking for a section that can be easily taken out of context in a weak attempt to come across as authoritative and knowledgeable.The 10th Commandment that you reference is not about a husband “owning” wife, although Paul speaks of dual submission of the spouses, and that they “own” each other, rather it commands that we should be satisfied with what God has given us. Kind of like saying the grass isn’t always greener. And, don’t women have the right to not be viewed a sex objects? I checked with my wife, and she doesn’t particularly care to be coveted by someone. She prefers that the neighbors see her as a woman, not a sexual plaything.Now the New Testament misrepresentation that you do is really some of the funniest abuse of Scripture I have seen in quite some time.You only quote 3 verses, but ignore the rest. By quoting just these 3 verses, you miss the point of the text, so let me quote the rest here for you.Ephesians 5:22-33:Verse 32 indicates that the real point is not men and women, but the Church. However, there are some things mentioned about the relationship between husbands and wives. You have already, abusively, pointed out the role of women, so let me point out what the text says to men. Love your wife, even to the point of death. Love your wife as your own flesh, and care for her as you would your own body. Funny, one of a mans biggest desires is to be respected by his wife, and according to my wife, one of a woman’s biggest desires is to be loved by her husband. Seems to be that the commands in Ephesians fill that quite nicely.There is another place where husbands are commanded to love their wives. And, Sam, honestly, you cannot tell me that you did much, if any research for this article. There is plenty of free Bible software on the internet, and most of them have pretty good search tools. If you just search for the word “wife” and the word ” husband” you will find them also mentioned in Colossians 3:18-19:Really, Sam, it was not hard to see the poor job you did in misrepresenting Scripture. Perhaps, if you do a little more research, it might be a little harder to counter.Paul C. Quillman

  • Anonymous

    Bernie, was that supposed to be evidence? Please do clarify.

  • timmy

    Good post Richard,For all that science can tell us about the universe, it can not give us a meaning for existence. We must, each of us, give our life the meaning that we require to get through it. We must, each of us, decide what fulfillment is to us. For some, the mysteries are joyous. Fulfillment comes from following our intuition towards happiness. Playing in the ocean waves makes us feel happy. Climbing to the top of a tall hill and taking in the grandeur of nature makes us feel happy. Eating ice cream makes us happy. But when we notice that giving presents to loved ones makes us happy, and giving to a charity makes us happy, and working hard for a paycheck makes us happy, and doing something to improve the lives of others makes us happy, we are fulfilled.This kind of fulfillment is always vulnerable to the cold hard truth that science has no answer for why any of this is. And at some point in people’s lives, at times of great difficulty, their ability to find this fulfillment in the face of such monumental mystery is compromised. These are the times when non believers can become believers in adulthood. When their ability to find fulfillment is challenged, they look for other answers.The problem arises when one who chooses God in adulthood has to choose which religion to attach their faith in God to. There are at least 500 sects among the Abrahamic (God) faiths. And they are all wrong to each other. And the words in all of their holy books are suspect and brutally archaic.If one comes to faith in adulthood, I would beg of them to listen to themselves only, about God.

  • timmy

    Good post Richard,For all that science can tell us about the universe, it can not give us a meaning for existence. We must, each of us, give our life the meaning that we require to get through it. We must, each of us, decide what fulfillment is to us. For some, the mysteries are joyous. Fulfillment comes from following our intuition towards happiness. Playing in the ocean waves makes us feel happy. Climbing to the top of a tall hill and taking in the grandeur of nature makes us feel happy. Eating ice cream makes us happy. But when we notice that giving presents to loved ones makes us happy, and giving to a charity makes us happy, and working hard for a paycheck makes us happy, and doing something to improve the lives of others makes us happy, we are fulfilled.This kind of fulfillment is always vulnerable to the cold hard truth that science has no answer for why any of this is. And at some point in people’s lives, at times of great difficulty, their ability to find this fulfillment in the face of such monumental mystery is compromised. These are the times when non believers can become believers in adulthood. When their ability to find fulfillment is challenged, they look for other answers.The problem arises when one who chooses God in adulthood has to choose which religion to attach their faith in God to. There are at least 500 sects among the Abrahamic (God) faiths. And they are all wrong to each other. And the words in all of their holy books are suspect and brutally archaic.If one comes to faith in adulthood, I would beg of them to listen to themselves only, about God.

  • Pam

    Oh, man, Paul C. Quillman, do you ever miss the point! How would you feel if it was turned around and your wife was told to “love” you, and you were told to “submit” to her?Sure, I expect my husband to love me, but would I submit to him? No way! Submission means a *lot* more than just “respect.”And being made from the man’s rib doesn’t exactly seem equal to the man, who was created specially and wholly in God’s image.It seems to me that all the text twisting is on your side.

  • timmy

    Paul CI can see that you are fond of interpreting Bible verses.Deut 20:10-18

  • timmy

    Paul CI can see that you are fond of interpreting Bible verses.Deut 20:10-18

  • timmy

    Don’t want to waste space, but I could put up a hundred more just like that one.

  • Anonymous

    Paul,The crowning irony is that Harris loves to present himself as a champion of quote “intellectual honesty”.Being a clever and tart-tongued polemicist (which Harris indisputably is) is not the same as — and often is at cross-purposes with — intellectual honesty (the latter being frequently MIA in Harris’ work).I’ll assume you’re a Protestant and probably happen to agree with Harris on this particular issue, but, for example, he loves to misrepresent the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Surely he’s been corrected on this innumerable times by now, yet he persists. Not exactly a hallmark of intellectual honesty.

  • timmy

    Don’t want to waste space, but I could put up a hundred more just like that one.

  • Anonymous

    Pam, it is you who is text-twisting:”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; MALE AND FEMALE he created them.”

  • Pam

    Almost forgot about Leviticus 27. Here it is:See anything about working for the temple? Were month-old children working for the temple? This is clearly NOT about wages.

  • MCR

    Timmy,I think for most Christians in the US, much of what Mr. Harris is talking about is dismissed as culturally irrelevant. It’s not too hard to dig up some other “gems” in the old testament… Where I struggle is where the picking and choosing comes from. For example, homosexuality is condemned by modern American Christians as an abomination, theoretically because it is specifically spiked out in the scriptures as wrong. However, many other practices condemned in the old and new testaments are dismissed as culturally insignificant, and are paid no heed. Obviously cultural norms have a significant role in what really goes on.From my personal experience, most Christian churches in the US promote loving relationships between all humankind. Even with the difficult issue of acceptance of a same sex family model, the hostility is expressed in the form of political lobbying and not violence against people. Of course, there are some exceptions.Personally, I have never been involved in any church that promoted or excused violence against women in any way.Interested in what you’re thinking and what you’re struggling with.Best,MCR

  • global warming: canada’s last best hope

    Our comedian says, “If one comes to faith in adulthood, I would beg of them to listen to themselves only…”Once again, atheists explicitly advocate ignorance and isolation over education and community.How appealing!

  • Pam

    “Pam, it is you who is text-twisting:’So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; MALE AND FEMALE he created them.’”OK, now read Chapter 2 – the one we were discussing.Chapters one and two were clearly written by different people, since in 1 man and woman are made and told to be fruitful and replenish the Earth. Then comes 2, where they have no idea of sex until they sin by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Huh? Which is it? Since the Bible is divinely inspired, which writer wasn’t listening?

  • Anonymous

    For all that science can tell us about the universe, it can not give us a meaning for existence.Och Timmy, can ye tell us of anything else that can?

  • Anonymous

    Pam, why does this trouble you? Are you reading it as a history textbook?

  • Anonymous

    Bern, how can you tell that “we’re here”?

  • Bernie Bee

    Well Anon, let’s hear it for what we’re here for.

  • Bernie Bee

    Well then Anon, if you don’t consider that example as evidence how about the desperate mother pleading for her daughter to be healed only for the racist Jesus insultingly refering to her as a dog?

  • Anonymous

    Aye, but why not end it all then, Bernie?

  • Bernie Bee

    Why the flook start it in the first place!

  • Paul C. Quillman

    PamAlso, taking a class in Biblical interpretation, or reading up on the customs and nuances of languages in Biblical times will help. You also would bennifit from a book on Biblical imagry, though I would caution you against using anything from Tim LeHay.As to your question on Lev 27, perhaps Matthew Henry’s commentary would be helpfulGenesis was written by Moses. How do you know they had no concept of sex? Man and woman were made in Gods image, as gender is not part of the text in chapter 1, the method of creating each one is unique. One is not better than the other.Anon,

  • Paul C. Quillman

    PamAlso, taking a class in Biblical interpretation, or reading up on the customs and nuances of languages in Biblical times will help. You also would bennifit from a book on Biblical imagry, though I would caution you against using anything from Tim LeHay.As to your question on Lev 27, perhaps Matthew Henry’s commentary would be helpfulGenesis was written by Moses. How do you know they had no concept of sex? Man and woman were made in Gods image, as gender is not part of the text in chapter 1, the method of creating each one is unique. One is not better than the other.Anon,

  • timmy

    Hey Paul C and anonymous.If you two Christ lovers can’t get along and agree on Jesus I don’t know how either of you expect any of us to get what the hell you are talking about.LOL

  • timmy

    Hey Paul C and anonymous.If you two Christ lovers can’t get along and agree on Jesus I don’t know how either of you expect any of us to get what the hell you are talking about.LOL

  • bernie bee

    Paul, Genesis was NOT written by the imaginary character Moses but an anonymous writer as is the case with all the rest of the babeldom.

  • timmy

    Paul CI notice you didn’t take up my challenge to intrerpret Deut 10-18Right now I think it means something repulsive. And I have read the entire Bible. Can you please interpret it for me so I do not continue to think such horrible things when I read the Bible?

  • timmy

    Paul CI notice you didn’t take up my challenge to intrerpret Deut 10-18Right now I think it means something repulsive. And I have read the entire Bible. Can you please interpret it for me so I do not continue to think such horrible things when I read the Bible?

  • timmy

    Anony,Why not end it all you ask?

  • timmy

    Anony,Why not end it all you ask?

  • Annex it now, while it’s still cheap

    Funny Stoned Timmy,Sorry you’re looking for someone to spell out the mysteries of the universe for you in absolutist certitude. It doesn’t work that way, does it?Anyway, only a fool would seek to persuade you of anything. You’ve made it abundantly clear your mind is sealed airtight.

  • pitty them for they have a retard president

    Anony,”Sorry you’re looking for someone to spell out the mysteries of the universe for you in absolutist certitude. It doesn’t work that way, does it?”????

  • Oh no, Canada!

    Funny Stoned Timmy, is your real name Bernie — or are you in the habit of answering questions addressed to other people?But since you volunteered that you have all the reasons you need, perhaps you could mention a few? More importantly, perhaps you could explain how you arrived at these reasons through reason and evidence alone?Or are they merely wishful thinking (what DuckPhup calls faith)?Eh, funny pothead man?

  • Ruth

    Richard Wade, I agree with you most people’s religious beliefs are probably similar to those of their parents. Interestingly enough, my mother, who was once an unshakable believer, also eventually rejected the religion of my youth. My father, a person I barely know, rejected it too but eventually returned to it.If their religion had been more important, and especially if it had been more helpful in my parent’s lives, I would have been much more impressed with it, although I still don’t think I would be practicing it now.I don’t want to go into too much detail about how I came to reject the religion of my youth, because it seems self indulgent. I would like to point out a big part of it had to do with the church’s attitude toward women, because that is the subject of this post. My former religion is a very conservative protestant one that does not allow women to be ministers and takes a strong anti-abortion stance.The bible states, “God is Love” and I simply don’t believe a loving God would consider half of his human creation to be second rate. I know I’m likely to be quoted all kinds of bible versus “proving” God is indeed a sexist character, but I interpret most of the bible figuratively and metaphorically, not literally.Much of the meaning of the bible is skewed and lost when it is interpreted too literally (Sam Harris knows this, and that’s why he interprets it so literally). Another reason why I rejected my original religion was because I felt my teachers (I attended a parochial school) and ministers also interpreted the bible too literally. I would sit in my classes thinking, “that can’t possibly be what God meant to communicate to us!”Thank you, Richard Wade, for taking an interest!

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Sorry TimmyAs to disagreements, there are some. Christians are not a bunch of mind numbed robots that are incapable of thinking for themselves. We are different people, with different backgrounds, and different points of view, therefore we will interpret things differently.Bernie

  • Bernie Bee

    Och for Christ’s sake Annex! Who’s gonny come up with a cheapo explanation o’ the universe if it isn’t other than brainwashed superstistion!

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Sorry TimmyAs to disagreements, there are some. Christians are not a bunch of mind numbed robots that are incapable of thinking for themselves. We are different people, with different backgrounds, and different points of view, therefore we will interpret things differently.Bernie

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous wrote:”I’ll assume you’re a Protestant and probably happen to agree with Harris on this particular issue, but, for example, he loves to misrepresent the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Surely he’s been corrected on this innumerable times by now, yet he persists. Not exactly a hallmark of intellectual honesty.”Insofar as I have seen, Harris represents “…the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation” as the catholic belief that the bread and wine actually undergo a physical supernatural transformation, transcending the laws of nature, into the actual body, blood and spiritual essence of Christ. That is consistent with Catholic dogma pertaining to ‘transubstantiation’, as explained in great, convoluted and lame detail in the ‘Catholic Encyclopedia’.Or, do you just find fault with Harris’ brief, concise and colorful summary of the belief: ritual cannibalism by “eating one’s god in the form of a cracker?”I don’t think that any correction of that is required; that sums it up quite nicely, in addition to calling attention to the absurdity of the belief.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jaine Paine, In case you missed my previous post to CS on sexual size dimorphis, here it is.Earlier you mentioned the decrease in sexual size dimorphism in humans. The evolutionary biology literature is extensive on sexual size dimorphism. As you are probably aware, there are two types of sexual selection; intrasexual competition and intersexual choice. For example, in many vertebrates, males fight among themselves for the right to mate with females and females choose males with qualities that correlate with increased fitness. Because size matters, selection favors larger males that have an advantage over smaller males. In addition, females often find larger males more attractive than smaller males. As for the reasons for a decrease in sexual size dimorphism in the human lineage, there are a number of possible explanations. One that has some support is that in organisms with long term monogamy, the importance of male-male competition is diminished and so sexual size dimorphism decreases. This is especially common in species that form pair bonds, but do not live in socially complex societies. However, in social species (like ourselves), male-male competition is likely to remain undiminished. Certainly, in our evolutionary past, the big cave man could bonk the small cave man on the head and walk away, dragging any cave women he could grab by the hair. In modern societies, the bonking has decreased, but size still matters (e.g. professional athletes), though how much it still matters has not been quantified. Obviously, smaller men still find the women of their dreams and attraction is more than just size. A non-adaptive explanation is that size mattered more in our past, and the present sexual size dimorphism in humans is strictly an historical artifact. What is just as interesting is that humans have a very strange mating system. There is intra and inter sexual selection in both genders. Men and women both compete for access to mates and there is choice in both genders as well. In addition, women are always sexually receptive (except when they have headaches) instead having distinct periods of estrus. The only other species that has a similarly strange mating system are bonobos (pigmy chimps), though sex plays an even larger social role than in humans and bonobos have much more of a matriarchal social structure.In terms of your latest post, it is true that we are generally preaching to the choir aside from a few brave souls (e.g. Paul C. Quillman). One thing I do want to mention, in reading this latest post string, is that some people have suggested that they would like religion’s influence to subside or disappear. I do not think it will happen anytime soon, if ever. The religion narrative seems to be part of our psyche and, more importantly, our genes, as a species. This does not mean that cultural evolution and modernity will not continue to temper religion’s power. However, as we have seen in some of these posts, it is difficult to have a dialogue with the fundamentalist view of absolute certainty. Having an honest discussion with people enthralled with religion who are immune to reason is almost impossible. In addition, aside from my belief in the potential danger of religion, I like living in a world of diverse cultural and spiritual views. It makes the world a more interesting place. I just don’t want such people in authority imposing their worldview on me.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy, if you can’t even keep your own posts straight, maybe you shouldn’t smoke and post at the same time. You said “I don’t know how either of you expect any of us to get what the hell you are talking about” unless Paul and I are in total agreement. Not the sentiment of someone who is comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty.But you know, if surfing and smoking pot provide all the meaning you will ever need in your life, Timmy, no wonder you’re such a champion of willful ignorance.

  • Maurie Beck

    Sorry Jaine, that last post was from Maurie. I’m not Anonymous.

  • Bernie Bee

    Paul! Where on earth are ye at! Don’t ye get it! Moses like all the rest of em in that crazy book are imaginary cooks that never existed! Imaginary means just that!

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Well Bernie, I guess we will find that one of us is wrong, someday.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Well Bernie, I guess we will find that one of us is wrong, someday.

  • Bernie Bee

    Aye Paul right anuff! What d’ye say tae a wee bet which o’ us is in the wrang?

  • Bernie Bee

    Be careful Paul! Don’t bet more than ye can afford tae lose. After all that daft bugger Yaweh bet his pal (none other than Auld Nick!) that he could torture Job in various horrible ways to be less than Yaweh hiself and lost!

  • Anonymous

    Other Anonymous re Transubstantiation,You make the precise error Harris does. You use the word “physical”; he’s used the word “literal”. The matter does not change. Do you think Catholics with Celiac disease who avoid consuming the host are regarded as heretics? That would be overlapping magisteria.Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity are “present” in the Eucharist. Now you’re perfectly free to subscribe to that or not, but it’s not a testable hypothesis or a statement that has any meaning or value whatsoever to science. It’s entirely non-overlapping.The Church Herself also is Christ’s Body, as well as Christ’s Bride. I don’t want to know what Harris makes of that.Don’t intelligent people refrain anymore from rendering opinions on subjects they don’t understand?

  • Anonymous

    Maurie says:”Having an honest discussion with people….who are immune to reason is almost impossible.” Very true, but such immunity is not limited to fundamentalists. Many of the self-identified atheists in these discussions (and I don’t suggest they’re representative) are pretty darn immune and closed-minded.”I like living in a world of diverse cultural and spiritual views.” A refreshing attitude that I regret to say is not well represented in these discussions by either fundamentalists or atheist zealots (who have more in common than they like to acknowledge).”I just don’t want such people in authority imposing their worldview on me.” Okay — but likewise.

  • Bernie Bee

    Jist a minit Anon! Whit d’ye mean we’re free tae subcribe tae believe that some bakers dough or off licence cheapo wine is by some medievael magic turnt intae flesh n blood has any meanin’ when it bars all other Christians who don’t buy sich nonsense from salvation!

  • timmy

    Paul CAbout Deut 10-18 being “just laying out the rules of engagement.”It was you who said that you had a different interpretation.Thanks for clearing that up. Now, what’s your problem with Sam Harris? He is saying the same thing that you just said.

  • timmy

    Paul CAbout Deut 10-18 being “just laying out the rules of engagement.”It was you who said that you had a different interpretation.Thanks for clearing that up. Now, what’s your problem with Sam Harris? He is saying the same thing that you just said.

  • Anonymous

    Bernie, please pay attention. I already answered that objection from you earlier today. Obviously it is a difference between Catholics and other Christians, but nobody suggests it is a requirement for salvation.

  • timmy

    Anonymous is Jason Bradfield.it is confirmed.Jason said:Already did.I didn’t.

  • timmy

    Anonymous is Jason Bradfield.it is confirmed.Jason said:Already did.I didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    The last two posts from Bernie and Timmy illustrate the point I made to Maurie. They haven’t the slightest interest in dialog. For them it’s just sport of the most adolescent kind.

  • Anonymous

    Bern, may I respectfully suggest you pay closer attention. The very specific charge for which we await evidence is that the Catholic Church regards certain people, although created in God’s image, as “…at best, second-class beings, and at worst, abominations.”

  • Anonymous

    It’s my burden to show how YOU arrived at YOUR reasons? Why would that be?

  • Anonymous

    Shouldn’t you be working on your material, Timmy?By the way, approximately how much of the typical day would you say you’re stoned?

  • Anonymous

    Aren’t you up awfully late, Bernie?

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous wrote:”You make the precise error Harris does. You use the word “physical”; he’s used the word “literal”. The matter does not change. Do you think Catholics with Celiac disease who avoid consuming the host are regarded as heretics? That would be overlapping magisteria.”– No, I do not think that someone who avoids the host because they suffer from Celiac disease are heretics, I think that the whole idea of heresy is utterly absurd… just like I think that the whole idea of transubstantiation is uttely absurd. –”Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity are “present” in the Eucharist. Now you’re perfectly free to subscribe to that or not, but it’s not a testable hypothesis or a statement that has any meaning or value whatsoever to science. It’s entirely non-overlapping.”– First of all, I think that anyone who thinks that consecration of the host initiates the miracle of transubstantiation is quite deluded. I think that anyone who believes any of this nonsense is quite deluded. And I think that you need to consult the Catholic Encyclopedia, as thou art pontificating from thy posterior orifice. –”The Church Herself also is Christ’s Body, as well as Christ’s Bride. I don’t want to know what Harris makes of that.””Don’t intelligent people refrain anymore from rendering opinions on subjects they don’t understand?”– Since I was raised and schooled as a Catholic, and have read extensively in matters of theology, I am quite certain that I understand the subject. And again, I invite you to read the entry on transubstantiation in the Catholic Encyclopedia, which is available on-line. In doing so, you will find that the description of transubstabtiation is consistent with what I described, and what Sam Harris describes, and not consistent with what you have described.Lastly,the whole idea is worthy only of scorn and ridicule, not reverence. And that includes Protestant variations, in which the practice is merely symbolic. –

  • Richard Wade

    Timmy, Ruth,

  • Anonymous

    Other Anonymous, however “certain” you may be, you and Harris are entirely mistaken (as you undoubtedly know, or would know if you actually cared).In Harris’ case, you’d think if persuasion really were his intent, he would correct himself. The fact that he does not suggests that he’s simply a provocateur / polemicist / performer for hire in the mold of, say, an Ann Coulter, tossing out red meat to the true believers (and I use that term advisedly).

  • Bernie Bee

    Not many of us are going to pass muster on Judgement Day so what are we but abominations to be tormented and tortured for ever according to RC teaching.

  • bernie bee

    Bernie, please pay attention. I already answered that objection from you earlier today. Obviously it is a difference between Catholics and other Christians, but nobody suggests it is a requirement for salvation.Then wid ye mind tellin us Anon whit the flook they’ve been murderin each ithir in N Ireland for all these yrs!

  • Bernie bee

    True Anon, am up awfy late in the process o’ finishin a wonderfu’ Christmas gift, none other than a full bottle o’ Glenfiddich single malt whisky.

  • Anonymous

    Bernie, stop feeding the troll!

  • Anonymous

    Not only am I the only one in this discussion taking a contrary position — I am the only one sober! Coincidence?

  • kaattie

    Bernie Bee:”Take it from me, despite her mammy’s name being Virginia, the Vic on here is def’nitly a bearded wonder, an imam at the least!”BB you are a hoot! Agree with every one of your posts, and your humor is very refreshing!Timmy, as usual, argues in earnest with humor and quite persuasively with Anon and the rest who are here on this site for what reason? To argue that the papyrus-documents honor women? What a joke, an insult, a total sh*t-taking on those who aren’t in their group of magic-believers.Most of ‘em are men, and the subject at hand is properly the province of us XX types. I get really tired of you men telling the rest of us what is real and what to believe.The believers will find a way to justify their magic-beliefs – He really DID cut that girl in half and reconstitute her behind the curtain!!!C’mon, you can’t expect REASON-able people to swallow that crap, whether they were brainwashed into it as kids or stumbled into it as adults (any est types listening?), just use your brains, there doesn’t have to be a purpose, we live, think, die just like the rest of the animals on this planet. Hooray!!!p.s. if this post shows up twice, it’s because the first one was censored due to the use of a four-letter word…..

  • Anonymous

    Kaattie wrote:BB you are a hoot! Agree with every one of your posts, and your humor is very refreshingI agree. I have no idea how you’re able to convey a provincial accent using an electronic format Bernie – but it’s working and to great affect. You’re a hoot my friend – and spot on in your analysis.

  • anonymous

    timmy:How did you guess? I thought I had couched my illogical invective in different tones from my previous posts so as to go unnoticed.You all are going to rot in Hell, there is no question in my mind. I, the righteous one, will live on in blissful immortality because I Believe in God. Nyah Nyah!

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    The above post is mine.

  • Richard Wade

    Kaattie, you are RIGHT ON!

  • Anonymous

    Silly Bernie. You’ve been busted, haven’t you?For the record:First, Catholic teaching is entirely incompatible with regarding any soul created in God’s image as an “abomination”. God created the souls in Hell in His image and loves them no less than any other.Second, the Church does not teach that belief in either the Virgin Birth or the Real Presence constitutes some kind of requirement for salvation.

  • Richard Wade

    Good Anonymous, could you pick a handle so we can tell you apart from Evil Anonymous? It’s so confusing.

  • kaattie

    Richard Wade:Thank you, Richard Wade, I am the Good Anonymous. Ha ha, and Nyah Nyah!Anonymous is synonymous with Wimp. Yea though those Wimps travel through the shadow of the valley of the evil Dolls, well, yeah, you get my point….Here’s to single malt scotch! Flavors the reason so wondrously.

  • Anonymous

    “unlike the methods used in scientific discovery, biblical scholarship is all about finding evidence to support a conclusion rather than reaching a conclusion based on the evidence.”Yet again, sheer, utter, abject ignorance.It is not science, but legitimate scriptural scholars do not work backwards from a conclusion. And there are some on the “On Faith” panel who hold quite heterodox views.

  • Bernie Bee

    Oh come on Anon! Your god loves the souls it has condemned to be tormented in hell! Just hope it never takes a right scunner to them!

  • Anonymous

    It speaks volumes that not ONE of you is willing or able to describe or defend a rational basis for your own personal views — all the while presenting yourself as a paragon of reason.A less honest, less intelligent gang of fools I hope never to meet.

  • Anonymous

    ‘a right scunner’?Anyway, if we decide we’d rather spend eternity apart from God, God respects our freedom of choice but doesn’t cease loving us, just as any parent loves an estranged child.

  • Anonymous

    TimmyDied in the wool skeptic

  • dumblondeatheist

    That sounds lovely, Good Anon., but I for one am completely stoned right now and have never felt more reasonable.I just want to add that I can’t wait to be burnin’ in hell, so that I don’t have to ask “Got a light?” every time I want to fire one up.

  • Anonymous

    Other Anonymous — Just be forewarned, nobody here’s interested in any kind of good faith dialogue. It’s just an adolescent game in which they congratulate themselves and each other over their way cool godlessness.

  • kaattie

    Anonymous:Yet again, sheer, utter, abject ignorance.It is not science, but legitimate scriptural scholars do not work backwards from a conclusion. And there are some on the “On Faith” panel who hold quite heterodox views.’And your point is, Evil Anonymous? “Legitimate” scriptural scholars – [as opposed to illegitimate scriptural scholars - who? Tammy Faye? Pat Robertson? That guy who got booted out of his church for loving men and crank? By all means, man, come out and condemn those illegitimae scriptural scholars!]- work forward from evidence? Starting with the papyrus-documents? Yes, work forward from some 2000-year-old scribblings into the present, where the Earth does not revolve around the Sun? Give me a break. If theologians were at least honest and admitted that the utter tripe uttered in previous eons was just that – garbage (not to disparage tripe, which is a delicacy in many of the world’s cultures), one might give them more slack. But no, it all has to flow in a seamless diatribe which serves to perpetuate the poisons invented in the REMOTE past. And perpetuate the profits from preying on the profligrate.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody can get anything by you, kaattie. You’ve got it all figured out. In fact, you can just stop thinking altogether.

  • Good Anonymous

    dumblondeatheist:I just want to add that I can’t wait to be burnin’ in hell, so that I don’t have to ask “Got a light?” every time I want to fire one up.”Flavor your reason however you can. Live to eat, taste, smoke, drink, experience, however you can. What else are we here for? Yeah, bay-bay, light ‘em up, fire ‘em up, strap it on whenever it is useful or necessary. Carpe Diem!!!!! And be kind to your fellow living things, judge all by the standards of happiness or suffering – that’s all that really matters.

  • kaattie

    Anonymous:Total proof that “Evil” Anonymous is Jason Bradfield. Need anyone say more?

  • dumblondeatheist

    Thanks, Good A!Now what’s your special purpose again? To condemn thy neighbor, or piss in his wheaties?Oh, yeah, judge all by the standards of suffering & happiness-that’s all that really matters.When the hell will they get it?

  • Bernie Bee

    Although it is a commonly used Scottish word you will find ‘scunner’ in most English dictionaries meaning ‘to take a strong dislike to, to feel disgust for’

  • Anonymous

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • kaattie

    dumblondeatheist:When the hell will they get it?”Not til they give up the unreasonable position that some old papyrus-scribblings should dictate the way the world should be. And give up condemning those who don’t have “faith” or “believe” to rotting in Hell, where our joints shall be forever burning!

  • Anonymous

    Just remember: Intellectual honesty. Your messiah Mr. Harris preaches it (without necessarily practicing it himself, but do as he says, not as he does).

  • dumblondeatheist

    Good A, every time you capitalize the word “hell”(or “god”, or “heaven”, or “him” for chrissakes), a demon gets her strap-on!

  • Ruth

    Richard Wade, you’re welcome! Actually I have a long history of questioning things most people take for granted, and that includes many subjects other than religion.It seems to me you’re a truth seeker too. I don’t think “truth” is always absolute: sometimes it’s a matter of finding what rings “true” for you personally, and that can certainly vary greatly from person to person.That’s why I respect people’s beliefs if they don’t believe in God, and appreciate it when they respect my beliefs as well. My own husband is an atheist, and it’s never been an issue with us, although it could change if we ever have kids! I trust if that happens we can work things out.I hope I sufficiently answered your question earlier. Thanks for your response.

  • Anonymous

    And another thing. Intellectual honesty – that’s actually just a construct of philosophers and psychologists. Forgetaboutit! The only honesty that counts is, “God is the Creator, and you will burn in Hell if you don’t accept Him into your heart, and all you disgusting women have no hope unless you keep yourselves clean and submit to your man whenever he demands it.”

  • dumblondeatheist

    Please, run me off if I make anybody sick, but

  • Anonymous

    Well, some insist they’d prefer the idea of Hell to the eternal monotony of the Beatific Vision, so I suppose if you’re destined for Hell but God “takes a right scunner to ye”, you’ll end up in Heaven, where you’d rather not be. It’s all very complicated, Bern.

  • Good Anonymous

    dumblondeatheist:You are right, I am much too smug. Somehow I can’t resist mocking those papyrus-thumpers whose every other word is His or He or … you know that divine “Him” hooey. Drives me to drink single malt Scotch.

  • Bernie Bee

    Aye Anon! And who’s tae blame for that!

  • kaattie

    dumblondeatheist:Hey now woman don’t go apologizing for your Dog-given animal nature. If you read through the posts on this thread, you will see that there are WAY too many women apologizing or otherwise minimizing the import of their posts. And signing off with wimpy lines like, “Your thoughts?”Keep in mind Bernie Bee’s words, that Victoria is a hairy imam; you are a woman and you will NOT degrade yourself by acquiescing to anonymous agitators – allowing that wearing a stupid hat on your head will protect you from some sexist jerk. Ha ha, that’s got to be the funniest post on this site.And humor is a good thing, but sick humor like that is just sickening. Tres sick. Sorry, I am really honked off by that poster, she definitely must be a he.

  • Anonymous

    Is this Rabbie Burns act for real, or are you really from Texas?

  • Bernie Bee

    For real.

  • Good Lord

    ANON: or may I call you Jaysus’son?LEsTer PeaRson, bites at Timmy–but Timmy IS funny…and he showers pearls of wisdom down upon you and my son, but will you take heed?

  • JainePaine

    For everyones edification the NYT best selling hardbacks ranks this way:13. Letter to a Christian Nation at 7 weekssoftbacks rank this way:I recommend everyone on the board to go into their local book stores, observe the location(s) of where these books are placed. If the location is crappy complain. If the number of books is rather low complain. If you think someone you know really needs this book and their birthday or any other reason is coming up, buy one or some.The week before Christmas I noticed that only one book was on the self of, “The God Delusion” when I complained about it they had 47 in the back somewhere.I have no financial interest in this statement but, we must hold places of literature commerce to realize this topic of questioning the concept of god is on peoples minds and these people are willing spend money on it.I always ream the store manager out for placing the science section in some obsure place and often without a large header or sign unlike the religous section.And last but not least, write the corporate headquarters of these large bookstore chains and tell them you will quit buying there if they continue to do a lousy job of acknowledging and promoting atheistic and scientific topics. And visa versa, too; let them know they did a good job thus, you will continue to buy there.Pardon the pun but on this board we are all “preaching to the choir”. It truly is more important to get atheistism discussed in larger venues, with more people from various walks and passages in life to be taken seriously and that it is a reasonable ethic and acceptable option in a personal perspective of life.

  • Mr Mark

    I want to say that I have enjoyed reading this thread. Many columns on “On Faith” seem to attract nothing but talking points. The religious types litter the board with “the good” Bible quotes, pleas to come to Jesus or burn in hell, and “HE’S MY SAVIOUR!!!” bromides that are, frankly, quite embarrassing to read. We non-believers can be accused of drive-by postings that take the easiest shots of all at religion, ie: impeaching the religion with its own “worst” texts and tenets. And, of course, there are those bloggers who keep a dozen thousand-word essays on Jesus/God/faith in their Word folders, ready to cut and paste them as pre-packaged replies to every conceivable post, from the meaningful to the mundane.This column seems to have brought out the best on all sides. If not the best, then maybe a higher level of discourse than is the norm.Whether you agree or disagree with Mr Harris, one can’t deny that his thoughts provide a doorway to an open discussion of religion that we as a society would do well to have more often.So, thanks, Sam. I look forward to additional replies to your column.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    JWR – excellent post.The derivation of ‘Victoria’ notwithstanding, her name belies western roots and more than likely, a western upbringing. It’s troubling and sad that with the knowledge a basic education in the west undoubtedly afforded her, she has embraced the most backward religion on the planet. Islam is Christianity 500 years removed. Both are poor lenses through which to view reality. But Islam manifestly so.

  • Pam

    “What you are referring to is called hyper-calvinism. It has been deemed to be unBiblical for many centuries, though there are a small few who still hold to it.”What *I’m* referring to??? You’re the one who said it, Paul.

  • Anonymous

    Atheist motto: Ignorance is bliss

  • victoria

    ive lived both extremes and have settled in the middle pathso much for mindless stereotypes

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Theist motto: Bliss is ignorance (plus its converse)

  • Pam

    “Rahab was a prostitute who feared God and was spared when Joshua took over Jericho. She is later mentioned in the geneaology of Jesus. “Do you mean the genealogy of Joseph? His is given twice, by two different apostles, to make the birth of Jesus fit with the messianic prophecies that said the christ would be a descendant of David. The two don’t agree – even the number of generations differ. And since Joseph was not the father of Jesus, how is it pertinent anyway? I don’t recall seeing a genealogy of Mary…

  • Paul C. Quillman

    No, you referred to it, I am just telling you what the technical term for the idea you espoused:Well, no point in all you believers preaching at us, then, eh? Pam, what you have essentially espoused in hyper-calvinism. Simply put a hyper-calvinist would say that God know who He has chosen and we do not have to evangalize. The problem for a hyper-calvinist is that the method that God chooses to use is evangalism (the Great Commission).i do not subscribe to hyper-calvinism, rather, as I am Reformed, I am a calvinist. Perhaps you should be careful and read what is written, and not what you want to read.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    No, you referred to it, I am just telling you what the technical term for the idea you espoused:Well, no point in all you believers preaching at us, then, eh? Pam, what you have essentially espoused in hyper-calvinism. Simply put a hyper-calvinist would say that God know who He has chosen and we do not have to evangalize. The problem for a hyper-calvinist is that the method that God chooses to use is evangalism (the Great Commission).i do not subscribe to hyper-calvinism, rather, as I am Reformed, I am a calvinist. Perhaps you should be careful and read what is written, and not what you want to read.

  • Pam

    Paul wrote:and Anony wrote:Have either of you heard of Bart Ehrman? He was so devout and so desirous of truly understanding the Bible that he learned all the languages that the early texts were written in and studied the originals. In so doing, he lost his faith. Read about him here:He is one who has made such studies his vocation, and I have indeed learned from him.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    victoria wrote: so much for mindless stereotypesThe middle? Islam is hardly in the middle my dear. Couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t even attempt to address any of JWR’s poignant observations/questions. Bad form – but then again, this seems to be a recurring theme with you.

  • Mark Eaton

    Dear Sam,Again, you point blame but do nothing to resolve. You must only skim the holy books you read because you have no real understanding of them. Perhaps, you do not even read them, Perhaps you just use search engines to pick through them. I challenge you to really read them with a desire of understanding.You seem to think that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has placed women on a lesser level than men. Wrong!!! Could not be farther from the truth. Since you are such a Bible scholar (not in my opinion), did you miss the Scriptures (in Romans by the way) that say that God is not a respecter of persons? He treats us all equally. Men and women, Jew and Greek, large and small. It is only when two people are equal (man and woman) can one really submit to the other. If they were unequal, there would be no reason for submission. The lesser would of course, submit to the greater. So the directive to women to submit to their own husbands is for peace in the home. Let me demonstrate why this is reasonable. Do you submit to your boss? Or your editor? To your government? Of course you do, we all do. Without submission, our society would be in chaos. Everyone would do right in their own eyes oblivious of others. The same is true in the home. Without submission, there can be no real peace in a marriage.Does this give the man the right to rule over the woman? No way, no how. She is his equal, his helper, his friend, his partner in life. He is to love her as his own flesh and as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. The man is supposed to cherish her and give of himself sacrificially. For him, it should be a 0-100% marriage. Not a 50-50% marriage. His needs should be satified (by himself) zero percent of the time and her needs should be satisfied (by him) 100% of the time. I also wish to point out to you that atheists commit murder, rape, and incest. Just like religous people. You forgot to include that in your essay.

  • Ba’al

    Game set and match to Mr. Harris.It is true that religion is not the cause of male subjugation of women. However, it is often used as a justification for this behavior. I hope our species will move beyond using fairy tales as an excuse for, barbaric, evil and maladaptive behavior.

  • Mark Eaton

    Dear Sam,Again, you point blame but do nothing to resolve. You must only skim the holy books you read because you have no real understanding of them. Perhaps, you do not even read them, Perhaps you just use search engines to pick through them. I challenge you to really read them with a desire of understanding.You seem to think that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has placed women on a lesser level than men. Wrong!!! Could not be farther from the truth. Since you are such a Bible scholar (not in my opinion), did you miss the Scriptures (in Romans by the way) that say that God is not a respecter of persons? He treats us all equally. Men and women, Jew and Greek, large and small. It is only when two people are equal (man and woman) can one really submit to the other. If they were unequal, there would be no reason for submission. The lesser would of course, submit to the greater. So the directive to women to submit to their own husbands is for peace in the home. Let me demonstrate why this is reasonable. Do you submit to your boss? Or your editor? To your government? Of course you do, we all do. Without submission, our society would be in chaos. Everyone would do right in their own eyes oblivious of others. The same is true in the home. Without submission, there can be no real peace in a marriage.Does this give the man the right to rule over the woman? No way, no how. She is his equal, his helper, his friend, his partner in life. He is to love her as his own flesh and as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. The man is supposed to cherish her and give of himself sacrificially. For him, it should be a 0-100% marriage. Not a 50-50% marriage. His needs should be satified (by himself) zero percent of the time and her needs should be satisfied (by him) 100% of the time. I also wish to point out to you that atheists commit murder, rape, and incest. Just like religous people. You forgot to include that in your essay.

  • Tonio

    “Let me demonstrate why this is reasonable. Do you submit to your boss? Or your editor? To your government? Of course you do, we all do. Without submission, our society would be in chaos.”Mark, that’s not the way I read the word “submit,” or the phrase “subject in everything” as in the Ephesians passage that Harris quoted in his article. To me, those phrases mean that you yield complete and absolute authority to someone else. And in my view, no one should ever have that absolute authority over anyone else, not even a parent over a child. In my view, it’s reasonable to conclude from Ephesians that Paul believed that men have the right to rule over women.

  • Pam

    Here are your exact words, Paul. Note the part within the asterisks:”The link you provided was interesting. It seems that Bart Ehrman did not have Biblical faith. Biblical faith (or faith as Scripture defines it) is not something we can gin up. It is not something we posess. Biblical faith is foreign to the human existance. *Rather, Biblical faith is given by God, through the Holy Spirit to His elect*. The article treats faith as a work, and not something bestowed. It is no suprise that he does not believe. He does not, nor did he seem to ever have Biblical faith.”

  • victoria

    i posted at length dyedinthewooli realize ill probably be lambasted but there was so much speculation that i thought it might settle some curiosity- very few people here reveal personal details i guess to protect themselves and im sure someone will find something wrong- but still- im responsive so thats all

  • Anonymous

    Tonio asks, “isn’t the whole concept of dogma, about setting limits on what people must believe and what people must not believe?”Thanks for sharing your experience. Obviously we do not receive brains (whether or not they are in any sense a gift) only to be told not to use them, not to question.I can’t speak for fundamentalists, but my understanding is that their position against “questioning” scripture stems from their tenet that scripture alone is authoritative. If all other means of truth-seeking are precluded, you’re stuck with zealously protecting the one you have.Of course, one can only understand an idea through “questioning,” so no one can read and interpret scripture without questioning or interrogating it at some level. Perhaps it’s more precise to say that what you are referring to is not so much “questioning” as it is disputing or flatly rejecting the Bible’s authority. Does this lead automatically to damnation? Who knows, but probably no, not in and of itself.The whole concept of dogma is an interesting one that has come up in these discussions previously. The word is badly abused by many, including Harris.Technically, “fundamentalist dogma” is an oxymoron. The whole point of fundamentalism is that scripture alone is authoritative. Dogma is formulated by human authority (i.e., a hierarchical church) that fundamentalists explicitly and utterly reject. Fundamentalists believe that the individual, alone with his Bible, enters into a personal relationship with Christ entirely unmediated by clerics or a church. By definition (though contrary to popular misunderstanding) fundamentalism is anti-dogmatic.Going back finally to your question, does dogmatism (properly understood) “set limits”? Yes, in the sense that it defines and spells out a set of beliefs. It says “this we believe” — not inherently a bad thing. The real question is the individual’s degree of freedom to accept or reject a given dogma. Assuming a non-sectarian political structure and the absence of a functioning Inquisition, the only way one can be compelled to violate her conscience is peer pressure.

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    Q.1What are the credentials of Mr**. Harris that make him competent to understand the make-up, structure, organization, history, meaning and role of the Old and New Testament?When he picks and chooses verses without discussing their context, let alone how they are interpreted by various denominations of the Church, does that signify “reason”?Imagine for a moment an expert on global warming proceeds to blast the history of Gothic architecture. Furthermore imagine this “expert” does so in a tiny, tiny book (that is sold in Barnes and Noble on the same shelf as Paris Hilton’s life story) filled with anger and arguments that have been re-hashed over the ages. What would a reasonable reaction be to that?I await a reasonable answer devoid of” I-hate-God!!!”! or “all-religous-poeple-are-delusiona”l and “I -want-to-make-babies-with-Sam-Harris!!!”.PS. **(I use Mr not Dr, because he is a doctoral student and has not yet attained his PhD, whereas I have but thats another issue)

  • timmy

    I must break free from this circular argument. Those of us who have broken free from the primitive beliefs of our ancestors can see into the future and be assured that we are living through the final throws of this monumental blockade to intellectual freedom. If we could go forward in time 200 years we would be able to fascinate our great great great great grandchildren by telling them that we lived in a time when more than half of the worlds population still believed in God. I know that I will not see the enlightenment in my time. But I am certain that I am living through the precursor to it. I find this to be a fascinating time to live, and a frustrating one as well. I am jealous of those who will live in the future free from widespread dogmatic deity based religion. And they should be a little bit jealous of me that I was able to see first hand, with my own eyes the beginning of the end of it. They should find it cool to know that great great great grandpa Timmy lived through the fascinating chapter of anthropology that they now study in their history books.I don’t think I can argue anymore about it.The scene in 2001 A space Odyssey, where the cave men are all dancing around the monolith, bowing and submitting. This is how I can not help but to see religion. It is absolutely that primitive to me. How can one argue intellectually with it?Peace be with us all.

  • Pam

    Trevor wrote:This is so full of wrongheadedness that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Mr. Mark has dealt (correctly) with the random chemical processes, but your knowledge of biology and evolution is so lacking that it’s appalling.Chimps, Bonobos, and Humans all have a common ancestor. All are social animals who live within a framework of social rules that allow them to get along together and prosper from their association. Further, this is true of *all* social animals, right down to ants, bees and termites. The “weak” are not at all necessarily subject to the “strong.” Bonobos are a matriarchal society, despite the larger size and greater strength of the males.The biological basis of what we think of as “morals” comes from this social structure. Humans have taken it a step further, in that we evolved a bigger brain to allow us to compete with the predators of the savannah for food when climate change began to shrink the African forests. This larger brain allowed us to invent civilization, and to intellectualize the rules we live by, beyond the simple biological imperatives.A good thing, too, since we no longer live in the small tribes and bands that allowed us to know all of our neighbors (who were usually relatives – the basis for altruism). The comfort of those small tribes is one of the things that drives us to fragment our society with such things as nationalties and religions (yes, and teams). It’s something we need to rise above.

  • Jon Matthew

    369 Man and woman have been created, which is to say, willed by God: on the one hand, in perfect equality as human persons; on the other, in their respective beings as man and woman. “Being man” or “being woman” is a reality which is good and willed by God: man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.240 Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity “in the image of God”. In their “being-man” and “being-woman”, they reflect the Creator’s wisdom and goodness.

  • timmy

    I must break free from this circular argument. Those of us who have broken free from the primitive beliefs of our ancestors can see into the future and be assured that we are living through the final throws of this monumental blockade to intellectual freedom. If we could go forward in time 200 years we would be able to fascinate our great great great great grandchildren by telling them that we lived in a time when more than half of the worlds population still believed in God. I know that I will not see the enlightenment in my time. But I am certain that I am living through the precursor to it. I find this to be a fascinating time to live, and a frustrating one as well. I am jealous of those who will live in the future free from widespread dogmatic deity based religion. And they should be a little bit jealous of me that I was able to see first hand, with my own eyes the beginning of the end of it. They should find it cool to know that great great great grandpa Timmy lived through the fascinating chapter of anthropology that they now study in their history books.I don’t think I can argue anymore about it.The scene in 2001 A space Odyssey, where the cave men are all dancing around the monolith, bowing and submitting. This is how I can not help but to see religion. It is absolutely that primitive to me. How can one argue intellectually with it?Peace be with us all.

  • Anonymous

    Captain, not to prejudge, but what you’ll hear is pretty transparent advocacy for willful ignorance, along the lines of: “I knew it was bunk by the time I was 12 (or 6) because I was smarter than everybody else and I know everything I need to know;” OR “I have no need to study that which existeth not,” OR “I have read many books on the subject and therefore I know everything there is to know.”

  • craig beasley

    My zealotry took over, sorry I was off topic. Craig

  • Jon Matthew

    370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.241

  • Brent

    I think someone forgot a closing

  • B-Man

    Captain Reasonable,Unless you feel like responding to Sam’s article in its specifics, you’re just blowing smoke. I believe the onus is on YOU to prove that Sam’s choice of verses are taken out of context, and for you to put them in their correct context. He’s written two books on this specific subject–that makes him an expert in my mind. How many books have YOU written on this subject? Sam, keep it up, don’t ever stop. Our world needs your voice.

  • Yo Yo

    Jon Mathew,Your comment displays ignorance, God’s making man in his own image does not mean physical image (2 ears, opposable thumb). While I may butcher this (this is a messgae board not exactly the most academic of forums) God’s image refers to things like Free Will, Spirit that is in tune to him and with him (but can choose to embrace Him or ignore Him)If you think this is bunk, fine, but please do not use the argument about his image as to refer to physical image.

  • Anonymous

    victoria wrote: i realize ill probably be lambasted but there was so much speculation that i thought it might settle some curiosity- very few people here reveal personal details i guess to protect themselves and im sure someone will find something wrong- but still- im responsive so thats allSalaams back at cha toots

  • timmy

    Great link Pam!

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Above post is mine (again- sheesh)

  • timmy

    Great link Pam!

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    B-Man, your repsonse that Sam has written 2 books (sold in Barnes and Nobles!!!!!) is weak. Bill O reilly, Ann Coulter, Hannity and other counter to MrHarris have also written numerous books that have topped both Harris and Dawkins, so what does that mean, nothiing!As for the ONUS is on us, real Christians know that by both deeds, love, hope, goodwill to others and the Church is God revealed to us. Those who choose not to follow His will (ways that you deride as bunk) will of course never see him, yet they ghansh their teeth in anger that the ONUS is on us. No, you are mistaken, faith and belief in God is not the same as believing that the latest car drives faster than the older model. Think about it this way, what IF God exists (IF, go with me here) but he chooses not to respond to these kinds of testing his existence? Does that negate his presence?

  • timmy

    Captain reasonable Question (Jason)Your question:What are Abraham’s credentials?Most of these people don’t even have last names let alone credentials.Why do I bother?

  • timmy

    Captain reasonable Question (Jason)Your question:What are Abraham’s credentials?Most of these people don’t even have last names let alone credentials.Why do I bother?

  • timmy

    I must break free from this circular argument. Those of us who have broken free from the primitive beliefs of our ancestors can see into the future and be assured that we are living through the final throws of this monumental blockade to intellectual freedom. If we could go forward in time 200 years we would be able to fascinate our great great great great grandchildren by telling them that we lived in a time when more than half of the worlds population still believed in God.I know that I will not see the enlightenment in my time. But I am certain that I am living through the precursor to it. I find this to be a fascinating time to live, and a frustrating one as well. I am jealous of those who will live in the future free from widespread dogmatic deity based religion. And they should be a little bit jealous of me that I was able to see first hand, with my own eyes the beginning of the end of it. They should find it cool to know that great great great grandpa Timmy lived through the fascinating chapter of anthropology that they now study in their history books.I don’t think I can argue anymore about it.The scene in 2001 A space Odyssey, where the cave men are all dancing around the monolith, bowing and submitting. This is how I can not help but to see religion. It is absolutely that primitive to me. How can one argue intellectually with it?Peace be with us all.

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    who is Jason??Abraham, Moses, Paul, council of Nicea and the Pope dont have credentials. They are merely witnesses to God’s glory.If there are those that dont see his glory, does that mean it was never there. THAT is the atheists’ argument, because they are blind then those who claim to see are delusional.

  • timmy

    I must break free from this circular argument. Those of us who have broken free from the primitive beliefs of our ancestors can see into the future and be assured that we are living through the final throws of this monumental blockade to intellectual freedom. If we could go forward in time 200 years we would be able to fascinate our great great great great grandchildren by telling them that we lived in a time when more than half of the worlds population still believed in God.I know that I will not see the enlightenment in my time. But I am certain that I am living through the precursor to it. I find this to be a fascinating time to live, and a frustrating one as well. I am jealous of those who will live in the future free from widespread dogmatic deity based religion. And they should be a little bit jealous of me that I was able to see first hand, with my own eyes the beginning of the end of it. They should find it cool to know that great great great grandpa Timmy lived through the fascinating chapter of anthropology that they now study in their history books.I don’t think I can argue anymore about it.The scene in 2001 A space Odyssey, where the cave men are all dancing around the monolith, bowing and submitting. This is how I can not help but to see religion. It is absolutely that primitive to me. How can one argue intellectually with it?Peace be with us all.

  • timmy

    Victoria is truly a narcissist of monumental proportions.As I said before. Victoria is no more a muslim than a Van Halen tribute band is Van Halen.

  • timmy

    Victoria is truly a narcissist of monumental proportions.As I said before. Victoria is no more a muslim than a Van Halen tribute band is Van Halen.

  • Jon Matthew

    To Yo Yo,370 In no way is God in man’s image. He is neither man nor woman. God is pure spirit in which there is no place for the difference between the sexes. But the respective “perfections” of man and woman reflect something of the infinite perfection of God: those of a mother and those of a father and husband.241

  • Pam

    “No, you are mistaken, faith and belief in God is not the same as believing that the latest car drives faster than the older model. “Certainly isn’t. The cars can be tested.

  • Jon Matthew

    Sacrament of Matrimony, look it up Pam!

  • David T. Garrison

    You must have many ignorant women lining up at your bed with this nonsensical insight of God.Ephesians 5:25-33 – Mark 7:36-37

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    Pam wrote:Certainly isn’t. The cars can be tested.”Exactly, we agree Pam, that God cannot be tested. More like he does not like to be tested, at least not in an obnoxious “where the Hell are you?!!!!” manner. And guess what? That statement that you stated is written in the Bible (supposedly God’s Word):Thy shall not test the Lord.Also found in “blessed are those who believe without seeing”Thank you Pam.

  • Yo Yo

    Mr.Mark,First, I commend you on your linguistic analysis, cheers, seriously.

  • timmy

    I wonder if Victoria knows the history of her religion.Islam is a faith born out of terrorism.

  • timmy

    I wonder if Victoria knows the history of her religion.Islam is a faith born out of terrorism.

  • timmy

    Christians asking for credentials.

  • timmy

    Christians asking for credentials.

  • Richard Wade

    Ruth,

  • Callidice

    While religion undoubtedly plays a slightly distorting role as amplifier there could be very good biological and racial reasons for the ‘mis’treatment of women in society.Human beings have different biological imperatives to our ‘brachiating ape’ cousins — parental investment in children and the huge biological penalties for false paternity make control and supervision of the breeding resource something that is probably etched in our genetic code…. men cannot afford a copulation free-for-all like Chimps and I think various environments can even be interesting in a racial and subsequently cultural sense — Vikings for example were highly egalitarian by the standards of the day with women having property and divorce rights unheard of in many ‘modern’ middle-eastern countries… indeed, in our world today it is Northern European peoples and their extensions where the greatest degree of equality can be found… maybe this utilisation of the brains of the fairer half is why the Germanic tribes conquered the world as they did.In more developed sub-sets of humans where every hand and brain was needed to survive harsh winters it may be possible that women were treated and valued more as equals…… Is it possible that religion just dressed up these biological dynamics in a coat of justification?

  • Tonio

    “Perhaps it’s more precise to say that what you are referring to is not so much ‘questioning’ as it is disputing or flatly rejecting the Bible’s authority.”I use the word “questioning” to mean “making up one’s own mind about something.” It might be fair to say that I dispute any claim that any holy book has an inherent authority over me. That’s much different from an authority over me that I willingly grant, such as to employer or to a government. “The whole point of fundamentalism is that scripture alone is authoritative.”Doesn’t that claim constitute a dogma? If scripture is authoritative, that means that people aren’t supposed to question it or form their own opinions about it.”Dogma is formulated by human authority (i.e., a hierarchical church) that fundamentalists explicitly and utterly reject.”I don’t see a practical difference between a hierarchical church claiming authority and fundamentalists claiming that scripture is authority. Both claims amount to assertions of authority over people.”Yes, in the sense that it defines and spells out a set of beliefs. It says ‘this we believe’ — not inherently a bad thing.”That is not my idea of dogma. Dogma, to me, says “you must believe,” often with the addendum “or else.” That’s different from a group of believers defining their own beliefs, which might be better defined as teachings or doctrines.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark asks, “in what way does your description of a fundamentalist’s relationship with the god of the Bible not fall under” this definition: [a] something held as an established opinion, especially a definite authoritative tenet; [b] a code of such tenets; [c] a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds”.As I explained previously, I can’t speak for fundamentalists, but the core belief of fundamentalism, as I am given to understand it, is that the text of the Bible alone is authoritative — not “established opinion”, not externally prescribed or defined “tenets”, not “codes” of such tenets, and not even pronouncements by televangelists.Now, that’s using your preferred “dictionary” definition, which one can use just as well in politics or other spheres of knowledge or opinion. In theology, dogma is a technical term with a specific meaning (and in fact constitutes a specific branch of theology). A dogma is understood to be a truth pertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in scripture OR by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful — all of which is unacceptable to fundamentalists.You further ask how Harris misuses the word. Much of the answer should be clear from what I’ve said. Harris uses the word as a sweeping synonym for irrational belief, generally uninformed or coerced. He applies it to things that have not been dogmatically defined by a church; he applies it to people (e.g., fundamentalists) who by definition eschew dogma; he assumes that anyone who “accepts” a dogma does so blindly, unconsciously and irrationally. (In short, he hasn’t the foggiest idea what he’s talking about. He’s a philosophy B.A. who hit paydirt with a Coulter-like diatribe. Good on him, but if I were you I’d be a bit more skeptical before canonizing him or having his children.)

  • timmy

    Joseph Smith was a mormon prophet.this story is 100%, every bit as credible as any of the other Jesus stories we get from Christianity. And all of the other Jesus stories, are every bit as incredible as this version.They all have exactly the same nature of reason for belief.

  • timmy

    Joseph Smith was a mormon prophet.this story is 100%, every bit as credible as any of the other Jesus stories we get from Christianity. And all of the other Jesus stories, are every bit as incredible as this version.They all have exactly the same nature of reason for belief.

  • J.

    Dear Capt. Dr. “Reasonalble Question”:

  • Tonio

    “Harris assumes that anyone who ‘accepts’ a dogma does so blindly, unconsciously and irrationally.”Personally, I try not to make that assumption. A great many believers do not grant that blind acceptance, but I see that as irrelevant to my point. Using the dictionary definition of dogma that Mark offered ([c] a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds), I view dogma as demanding blind acceptance. That demand rankles me, especially when the dogma threatens people with hell when they don’t accept the dogma.Anonymous, I’ve never heard of the theological definition of dogma, but then, I’m no theologian. What word does theology use for [c]? A great many teachings in all religions claim without adequate grounds to have authority over people.

  • Willis Elliott

    How did Sam Harris come by the fanatic embrace of the childish PC myth of female/male equality correlated with justice? Since such nonsense is not taught in what he calls “the Abraham religions,” perhaps he grew up somewhere where those religions are not prevalent, so women are free? Women free in China, India–where?

  • Anonymous

    “Perhaps it’s more precise to say that what you are referring to is not so much ‘questioning’ as it is disputing or flatly rejecting the Bible’s authority.”Tonio says, “It might be fair to say that I dispute any claim that any holy book has an inherent authority over me. That’s much different from an authority over me that I willingly grant, such as to employer or to a government.”I don’t follow. If you live in a western society (and no, theocracy is not imminent), no holy book has authority over you unless you willingly grant it. In fact, I gather you haven’t.Tonio says, “If scripture is authoritative, that means that people aren’t supposed to question it or form their own opinions about it.”No, it means that those people regard scripture as a source of truth (and if they’re fundamentalists, the sole source of truth). It does mean that you try to reconcile your opinions to whatever specific truth claims you ascribe to scripture — but not questioning or forming one’s own opinions is unnatural and indeed quite impossible, isn’t it?Tonio says, “I don’t see a practical difference between a hierarchical church claiming authority and fundamentalists claiming that scripture is authority. Both claims amount to assertions of authority over people.”The difference is that a church is a human organization, while scripture is a set of texts from which I derive truth claims (theoretically aided only by the Holy Spirit, although of course peer pressure is a real factor, as you described in an earlier post). In any event, as we said above, in a western society nobody has any authority over you that you do not cede them.Tonio says, “That’s different from a group of believers defining their own beliefs, which might be better defined as teachings or doctrines.”Well, actually, that is the technical definition of dogma, as I explained in my reply to Mr. Mark.

  • Frank Arbuckle

    Uh, this clown is an atheist bigot.This isn’t “on faith.” It’s against it.Remind me again why people hate the liberal press? Shame on the Post for pretending this trash is a “discussion.”

  • Mr Mark

    Anonymous wrote:”Mr. Mark asks, “in what way does your description of a fundamentalist’s relationship with the god of the Bible not fall under” this definition: [a] something held as an established opinion, especially a definite authoritative tenet; [b] a code of such tenets; [c] a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds”.”As I explained previously, I can’t speak for fundamentalists, but the core belief of fundamentalism, as I am given to understand it, is that the text of the Bible alone is authoritative — not “established opinion”, not externally prescribed or defined “tenets”, not “codes” of such tenets, and not even pronouncements by televangelists.”You are dancing around the issue. You are basically saying that the dictionary definition of dogma doesn’t apply to fundamentalists because they don’t believe that any their beliefs in any way reflect the influence of opinion. The fact that every Christian on the planet belongs to a particular sect of Xianity proves that in practice (if not in confession) they do, indeed, view the Bible through the prism of opinion, be it Luther’s, Calvin’s, The Pope’s…or the received opinion of Bible believers of every sect around.Anonymous wrote:You are now inventing meanings to suport your posting. Anyone can do that, but it isn’t helpful when one is trying to communicate in terms that we can all agree on. If I say that my using the term “yellow bundt cake” actually means “a silver Corvette,” we’ll spend our lives reinventing the language.I would think it much more likely that if it was the case that “in theology, dogma is a technical term with a specific meaning,” that the dictionary would find the room to accomdate such a meaning.Anon again:As I disagree in whole with what you have just said, your comments on Mr Harris provide no clarity and, therfore, offer no weight to your argument, IMHO.Is it not possible that the person “abusing” the meaning of the word is you and not Mr Harris?

  • Anonymous

    Tonio,Since we’re communicating in an environment in which the majority of participants quite openly reject and ridicule everything remotely to do with Christianity and other faiths, I guess I’m operating under the assumption that every one of us is entirely free to accept or reject anything. Nothing has any authority over us unless we freely assent, which we ought not to do except by way of a conscious rational decision. How is damnation a threat if one does not believe in it? Now, I don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure, but presumably as adults we learn to negotiate that.

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    To J:(Not many would read this little book…but me thinks it troubles you that this PhD candidate has achieved a level of success that you as a PhD. have yet to achieve.)Yes, about that it makes me feel inferior when Paris Hilton and Britney Spears write their life stories and they become best seller (in case you didnt get it, I was being sarcastic). Success on the NY Time Bestseller list is influenced by sensationalism. Do you really believe that MrHarris’ arguments are novel???????? from Nietzsche , Freud, Moliere, the same atheistic arguments are always rehashed (probably MrHarris’ content is related to him studying their arguments).Second, what troubles me is that when you attain a PhD (a feat not yet attainable by MrHarris) it is not success you have attained but rather an ability to understand an argument, dissect it using relevant academic sources, listen carefully (and unemotioanlly) to authoritative rebuttals and analyze the data carefully and yes, unemotionally.Third, you state over and over again:That is a circular argument: you build your case that he IS an authority on the subject because the content of his work (anti-religion appeals to your convictions that were in place prior to his work. Now is that reasonable? As A PhD holder, we are taught to question everything, even those arguments that would run counter to “what makes sense”. Mr Harris’ work is only preaching to the choir (pun intended). His books appeal to those who only believe in his beliefs, but those with “moderate” level of faith (excuse the simplififcation of that term) can EASILY deflect all of his arguments without a second glance. Now whether you accept their deflections is a whole different matter altogether.Fourth, you state:just so I know??? While perhaps there is a subset of atheists who do not hate God such as yourself, there is also a vocal subset of atheists who disbelieve in God because they hate his supposed indifference and permission of bad things to happen (evidence they claim that He cannot exist because he should be doing this or that but He doesnt, so there!!). Finally, u state “It’s the concept or definition of god in the so-called holy books that is so distasteful.” Distasteful? That is your choice to feel that way, but it is ours to feel that it tastes sweet.And oh yes, I am well qualified to be a captain…

  • Tonio

    “If you live in a western society (and no, theocracy is not imminent), no holy book has authority over you unless you willingly grant it.”You’re right that despite the events at the Air Force Academy and the Office of Faith-Based initiatives, America is a long way away from becoming a theocracy.To your point…Holy books claim that God will reward people for obedience and punish people for disobedience. They claim this will happen whether or not people believe it. They claim that God has authority over people whether or not they believe it. So where does “willingly grant” come in? The God described in these books wouldn’t say, “Oh, well, Johnny Franklin of Wichita didn’t grant me authority over him, so I guess I can’t send him to hell for having premarital sex.””Not questioning or forming one’s own opinions is unnatural and indeed quite impossible, isn’t it?” I would think so. But how does that square with the concept of eternal damnation, which threatens hell for people if they have their own opinions about the divinity of Jesus?

  • Richard Wade

    VICTORIA

  • DuckPhup

    MARK EATON wrote: “I also wish to point out to you that atheists commit murder, rape, and incest. Just like religous people. You forgot to include that in your essay.”Thank you for pointing that out. As a rule, though, atheists that I have known live far more ethical lives, and behave much more ‘morally’ than most so-called ‘Christians’ that I have known. In other words (behavior-wise, and from my personal observations), atheists seem to be more ‘christian’ than Christians.It is very sad (and scary) to know that millions of people are incapable of behaving ethically as a matter of self-realization… that they need the fictional edicts of some imaginary supernatural sky-fairy to ensure their proper behavior, for fear of some kind of eternal supernatural punishment. I dread to think of what your life will be like… and the lives of everyone around… should you come to recognize that all of your controlling beliefs are merley the product of the myths, superstitions, fairy tales and fantastical delusions of an ignorant bunch of Bronze Age fishermen and wandering goat herders.As Dawkins so eloquently points out, cooperation and altruism are inate properties of human existence… a more sophisticated version of the social organization that you can see among pods of orcas, packs of wolves, lion prides and troops of chimpanzees. Moral consensus, moral conscience and mutual empathy are evolved survival traits. They are cultural constructs… the social lubrication that allows people to exist together. People come away with the misconception that these don’t exist, absent religion, and the religious puppet masters seek to perpetuate that idea, in order to protect their conduits to wealth and power… but that is a canard. This has to do entirely with human nature.With regard to the behavior of atheists… chew on this for a little while. The Federal Bureau of Prisons keeps statistics on the religious persuasion of prisoners. Christians make up around 80% of the US population and around 80% of the US prison population (1997 figures). No big surprise there. Atheists, on the other hand, make up about 10% of the US population… but they only make up 0.2% of the US prison population. Now, isn’t THAT a surprise? That means that on an individual basis (statistically speaking), atheists are about FORTY (40) times LESS LIKELY to be incarcerated than Christians. So, presumeably, that would also mean that atheists are similarly less unlikely to “…commit murder, rape, and incest.” Pretty strange, huh, for a group that has no god-given guiding moral principals?I can think of only two possibilities that might reasonably be said to account for this discrepancy:1. Atheists are, on average, of a higher ethical and moral caliber than Christians, and thus are less prone to do the same kinds of nasty things that land so many Christians in the slammer; OR,2. Atheists are, on average, a lot smarter than Christians and thus, they are less likely to get caught in the course of their transgressions.It’s GOT to be one or the other… take your pick.

  • Pat

    I guess the question on who wrote the bible would answer why the bible demonizes women. Perhaps Men wrote the bible and that is why the bible is slanted towards men, and belittling women. No equality found in the bible I think. with trergards to men and women.

  • timmy

    All of these noises we are hearing from the believers are the noises of the lifting of the taboo. We were previously conducting ourselves in this conversation in a manner that was not offensive because it was not honest.It is impossible for a rational human being to be honest, and not completely offensive to those who have faith in God.The taboo against blunt honesty has been lifted.These noises we are hearing from Anonymous, Paul C, Victoria, Frank Arbuckle and the likes are the sounds of that taboo being lifted.They are good noises to hear.Anony and friends:

  • timmy

    All of these noises we are hearing from the believers are the noises of the lifting of the taboo. We were previously conducting ourselves in this conversation in a manner that was not offensive because it was not honest.It is impossible for a rational human being to be honest, and not completely offensive to those who have faith in God.The taboo against blunt honesty has been lifted.These noises we are hearing from Anonymous, Paul C, Victoria, Frank Arbuckle and the likes are the sounds of that taboo being lifted.They are good noises to hear.Anony and friends:

  • Tonio

    “How is damnation a threat if one does not believe in it? Now, I don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure, but presumably as adults we learn to negotiate that.””Peer pressure” is not quite the right phrase, in my view. When a believer tells other they’re going to hell, the believer is using the definitions of his or her belief system to label people. The message that others get is that they are worthless and deserve to die, even when that isn’t the believer’s intention. Being told that you’re going to hell can cause a lot of emotional damage, especially when you hear it over and over. If you’re repeatedly told that you’re stupid or useless, sooner or later you’re going to believe it and internalize what other people think about you.But I like Matt Groening’s approach — when he was in high school, a club of fundamentalist Christian students went around telling Jewish students they were going to hell. So as a response, Groening and his friends started a club called Teens for Decency and began looking for converts. When someone refused, the response was, “What’s the matter? Are you against decency?”

  • Anonymous

    Mark, I apologize for not properly citing the source of my definition (I assumed we’re striving for brevity here, not academic standards). I didn’t make up that definition — it happens to be from the Catholic Encyclopedia, but I’m sure you could consult any number of theological resources.But I stand by my application of your definition anyway. Yes, fundamentalists seek out “Bible-believing” (i.e., similarly-believing) congregations. But they would never regard as authoritative a tract, a sermon, or any statement of belief that is not taken verbatim from scripture.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Hey Captain,It appears that you’ve departed the fix of reason. Circles are for holding patterns, not arguments. Re-brief (read End of Faith) and try another approach. Your God is a myth – just like your pension.

  • Mr Mark

    Anonymous wrote:”Mark, I apologize for not properly citing the source of my definition (I assumed we’re striving for brevity here, not academic standards). I didn’t make up that definition — it happens to be from the Catholic Encyclopedia, but I’m sure you could consult any number of theological resources.”Thanks for the clarification. I learned something today…and that makes today a good day!

  • Tonio

    DuckPhup, why does the prison discrepancy have to be one or the other? It’s possible that prisoners turn to religion for emotional succor because they’re in a situation where there is no hope. Or maybe it’s the result of evangelists making a special effort to convert prisoners. A better measurement would be the prisoner’s religious preference at the time of admittance. I think it’s ridiculous to claim that people would be more or less likely to become criminals because of their membership or non-membership in any religion.

  • captain Reasonable Question

    hey dyedinwool-whatever,your reponse clearly exposes the myth of the atheist filled with reason. Sweet.

  • Anonymous

    Duck, I second what Tonio said, but more to the point, I’m confident you realize that you’d need to account for demographic differences. I’d be amazed if Jews and Hindus, for instance, are not similarly underrepresented among the incarcerated. And I bet Muslim *converts* are overrepresented.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Captain,It’s very foggy at your current destination. Suggest you couple it up (read Letter to a Christian Nation) if you are interested in arriving in one piece. Take a look around you. The world is strewn with the wreckage of your irrational belief system.

  • Gfour

    Ephesians 5:26 says – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church.Certainly Christ never instructed anyone to do anything but love his woman and so did the Apostle Paul. Taking the words of Paul out of context and mixing them in with the violent text of other religions is a misrepresentations. Paul instructs that one should be die for his wife just as Christ died for the church. No man has any greater love than the one who gives his life for another.

  • captain Reasonable Question

    dyed-in-the-will…”strewn with the wreckage…???”Hmmm……whatever.FYI I flipped through letters to a christian nation, and from what I read it should be more aptly named : ” Quotes out of context to an atheist audience who would agree with anything I say as long as it bashes Christianity”You want to read something insightful, that is rational and reasonable? How about CS Lewis, a former atheist and renowned academic and a great literary thinker of the 20th century.

  • Gerry

    A little help for the wonderful Christian egalitarian philosophy:”Woman must cover her head, because she is not the image of god.” (Ambrosius, important Church Father 339-397)”Woman is an inferior being, which has not been created by god according to his image. It corresponds to the natural order that woman serve men.” (Augustinus, 354-430, one of the most important Church Teachers)”Woman is a misconception of nature … with her humidity surplus and her low temperature physically and spiritually a low-grade, sort of mutilated, failed man. The full realization of the human species is only the man.” (St. Thomas Aquinus, leading Church Father, 1225-1274)”If you see a woman, think it is the devil! She is a sort of hell.” (Pope Pius II, 1405-1464)”The greatest honor of a woman is that a man is born through her.” “A woman should listen silently and submit herself totally. I do not allow a woman to teach and to put herself above a man. Adam was created first, then Eva.” (Pope John Paul, 1988)

  • DuckPhup

    TONIO wrote: “I think it’s ridiculous to claim that people would be more or less likely to become criminals because of their membership or non-membership in any religion.”– Correlation does not imply causation. My comments speculated on possible implications of the correlation… not the cause of the correlation. –ANONYMOUS wrote: “… I’m confident you realize that you’d need to account for demographic differences. I’d be amazed if Jews and Hindus, for instance, are not similarly underrepresented among the incarcerated. And I bet Muslim *converts* are overrepresented.”– I think that you did not understand the implications of the statistics. If 10% of the prison population were atheists, then on an individual basis, the chances of a Christian and an atheist going to prison would be identical (1:1). However, since atheists represent 10% of the nation’s population, but only 0.2% of the prison population, that means that they are PROPORTIONALLY underrepresented in the prison population by a factor of 50:1.You are quite right, though, in your supposition that Jews and Hindus are similarly underrepresented.Reliigion…………Population……….PrisonThe way to look at this is to recognize that Christians represent the same percentage of the prison population as they do in the general population. That enables us to use Christians as a benchmark for comparison on a 1:1 basis. For each other group, then, a comparison of the prison population in proportion to their representation in the general population provides a direct comparison to Christians.So…* Jews are slightly MORE likely than Christians to end up in prison (1.4:1).

  • kanwal chopra

    You are spot on ,Sam!Its clear that the writings in these books, paraded as the utterances of some big daddy up there, are really the product of their times when they were actually compiled by those living back then just as we all are living now. And with just as much possibility of incompleteness and incorrectness about a subject matter, as we can assume about any other topic. Only some vested groups, with self interests of some kind at heart, would continue to keep denying that it is indeed not so.These books need updating at the very least if not totally discorded.The fact remains that, like any other riddle of which a human mind seeks an explanation, existence of this world and its complexity, needs answering. These books which we ascribe to be some god’s version of explaining the answers are touching upon the way human societies should work, an aspect of governance indeed. The explanation required is missing in toto. And as far as the best way human societies live out, denying the same rights to its other half, less said the better. Even the concept of any denial is so ridiculous.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Lewis claimed to be “very angry with God for not existing”. Lewis was never an atheist in the strict sense of the word. One cannot be angry at something that one doesn’t believe exists in the first place. Christian apologists like to claim that Lewis was an atheist like it’s meaningful.Which it isn’t – because he wasn’t.

  • victoria

    well i was sad to learn that mom was wrong and her name isnt a derivative of victoria- yet im happy for her mistake because i like my name and i like her name too- her mom was catherine which means pure and we called her kitty and i like that name too—o well live and learni wouldnt want to be a liz or beth- bettys kind of cool not any of them around ok thanks richard btw

  • DuckPhup

    I wrote: “You are quite right, though, in your supposition that Jews and Hindus are similarly underrepresented.”That is obviously a mistake. I put that in there before I actually looked at the numbers. It turned out to be wrong… but I neglected to delete it. Sorry.

  • Captain Reasonable Question

    dyed-in-the-shoe,so not only do atheists get off on telling religous people that they are stupid but they also state that former atheists were never atheists to begin with because true atheists would never find religion, so there!!!!!!!Once again, the myth is shattered that reason is the underlying force of atheism.

  • Benny

    Duckphup,What about Stalin, an atheist true and true who murdered millions, some of them explicitly due to their Russian Orthodox faith. I am not surprised that, as an atheist, he experienced no moral qualms about what he did. If there is no reckoning, no divine justice to what we do then why not rape and pillage as long as we can get away with it Im NOT claiming that all atheists are of the same mindset nor am I denying that religious people are capable of atrocities. All humans can look for any excuse, be it real or imagined to commit terrible acts. Christianity is a religion that has been used for bad (maybe the Crusades) but also for acts of great good. Deny the latter and it is you who is delusional.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Benny,Stalin’s murderous regime wasn’t conducted in “the name of atheism”. This is an important distinction and contrasts sharply with the pogroms and murderous regimes conducted “in the name of God”. The idea that the more religious a society is, the more peaceful they are, is a myth. Certainly, less religion in today’s world would lead less violence.

  • craig beasley

    Plinty says nothing about “Joshua Barr Joseph”. Nor does Saul or is it “Paul”. The myth seemed to be a manifestation of an amalgamation of the then current and more ancient approximations.

  • Anonymous

    “Certainly, less religion in today’s world would lead less violence.”Certainly? Is there experimental data, or does this just make you feel good about yourself?

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    You disagree? Viewing the events of 9/11 in context, please tell me you’re kidding. Do you actually believe that stronger religious viewpoints would be beneficial to the world stage?

  • kanwal chopra

    To DUCKPHUPLow representation in slammers:Well, you could almost derivate it indirectly! If one has the tools in the gray matter which enable him thinking and deciding thing rationally as against under pressure of something as prevalent as a religious bandwagon, then perhaps he can be less expected to rot in there in those numbers.

  • daniel

    I read a few of the posts here and many of you sound like quite intelligent people. I also thought the conversation on the thread concerning religious experiences was interesting (Sam Harris’s thread, that is). What I want to know though is why everyone is posting here and not on the main reader’s response thread. A clear question has been posed concerning the relationship of women to religion and only just over a hundred people responded…

  • Bernie Bee

    But Vic, surely when converting to Islam you are required to take an Islamic name?What’s with you Vic. You make it hard to know if you’re just a wee fibber playing for laughs. Are you taking the mick out of us all?

  • Anonymous

    Duck, thank you for the interesting stats. It seems that Buddhists and Hindus need better defense counsel, while atheists (unsurprisingly) seem to have a monopoly on weasel-y lawyers. And perhaps too many Jewish defendants are represented in court by their brothers-in-law.I did understand your assertion, and I won’t prolong this, but obviously to support that assertion you’d need to sort out other very important variables bearing on incarceration like socio-economic status, ethnicity, education, variances in demography and incarceration rates among jurisdictions, and probably other things.As Tonio noted, I also think you have to take declared affiliation among the incarcerated with a grain of salt, both because such affiliation may provide one the few permitted sources of solace (not to mention entertainment), as well as a patina of respectability.My wager is that you’d find that the privileged, who are least likely to be incarcerated, are more likely to publicly identify themselves as atheists for a whole variety of reasons, while the other factors are much more strongly correlated with criminality per se. (Surely somebody has studied this.)

  • timmy

    For those who like to bring up Hitler as an example of an atheist atrocity.Guess who’s quote?“The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press-in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years.”Sounds like something Bush might say if he could get away with it.Adolf Hitler. (in his first radio address to the German people after coming to power July 22, 1933; from My New Order, The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 
1922-1939, Vol. 1, pp. 871-872, Oxford University Press, London, 1942.)

  • timmy

    For those who like to bring up Hitler as an example of an atheist atrocity.Guess who’s quote?“The national government will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality. Today Christians stand at the head of our country. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit. We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press-in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during recent years.”Sounds like something Bush might say if he could get away with it.Adolf Hitler. (in his first radio address to the German people after coming to power July 22, 1933; from My New Order, The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 
1922-1939, Vol. 1, pp. 871-872, Oxford University Press, London, 1942.)

  • DuckPhup

    Benny wrote: “What about Stalin, an atheist true and true who murdered millions, some of them explicitly due to their Russian Orthodox faith.”Stalin did not murder millions as a result of rationality and critical thinking skills run amok. His was a system of morally bankrupt POLITICAL dogma… every bit as ‘religious’, in its essence, as the religious dogmas that it sought to suppress.You seem to be under the misapprehension that ‘atheism’ is some sort of a belief system. It is not. Atheists simply are not persuaded that ideas pertaining to dieties are worthy of belief.Atheism can be considered to be a belief ONLY in the same sense that NOT collecting stamps might be considered to be a hobby.

  • timmy

    Justify, interpret differently, excuse, lie, rationalize.What ever it takes. Defend God.If God is supposed to reveal himself through the scriptures, why is reading the bible, as Sam Harris done, insufficient credential for him to give an opinion on it?

  • timmy

    Justify, interpret differently, excuse, lie, rationalize.What ever it takes. Defend God.If God is supposed to reveal himself through the scriptures, why is reading the bible, as Sam Harris done, insufficient credential for him to give an opinion on it?

  • Anonymous

    Dyed,Original hypothesis: “Less religion in today’s world would lead [to] less violence.”New hypothesis: “Stronger religious viewpoints would NOT be beneficial to the world stage.”Not sure which is your actual proposition, but my understanding (after being enlightened by the venerable Brother Dawkins and his acolytes in these discussions) is that the burden of proof falls on the person who asserts the proposition, not on those who disbelieve it.For simplicity’s sake let’s assume you stick with your original hypothesis. What does “less religion” mean? How’s that quantified? How do you disentangle religion from ethnicity, tribalism, and economic interest? (Would the Balkans really be much more peaceful if there were a single religion, or none? What about Darfur, where there is a common religion? Does the war in Chechnya really have much to do with Islam, and is Putin defending Christianity?) And HOW MUCH “less violence” do you mean? I assume it would have to be some appreciable improvement to justify your proposed anti-religious pogrom.Anyway, based solely on reason and empirical evidence, what is the proof of your proposition? Would “less religion” have stopped Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, the Rwandan genocide, the Iran-Iraq war?Awaiting data.

  • Bernie Bee

    Just after seeing the post from Willis Elliott where there is:Now Willie, you really should try not to condemn out of hand what others have to say and that you feel clashes with your way of thinking. With so much information available at the touch of a button there’s just no excuse these days for displaying such colossal ignorance in the claims you have made for the Bible when you can so easily check that any advance in Western Civilisation has been despite the Bible, in deadly confrontation with religion.Anyway, you’ll find Russell was not exactly indifferent to the existence of God and like Sam had very strong views about organised religion. At one level, he seems to have felt that the world would be made less bearable by the existence of God; the old ‘argument from evil’ weighed heavily with him—that is, the claim that the existence of evil was incompatible with the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent God. For any entity to have willed the existence of a world containing so much misery and folly would have been bad enough; for such an entity to claim to be perfectly good was utterly intolerable. As for the Christian churches, all of them were a conspiracy against truth, integrity and happiness. Catholic interdictions of birth control, however, was simply savage; insisting that children should be brought into the world when we know they will be ill, under-nourished, exploited and brutalised is a piece of cruelty on a level with the Conquistadors’ practice of baptising Indian babies and immediately beating their brains out in order that they should die in grace. He was never content to say that they are wrong; he could not resist adding that they are monsters of iniquity and sadists who have hardened their hearts to the sufferings of defenceless children. Unlike many freethinkers, Russell was not impressed by the personality of Christ himself. He thought him much inferior in sweetness of character to Buddha and greatly inferior to Socrates in both character and intellect. His belief that he would return from the dead within the lifetime of his disciples was absurd, and his miracles reflect strangely on his wisdom—Russell followed John Locke in wondering why Christ should blast a fig-tree which was hardly acting strangely in not supplying figs out of season. Moreover, there was a vindictive streak in the way he threatened his enemies with hell-fire (what Anon euphemistically explained here yesterday really only meant separation from the Beatific Vision! But read the actual passages!) And tried to persuade us into virtue as an insurance against the worm that never dies and the fire that never fades. Good natured Christians try to persuade their twenty first century readers that this is all to be taken metaphorically, but Russell would have none of that. So long as it was respectable to believe in the literal truth of such dire warnings, Christians believed them. Only when humanitarians made Christians ashamed of their bloodthirstiness did they start saying that it was all a matter of metaphor

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, Timmy, your victory lap was short-lived, was it not? You’re already back to crankily advocating willful ignorance… But, no, you’re right — take any book at random down off the shelf, lock yourself in your closet, and emerge — voila! — a rocket scientist! a brain surgeon! a master sculptor! a Supreme Court justice! a star quarterback! anything you want to be!

  • Anonymous

    Our thirsty Scottish friend says, “Good natured Christians try to persuade their twenty first century readers that this is all to be taken metaphorically, but Russell would have none of that.”Thank you for the candid acknowledgement of the point I have made (to howls of protest from some self-identified atheists) that fundamentalism and atheism are interdependent to such a degree that they may as well be two sides of a single coin.

  • Bernie Bee

    Aye Anon, and Timmy ain’t the only one! Here’s my tuppence worth to add to Timmy’s!Hitler was NOT an atheist.In George Orwell’s 1984, it was stated, “Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.” Who is going to control the present-fundamentalism or freedom?

  • Bernie Bee

    Notice ye’ve missed oot the sentence that follows the quote you posted where Russel devastatingly gives the reason why he’d have none of it!What a chancer ye are Anon. Right anuff!

  • Golden_Rule

    Yes, yes, yes. Tis all true. No doubt very detailed records have you. Give him his due folks here here hear. God does not make garbage, Arc Angels are worthy of your fear. Apples anyone? No, no, know. The bitter fruit of Arc Angel Lucifer’s labors in the Garden of Eden this he did sow. Nice going bro. Well, not nice, but you know what I mean…

  • Whocares

    Very good article, hopefully humanity will learn. check this out

  • timmy

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why the faithful care about what we are all saying. Why care what Sam Harris is saying? We are talking to each other. They are just listening in by their own free will.Can’t you just be happy that God loves you?

  • timmy

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why the faithful care about what we are all saying. Why care what Sam Harris is saying? We are talking to each other. They are just listening in by their own free will.Can’t you just be happy that God loves you?

  • Alain Machefert

    Bernie BeeAnd vice versa, I could have used examples in the “religious” camp of course. I do not care if people are atheists, theists, religious or agnostic like me. I just care that they are open-minded, tolerant and…fun.Also, what people claim to be does not really matter. What matters is their actions. What we observe in those posts on ON Faith is that the lack of respect, the intolerance are pretty much coming from all sides of the spectrum.

  • Golden_Rule

    He knows your weakness Ladies and Gents. Follow the Commandments, 10, 3 or 2 assess. From Heaven we are all sent. Do not be fooled just because you may wear a dress. YOU ARE THE PERFECT TOOLS INTO his chest. Can you still not see? God, Dear God! What are they missing? What am I missing? Is it You? For Love to survive, it takes Through? I see. Love God through your spouse. What say you Arcy? Think you can break that up? chuckles. Thank You God! Seek and ye shall find. It is written, no rules have been broken. Victory shall be thine! no not mine, Gods and therefore Devine. How you like me now bro? I know, you are bored. Not enough to keep you busy? There never was. Truth be told, you were made to consume the world. Much respect to God’s work.

  • Bernie Bee

    Maybe so Alain. But tell me is the Pope a Catholic? And as fur you Golden Rull, have you, like me, been at the Glenfiddich?

  • timmy

    In response to Golden Rule,Monkey chicken tent garage in street sky bluebird carjack frothy splinter geography cooler to stump pine career plus skidoo dither on keeper snoot.

  • timmy

    In response to Golden Rule,Monkey chicken tent garage in street sky bluebird carjack frothy splinter geography cooler to stump pine career plus skidoo dither on keeper snoot.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Timmy,You know I love you to pieces, but frankly, when I learned that godless Canadians had invaded our country under deep cover (as comedians no less) with the most foul of intentions, namely, to de-Christianize our fair land, well, I had no choice whatsoever but to leap to my keyboard in defense of all that I hold dear.It’s regrettable that this forum does not exactly lend itself to civility (not that I’m making excuses), but isn’t the whole point to have an exchange of views? To test one’s own ideas and challenge those of others? Or is this a conversation among the converted?Look, I wish Harris were right. I’d love to sleep in Sunday mornings and not have to worry that I haven’t given everything I own to the poor in order to follow Jesus. You’ll never know how much I envy you who (so you insist) never once trouble over why you’re here and why you have to go through this, because you lead such charmed and painless lives.Any intelligent person wants to test his ideas. But when I read Harris and Dawkins, I laughed out loud. Nobody believes in the “deity” they profess not to believe in. They have the most childish, literalist and absurd notions of the Christian faith. And frankly I haven’t found much more on these forums.But I met you, the funniest Canadian atheist this side of the QEW. And for that, I’m eternally (not that that’s possible) grateful.

  • mary

    Sam, Why don’t you make a movie/video, something along the lines of Al Gore’s An Incovenient Truth. That would get people talking and thinking. Thank you for all that you are doing to wake up this world to the truth about religion.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam,

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam,

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Gerry,

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Gerry,

  • Golden_Rule

    Save your souls timmy? I am trying to save your master’s soul.

  • Pam

    “Biblical faith is given by God, through the Holy Spirit to His elect. “Well, no point in all you believers preaching at us, then, eh? Clearly we’re not among the “elect.”Paul, you’re a scary man.

  • Disagree

    Your anecotal argument is rivoting and persuasive. However, there is danger in attributing anecdotal evidence to the majority of any population. It is a very popular tactic in politics. I say this not in its defense. For those of you who applaud this article and embrace only logic as your God. Consider this as a logical argument. Logically, you are best off if you act only in your own interest. It would be illogical for you to help one another unless you expect to gain something in return. Using logic, you should steal if it is not reasonable that you would be caught. You should embrace every form of pleasure as long as you can reasonably avoid consequences, and you should avoid any activity where you would not receive a pleasurable benefit. John Lenon asked us to imagine. Unfortunately, the world without religion that I imagine is not as utopian as yours. A riddle: What happenned to the nice tribe living next to the waring one? Answer: It got slaughtered. …and He brought upon them the most aweful punishment he could impose. He let them do to one another whatever they would.

  • DuckPhup

    Anonymous wrote: “You know I love you to pieces, but frankly, when I learned that godless Canadians had invaded our country under deep cover (as comedians no less) with the most foul of intentions, namely, to de-Christianize our fair land, well, I had no choice whatsoever but to leap to my keyboard in defense of all that I hold dear.”– “Maple-suckin’ puck-slappers.” ~ Homer Simpson –

  • Golden_Rule

    Mr. Harris, please excuse my sins of omission. GOD PLEASE BLESS AND KEEP MR. HARRIS AND HIS. MAY THEY ALL FIND YOUR LIGHT DEAR GOD. MAY THEY ALL KNOW YOUR LOVE, UNDERSTANDING, AND MERCY. AMEN. just asking for a review. nothing more, nothing less.

  • Bernie Bee

    There’s a wee bit ambiguity here and there in your potted biog Victoria.Then your granny only had 2 children. What’s with the ‘only’? Instead of 12? Anyway, it is still 2 more than Condi had to cope with. You go on to tell of your Granda and how mammy was a stay-at-home until c1970 when she burnt her bra (what about her paper knickers?) and said she wasn’t married to her house, was never to cook or clean again in her life. If not married to the house, who was she married to? There is no mention anywhere of your dad. Why’s that? Trust it isn’t to protect his hideout somewhere on the Pakistan border (perhaps even that notoriously randy goat, Sammy bin Liner himself!) And you come from “a long line of irrepressible, expressive, fighting, Irish women”. From my experience of that type of termagant I can vouch for the fact that you won’t find many of them in the submissive female ranks o’ Islam! Not a one of them in fact!Who is being addressed here: “It sounds like your grandmother suffered a great deal under being told by others what she should or shouldn’t do—mostly shouldn’t”? Whose grandmother?One of your mother’s major accomplishments was that she “single-handedly fought and won to have 3000 patients in the state mental institute where she worked as an aide for 20 yrs—released from posey belts and jerry chairs—after every meal they were strapped into their chairs and belted down—3000 socially deemed insane people tied down all day every day—she got their freedom for them—got the director fired—and the new director promptly fired her”.You say your mam was an agnostic and that you brought religion into the house when you were 6 by choosing to enter the Catholic church. Did you manage to persuade your mam to accompany you to church or for her to become a Catholic (even Christian?)It is laudable that you’ve been fighting for the rights of homosexuals—people with aids—homeless people—veterans—abused women for so many years it is second nature to me. Are you, as a Muslim, still involved in that type of work, and if so does it have approval of the Mullahs?When you say you were “a novitiate for the Franciscans for a long time myself—service is my nature—but it is not natural to deny our own desires and instincts (lettin’ yer hair down here eh! You sexy thing!) when I start to feel any bonds of restriction I balk like a wild horse (WOW!)I could go on for a good bit more in similar fashion but I’ll just say here the whole post reads like a male fantasising how a daft teen girl would write. Fails even at that level. Yep, in my book Vic is definitely a beardie.

  • Trevor

    Sam Harris displays a shallow understanding of the scriptures. The Bible in particular is a huge book, a vast compilation of stories that can’t be dumbed down as easily as Harris would like. While Harris uses a few Old Testament passages to buttress his obviously biased argument, he leaves out the scores of women that are treated as heroes of the faith. Hannah offered Samuel to the service of the Lord. Deborah was a righteous judge who led the Israelite people (and even fought wars) during the time between Joshua and the monarchy under Saul. Esther had the courage to confront a Persian king on behalf of the Israelites. Ruth was a Moabite woman who was grafted into the ranks of the Israelites after she displayed great faith in God. Rahab was a prostitute who feared God and was spared when Joshua took over Jericho. She is later mentioned in the geneaology of Jesus. Oh, and speaking of Jesus, he had little to say regarding the inferiority of women. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. On more than one occasion, he could have been justified in stoning an adulteress (the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery). In both of these instances, he offered mercy. The woman who poured perfume on his feet and wiped them with tears will be “honored wherever the gospel is preached.” Women supported the ministry of Jesus. Women were the first witnesses of the resurrection. Women were honored because of their great faith. A lowly woman was chosen and “favored by God” to bear Christ to the world. I could go on and on. My point is that Harris fails to understand the cultural implications behind the scriptures, and like critics on both sides of the fence, he chooses not to see the whole picture. He cites the passage in Ephesians about wives submitting to husbands, but he purposefully omits the part about husbands loving their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself (died) for her.” Also, it’s interesting to see Harris, who believes there is no God, argue that we have rights in the first place. If we evolved from apes and there is no supernatural and no objective morality, every thought and action is the result of random chemical processes in the brain. The law of the jungle still applies, and the weak should be subject to the strong. Who are we to impose our morality on the complex workings of nature, which, judging by history, has allowed men to dominate? Harris is atheism’s prophet, and it saddens me to see that many people posting on this board accept his doctrines blindly because they justify an empty belief system. Harris sees it as his mission to attack religion, and therefore he cannot be trusted to be an objective critic. If you want an unbiased opinion about Jews, do you ask Hitler? Religion, while it may be used as a vehicle for oppression, is not the problem. Religion is like a computer. It can only do what sinful people program it to do. And therein lies the problem. People are sinful. As he points out the shortcomings of others, particularly religious people, Harris should look at the fruits of his own life. Maybe then will he find some humility and respect for people of faith.

  • Trevor

    Sam Harris displays a shallow understanding of the scriptures. The Bible in particular is a huge book, a vast compilation of stories that can’t be dumbed down as easily as Harris would like. While Harris uses a few Old Testament passages to buttress his obviously biased argument, he leaves out the scores of women that are treated as heroes of the faith. Hannah offered Samuel to the service of the Lord. Deborah was a righteous judge who led the Israelite people (and even fought wars) during the time between Joshua and the monarchy under Saul. Esther had the courage to confront a Persian king on behalf of the Israelites. Ruth was a Moabite woman who was grafted into the ranks of the Israelites after she displayed great faith in God. Rahab was a prostitute who feared God and was spared when Joshua took over Jericho. She is later mentioned in the geneaology of Jesus. Oh, and speaking of Jesus, he had little to say regarding the inferiority of women. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. On more than one occasion, he could have been justified in stoning an adulteress (the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery). In both of these instances, he offered mercy. The woman who poured perfume on his feet and wiped them with tears will be “honored wherever the gospel is preached.” Women supported the ministry of Jesus. Women were the first witnesses of the resurrection. Women were honored because of their great faith. A lowly woman was chosen and “favored by God” to bear Christ to the world. I could go on and on. My point is that Harris fails to understand the cultural implications behind the scriptures, and like critics on both sides of the fence, he chooses not to see the whole picture. He cites the passage in Ephesians about wives submitting to husbands, but he purposefully omits the part about husbands loving their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself (died) for her.” Also, it’s interesting to see Harris, who believes there is no God, argue that we have rights in the first place. If we evolved from apes and there is no supernatural and no objective morality, every thought and action is the result of random chemical processes in the brain. The law of the jungle still applies, and the weak should be subject to the strong. Who are we to impose our morality on the complex workings of nature, which, judging by history, has allowed men to dominate? Harris is atheism’s prophet, and it saddens me to see that many people posting on this board accept his doctrines blindly because they justify an empty belief system. Harris sees it as his mission to attack religion, and therefore he cannot be trusted to be an objective critic. If you want an unbiased opinion about Jews, do you ask Hitler? Religion, while it may be used as a vehicle for oppression, is not the problem. Religion is like a computer. It can only do what sinful people program it to do. And therein lies the problem. People are sinful. As he points out the shortcomings of others, particularly religious people, Harris should look at the fruits of his own life. Maybe then will he find some humility and respect for people of faith.

  • Anonymous

    “‘Bart was, like a lot of people who were converted to fundamental evangelicalism, converted to the certainty of it all, of having all the answers,’ says Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, and a friend of three decades. ‘When he found out they were lying to him, he just didn’t want anything to do with it.’”Which is the precisely problem with fundamentalism, a relatively recent and peculiarly American distortion of Christianity, practiced by a distinct minority of the world’s Christians. Its claims to the contrary notwithstanding, fundamentalism has no respect for scripture.Another irony of fundamentalism is that it is a thoroughly modern phenomenon. The notion that the individual can read and understand scripture for herself, independently of scholars and clerics, was quite impossible prior to the mass production of books and widespread literacy. Combined with that other modern “reformed” idea that scripture is the sole source of revelation, it’s a recipe for cognitive dissonance — and proof of the adage that a little knowledge (but only just a little) is a dangerous thing.Whether one approaches the scriptures as a purely academic exercise, or with heart and mind open to the truths they may reveal, it’s important to regard them for what they really are, and are not.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam

  • Anonymous

    All the best, Victoria. You’re quite right that World Atheism has not assigned its best and brightest to this particular discussion.

  • bernie bee

    Gonny miss ye Vic for despite everything ye were good for a laff!

  • Tonio

    “He cites the passage in Ephesians about wives submitting to husbands, but he purposefully omits the part about husbands loving their wives ‘as Christ loved the church and gave himself (died) for her.’ “Trevor, submission to a loving husband is still submission. I oppose the idea of either spouse having that kind of absolute authority over the other.Also, Christians being told to accept the Bible without question as the inerrant word of God. Doesn’t that dogma rule out any attempt to “understand the cultural implications behind the scriptures”?

  • bernie bee

    Trevor, we definitely do not blindly accept what Sam has to say. Far from it.But what’s this from you:Jesus had no intention of starting a church, any church!What you are quoting is just another one of the interpolations, that early Christians fraudsters went in for over the first three centuries of Christianity.

  • dumblondeatheist

    Thanks again, Good A, as I really need validation(sincerely, I mean it-it’s part of what connects us to each other, & so adds to our sacred purpose)Anyone who’s ever seen The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly will understand why we just couldn’t hack it anymore!

  • Anonymous

    Anybody agree with the proposition that mature, ethical adults who are confident in their positions, values and ideas simply have no need to subject other human beings to ridicule?

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Anonymous: Yet again, sheer, utter, abject ignorance.Typical faith-head apologetic response. The derision and scorn heaped upon the scholars in the recently released Gospel of Judas is a perfect example. Judas as a heroic figure is contrary to the story taught to you as a child, and now as a child-adult, you either put your fingers in your ears and pretend the analysis doesn’t exist, or go out of your way to malign the authors.To even suggest that the scientific method is employed in analyzing a 2000 year old book with the starting precept that ‘it’s true because it says it’s true’, is a vile insult to science. And you’re making noise about intellectual honesty?

  • Dave Brock

    Hear hear Sam!Sadly most ears are closed to the truth by the religious ear wax of irrational zealotry.At last a voice of reason, and above all truth, being heard on ‘On Faith’.Makes a change from all the barmy Baptists, crazy Catholics and two-faced Islamists.

  • kaattie

    JWR, you rock! Yes, I really want to know how any Muslim, including Victoria (who I do suspect of being a fake, a hairy imam), can defend the faith that calls for butchery and rape. The moderate stance is well argued-against by Sam Harris especially. So Victoria, how can you defend the rest of your magic-believers-in-Islam???? On second thought, never mind, I have not found one of your posts to reflect any kind of honesty. I want to know how the religious apologists including Victoria can account for the centuries of barbarism perpetrated in the name of “God”. Why won’t you just admit that so much of it was WRONG???

  • BGone

    Your trailer says it all. Women are competition for homosexual males. What is the sexual orientation of those who created and run religion? Of course everything sexual about women must be demonized.

  • Anonymous

    “Christians being told to accept the Bible without question as the inerrant word of God.”Not even a fundamentalist accepts “without question”. That’s a silly, uninformed and insulting caricature.In any case, there’s a vast expanse between “[W]ord of God” — and even “inerrant [W]ord of God” — and the incredibly literal-minded notion that every jot and tittle in every translation was transcribed from a divine dictaphone. Again, a silly, uninformed and insulting caricature of what people actually believe.To quote a very astute post above, “Whether one approaches the scriptures as a purely academic exercise, or with heart and mind open to the truths they may reveal, it’s important to regard them for what they really are, and are not.”

  • good anonymous

    dumblondeatheist:You are welcome!!!! I agree wholeheartedly – ;) Hooray for us!!!

  • kaattie

    Notice how Jason has been run off by being caught out. Too bad, we were really getting into a nice dialogue with you, Jason, especially the part about “legitimacy”.If you do come back, call yourself by your true name: (censored)

  • bd

    Our contribution to christianity: Keeping Jason occupied and away from the 95% of christians that would consider him a nut.

  • Mike

    I enjoy reading your logical arguments Sam. I study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The more I learn the more I have no desire to discuss religion. It’s too bad religion has not become extinct. Great minds are being wasted on this topic. But in order to preserve the human race from death and destruction, we will have to teach everyone how ridiculous their religious beliefs and actions have become.I thank Bertrand Russell for closing the doors on my rural town Nebraska beliefs.

  • Tonio

    Anonymous, of course most Christians don’t accept dogma “without question.” That is not my point. My point is that fundamentalist dogma and many fundamentalist leaders are insisting that Christians do so. I don’t like being told not to question things. In all my church experiences and in all my experiences with fundamentalists (almost all of them kind and decent people), I have always been told that to question the Bible is to face eternal damnation. You can call that a caricature if you want, but that is my experience.Besides, isn’t the whole concept of dogma, about setting limits on what people must believe and what people must not believe?

  • dumblondeatheist

    Well, I hope you are right, Kaatie:)Good Night

  • Deb Chatterjee

    Sam:It takes a lot of courage, knowledge and conviction to write ‘unpopular’ stuff. I have read and bought your book, END OF REASON … and found it most compelling though I have some questions about your opinion on ‘moral relativism’. However, on this issue of demonizing women, I must say thou are right on the money. You may/may not agree that in the Abrahamic religious traditions, only Jesus Christ liberated women from the status that they were in. Far Eastern religion and societal traditions, like Hinduism, Buddhism do not fare much better. The problem, very correctly identified in your book (chapter 4), is that Islam is a barbaric religion which imposes outward symbols of sexual oppression on women. The hijab, chador, burkha are all testimonies to such ‘Divine’ oppression. Middle-age Christianity (not to be confused with Christ’s message) was no better. But Judaism, has better respect for women.Unless the rational society rises up against Islamic dogma of Jihad and Shariah, we are all headed towards the Biblical apocalypse, with the fairer sex getting the Taliban-like treatment under the ‘divine’ sanctions from the Arabic goldling called Allah.

  • Vijay

    Bernie Bee,

  • Bernie Bee

    Well Vijay, the power nature has given gals such that they can stun us just by lookin at us with a glint in their eyes is surely an unfair advantage over us daft lads!”As I was out walkin’ I chanced tae seeAye, you gals def’nitly have the advantage, no two ways about it!

  • timmy

    Vijay,My wife asked me out on our first date and payed for the dinner.

  • timmy

    Vijay,My wife asked me out on our first date and payed for the dinner.

  • timmy

    Tonio wrote:I read letter to a Christian nation. Sam made it perfectly clear that he was not at all suggesting causation at all. He simply used those accurate statistics to show that anyone who tries to use the argument that a Christian society is more moral than an atheist society that they have a pretty big hill to climb if they want to have any credibility with such an ignorant statement.

  • timmy

    Tonio wrote:I read letter to a Christian nation. Sam made it perfectly clear that he was not at all suggesting causation at all. He simply used those accurate statistics to show that anyone who tries to use the argument that a Christian society is more moral than an atheist society that they have a pretty big hill to climb if they want to have any credibility with such an ignorant statement.

  • timmy

    Anon,Do I hear you willing to admit that the love and compassion message of Jesus is far more important than the “believe or go to Hell” message?Gandhi did not believe in Jesus. Is he in Heaven right now? or Hell?

  • timmy

    Anon,Do I hear you willing to admit that the love and compassion message of Jesus is far more important than the “believe or go to Hell” message?Gandhi did not believe in Jesus. Is he in Heaven right now? or Hell?

  • Tom

    Brilliant. First equating all the Abrahamic faiths as though they taught the same thing, then reducing the differences in each of the faith traditions to their most extreme examples, and finally drawing the inevitable conclusion: monotheism=sexism.Hitler would be proud. Your propaganda, which is obviously largely directed to America’s Judeo-Christian majority (“see? those Muslims are just like those wacky believers in our country!”), is well constructed. Of course it ignores the fact that it is the nations of the Judeo-Christian tradition which have the greatest equality of rights between the sexes; which enjoy the greatest spectrum of personal freedom for men and women; indeed, it is only in a country born of the Judeo-Christian tradition that you could write such a scurrilous article.I will pray for you.

  • Tom

    Brilliant. First equating all the Abrahamic faiths as though they taught the same thing, then reducing the differences in each of the faith traditions to their most extreme examples, and finally drawing the inevitable conclusion: monotheism=sexism.Hitler would be proud. Your propaganda, which is obviously largely directed to America’s Judeo-Christian majority (“see? those Muslims are just like those wacky believers in our country!”), is well constructed. Of course it ignores the fact that it is the nations of the Judeo-Christian tradition which have the greatest equality of rights between the sexes; which enjoy the greatest spectrum of personal freedom for men and women; indeed, it is only in a country born of the Judeo-Christian tradition that you could write such a scurrilous article.I will pray for you.

  • timmy

    Once and for all, Sam does not judge the morality of religious people. He judges the morality of the teachings in your holy books. You have a problem with them not Sam. You have all changed your religion. You have all changed the word of God. You second guess his morality and choose your own.

  • timmy

    Once and for all, Sam does not judge the morality of religious people. He judges the morality of the teachings in your holy books. You have a problem with them not Sam. You have all changed your religion. You have all changed the word of God. You second guess his morality and choose your own.

  • timmy

    Tom,Will you list these Judeo Christian countries you speak of?The countries you are referring to are the ones with the strongest separation of church and state. I wouldn’t exactly call Sweden a Judeo Christian traditional country.

  • timmy

    Tom,Will you list these Judeo Christian countries you speak of?The countries you are referring to are the ones with the strongest separation of church and state. I wouldn’t exactly call Sweden a Judeo Christian traditional country.

  • Tonio

    “Sam makes it perfectly clear that he was not at all suggesting causation at all.” You’re right about that, Timmy. And I understood Harris’ intention to refute claims that Christian societies are more moral.What I’m suggesting is that all correlation arguments have a subtext of “guilt by association.” Even with Harris’ qualifier, and despite his conscious intention to the contrary, the argument implies that Christianity is associated with immorality. There’s no way that someone using the correlation argument can avoid that implication.

  • tom

    For those who like to quote Scripture and debate its meaning, perhaps we should defer to the proclamation of Christ himself, who was asked rather pointedly which was the greatest commandment. His reply: “The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. In these are all of the law and all of the prophets.” (not an exact translation, but close enough)So the teaching of the founder of Christianity is that all of the Scriptures and Commandments and religious injunctions amount to this: love God and love your neighbor.People can have debates about how self-proclaimed Christians act, and whether or not they are true to their faith. But the teachings of Christ are in fact quite clear. Hopefully both those that would denounce Christ and those that will defend him would remember that– in the end all of human freedom rests on the teaching, also stated by Christ in the Bible, to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

  • tom

    For those who like to quote Scripture and debate its meaning, perhaps we should defer to the proclamation of Christ himself, who was asked rather pointedly which was the greatest commandment. His reply: “The first is to love the Lord your God with all your heart. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. In these are all of the law and all of the prophets.” (not an exact translation, but close enough)So the teaching of the founder of Christianity is that all of the Scriptures and Commandments and religious injunctions amount to this: love God and love your neighbor.People can have debates about how self-proclaimed Christians act, and whether or not they are true to their faith. But the teachings of Christ are in fact quite clear. Hopefully both those that would denounce Christ and those that will defend him would remember that– in the end all of human freedom rests on the teaching, also stated by Christ in the Bible, to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

  • Harley

    TomI’ll pray for youWe’ll THINK for you!!!

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-It is historical fact that most of the “secular” reforms you (and others) have cited owe their origination and success to Christianity: the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which became the source of the “suffragette” movement; abolitionism; and the civil rights movement were all largely (indeed, almost exclusively) Christian-based examples of social activism. The Rev. Martin Luther King pleaded for civil rights based on the fact that it was un-Christian to deny them to African-Americans.The sad truth is that atheists and other secularists want to whitewash our history of Christianity. Understandably those of us who believe that our Creator made us all equal and endowed us with certain inalienable rights will resist.

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-It is historical fact that most of the “secular” reforms you (and others) have cited owe their origination and success to Christianity: the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which became the source of the “suffragette” movement; abolitionism; and the civil rights movement were all largely (indeed, almost exclusively) Christian-based examples of social activism. The Rev. Martin Luther King pleaded for civil rights based on the fact that it was un-Christian to deny them to African-Americans.The sad truth is that atheists and other secularists want to whitewash our history of Christianity. Understandably those of us who believe that our Creator made us all equal and endowed us with certain inalienable rights will resist.

  • timmy

    Tonio,Atheists only pull the correlation card when Christians play the “we are more moral than you” card “because we are commanded to be moral”Remember how communism started out as wonderful idea of everybody sharing everything. But when humans are forced at gunpoint to be moral, look what happens.

  • timmy

    Tonio,Atheists only pull the correlation card when Christians play the “we are more moral than you” card “because we are commanded to be moral”Remember how communism started out as wonderful idea of everybody sharing everything. But when humans are forced at gunpoint to be moral, look what happens.

  • Tonio

    “Sam does not judge the morality of religious people. He judges the morality of the teachings in your holy books.”Exactly, Timmy. One can abhor a religious doctrine or doctrine while respecting the people who follow that doctrine.Tom, the merits of the Greatest Commandment are not the issue. For me, the issue is that much of the Bible contradicts both the letter and spirit of the commandment. The Old Testament and Revelations both portray of God as jealously, murderously abusive. Ever hear the song “He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss,” performed by the Crystals and by Hole? The Old Testament God sounds a lot like the controlling, violent boyfriend in the song.

  • timmy

    Tom,Why slavery and women’s suffrage in the first place? Do unto others, love thy neighbor etc.How dare you claim love and compassion as your god’s invention.

  • timmy

    Tom,Why slavery and women’s suffrage in the first place? Do unto others, love thy neighbor etc.How dare you claim love and compassion as your god’s invention.

  • Tonio

    Timmy, for what it’s worth, I’ve never viewed eternal reward or damnation as about forcing people to be objectively moral. I’ve always viewed the doctrine as about forcing people into obedience to some authority.

  • timmy

    Tonio,Tru dat.I don’t know where Christians get this moral superiority from.Nobody knew what love and compassion were until Jesus. Apparently.

  • tom

    Hello Tonio-Thank you for your reply. By saying that all of the previous teachings and edicts really amount to an injunction to love, I actually think that was the point Christ was making: his radical message was that God isn’t standing on a cloud dividing His Choosen Few from everybody else, but rather that salvation is available to everyone. This debate rages on later in the New Testament, when St. Paul and St. Peter clash over the question of whether converts must first accept the Law (e.g. circumcision) before they can be accepted as Christians. (answer: no).All too often one the views of one sect, namely fundamentalists, are portrayed as being “Christian,” thus leading to easy generalizations. However other Christians, such as so-called “mainline” Protestants and Catholics, have a much more nuanced view of the Bible and disregard the idea that one can open up the Good Book, point to any particular passage, and say This Is The Law!The teachings of Christ, their role in the growth of free and open societies, and their continuing importance or relevance are very important questions. My concern is that individuals like Mr. Harris wish to distort history, spread false information and undermine what St. Paul so famously said: “Stand ye fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ hath set you free.” And undermining that, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for any successors.

  • timmy

    Tonio,Tru dat.I don’t know where Christians get this moral superiority from.Nobody knew what love and compassion were until Jesus. Apparently.

  • tom

    Hello Tonio-Thank you for your reply. By saying that all of the previous teachings and edicts really amount to an injunction to love, I actually think that was the point Christ was making: his radical message was that God isn’t standing on a cloud dividing His Choosen Few from everybody else, but rather that salvation is available to everyone. This debate rages on later in the New Testament, when St. Paul and St. Peter clash over the question of whether converts must first accept the Law (e.g. circumcision) before they can be accepted as Christians. (answer: no).All too often one the views of one sect, namely fundamentalists, are portrayed as being “Christian,” thus leading to easy generalizations. However other Christians, such as so-called “mainline” Protestants and Catholics, have a much more nuanced view of the Bible and disregard the idea that one can open up the Good Book, point to any particular passage, and say This Is The Law!The teachings of Christ, their role in the growth of free and open societies, and their continuing importance or relevance are very important questions. My concern is that individuals like Mr. Harris wish to distort history, spread false information and undermine what St. Paul so famously said: “Stand ye fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ hath set you free.” And undermining that, I don’t hold out a lot of hope for any successors.

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-I gladly give credit for showing love and compassion to all who wish to claim it. But regarding your statement that love and doing unto others are natural human qualities, unfortunately so are hating and destroying. Christ teaches to love those that hate you, and bless those that curse you. These are not widely taught beliefs outside of Christianity (though of course there are related teachings in other religions), but regardless of their source it would be wonderful if we could all agree on their primacy. But please don’t be upset when some of us point out it was Christ whose teachings placed them in our cultural portfolio.

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-I gladly give credit for showing love and compassion to all who wish to claim it. But regarding your statement that love and doing unto others are natural human qualities, unfortunately so are hating and destroying. Christ teaches to love those that hate you, and bless those that curse you. These are not widely taught beliefs outside of Christianity (though of course there are related teachings in other religions), but regardless of their source it would be wonderful if we could all agree on their primacy. But please don’t be upset when some of us point out it was Christ whose teachings placed them in our cultural portfolio.

  • timmy

    TomChrist didn’t set us free.Sam distorts nothing. It is Christian leaders who never read certain parts of the Bible in church because they don’t want the flock to know how repulsive most of the Bible is. These are the distorters of religion. Sam is lifting the veil.

  • timmy

    TomChrist didn’t set us free.Sam distorts nothing. It is Christian leaders who never read certain parts of the Bible in church because they don’t want the flock to know how repulsive most of the Bible is. These are the distorters of religion. Sam is lifting the veil.

  • Tonio

    Tom, would you explain what you mean by a “nuanced view” of the Bible? I’ve always been told that Christians must read the Bible literally or face eternal damnation.

  • timmy

    Tom,You say Christ, I say a mythical hero character named Jesus.I have the utmost respect for the love and compassion message of Jesus. So do we all. It is your arrogant assertion that he was the son of the creator of the universe that has caused all of the trouble. You can’t force a message of peace and love. I ask you. if Christians lead by example instead of by command, would a country with a population of 80% Christians be the most capitalist, dog eat dog nation in the world? The most warring nation in the world? The richest country in the world? The country with the highest crime rate in the world? The country with the largest gap between rich and poor in the world.

  • timmy

    Tom,You say Christ, I say a mythical hero character named Jesus.I have the utmost respect for the love and compassion message of Jesus. So do we all. It is your arrogant assertion that he was the son of the creator of the universe that has caused all of the trouble. You can’t force a message of peace and love. I ask you. if Christians lead by example instead of by command, would a country with a population of 80% Christians be the most capitalist, dog eat dog nation in the world? The most warring nation in the world? The richest country in the world? The country with the highest crime rate in the world? The country with the largest gap between rich and poor in the world.

  • tom

    Hello Mr. Mark-I’m afraid your understanding of exegesis and mine differ. As I noted in my posting to Tonio, “fundamentalist” interpretations of Scripture tend to vary from those of other Christian denominations. Within the Christian community there has long been debate about the “correct” interpretation of various passages so it is unfair to say, for instance, “we must – MUST – enforce the laws of the Bible, even if that means having our children stoned to death for talking back to their parents.”Of course the clearest example of why this isn’t so was once again presented in the Scriptures by Christ himself, who broke “the law” by healing on the Sabbath, enjoining divorce contrary to the teachings of Moses and subverting those who would stone a prostitute to death (as an aside, this last episode does tend to undermine Sam Harris’s theory of Christian oppression of women).It is historical fact that Christianity’s contributions to Western Civilization provide one of the leading sources of inspiration for the development of liberal societies. As an adherent to that tradition I will gladly defend the rights both of those who wish to denounce Christ as well as those who would defend him; history is replete with similar examples of others willing to do the same. Sadly the same cannot be said of those who are not inheritors of the Christian-liberal tradition.

  • tom

    Hello Mr. Mark-I’m afraid your understanding of exegesis and mine differ. As I noted in my posting to Tonio, “fundamentalist” interpretations of Scripture tend to vary from those of other Christian denominations. Within the Christian community there has long been debate about the “correct” interpretation of various passages so it is unfair to say, for instance, “we must – MUST – enforce the laws of the Bible, even if that means having our children stoned to death for talking back to their parents.”Of course the clearest example of why this isn’t so was once again presented in the Scriptures by Christ himself, who broke “the law” by healing on the Sabbath, enjoining divorce contrary to the teachings of Moses and subverting those who would stone a prostitute to death (as an aside, this last episode does tend to undermine Sam Harris’s theory of Christian oppression of women).It is historical fact that Christianity’s contributions to Western Civilization provide one of the leading sources of inspiration for the development of liberal societies. As an adherent to that tradition I will gladly defend the rights both of those who wish to denounce Christ as well as those who would defend him; history is replete with similar examples of others willing to do the same. Sadly the same cannot be said of those who are not inheritors of the Christian-liberal tradition.

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-Another teaching of Christ’s that is widely underreported is to “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged.” Therefore I will not comment on whether or not Jesus would be ashamed of America though as you rightly point out there is a lot of room for improvement.But the point is that literally millions of Christians don’t care whether or not you believe that Christ is God’s son; that is between you and him. For my own part, I find my life is a lot happier believing in him than it was when I didn’t, but I have no proof that would convince anyone else, so there it is. But I do object to people trying to attribute to Christ teachings that weren’t his, or to claim that people of faith are what’s wrong with this country, or otherwise promote what are quite frankly biased and discriminatory views about Christians. Christians have been a part, and in most cases a leading part, of every significant advancement in human freedom in the last 2000 years. That some self-proclaimed Christians have also done great evil is no doubt true as well. But ask me to choose between Bill Clinton (a Christian) and Hitler (not Christian) or Ronald Reagan (a Christian) and Stalin (not Christian) and I will live in a country governed by the former and his ilk everytime, as I’m sure would most people if they had the chance.

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-Another teaching of Christ’s that is widely underreported is to “judge not, lest ye yourself be judged.” Therefore I will not comment on whether or not Jesus would be ashamed of America though as you rightly point out there is a lot of room for improvement.But the point is that literally millions of Christians don’t care whether or not you believe that Christ is God’s son; that is between you and him. For my own part, I find my life is a lot happier believing in him than it was when I didn’t, but I have no proof that would convince anyone else, so there it is. But I do object to people trying to attribute to Christ teachings that weren’t his, or to claim that people of faith are what’s wrong with this country, or otherwise promote what are quite frankly biased and discriminatory views about Christians. Christians have been a part, and in most cases a leading part, of every significant advancement in human freedom in the last 2000 years. That some self-proclaimed Christians have also done great evil is no doubt true as well. But ask me to choose between Bill Clinton (a Christian) and Hitler (not Christian) or Ronald Reagan (a Christian) and Stalin (not Christian) and I will live in a country governed by the former and his ilk everytime, as I’m sure would most people if they had the chance.

  • bobby

    MrMark wrote”Obviously those who believe in the above statements are clearly delusional and incompetent inj understanding Jesus and Christianity. In the Old Testament it requires that adulteresses be stoned. In the New Testament when faced before an adulteress about to be stoned Jesus did not say to stone or not to stone her. He simply asked those without sin to cast the first stone. Since none of the angry mob qualified they walked away. Jesus’ actions did not negate the Old Testament. His presence opened a new, personal relationship with God. So comments like “Christians who arent stoning are not following Christianity ” only exposes the lack of understanding of what Christ’s message is. The wage of sin is still death but through Christ we are redeemed.I COMPLETELY understand how atheists would be confused with the above statements, but that is THEIR flaw, THEIR choice. True Christians understand the balance and meaning of the rigid rules of the Old Testament and the Good NEws of the New Testament. Do you know why? It is because we have faith (yes, faith not logic that can be flawed because our minds and language are imperfect in delineating and dissecting such issues). It is our faith and the work of the Holy Spirit, and repeated tribulations and waves of falling and getting up again while all the while looking towards Him, that we understand the supposed complexity of the Holy Bible and understanding of the meaning of our lives. Once again, the atheist argument is: “We cannot accept that we are blind, so those who claim to see must be deluded” Well guess what, your blindness is not the permanent type. Its akin to a person closing his eyes and his ears whilst declaring “THERE”S NOTHING TO SEE OR HEAR!!!!”. How about this…try to gently open your eyes and ears. Do you want an honest, real test: Go to a quiet place alone, clear your mind and heart of anger, frustration, prejudices and arrogance. Ask for God, and see what happens.

  • Tonio

    Tom, I second Timmy’s comment about respecting the love and compassion message of Jesus. I don’t know how to reconcile that message with God’s actions in the Old Testament. In my view, a loving God wouldn’t play a sick mind game with Abraham to test his loyalty. A loving God wouldn’t order his followers to commit genocide in places like Jericho. If Jesus truly superseded “the law” of the Old Testament, then why is it still considered as part of Christian doctrine?

  • BObby

    MR MARK WROTE”I hear crickets…”Let me try this again, Go to a quiet place alone, clear your mind and heart of anger, frustration, prejudices and arrogance. Ask for God, and see what happens,

  • BObby

    MR MARK WROTE”I hear crickets…”Sarcasm.It is your choice to open see and hear with your mind and heart. Sarcasm will only blind you. Why do you run? None of the posters will know if you do or not do this. What are you afraid of? What do you have to lose?I’ll post it again if your anger and sarcasm made you forget my simple suggestion: Go to a quiet place alone, clear your mind and heart of anger, frustration, prejudices and arrogance. Ask for God, and see what happens

  • tom

    Hello Tonio-You raise a great question. The Old Testament, along with the New, is considered “the Word of God” in the mainline Protestant and Catholic traditions. What this means exactly is (and has been for quite some time) a source of debate, but the specific issue of whether the law of Moses was superseded was addressed in the New Testament itself– Christ fulfilled the law, and thus new converts were expected to comply with only certain parts of it (for instance not fornicating or eating animals that had been sacrificed to idols).The example of Abraham’s sacrifice is indeed a complex one. Some would say that it was meant to convey the magnitude of God’s later sacrifice of his own son; that reduces it largely to metaphor, a reduction that makes other Christians uncomfortable. Truthfully, who knows? But the Old Testament itself is an integral part of the Christian faith as it forms the foundation of Judaism, from which Christianity springs. Therefore it would be hard to disregard it entirely though it is not regarded as a literal account of events by many Christians.

  • tom

    Hello Tonio-You raise a great question. The Old Testament, along with the New, is considered “the Word of God” in the mainline Protestant and Catholic traditions. What this means exactly is (and has been for quite some time) a source of debate, but the specific issue of whether the law of Moses was superseded was addressed in the New Testament itself– Christ fulfilled the law, and thus new converts were expected to comply with only certain parts of it (for instance not fornicating or eating animals that had been sacrificed to idols).The example of Abraham’s sacrifice is indeed a complex one. Some would say that it was meant to convey the magnitude of God’s later sacrifice of his own son; that reduces it largely to metaphor, a reduction that makes other Christians uncomfortable. Truthfully, who knows? But the Old Testament itself is an integral part of the Christian faith as it forms the foundation of Judaism, from which Christianity springs. Therefore it would be hard to disregard it entirely though it is not regarded as a literal account of events by many Christians.

  • E. Favorite

    Bobby – who’s been trying to bring down Christians for 2000 years? Atheists?They’re not even an organized group with a set of beliefs. They just don’t believe in a supernatural God who controls things on earth. There’s no “onward Atheist soldiers” and seems to me over the centuries, it was the Christians out to kill the various kinds of heathens — people of other religions, and even other christian denominations.I stand by what I said — when a status-quo issue is debated in the public square it’s already dying. It shows up here — people saying they feel more “secure” in their faith, to me, is a good sign they’re feeling less secure.

  • Bobby

    E favorite wrote:”I stand by what I said — when a status-quo issue is debated in the public square it’s already dying. It shows up here — people saying they feel more “secure” in their faith, to me, is a good sign they’re feeling less secure.”When people are cold outside and Im wearing a warm coat and I answer back saying ” Im warmer than you” am I insecure that my coat isn’t really keeping me warm? The answer is simple and clear, we are secure in our faith because we REALLY are.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Re: “I hear crickets”It’s a start…it’s a start. There are worse things to hear. But where are you?It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • tom

    Hello Mr. Mark-It certainly is true that all textual arguments are subject to interpretation, and that disbelievers and other believers alike might very well raise objections. But really that is only to say that we can spend a great deal of time arguing about the meaning of words. The examples of Christ’s teaching to which I referred earlier address this very issue: when called upon to articulate arguments Christ time and again instead demands action. Thus it is that the great commandment calls for people to act, e.g. to love, rather than laying down a prescriptive set of tenets. Granted “love” is indeed a word subject to the foibles of interpretation, but I like to think God won’t hold anyone accountable for trying to love and getting it wrong.All of which is to say that, as Bobby is stating, it is really all about faith. Those who don’t believe lack it, while believers have it– good for them, good for us, whatever. For my part I am solaced by my faith and find it reminds me to (try to) act charitably when I might otherwise not be so inclined. If those who don’t have such faith are similarly solaced and reminded to be charitable, all the better for everyone. But if you neither have faith nor are solaced, why not give it a try? It certainly can’t hurt, and it might even make you feel better.

  • tom

    Hello Mr. Mark-It certainly is true that all textual arguments are subject to interpretation, and that disbelievers and other believers alike might very well raise objections. But really that is only to say that we can spend a great deal of time arguing about the meaning of words. The examples of Christ’s teaching to which I referred earlier address this very issue: when called upon to articulate arguments Christ time and again instead demands action. Thus it is that the great commandment calls for people to act, e.g. to love, rather than laying down a prescriptive set of tenets. Granted “love” is indeed a word subject to the foibles of interpretation, but I like to think God won’t hold anyone accountable for trying to love and getting it wrong.All of which is to say that, as Bobby is stating, it is really all about faith. Those who don’t believe lack it, while believers have it– good for them, good for us, whatever. For my part I am solaced by my faith and find it reminds me to (try to) act charitably when I might otherwise not be so inclined. If those who don’t have such faith are similarly solaced and reminded to be charitable, all the better for everyone. But if you neither have faith nor are solaced, why not give it a try? It certainly can’t hurt, and it might even make you feel better.

  • Scumps

    Mr. Mark says:”You are leaving out THE crucial difference in the argument you’re making, and that is that democracies, business owners, old-time academics and the rest have GROWN and MOVED ON from those ancient beliefs and have joined the modern age (for the most part). Are you really saying that present-day business owners as a whole would support slavery? Are you actually implying that 21st-century democracies are looking to take the vote away from women? I don’t think so.”These views have largely evolved due to the influence of Christianity. Without it, people tend to revert to a state that is destructive of long-term social stability.”Religions take the opposite view – their dogmas were handed down by the god of eternity, and what was absolute truth in 2000 BC is good today! The ORIGINAL tenets are infallible. There is no room for change in religion. How can there be? The tenets were set down by god himself!”Nice attempt at a straw man, Mr. Mark. You need to learn more about modern Christianity.”Let’s face it, the only thing that makes present-day Christianinty palpable to most people is the fact that SECULAR beliefs have influenced and modified the “truths” of the Bible and made them acceptable to modern society. Or maybe what we should say is that the “get out of jail” pass that religion enjoys in modern society allows us to look the other way when the nasty-but-still-in-effect laws of the Bible threaten to enter the discourse and upset our views on The Good Book.”I assume you meant “palatable.” Again, you should learn a bit more about a religion you’re dissing. Jesus fulfilled the law of the old testament, leaving only his two great commandments (which subsume the Ten Commandments). Your passion is wasted when it’s uninformed. We could use it in the Church. Come and join us!

  • Mr Mark

    Bobby -You assume that I have not tried your “honest” test.You assume that I did not at one time think as you now do.You assume that people who don’t buy into the Jesus illusion/delusion are somehow not really trying…or being put off the scent by Satan…or who knows what else?There is an arrogance in your challenge that seems unworthy of you.Guess what? Some of us lived your life and felt in our heart of hearts that we had a personal relationship with a personal god. We believed that way for decades. But in the end, the emptiness of it all, the LIE of it all overwhelmed the myth of it all…and we put away childish things and find a much better place in which to live our lives, free of the fear, ignorance and guilt that form the unholy trinity of religious belief.I don’t have all the answers. I may not even know the questions. But I do know where the answer does NOT lie. Sorry to be so harsh, but your posts to me were as judgmental as anything I have ever seen posted on these boards. Ergo, I posted what I felt was an appropriate response.

  • Mr Mark

    Scumps wrote:”I assume you meant “palatable.” Yeah. Sorry about that.”Again, you should learn a bit more about a religion you’re dissing.”I’ve studied it for decades. My “interpretation” just differs from yours.”Jesus fulfilled the law of the old testament, leaving only his two great commandments (which subsume the Ten Commandments).”Excellent! Will you and your fellow Christians now join me in seeing that the right to gay marriage becomes the law of the land? If so, I’ll gladly visit your church.

  • Bernie Bee

    Ye heard crickets eh! And did ye dae what ye were telt?Good advice!

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

    Hello Mr Mark (very interesting first name) – Robert you really stung Tom and the other christians with the sit in a quiet corner bitMr Mark that was hilarious when you said Crickets over and over again.I was a Christian believer before this blog, but once I tried Roberts “test” – I became a non-believer . . . and I heard crickets.Thanks Mr. Mark and Robert (Bobby) for setting me straight.

  • Keb

    Statistics show that the pews of Christian churches tend to be filled by women in an overwhelming majority compared to men. If it sucks so much for us girls and rocks so much for the guys, why aren’t they in church? It is true that many people have used religion to oppress others. It’s also true that many people have used other weapons for similar purposes. The weapon itself isn’t the problem–people will find a brick if they can’t find a knife. Take away faith, and people will be no better than they were before. I would expect many to be worse.

  • Bobby

    No offense taken MrMark.It is of course an emotional subject. It was not a challenge it was a plea.I never assume anything, THAT would be arrogant.And my suggestion was not an all-or-nothing answer. People who “find”God may still lose Him. In the Bible Judas saw Christ’s wonders and still betrayed him, so did Peter and he too betrayed Him but he repented and found peace. Am I pontificating, a little.. I was not being judgemental (at least I tried not to and forgive me if a little judgement eeked through). I have looked at my posts and I dont think it was judgemental. Try to be fair: Posts from those in your camp deriding those defending their faith as delusional, stupid, backward…those dont deem an angry post from you as too judgemental?? But I suggest a simple, small thing and Im judgemental. I forgive you as I hope those who Ive attacked in the past forgive me.As Christians we are asked not to judge because only God can judge.Additionally, Do you really think that as a faithful Christian I have not been or will not be faced with situations where I cry out in anger “WHere are You!!!! Your’e nothing but a lie and a sham!!!!” Of course it has and will happen. But after the anger subsides the only real peace is attained when everything is placed in God’s hands.Now heres a newsflash, its an atheist belief that Christians believe even without seeing. FALSE. We do see evidence of our God’s love left and right. Now that is different from asking God for specific x and y. God does not give us what we want but rather what we need. Sounds like a father right? You decide.If my words still look at wanton judgement is it possible, remotely possible, that you are perceiving it as so when it really isnt? And if that is so, what other possibilities are you discounting…God bless.

  • Bernie Bee

    My Goodness Duckphup, I have to thank you for that wonderful, well-written post.

  • tom

    Dear Duckphup-Saying that some persons acted horribly in the name of Christ does not mean that Christianity itself is the source of all horrors; sadly this is an argument that has been made time and again on these posts.Your statements regarding the role of Christianity in the development of the modern West are laden with hyperbole, not fact, which I’m sure you know. For the record it was the Church which reintroduced the ancient writers to Europe, and the ignorance which prevailed theretofore was largely due to the (not-yet-converted and thus pagan) tribes which had sacked Rome.The fact remains that the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and most of the other great jeremiads of American liberty are based on Judeo-Christian teaching. Indeed, the reason we are having this debate stems directly from the fact that a Christian people, dedicated to the idea that freedom is God’s gift to humanity, created a nation where dissenting views are not only tolerated they are celebrated. Which is not to say that non-Christians weren’t also involved nor actively promote these ideals; but it is a distortion of history to pretend liberal democratic society is not the off-spring of Judeo-Christian culture.

  • tom

    Dear Duckphup-Saying that some persons acted horribly in the name of Christ does not mean that Christianity itself is the source of all horrors; sadly this is an argument that has been made time and again on these posts.Your statements regarding the role of Christianity in the development of the modern West are laden with hyperbole, not fact, which I’m sure you know. For the record it was the Church which reintroduced the ancient writers to Europe, and the ignorance which prevailed theretofore was largely due to the (not-yet-converted and thus pagan) tribes which had sacked Rome.The fact remains that the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and most of the other great jeremiads of American liberty are based on Judeo-Christian teaching. Indeed, the reason we are having this debate stems directly from the fact that a Christian people, dedicated to the idea that freedom is God’s gift to humanity, created a nation where dissenting views are not only tolerated they are celebrated. Which is not to say that non-Christians weren’t also involved nor actively promote these ideals; but it is a distortion of history to pretend liberal democratic society is not the off-spring of Judeo-Christian culture.

  • timmy

    Bobby,I’ll forgive you for arriving late in this discussion and not being aware of my youthful search for Jesus as I noted in earlier posts.Many times as a young boy, and more times as a teenager I went truly and honestly looking for God and Jesus. Not as a test. I was honestly looking and wanted so badly to believe and wanted so badly for Jesus to fill my heart. I did this under the guidance of a pastor as well as quietly on my own.Nothing. I didn’t want nothing. I wanted something. I got nothing. I became an atheist.You can not accuse me of being close minded. I am completely open. I remain open. If Jesus was real, there is no one who tried more honestly than I to find him. Nothing.I can clearly see however how people might mistake that altruistic instinct in them that gives them shivers when they hear words of ultimate compassion and brotherly love, with the feeling of Jesus filling their heart. But attributing that feeling to the words of the Bible is not honesty for me. In fact, I would be sickened by the thought of attributing my natural human altruistic instinct to something so authoritative and dogmatic and power seeking, and wealth seeking.So long as there are Christians with five houses and three boats and ten cars, while other Christians starve in the streets of America, homeless, Christians have absolutely no moral high ground to stand on. In fact so long as this remains to be the case in a country with 80% Christians, Christians are the very definition of hypocrites. With a capital H.

  • timmy

    Bobby,I’ll forgive you for arriving late in this discussion and not being aware of my youthful search for Jesus as I noted in earlier posts.Many times as a young boy, and more times as a teenager I went truly and honestly looking for God and Jesus. Not as a test. I was honestly looking and wanted so badly to believe and wanted so badly for Jesus to fill my heart. I did this under the guidance of a pastor as well as quietly on my own.Nothing. I didn’t want nothing. I wanted something. I got nothing. I became an atheist.You can not accuse me of being close minded. I am completely open. I remain open. If Jesus was real, there is no one who tried more honestly than I to find him. Nothing.I can clearly see however how people might mistake that altruistic instinct in them that gives them shivers when they hear words of ultimate compassion and brotherly love, with the feeling of Jesus filling their heart. But attributing that feeling to the words of the Bible is not honesty for me. In fact, I would be sickened by the thought of attributing my natural human altruistic instinct to something so authoritative and dogmatic and power seeking, and wealth seeking.So long as there are Christians with five houses and three boats and ten cars, while other Christians starve in the streets of America, homeless, Christians have absolutely no moral high ground to stand on. In fact so long as this remains to be the case in a country with 80% Christians, Christians are the very definition of hypocrites. With a capital H.

  • Bernie Bee

    Now just a minute Bobby! What’s this: “…in the Bible Judas saw Christ’s wonders and still betrayed him”

  • timmy

    I love this comment that we need to learn more about religion before we dis it. I have read the Bible and been to church many times. You Christians have all interpreted your way into thousands of sects who all take different interpretations, some literal some metaphorical and some, a little of both.You’re right. It’s our fault that we can’t get it straight. How dare we try to understand your religion through your holy book. We need to sit down and have a good chat with each and every one of you and go over your personal interpretation of the Bible before we say anything on the subject.Silly us, trying to hold you to the word of your God who (according to the new testament which is still firmly bound to the old) Breathed out the words in the Bible, through which he reveals himself.Next time I’m in court for a traffic ticket, I’m going to tell the Judge what an ignoramus he is for assuming that he knows my interpretation of the traffic laws. I don’t take them literally.

  • timmy

    I love this comment that we need to learn more about religion before we dis it. I have read the Bible and been to church many times. You Christians have all interpreted your way into thousands of sects who all take different interpretations, some literal some metaphorical and some, a little of both.You’re right. It’s our fault that we can’t get it straight. How dare we try to understand your religion through your holy book. We need to sit down and have a good chat with each and every one of you and go over your personal interpretation of the Bible before we say anything on the subject.Silly us, trying to hold you to the word of your God who (according to the new testament which is still firmly bound to the old) Breathed out the words in the Bible, through which he reveals himself.Next time I’m in court for a traffic ticket, I’m going to tell the Judge what an ignoramus he is for assuming that he knows my interpretation of the traffic laws. I don’t take them literally.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Dear Bernie Bee,So much ignorance! So little time!Where can I start? OK:Centuries of pogroms in Germany:Oh, that’s nice because it’s so long. All you need to do is go back a millenium or two and you can surely find something. But Germany itself didn’t exist until 1860 (1870?), so what is that new state Mr Murphy has created? Or you, busy bee busy rewriting into the history books a state that never existed! FYI the pogroms that so exercised Mr Murphy began in Tsarist RUSSIA in the 1880s and reoccurred in Tsarist RUSSIA about 1900. These were responsible for large numbers of immigrant Russian Jews appearing in GERMANY which triggered GERMAN anti-semitism, something similar to the anti-immigrant sentiment we see today in the US and Europe (although the contemporary immigrants today are Latino Catholic and ME Muslims respectively). See Niall Ferguson: “The War of the World”. Re: Hitler was always a Roman CatholicWell, far be it from me to dare to disagree with Eric Blair but if the new 21st century’s favourite bogeyman WAS ALWAYS a Roman Catholic, he was a rather strange communicant. He massacred tens of thousands of Roman Catholic clergy–both priests AND nuns–throughout Europe along with millions–yes millions!–of his fellow Roman Catholics–mostly in Poland and the Ukraine, but also in France, Czech, even Italy ( which was supposedly an ally!): all feed to his He worshipped RACE, the Teutonic race, he worshipped FORCE and armed MIGHT–survival of the fittest–like the good Social Darwinist he was. The Nazi creed was that of the Nietzschean Ubermensch. And Nietzsche most dearly held beliefs were: The above are still very much with us, especially among the atheists. Men like Sam Harris have declared God dead & assumed his mantle, atheists are busy judging (also something Christians are not to do) & finding wanting–well at least stupid–all their fellow creatures, living and dead!This makes me cling even closer to my Christ.

  • Bobby

    TimmyYou know what, as a Christian you have to take the Bible literally, but heres the thing: you have to take the ENTIRE thing literally.So how do you resolve the supposed discrepancies in the Old and New Testament? Simple, read and study both in their entireties and you’ll find the answer.The problem is when atheist ridicule “moderate” Christians that supposedly are ignoring supposed instructions in the Bible. Thats the fallacy, if you take the ENTIRE Bible as literal then it all makes sense. You pick and choose what we have to believe but you have no problem believing in Christ’s message of loving one another and forgiving one another. Oh thats right, the good stuff he says is ingrained in all of us and has nothing to do with Christianity while the “contreversial” things in the Bible are examples of the religious delusion.Be fair, the same way you dont like when you see supposed picking and choosing from the Bible, the you must not be guilty of picking and choosing what you hold us accountable to from Scripture.God bless.

  • Maurie Beck

    There is an old saying, “With a friend like that, who needs enemies.”With a god like that, who needs the devil.

  • timmy

    Bobby,You said:No. so why don’t you tell me.And just to correct you, I didn’t say “delusion”, you added that for hyperbole sake. But I’ll forgive you.I already know why the message of Jesus appeals to you. Same reason it appeals to all of us. But why do you believe that he is the son of the all powerful and one true creator of the universe?I find his message and example infinitely compelling and uplifting and joyous, and something to try and live up to.Why do you?

  • timmy

    Bobby,You said:No. so why don’t you tell me.And just to correct you, I didn’t say “delusion”, you added that for hyperbole sake. But I’ll forgive you.I already know why the message of Jesus appeals to you. Same reason it appeals to all of us. But why do you believe that he is the son of the all powerful and one true creator of the universe?I find his message and example infinitely compelling and uplifting and joyous, and something to try and live up to.Why do you?

  • Tonio

    Bobby, the idea of “finding” God is foreign to my admittedly limited experience with Christianity. My experience was always “Believe or else!” God was always presented like Pat Robertson presents him, sending plagues and lightning bolts to punish unwary sinners who pissed him off.In fact, when I was a kid I thought you could go to hell for being born on Christmas, and when a teenager I thought you could go to hell for having sex on Christmas. Why? Because God as an authority figure seemed impossible to please, like nothing humans did would ever be good enough for him.

  • E. Favorite

    Bobbie — To me, it’s more like someone says “Your coat doesn’t look so warm” and instead of simply responding, “I’m plenty warm, thank you.” you say, “You telling me that my coat doesn’t look warm, makes me even warmer than I felt before.”

  • timmy

    Bobby,Stop telling me to read the whole Bible. I’ve done it.You are so confusing to me. You speak of interpretation and literalism in one sentence. How can it be both?

  • timmy

    Bobby,Stop telling me to read the whole Bible. I’ve done it.You are so confusing to me. You speak of interpretation and literalism in one sentence. How can it be both?

  • timmy

    Hell is not where the devil lives,

  • timmy

    Hell is not where the devil lives,

  • Tonio

    Let me amplify my previous post…I grew up believing that I had to walk on eggshells around authority figures in order to stay on their good sides. So with God, the ultimate authority figure, it seemed like I had to walk on the shells of eggs as large as the Epcot sphere. I imagined that there had to be rules for getting to heaven that God would not tell people about, just to keep us anxious and off-balance and terrified.

  • Bernie Bee

    Well Mary, try tae see it from auld Aldof’s beatific vision, ye have tae bump aff some o’ yer ain for the greater good!

  • timmy

    The united States is a democracy.Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Jesus) Do as I say not as I do (Christians)

  • timmy

    The united States is a democracy.Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Jesus) Do as I say not as I do (Christians)

  • Mary Cunningham

    Nietzsche was right of course.Christianity does favour the weak. Here are the 7 Acts of Mercy I learned as a child:To feed the hungryWhile I don’t believe our actions define us, Christians believe we change from the inside out, somehow the above always seemed very feminine acts to me. The good sisters ran hospitals and hospices, my mam & gran also performed many of these acts as they went about their daily lives & I try to do these in my life today.I find performing these acts makes one a better, happier person. OTOH reading atheist fulminations–all that judging! And we are told not to judge–leaves a very sour aftertaste. But probably that is a personal view & maybe after posting his stinging diatribe Sam Harris goes out and–oh! I don’t know–comforts the dying. Best to all

  • Celestial Teapots

    In regards to the source article, it seems apparent to me that Christians in America over the course of the last century have at least somewhat “modernized” their view of women in society, so that American Christian social behavior has abandoned, in effect, many (though by no means all) of the backwards, sexist, iron-age rules and laws in both the Old and New Testament.The absence of veils in church services comes to mind immediately, as well as their ability to teach. Also, and fortunately, there is an evident lack of stoning for any number of feminine “crimes”.So if Christians have “moved on” as pertains to women and their rights as human beings, why are Christians, at least of the conservative variety, so harsh towards homosexuals?It’s a bizarre, certainly self-revealing (ref. Haggert/Foley) fetish that just won’t go away.

  • timmy

    I can’t get a Christian to answer the questionIs Gandhi burning in Hell?

  • timmy

    I can’t get a Christian to answer the questionIs Gandhi burning in Hell?

  • Bernie Bee

    Christ is upon his throne, his secretary by his side. Another soul arises.

  • timmy

    When Christians lead by example, they have credibility.When they lead by preaching, they have none.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Harris knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Most of us who are religious are so because of the benefits we get from being religious. I was an atheist for a long time before I returned to Hinduism and have found great peace and tranquility ever since. It was a visit to my local temple one morning and the peace that descended on me can only be described as miraculous. I have returned ever since.I realize that scriptures are products of human imagination and reflect the minds of the people who wrote them, all of whom lived before paper was in use. In the case of Hinduism it has always maintained that its scriptures have authors and therefore our scriptures are open to improvement. The Vedanta( monistic Hindu scriptures) and its scriptures the Upanishads were an improvement over the Vedas and other monotheistic books. They rejected monotheism gently and indirectly( indirectly as a recognition that some people will always be polytheistic, others monotheistic, oters atheistic). The Upanishads taught that we are God. “Tat Twam Asi” meaning YOU ARE THAT( you are God). It was the philosophy of the Vedanta that drew me back to religion. As a Hindu I now look upon every being, not just human beings, as manifestations of the Divine, and my worship of the Divine manifests itself in my service to all humans and all non-human beings. I have become a strict vegetarian as I believe that killing animals and eating the flesh of animals is wrong, it is us killing ourselves if you get my gist.For religions to survive and be meaningful they must keep on improving and reject the wrong teachings that may be there in their antiquated scriptures but on the other hand following the good that is there in all the scriptures. Even the much maligned Koran has one very beautiful sentence that goes something like this ” A kind word to others is much dearer to Allah than all the money given in charity.” That teaching of the Koran is far more meaningful and attractive than it other injunctions such as the wearing of the burkha and the wifebeating that Islam advises(4:34). Good Muslims ,like good Hindus will practise the good that is in their scriptures and reject the bad.Not everybody, especially someone like me, has the strenghth to be an atheist. Mr. Harris, bless his soul, must be inordinately strong to reject God. I need religion. I need spirituality. I need God. I need to be revelled in( spell check please) by other humans. I therefore revel in other humans, hoping that I will earn their adulation in return. Sorrrrrrry but I am a weak human. God unites all beings and that is the true purpose of belief. She does not need our prayers, our worship, our sacrifices, animal or otherwise. But She does demand that we be good and kind and helping to one another. Attributing any other quality to God is blasphemy.

  • timmy

    When Christians lead by example, they have credibility.When they lead by preaching, they have none.

  • Anonymous

    Tom wrote: “For the record it was the Church which reintroduced the ancient writers to Europe, and the ignorance which prevailed theretofore was largely due to the (not-yet-converted and thus pagan) tribes which had sacked Rome.”– Your ‘record’ is defective. By the time the so-called barbarians sacked Rome, the Church had already succeeded in weeding out all and destroying all non-canonical works, and had destroyed virtually all of the Pagan monuments, temples, statuary and art. The Church claims it preserved the classical tradition of antiquity which it had destroyed brick by brick and book by book. It only preserved some favoured works as classic Latin and Greek texts for clerics to use to learn Latin and Greek purely for devotional purposes. S Boniface (675-754) stated clearly that the reason he wanted his priests and missionaries to understand Latin was to understand the scriptures and liturgy. The church had no intention or ambition to preserve wonderful works of Pagan authors. It preserved some almost by accident, while burning books in barnfuls. It was only after the Moors conquered Spain that the suppressed works and knowledge were translated and began to seep out into the western world, triggering and fertilizing the Renaissance.Oh… by the way… the Barbarian “… tribes which had sacked Rome” were NOT Pagans; they were, in fact, Christian.You need to brush up on your history… and in doing so, you need to rely on credible and reliable sources. And trust me… Christian sources are neither credible nor reliable in these matters. –

  • DuckPhup

    Sorry… that preceding response to Tom was by me.

  • Bernie Bee

    If ye cannae get a Christian answer will mine dae?Gandhi was a durty auld man who like tae sleep with two or three lassies jist so he ‘could resist temptation’

  • timmy

    DuckPhup is an example of my assertion that historians can do a far better job of debunking religion than science. Christians can always claim that the laws of nature to not apply to their magic God, but boy do they ever get stymied when confronted by the historical facts behind the church of their religion. No laws of nature to refute. Just cold hard fact that most certainly does apply to the case for the existence of their God.Case dismissed on insufficient evidence and perjury.

  • timmy

    DuckPhup is an example of my assertion that historians can do a far better job of debunking religion than science. Christians can always claim that the laws of nature to not apply to their magic God, but boy do they ever get stymied when confronted by the historical facts behind the church of their religion. No laws of nature to refute. Just cold hard fact that most certainly does apply to the case for the existence of their God.Case dismissed on insufficient evidence and perjury.

  • DuckPhup

    Bobby wrote:”You know what, as a Christian you have to take the Bible literally, but heres the thing: you have to take the ENTIRE thing literally.So how do you resolve the supposed discrepancies in the Old and New Testament? Simple, read and study both in their entireties and you’ll find the answer.The problem is when atheist ridicule “moderate” Christians that supposedly are ignoring supposed instructions in the Bible. Thats the fallacy, if you take the ENTIRE Bible as literal then it all makes sense.”– Agreed… except that it does not make sense as ‘truth’… it makes sense only as myth. It takes no more that a cursory reading of the first few verses of Genesis (with your ‘rational’ goggles on) to ascertain that it… and all that depends from it… is myth. In a rational reading of Genesis, a literal interpretation is required in order for it to make sense of it… no metaphors… no allegory… no hidden meanings. In biblical times, people thought that the earth and heaven were all that there was… and that the earth was essentially a ‘terrarium’. They thought that the sky was a solid object (the ‘firmament’), and that the sun, moon, and stars were affixed to it. So, essentially, heaven is ‘on the other side of the sky’. The story of Genesis is comprised of the myths, superstitions, fairy tales and fantastical delusions of an ignorant bunch of Bronze Age fishermen and wandering goat herders, lifted from the oral traditions of other cultures, and crafted into a tale that incorporated some of their own folk tales and pseudo-history. This collection of ignorance provides the foundation and basis for the Abrahamic death cults of desert monotheism… Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The cosmological aspects of Genesis are perfectly understandable, if you contemplate them in the proper context… and that context is ‘prevailing ignorance’. At the time the bible stories were concocted, the perception was that the earth and the sky (and an imagined heaven) were all that there was. Why? Because they had no reason to think otherwise. Today, as we advance science, we stand upon the shoulders of all the scientists that came before. Back then there were no shoulders to stand upon… so they did the best they could with what they had… their senses, their imaginations and their appreciation of a good story. They were desperately trying to answer profound questions relating to their world and their existence… questions like “What holds the sky up?”, and “Where did we come from?” There was no choice beyond ‘making up’ the answers.* They had no concept of ‘outer space’, and so they conceived that in the beginning all that existed were dark waters.* They had no concept of ‘nothingness’. Remember, the concept of ‘zero’ wasn’t invented (discovered?) until thousands of years later. With that in mind, the term ‘void’, as it is employed in Genesis, can not refer to ‘nothingness’… it can only be applied in its alternative definition, which is ‘empty’. So, the waters were dark, formless and void (empty – devoid of content).* They thought that all of creation consisted of the earth and an unseen ‘heaven’, and they thought that the sky was a ‘thing’… a substantive ‘firmament’ that was created by god to separate the waters and differentiate earth from heaven, when both were created. # They had no idea that Earth was a planet, orbiting the sun. # They had no idea that there is no firmament… that the sky is not a ‘thing’.* They thought that the sun was a light that god had placed upon the ‘firmament’ to differentiate night from day. # They had no idea that the sun is a star… the center of our solar system. # They had no concept of ‘stars’ in the same sense that we understand them today… and certainly did not know that there are other stars like our sun.* They had no idea that night and day were a consequence of the earth’s rotation.* They thought that the moon was a ‘lesser’ light that god had caused to travel across the firmament to enable man to differentiate the seasons, and provide illumination at night. # They had no concept of the moon as a satellite.* They thought that the stars were tiny lights that god had placed upon the firmament to provide for omens. (Some thought that the stars were ‘holes’ in the firmament that allowed the ‘light of heaven’ to shine through.) # They had no idea that the stars were suns, just like our own sun. # They thought the eyeball-visible planets (Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn) were ‘wandering stars’. # They had no idea that the planets were actually sun-orbiting bodies, just like earth.* They had no idea that the earth, itself, is a planet. # They had no clue as to the actual nature of the earth, our solar system, the place of our solar system in the galaxy… or even of the existence of our galaxy. (Up until very recently, we didn’t even know that there even WERE other galaxies. Our galaxy, when it was first known that there actually WAS a galaxy, was thought to comprise the whole universe.) From their perspective, the ‘earth’ (covered by the ‘firmament’) and ‘heaven’ (i.e., whatever existed on the other side of the sky) represented all that there was. A terrarium.I do not say these things to disparage what they thought back then. They were trying to do what science is trying to do today… trying to understand nature and reality. Today, we have technology and disciplined meta-procedures (scientific method) to help us extract answers from nature.Back then, they did not.Today, we have ‘theories’ to provide a consistent explanatory framework for what we are able to observe in nature, supplemented and validated by the additional information that we are able to extract from nature by means of our technology, our disciplined methods and our intellectual tools (mathematics, logic). Most of our theories are incomplete, so we continue to work on them… because we know that they are incomplete.Back then, they did not have disciplined methods, and they did not have the technology to extract answers from nature. The only information they had access to was what they could see with their own eyeballs. There was no technological knowledge base or scientific context in which to interpret their observations, so they had to appeal to their imaginations… and the ‘supernatural’… in order to make sense out of what they saw. Actually, what they really achieved was deluding themselves into thinking that they knew the truth. Amazingly, over time, this delusion has become codified, institutionalized, and incorporated… complete with franchises.***********Basically, Genesis… and the very concept of god(s)… can be thought of as a ‘hypothesis’, concocted by people who were constrained by lack of technology, methodology and intellectual tools… although they don’t seem to have been constrained by lack of imagination.Today, some try to interpret Genesis in the context of what we KNOW about the universe… galaxies, stars, planets, moons, gravity, orbits, inclination of the earth’s axis, planetary rotation, accretion disks, supernovae, planetary nebulae, etc. They problem is that Genesis CAN’T be interpreted in terms of those things, because Genesis was written by ignorant men, based on nonsense, and those men DID NOT KNOW about ANY of those things. They could only write about what they could see and what they could imagine about the reasons that lay behind what they saw. In any event, it provided them with a mechanism to quell the innate anxiety that comes with fretting about how and why they came to be here… cognitive harmony.They imagined wrongly.So… the cosmological aspects of Genesis require a literal interpretation… no metaphors… no allegory… no hidden meaning. The key, though, is in understanding that the literal interpretation DOES NOT LEAD to a description of the way things ARE… it leads to a description of the way they THOUGHT things are, and how they got to be that way. It leads to a naive description of reality, concocted by people who were doing the best they could with what they had… and that INCLUDES the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, and all the rest. Understanding that, it is easy to appreciate Genesis (and the bible in general) for what it actually is… a piece of primitive, fictional literature. Oh, they might have THOUGHT it was true… but today, it is apparent (to all except the most profoundly gullible and deluded) that it is NOT true.It is absolutely appalling, though, to realize that hundreds of millions of people TODAY, including panel members and participants in this forum, ACTUALLY BELIEVE that this mythological drivel IS really TRUE.***********

  • timmy

    Mary Cunningham,As I mentioned in an earlier post, I moved to the US, from Canada.

  • timmy

    Mary Cunningham,As I mentioned in an earlier post, I moved to the US, from Canada.

  • Sierra Hennessy

    Dear Ernst Lurker:They do actually have a religion for women, we call it Wicca. Born and raised in Jerry Falwell’s Lynchburg, I was deeply damaged by such nonthinking fundamntalist ways for Christianity. Wicca helped me finally rediscover my female nature and taught me how to take pride in it.I think women – and men! – are rising up against these outdated modes of cruelty and remembering what it was like to simply work together as a couple. Why do you think Wicca (and paganism as a whole) is one of the fastest growing religions in the good ol’ US of A? Check out the most recent census, and take heart.

  • Sierra Hennessy

    Dear Ernst Lurker:They do actually have a religion for women, we call it Wicca. Born and raised in Jerry Falwell’s Lynchburg, I was deeply damaged by such nonthinking fundamntalist ways for Christianity. Wicca helped me finally rediscover my female nature and taught me how to take pride in it.I think women – and men! – are rising up against these outdated modes of cruelty and remembering what it was like to simply work together as a couple. Why do you think Wicca (and paganism as a whole) is one of the fastest growing religions in the good ol’ US of A? Check out the most recent census, and take heart.

  • Tonio

    For Daniel,”What I want to know though is why everyone is posting here and not on the main reader’s response thread. A clear question has been posed concerning the relationship of women to religion and only just over a hundred people responded.”I post here because I’ve read and enjoyed Harris’ books, and I believe that overall his response to the question is a good one. In general, I post on this site because I disagree with the concept of evangelism and I have very strong personal objections to the doctrines of original sin and eternal damnation. In that light, I don’t understand why so many of the religious posters spend so much time trying to discredit or debunk atheism. What personal stake would there be for them? It’s not like atheism claims that believers are doomed to spend the afterlife mopping up gargoyle spit or something.For Duckphup,”Correlation does not imply causation. My comments speculated on possible implications of the correlation… not the cause of the correlation.”I appreciate you saying that. Too many people on boards like this one try to use correlation to suggest causation, or at least to suggest guilt by association. Harris does it in “Letter to a Christian Nation,” where he compares the crime rates in red states versus blue states.

  • In the closet

    Try stating some of the views of Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins at a social gathering or to casual friends or, for that matter, to family members and see what kind of response you get. Today, in this country, atheists are treated like homosexuals were 50 years ago. I think that the works of Harris and Dawkins have shown that atheists like gays of earlier times mostly remain in the closet. It is a forum like this one that brings all of us out for one brief moment. Sam, keep up the fight against religious bigotry, and maybe in twenty years we can all actually come out of the closet. I notice no one actually attaches their real name to any of these comments.

  • Bobby

    Gotta wrap it up for the evening…Final thoughts…especially to MrMark, Timmy and E Favorite…I wish I can be able to address the specifics of what each of you was searching for and were unable to find it, and thus reached the conclusion that the whole thing was a lie. I cannot. Nor do I believe that anyone can use logical arguments to prove God. God is proved personally only through faith that comes in all forms and shapes and sizes and is tailor-made to those who seek it. And faith is the beginning, a true relationship with God is a continuous 2-way street. In the Bible, people who witnessed Jesus’ miracles also called for him to be crucified.My faith is not explainable nor are my experiences exportable to others. Each of us is unique and, I believe, so is our journey towards our Creator. Christianity, more than any other religion, is not a set of instructions ala Judaism or Islam (Jesus’ declaration that the laws of God are not written in stone but written in the hearts of men…pretty deep, even if you dont believe in his divinity).As I stated earlier, I dont believe because of a fuzzy feeling or shivers. I was asked earlier then why do I believe? I believe because of my journey in life, because of the blessings that have made my life happy and the tribulations that I have come through stronger than before. I believe because everything I have read in the Bible manifests in the world around me even if not in the manner I deem it would be.Will I go to heaven? Who knows? Not me definitely. Tomorrow, I could be tempted and stray and my arrogance or weakness or impatience makes me turn away.So, am I irrational or delusional? Neither, I think, because I understand the atheistic arguments. Why do I understand them? Because everytime I go through tribulation I hear them in my own mind. But yet that mustard seed of faith has allowed me to overcome it, at least giving me a chance to gently adjust my antenna to God’s work and message. Do I understand all the complex intricacies of the Bible to the point where I can explain it all in words? No. Do I understand all complex the intricacies of my wife loves me despite my flaws? Also No. But in both cases, I believe because I see (with eyes, ears, mind and heart) the blessings that such love briings in my life. I pray day and night that I keep believing this way. It is interesting to note that Jesus’ example shows that when quered about hard questions, Jesus mostly didnt answer directly but rather through parables. Why? Because language is limited, and our human minds are limited. Even atheists cannot dispute that. As for those who claim Im judgemental. I believe Im not, because I am no better than those who claim they are atheist. For all I know, my knowledge in Christianity may ultimately lead to arrogance or worse hypocrisy, and that is what may drive me away from Christ. Atheists and Christians are all God’s children. Declared Christians just can envision their relationship a little better than atheists. But if Jesus can take Saul, a persecuter of Christians, and turn him to St.Paul and Judas, a disciple, can betray Jesus then there is hope for all and there is risk for all to fall as well.The arguments that atrocities occur because of religion is weak and atheists with cooler, thinking heads may see that. Christians are humans, and humans are fallible. Ghandi said” “the only problem with Christianity are Christians”. Some christians are good, some are not. Some christians abuse power, some dont. Substitute christians for humans and the answer is simple.I hope that civility rules in these posts and atheist posters recognize when their own posts may be guilty of the sneering, moralistic tone that some firebrand Christian speakers mayy display.

  • tom

    Dear Duckphup-I’m afraid we’re both being overly simplistic, given that Rome was in fact sacked many times. Nevertheless the Germanic tribes were converted circa the 7th century; Alaric and the Goths sacked Rome for the first time in 410 AD. I don’t know whether you wish to convey the impression that the barbarian tribes were Christians, or, alternatively, that Europe was some blissful pagan Eden prior to the widespread adaption of Christianity on the continent (as seems implied by your “church plunged Europe into the dark ages” comment”) but in either case you simply don’t know your history.Of course we can both continue to argue about events that we didn’t personally witness, but both of us should be able to agree that the history of abolition, women’s rights and civil rights were all born out of Christian social movements. Unless you are willing to deny the Christian inspiration of the Reverend Martin Luther King and claim him as some proto-secular humanist you must acknowledge that Christianity has played a pivotal role in promoting freedom in this country. This is of course the problem for all of the neo-atheists that wish to denounce Christianity; they must first distort our own shared experience as a country.

  • tom

    Dear Duckphup-I’m afraid we’re both being overly simplistic, given that Rome was in fact sacked many times. Nevertheless the Germanic tribes were converted circa the 7th century; Alaric and the Goths sacked Rome for the first time in 410 AD. I don’t know whether you wish to convey the impression that the barbarian tribes were Christians, or, alternatively, that Europe was some blissful pagan Eden prior to the widespread adaption of Christianity on the continent (as seems implied by your “church plunged Europe into the dark ages” comment”) but in either case you simply don’t know your history.Of course we can both continue to argue about events that we didn’t personally witness, but both of us should be able to agree that the history of abolition, women’s rights and civil rights were all born out of Christian social movements. Unless you are willing to deny the Christian inspiration of the Reverend Martin Luther King and claim him as some proto-secular humanist you must acknowledge that Christianity has played a pivotal role in promoting freedom in this country. This is of course the problem for all of the neo-atheists that wish to denounce Christianity; they must first distort our own shared experience as a country.

  • Bernie Bee

    Thanks again Duckphup that post was just as fab as the previous one.And I copied faithfully what she told me…

  • Celestial Teapot

    Alaric was not Pagan, unless in your definition of Pagan you choose to include Arianism, which, in fact, a species of Christianity.

  • timmy

    Tom,So if I read you correctly, When a Christian does something good for mankind, it is because he is a Christian. And his deed can, and should be attributed to Christianity in general, as you have done with Dr. King. When a Christian does something horrific to mankind, it is because humans are fallible and it has nothing at all to do with his Christianity, and Christianity in general.Talk about hyper convenience. Is Gandhi in Hell?Based on my knowledge of Christianity, the answer I will assume, until I get one from you, is yes. Yes, that heathen hindu heretic is indeed burning in the fires of Hell as we speak. And deservedly so. Right?

  • timmy

    Tom,So if I read you correctly, When a Christian does something good for mankind, it is because he is a Christian. And his deed can, and should be attributed to Christianity in general, as you have done with Dr. King. When a Christian does something horrific to mankind, it is because humans are fallible and it has nothing at all to do with his Christianity, and Christianity in general.Talk about hyper convenience. Is Gandhi in Hell?Based on my knowledge of Christianity, the answer I will assume, until I get one from you, is yes. Yes, that heathen hindu heretic is indeed burning in the fires of Hell as we speak. And deservedly so. Right?

  • Golden_Rule

    Dear Mr. Harris, are the hostages male, female, or both? There are predators on each side of the coin, no?

  • Bernie Bee

    Goldie, ye need tae see a doc fast!

  • Golden_Rule

    btw my brother, you know as well as i that no one is held hostage. we are free to leave anytime but only fools do. God Bless you and yours brother.

  • tom

    Hi Timmy-C’mon, I already answered your question (though granted it was a long time ago): Christ taught us not to judge, lest we be judged. Therefore I wouldn’t presume to say where Gandhi is. However, as I noted before most mainline Protestants and Catholics are not biblical fundamentalists and so reject the formulaic conception of salvation advanced by some of the other Christian churches which requires an active confession of belief in Christ in order to obtain heaven. Like I said I for one don’t know where Gandhi is but I sincerely hope he is in heaven.Regarding Dr. King, my point is simply that his Christianity was central to both his mission and his message. All too often there is an attempt to rewrite history to remove the Christian element. As I stated before this is a distortion of our true past and I think probably is designed for some more nefarious end such as the marginalization of believers.

  • tom

    Hi Timmy-C’mon, I already answered your question (though granted it was a long time ago): Christ taught us not to judge, lest we be judged. Therefore I wouldn’t presume to say where Gandhi is. However, as I noted before most mainline Protestants and Catholics are not biblical fundamentalists and so reject the formulaic conception of salvation advanced by some of the other Christian churches which requires an active confession of belief in Christ in order to obtain heaven. Like I said I for one don’t know where Gandhi is but I sincerely hope he is in heaven.Regarding Dr. King, my point is simply that his Christianity was central to both his mission and his message. All too often there is an attempt to rewrite history to remove the Christian element. As I stated before this is a distortion of our true past and I think probably is designed for some more nefarious end such as the marginalization of believers.

  • Bernie Bee

    Tom, if ye can only ‘hope’ auld Gandhi is in heaven what about Dr King? Are ye any surer where that yin is?

  • Open-minded

    Quite the mutual admiration society you guys have here. The unanimity of thought expressed here is the sort usually seen only in the most radical, fundamentalist splinter sects. I haven’t seen a straw man suffer such mob violence since the last time I regrettably ventured onto an intelligent design website. In a fashion typical to those of his ilk, Sam the Evangelical Atheist considers (not to mention twists) only that part of the evidence which supports his religious viewpoint.Did anybody here stop to ask themselves how come female membership in the atheist Politburo never quite made it up to 50%? Or how come Chinese men never bought into the foot-binding craze?

  • tom

    Hello Bernie Bee-Like it says in the Good Book, judgment is mine saith the Lord. My hope is that no one ends up in hell as it seems to be a pretty rank place indeed, based on what I read. I have to compliment you on what I take to be an old tyme Scots dialect on your part, and which you have faithfully maintained throughout these posts. Please let me know if I am mistaken as to its origins, though.

  • tom

    Hello Bernie Bee-Like it says in the Good Book, judgment is mine saith the Lord. My hope is that no one ends up in hell as it seems to be a pretty rank place indeed, based on what I read. I have to compliment you on what I take to be an old tyme Scots dialect on your part, and which you have faithfully maintained throughout these posts. Please let me know if I am mistaken as to its origins, though.

  • Bobby

    Sam Harris is a sensationist fad, his out-of-context rants will pass and Christianity will endure. If it could endure Roman persecution, Islamic persecution, Communist persecution, philosophical persecution (Moliere, Nietzsche, Marx) and consumerist persecution, Im pretty sure it could handle a book sold on Amazon for $9.99 (actually $19.99 if u also buy Dawkins book in paperback).Besides, these books are actually GOOD for Christianity because it highlights those who are strong in their faith and those who dont have it. Call it a religious evolution process.

  • timmy

    Tom,If Gandhi is in Heaven as you wish, then I will also go to Heaven. I am kind and peaceful to my fellow human being. I don’t believe in God. (like Gandhi) I criticize religion. (like Gandhi)And I’m not sure why they call it Martin luther King day.You could list all day long, good deeds done by Christians and Christian groups. Does any of it suggest that God is the creator of the universe and that Jesus was his son. John Lennon preached virtually the same message as Jesus only without the “believe that I am a deity or go to Hell” part. This message of peace and love is far more palatable than the Christian one. On the flipside:Do you see how the message of Jesus gets lost and distorted and interpreted wrong when we remove him from the mortal realm and make him a deity?No. I’m guessing you don’t see that at all. I’m guessing you are cracking your knuckles right now getting ready to justify, interpret, excuse, lie, and manipulate the truth to glorify and protect your faith in God. You can’t claim the message of love, compassion and peace for your religion. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to all of us.

  • timmy

    Tom,If Gandhi is in Heaven as you wish, then I will also go to Heaven. I am kind and peaceful to my fellow human being. I don’t believe in God. (like Gandhi) I criticize religion. (like Gandhi)And I’m not sure why they call it Martin luther King day.You could list all day long, good deeds done by Christians and Christian groups. Does any of it suggest that God is the creator of the universe and that Jesus was his son. John Lennon preached virtually the same message as Jesus only without the “believe that I am a deity or go to Hell” part. This message of peace and love is far more palatable than the Christian one. On the flipside:Do you see how the message of Jesus gets lost and distorted and interpreted wrong when we remove him from the mortal realm and make him a deity?No. I’m guessing you don’t see that at all. I’m guessing you are cracking your knuckles right now getting ready to justify, interpret, excuse, lie, and manipulate the truth to glorify and protect your faith in God. You can’t claim the message of love, compassion and peace for your religion. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to all of us.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Well said, Bobby. This phenomenon has more to do with the mass market for Coulter-like screeds than any fresh thinking.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Duck, how many times do we have to point out that only fundamentalists (a minority of the world’s Christians) would take exception to anything that you just said?Not all truth is literal. I’m all for unfettered speculation and inquiry in science and I accept established scientific findings. But I am extremely skeptical that science will explain everything that matters, in a way that is remotely satisfactory to the human heart and soul, anytime soon, if ever.Why don’t you and Torquemada Harris launch an Inquisition to smash all poetry, art, music and drama? Surely there is no truth in them — they are just primitive stories, a complete waste of valuable resources. And what about opera? Could there be anything more irrational than people talking to each other by singing? It must be discarded — its continuing retention is already proving to be counter-productive!Which brave atheist will ever answer this question: First, what is your justification for not immediately killing yourself, based solely on reason and empirical evidence, without appealing to unbelief in God or an afterlife, without appealing to irrational concepts including love, without relying on a variation of “because I say so”; and second, in precisely what way does your answer differ from religious faith?

  • E. Favorite

    Duckphup – thanks for educating the masses with your short course in understandng the Bible.Maybe something like that could be a featured piece on this forum — Maybe we could get Bishop Spong or Marcus Borg or another bona fide biblical scholar to post it – or maybe you if you come out of the closet and prove to be the expert you seem to be.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy says, “I have been told implicitly that the ‘believe in me or go to Hell’ part is the most important message of Jesus.”FunnyTimmy, I’ve read a lot of what you’ve written along with the related comments, and I’ve never read anything remotely like what you suggest in these forums (with the possible exception of “Jason,” who is a transparent plant to provide atheists the foil they crave).

  • Diane

    Really? This is how a supposedly educated public views Christian women? Lumping mainline Chrisitans in with murderers and radical polygamist Mormon sects that that church has repudiated? Thanks for rehashing a lot of uninformed tripe. Tonight I will enjoy spending time with my husband, also a faithful Catholic, who treats me with respect, dignity, and as an equal partner. Please, tell me (and my married feminist Baptist, Jewish, and Episcopal friends) that we are oppressed by our husbands and our patriarchal religion(s). The end of your sentence might be drowned out by a roar of disbelieving laughter. Do not dismiss us as uneducated women easily sucked in by some sort of cult-like mentality. All four of us (Baptist, Jewish, Episcopal, and Catholic) are doctoral candiates at a top research institution and our husbands are doctors, nurses, and professionals. Our husbands are sacrificing so that we may finish our careers and join the academy. We are supported and encouraged by our families and churches. Oppression? Hardly.I’ll take my cues about what the Catholic Church teaches about women from the Catholic Church, thank you. I will read what women like Teresa of Avila or Catherine of Siena or any one of the many contemporary female theologians and apologists have to say about a Christian women’s relationship with God. (hint: we are perfectly capable and in many ways uniquely able to achieve union with God through prayer and pious practice). I would refer those who wish to get up to speed on what the Catholic Church teaches about women to read John Paul II’s “Mulieris Dignitatem” (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). According to JPII, “The New Testament and the whole history of the Church give ample evidence of the presence in the Church of women, true disciples, witnesses to Christ in the family and in society, as well as in total consecration to the service of God and of the Gospel. “By defending the dignity of women and their vocation, the Church has shown honor and gratitude for those women who-faithful to the Gospel-have shared in every age in the apostolic mission of the whole People of God.” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis).Our ideas about women, sex, and marriage are different from secular America’s but in no way are women demeaned or oppressed by mainline Christianity as I know it (from my experience as a Protestant before converting to Catholicism in graduate school).

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your thoughtful and needed comments, Diane.

  • Anonymous

    P.S. Diane, if you check back, expect to be mercilessly and personally attacked. There’s precious little rational discourse from these paragons of reason.

  • Stefan

    Sam, you are way too smart to really believe this. Religion reflects its cultural context, just as does everything else – including science. Blaming it for the oppresson of women makes about as much sense as calling science entirely evil because it is so good at inventing new ways for us to kill each other. You examine religion from an intellectual distance, as if it is some distasteful, primitive, anthropological phenomenon that needs to be abandoned. Well – your stance, ostensibly scientific and objective, is as culturally conditioned as any of those you criticise. It is only when insight into our own preconceptions matches our insight into those of others that we penetrate the surface of things…

  • tom

    Hello Timmy-I’m not sure who your beef is with, but it’s not me. If you are as decent and moral and good as you say, then that’s great news for all of us. I sincerely hope you are, and I hope you are happy and feel loved. Whether or not you accept Jesus as God’s son really doesn’t affect me; you’d certainly not be the first to reach the conclusion that he is not, nor will you be the last I’m sure.But I disagree with your premise that those of us who have taken a leap of faith and believe that Jesus is who he says he is are somehow the source of whatever we identify as humanity’s problems. You have chosen not to believe; others of us have made the opposite decision. If we are tolerant towards one another and committed to each other’s fundamental rights then we will all be better off. But if instead some wish to deny the Christian religion its role in the creation of liberal democratic society, and deny Christians the right to worship as they see fit (including the right to say that they think you should be a Christian), then we will have moved away from freedom and towards tyranny. That is my objection; the words “All men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain, inalienable rights,” didn’t spring forth from a vacuum. They are the result of a long history of debate over religion, reason and the role of the State. It is a debate that goes on to this day. But Christianity surely played a large role in our ability to have this conversation today, and I for one will object when it is falsely maligned.And frankly Timmy, I will pray for you, I hope you get to heaven, and I hope I see you there.

  • Bernie Bee

    Good grief Tom! It isnae ‘old tyme dialect’ I use here! Old tyme dialect! That’s a good yin I must say!

  • E. Favorite

    Bobby – I just heard a wise man say that by the time an issue is openly debated in the public square, it means the status quo position is already dying.Think homosexualuality, civil rights, women’s rights, anti-smoking – and now atheism.Sounds right to me.

  • Anonymous

    FunnyTimmy says, “Based on my knowledge of Christianity, the answer I will assume, until I get one from you, is yes.” That’s just it, Tim — your knowledge of Christianity is zilch. zippo. nil. nada. nullity.But then FunnyTimmy objects: “I love this comment that we need to learn more about religion before we dis it. I have read the Bible and been to church many times.” Oh, well, then, goodness gracious, we stand corrected! Did you also hone survival skills watching Gilligan’s Island?FunnyTimmy says, “How dare you claim love and compassion as your god’s invention.” First of all, He’s just God, not “my” god. And He didn’t “invent” love, He is Love.FunnyTimmy says, “I haven’t found a Christian yet who will go there [re: Ghandi].” You weren’t looking very hard.FunnyTimmy says, “You have all changed your religion.” Odd — Mr Mark says, “There is no room for change in religion.”FunnyTimmy says, “Jesus would be ashamed of America.” Ah, so that’s why you’re here — you said to yourself, “I can’t stay in Canada (because Jesus loves Canada), so I must escape to a place where Jesus would be ashamed to come after me.” Diabolically clever!FunnyTimmy says, “The US has the country [sic] with [the] largest gap between the rich and poor.” Now, Timmy, that’s just foolishness.FunnyTimmy says, “No Jesus needed to threaten me into being nice.” Obviously. You haven’t been very nice, have you, Timmy?FunnyTimmy says, “I am completely open.” Now, Timmy, telling untruths definitely is not nice.FunnyTimmy says, “I have never been more perplexed.” That’s better. That’s an honest statement.FunnyTimmy says, “When Christians lead by example, they have credibility.” Well, don’t hold your breath, but at least that gives us an opening!

  • abd

    you people call yourselves true atheists’? for surely you have a god. his name is sam.

  • Bernie Bee

    Diane, pey nae attention tae that deceitfu’ distortin bampot Anon!

  • Bernie Bee

    Sad Anonumpty! Ye’er a disgrace so ye are!

  • Anonymous

    E, as Bobby correctly pointed out, Christianity has been controversial and vigorously debated (or persecuted) from Day One. Hyper-rationalist atheism has had absolutely no shortage of full-throated representation in that debate for several centuries.Nothing much new under the sun.

  • Bernie Bee

    Aye ABD Sam’s the man! He’ll dae fur us jist as long as he disnae threaten us wae hell fire fur takin a dram too many!

  • Anonymous

    Bernie, you’re already into the Glenlivet at midafternoon?

  • Anonymous

    Tell the truth, thristy friend: How many empties are there beside ye?

  • Bobby

    to E.favoriteHomosexual rights have been an issue discussed for ~75 years Civil Rights has been an issue discussed for ~150 yearsWomen’s Rights ~150 yearsAnti-smoking ~ 30 yearsTrying to bring down Christianity ~2000 years and unsuccessful…priceless.The ironic thing is that the more attacks a la Harris on religion, the stronger Christianity is, I paraphrase from Jesus: They will curse you for believing in me and you will go through tribulations for me, but do not be afraid.

  • Bernie Bee

    jist a wee nip Anon, not that I thought emdy wid notice!

  • Bernie Bee

    Just the one…but powerfu’ stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Mark says, “…the fact that I now witness such beauty as a process of the cosmos…actually makes them even more astounding.” Why do you see “God” and “process of the cosmos” as distinct and incompatible things? I seems to me only the most literal-minded person would find any incongruity.Mr Mark says, “Can you see that what a religious person terms ‘back sliding’ might actually be the act of discovering truth? If not, why not?” Well, “back sliding” is kind of a quaint term with a fundamentalist tinge. But to answer the question: It’s impossible to move away from God and toward truth, because whatever truth is, is God.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    “I’ve always been told that Christians must read the Bible literally or face eternal damnation.” — TonioTonio, I hope that at least you now understand that most Christians in fact do not teach or believe that.

  • Anonymous

    thought we’d notice? your inner rabbie gives it away…

  • Tonio

    “Tonio, I hope that at least you now understand that most Christians in fact do not teach or believe that.” I’ll call you Binary if you don’t mind…Yes, I do understand that now. Still, some do, and I take their pronouncements about original sin and eternal damnation very personally. Why does any religious doctrine have to make claims about whether humans are inherently good or bad?

  • Bernie Bee

    Ye should try a wee dram yersel’ Anon an thereby discover what the Bard never said:

  • Quentin Feduchin

    Some time before I read anything from either Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris I really found it difficult to take religion very seriously. I was fortunate that my father never cared about it one way or the other and my mother never mentioned it at all! I was never confirmed (C of E) either, thank God for small mercies (sorry.) To put me in perspective, I am 65, divorced, and live in Sydney, Australia.

  • gop (no, not the political affiliation)

    After reading a solid majority of these posts I am certain that most of people who are posting and reading this have their minds set and are not willing to change their views regardless. This is a discussion board–a chance to understand and gradually come to reasonable compromise. The “far left” is just as wrong as the “far right” in my eyes, and the world is better off leaving you out of important discussions b/c you will not listen to anyone.To address those of you who say that people who believe in the “magical guy in the sky” are not reasonable? Are you willing to go so far and say that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a reasonable man? Or that Mother Teresa is insane? How about hundreds of millions of other people in the world who believe in various religions. If you are going to insult other people and what they believe, you have no business partaking in this discussion–disrespect and hatred breeds nothing except disrespect and hatred…if you have it all “figured out” I would assume that point would have been at the top of your list.Yes. I am a Christian. This message board is appalling regardless of beliefs however.

  • Quentin Feduchin

    Is it possible to put these “discussions” into some better format so that we can reply to each other, go off on tangients, etc???

  • timmy

    010101010101 etc.You asked:That would be silly. No one here, including Sam has ever criticized the Bible as a work of literature. In fact, that’s our whole point. That’s what we think it is. If people wanted to restrict the rights of gay people because some homophobic poem said that they were deviants and should be put to death, we would criticize that poem and the people who took it literally.We don’t criticize people who think that the Bible is allegorical literature because we would be criticizing ourselves. That is what we believe it is. If you do as well, you should not be offended by anything that Sam Harris has to say. But you do think that Hamlet is real. You do believe with certainty that Hamlet is the all knowing creator of the universe. Sorry I meant God. I’m not sure how I got those two confused. Someone must have put that silly silly notion into my head. Forgive me. I know that you will.We don’t want to burn the Bible or take it away from you. But we will continue to criticize the Bible as a book of truth. Because it is not. It is a work of allegorical literature. We have no concerns with people who see it as such.I will answer your other question in my next post.

  • timmy

    010101010101 etc.You asked:That would be silly. No one here, including Sam has ever criticized the Bible as a work of literature. In fact, that’s our whole point. That’s what we think it is. If people wanted to restrict the rights of gay people because some homophobic poem said that they were deviants and should be put to death, we would criticize that poem and the people who took it literally.We don’t criticize people who think that the Bible is allegorical literature because we would be criticizing ourselves. That is what we believe it is. If you do as well, you should not be offended by anything that Sam Harris has to say. But you do think that Hamlet is real. You do believe with certainty that Hamlet is the all knowing creator of the universe. Sorry I meant God. I’m not sure how I got those two confused. Someone must have put that silly silly notion into my head. Forgive me. I know that you will.We don’t want to burn the Bible or take it away from you. But we will continue to criticize the Bible as a book of truth. Because it is not. It is a work of allegorical literature. We have no concerns with people who see it as such.I will answer your other question in my next post.

  • Anonymous

    GOP, if it’s reason and tolerance you seek, you’re in the wrong place. The typical exchange is along these lines:”You believe X and that’s stupid.””Do not! You believe X! And X is so stupid!””Why, indeed? Why do you sneaks always deny what you believe?””Look, I know everything there is to know about X and that’s what you believe. End of story.””Big deal — everybody believes Y. You also believe X. X! X! X!”And so on.

  • Anonymous

    If Sam’s writings are the best the atheists can do, then I certainly feel more secure in my Christianity. Any respectable eighth grader should be able to take him apart. Let’s continue the reasoning of the column: Early proponents of democracy in America denied women the vote and owned slaves, so democracy must be awful. Early practitioners of business used graft and unethical political influence to establish railroads, form corporations, and develop cities, so free enterprise must be evil. Old-time academics kept women at arm’s length and engaged in rampant class warfare, so professors must be pushed aside. These convictions were often put in writing and some of the same sorts folks are still proclaiming these evil beliefs! Shun them! Truth be told, Sam and everyone writing these postings owes their freedom to do so to Christianity and what it has wrought down through the ages, including much of the advances in the dignity, freedom, and importance of women. And who were the first to seriously oppose slavery in America? You all bask in the rays of what Jesus brought to this Earth. Bless you all!

  • bobby

    Nice bit of reasonable writing annonymous. Cheers.

  • DuckPhup

    01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101 wrote:”Duck, how many times do we have to point out that only fundamentalists (a minority of the world’s Christians) would take exception to anything that you just said?”– Oh, I don’t know. Are you counting? I’m not? Anyway, you seem to be saying, then, that only fundamentalists would disagree that “It takes no more that a cursory reading of the first few verses of Genesis (with your ‘rational’ goggles on) to ascertain that it… and all that depends from it… is myth.” And that all the rest of the hundreds of millions of Christians would agree that Genesis, and all that depends from it… that would be the whole rest of the bible and the entire corpus and beleifs of the Abrahamic cults of desert monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) … is myth. That is very gratifying. How come you’re still spouting childish religious nonsense then? –”Not all truth is literal. I’m all for unfettered speculation and inquiry in science and I accept established scientific findings. But I am extremely skeptical that science will explain everything that matters, in a way that is remotely satisfactory to the human heart and soul, anytime soon, if ever.”– Well… that seems to affirm that you are seeking a warm, fuzzy feeling (“… satisfactory to the human heart and soul”), rather than an accurate description of reality. Where did you ever get the idea that ‘truth’ must be ‘satisfying’? That is an incredibly naive notion. And so what, if there are things that are still unexplained? Personally, it is the quest for knowledge that I find ‘satisfying’… not the self-delusion that I possess knowledge that I DON’T possess, based upon wishful thinking and fairy tales. It appears as though you are championing gullibility, rather than rationality. –”Why don’t you and Torquemada Harris launch an Inquisition to smash all poetry, art, music and drama? Surely there is no truth in them — they are just primitive stories, a complete waste of valuable resources. And what about opera? Could there be anything more irrational than people talking to each other by singing? It must be discarded — its continuing retention is already proving to be counter-productive!”– Ah… a logical fallacy… I just love logical fallacies. This one is a ‘Straw Man Argument’… a sub-fallacy of the ‘Red Herring’. One sets up a false premise, and then attacks the false premise as if it were, in fact, ‘true’.I like it better when Straw Men are set up more skillfully… this one is so lame as to be laughable.Regarding opera… you might be onto something there. I’ll have to ask Torquemada Harris about that. But as for the rest… poetry, art, music and drama enrich the human spirit without requiring the abdication of reason and intellectual honesty. Anyway… poetry, art, music and drama don’t require ‘faith’ (wishful, magical thinking) and ‘belief’ (wilful ignorance and self-delusion) in order to be operative, as religion does. So, unless you are saying that religious belief is merely a self-indulgent diversion, providing opportunities for socialization and personal enjoyment, on the same plane as poetry, art, music and drama (OK… and opera)… well, then, this all falls apart. Are you, in fact, says that? Religious belief is merely a self-indulgent diversion, etc? Nah… I didn’t think so. –”Which brave atheist will ever answer this question: First, what is your justification for not immediately killing yourself, based solely on reason and empirical evidence, without appealing to unbelief in God or an afterlife, without appealing to irrational concepts including love, without relying on a variation of “because I say so”; and second, in precisely what way does your answer differ from religious faith?”– Ah… another ‘red herring’. Why should anyone have to justify not immediately killing himself based on reason and empirical evidence? There is no need to appeal to ANY abstract concept or reason or evidence or magical entity or belief. A simple “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t feel like it” is more than sufficient. –

  • Bernie Bee

    Nice bit o’ colossal ignorance ye’ve displayed there Anon!The late lamented Pope John Paul was determined to make the pro-Nazi Pope Pius X11 a saint and that regardless of the outcry even from within his own church. At least the present incumbent is keeping his head down in regard to that and no wonder!

  • Bernie Bee

    Nice bit o’ colossal ignorance ye’ve displayed there Anon!The late lamented Pope John Paul was determined to make the pro-Nazi Pope Pius X11 a saint and that regardless of the outcry even from within his own church. At least the present incumbent is keeping his head down in regard to that and no wonder!

  • Vijay

    But the real problem is that even when a society gives women choice to pursue their love and sex interests they chose to treat themselves as pieces of object. Consider this:

  • Bernie Bee

    Vijay, what century are ye livin in?

  • Anonymous

    What’s with the binary dude? Does he really need to invent an imaginary friend in order to make this life worth living? That’s so sad.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    “I enjoy life immensely. Do I need more reason than that?” — TimmyThe requirement is for a justification based solely on reason and empirical evidence. Enjoyment is an emotion. Don’t tell me you that pure reason is your root principle if you justify your own existence with an appeal to emotion.In any event, if tomorrow you do not enjoy life immensely, will you kill yourself? If you won’t, then yes, you need more reasons.

  • timmy

    Binary,”I don’t want to” is the same as “because I say so”No it isn’t. Not even close.

  • timmy

    Binary,”I don’t want to” is the same as “because I say so”No it isn’t. Not even close.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Anonymous, I need no imaginary friend, but I bet you do. Otherwise, you would have answered the question.

  • timmy

    Binary,I sure that you have been asked many times “Why do you believe in God?”Do you answer, “Because if I didn’t I would kill myself”?Because that would be the most compelling answer I have ever heard. I would have to just leave it at that and inquire no further.

  • timmy

    Binary,I sure that you have been asked many times “Why do you believe in God?”Do you answer, “Because if I didn’t I would kill myself”?Because that would be the most compelling answer I have ever heard. I would have to just leave it at that and inquire no further.

  • timmy

    BinYou said:I didn’t tell you that reason is my root principle.Three straw men in one sentence. Bravo.

  • timmy

    BinYou said:I didn’t tell you that reason is my root principle.Three straw men in one sentence. Bravo.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam, I was just giving you the technical name to the idea that evangalism is not necessary because Gid has chosen His elect. I do not believe that the doctrine of election means that we do not need to evangalize. God not only choses the end, He also chooses the means to that end.TimmyCaptain Reasonable, I would also add Francis Schaeffer to CS Lewis. Schaeffer was brilliant.Bernie, your story abot the two who appear before God is in great error. You turn faith into a work, and Biblical faith is not something we have, nor is it something we can gin up. Biblical faith is something God grants to His elcet, not something we posess in and of ourselves.

  • Paul C. Quillman

    Pam, I was just giving you the technical name to the idea that evangalism is not necessary because Gid has chosen His elect. I do not believe that the doctrine of election means that we do not need to evangalize. God not only choses the end, He also chooses the means to that end.TimmyCaptain Reasonable, I would also add Francis Schaeffer to CS Lewis. Schaeffer was brilliant.Bernie, your story abot the two who appear before God is in great error. You turn faith into a work, and Biblical faith is not something we have, nor is it something we can gin up. Biblical faith is something God grants to His elcet, not something we posess in and of ourselves.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Tonio,Thanks for your thoughts. An analogy I’ve heard that I find useful for now is this: Your optometrist and your lover both peer into your eyes. To all outward appearances they observe the same thing, yet their perceptions and experience are non-overlapping. The optometrist uses scientific knowledge to measure your eyes and analyze them, for practical benefit. The lover communes with your soul. Non-overlapping, yet which is true?I don’t think the mere fact that some people (fundamentalists) violate NOMA boundaries, intentionally or unintentionally, in any way impairs the usefulness of the construct. That said, it has its limitations. Dawkins makes the rather brain-dead observation that Christians would welcome and embrace DNA evidence of the virgin birth. Well, duh. Faith must accept established scientific claims on science’s own terms. Faith then can make additional truth claims that have no scientific meaning, value or validity whatsoever. It’s not that the magisteria are non-overlapping. To the contrary, for (non-fundamentalist) people of faith, the Venn diagram has scientifically established knowledge as a proper subset within the larger domain of truth.ID clearly is a boundary violation. A doctrine like original sin, however, is not a scientific claim at all (and whether true or not, is therefore not a boundary violation). Nor does original sin depend on a literal Adam and Eve. The fact that we started sinning (and are likely to continue) seems self-evident.Tonio: “With the Kansas debate as an example, why should the ‘big questions’ you mentioned have anything to do with whether humans evolved or were created?”There are several layers. Yes, K-12 science classes should teach mainstream science, and as a general rule not waste time on unsupported dubious theories. I don’t support ID over established scientific knowledge. That said, the whole debate is so politicized, and such a proxy for all kinds of other things, that the anti-ID people come across as seeming to say that science has its own rigid orthodoxy — which it seems to me is more harmful than it would be to just let kids study ID and have them poke holes in it (wouldn’t that be a good exercise?). On yet another hand, these political battles just highlight the necessity of getting the government out of the business of running schools, period. As long as government runs the school, citizens have every right to have their say, and politics wins every time. Let families who know a child best decide what is in her or his best interest. (One hundred percent school choice, now. But I digress.)

  • Anonymous

    Why do you atheist guys get so hung up on designating God as a “deity” or a “supernatural being”? If He denies He’s either of those things, would He then be okay?

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Timmy,”I didn’t tell you that reason is my root principle.” — My argument obviously was directed at those who do make that claim. If you’re open to irrationality, I’m glad to hear it, but your objection to religion cannot then be based on its supposed irrationality.”And I don’t justify my existence at all.” — Well, okay, but that was the point of the exercise, so that being the case I’m not sure why you responded (but thanks anyway).”Not killing one’s self is not a justification for existence.” — The question is, what is one’s justification for choosing to continue in existence.

  • timmy

    Actually Bin,The question you asked was worded like this:If you’d like to change the question now, that’s fine.

  • timmy

    Actually Bin,The question you asked was worded like this:If you’d like to change the question now, that’s fine.

  • Anonymous

    Binary, I don’t like meatloaf, but I bet you do. Otherwise, you would have eaten spaghetti.

  • timmy

    Paul CBoy you believers love the straw man debating style.But then 9/11 happened.And then Sam Harris wrote a book and Richard Dawkins wrote a book.And so now it is no longer taboo to criticize religion.

  • timmy

    Paul CBoy you believers love the straw man debating style.But then 9/11 happened.And then Sam Harris wrote a book and Richard Dawkins wrote a book.And so now it is no longer taboo to criticize religion.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Pam: “I don’t want to” does not in any way equate to “wishful thinking.” What is the wish?01: The wish is to wish away the question. “I don’t want to” means “I don’t want to come up with a mature, reasonable answer to a perfectly reasonable question. I have no answer, so I will tell myself I don’t need one. I don’t want to even think about it. I wish the question would go away. Hey, it did!” All of which begs the question, WHY don’t you want to? — to which the presumable answer is, just because I say so. Very mature, rational thought process, don’t you agree?Pam: Nor does a reason for not committing suicide have anything at all to do with “justification” for existence.01: At any moment your choice is to (a) commit suicide, or (b) continue in existence. If reason is your sole guiding principle, then presumably you undertake every act consciously and conscientiously, and require a sound reason for every act, whether it be of commission or omission. If you freely choose to continue in existence, either you have a reason for that act or you don’t. If you don’t have a sound reason for it, that is, a justification for your continued existence, then you hardly can say that you are acting reasonably.Pam: An atheist’s justification for existence is simply that (s)he was born, as a natural being in a natural world. There really isn’t a need for any more than that, and it’s perfectly logical and reasonable.01: Merely accepting a default set of circumstances and accidental truths that pertain to every living thing from an amoeba to a daffodil (“I exist” and “I am a natural being”) is not a particularly compelling reason in and of itself, because you are an intelligent being entirely free to alter those circumstances. You merely wish it were a sufficient reason.Pam: If one has children, that adds another (quite logical) layer of reason to exist.01: To the contrary, it only compounds your dilemma, because not only must you justify your own existence, now you must also justify the morality of foisting that dilemma onto another (altogether blameless) person. Yes, you can argue that you have a moral obligation to support a child until she or he can survive independently, but then your dilemma returns.Pam: If you want more, we go on living because we have a biological urge called the will to live. It comes with the package, genetically programmed by natural selection.01: You are entirely free to override your urges. Natural selection also programmed you to pass on your genes, yet you can choose not to (and even can go to great lengths to override what would occur naturally). And natural selection couldn’t care less whether you continue to exist after your offspring can survive and reproduce on their own. Indeed, if anything, understanding the natural basis for an instinct only increases the burden on you to examine your own actions critically in the light of reason and knowledge, and to make conscious, conscientious choices.Pam: I will follow my natural instincts and go on living.01: Right. Just because you say so.Pam: Now, why don’t you tell us why *you* go on, when you believe that you’re going to “a better place?”01: The difference between us is honesty. I honestly acknowledge that continuing my existence is deeply irrational, in the sense that I can come up with no purely rational justification for it. I honestly acknowledge that to persevere I must tell myself stories, engage in wishful thinking, and delude myself. From what you’ve shared with us, the same is true for you, except that you deny it.

  • Tonio

    Binary, I like your eye analogy. Maybe both observations constitute different kinds of truth.To be honest, I don’t understand how theologians define the word “truth.” To me, the word means “objective, incontrovertible fact.” Religious literalists insist that their dogmas constitute objective facts for all humankind. “A doctrine like original sin, however, is not a scientific claim at all (and whether true or not, is therefore not a boundary violation).”I see that as a type of NOMA boundary violation only because the doctrine makes a claim about people. “The fact that we started sinning (and are likely to continue) seems self-evident.”And I agree. My objection is to the rest of the original sin doctrine, which claims that people are incapable of avoiding sinful actions without the intervention of an outside agency (Christ). Again, an attempt to define people.

  • timmy

    Good morning Bin,Still on about the suicide thing I see.Killing one’s self is an action. One does indeed require a reason to take an action. I don’t have a reason to take such an action so I don’t. If I had a reason to kill myself, I would. But I don’t have a reason (unless you’d like to give me one) to kill myself, so I don’tNot killing one’s self, is not an action. This also goes for the idiot who asked, “Why not rape and murder?”You seem to be implying that the non existence of God, is a reason to commit suicide, rape and murder.If this is true.

  • timmy

    Good morning Bin,Still on about the suicide thing I see.Killing one’s self is an action. One does indeed require a reason to take an action. I don’t have a reason to take such an action so I don’t. If I had a reason to kill myself, I would. But I don’t have a reason (unless you’d like to give me one) to kill myself, so I don’tNot killing one’s self, is not an action. This also goes for the idiot who asked, “Why not rape and murder?”You seem to be implying that the non existence of God, is a reason to commit suicide, rape and murder.If this is true.

  • Tonio

    Also, what constitutes sin? Doesn’t the definition vary among the various religions, as well as among the various sects within each religion? If true, that means that believers who call non-believers “sinners” are defining the non-believers based purely on subjective criteria.

  • Ghada

    Christianity is directly responsible for the destruction of ancient secular knowledge. Go look up Hypatia, for example!

  • Mr Mark

    01 wrote: “Merely accepting a default set of circumstances and accidental truths that pertain to every living thing from an amoeba to a daffodil (“I exist” and “I am a natural being”) is not a particularly compelling reason in and of itself.”What do you mean by accidental?

  • wm

    Michael of Bowie MD: I’d like to comment on your post – if you’d like to discuss, I’ll do my best to respond promptly (though I’m pretty busy right now – there could be delays). Re: “A lot of you people are scary”: I imagine it could be very scary to realize that there are people who don’t believe that there is a deity looking out for you as so many believers – Christians and those of other religions – have been promised by various people. That there are people who think that it is probable that our lives are what we make of them, right here, right now – that this is it, so we’d better make the best of it. It could be scary to imagine that they might be right. Or is it that you feel somehow personally threatened by non-believers? Do you realize that most of the people in prison in the U.S. are Christians and that atheists are underrepresented in prison? Perhaps you could clarify the nature of your fear. Re: “It is unbelievable to me how many people are atheist when you live among all proof of God’s existence.” Which God? There have been thousands. Can you provide evidence that your favorite deity created all this? Or are you just used to your pastor proclaiming that God is in every butterfly, sunset, and mountaintop? The Christian God didn’t even show up until about 6000 years ago … he’s a real latecomer to the whole deity scene. Re: “Many, many of you who offer Bible text to support your claims have taken the text out of context, and/or you have omitted posting the previous or following verses that show the truth, which is opposite your claims many times.” Would you give some specific examples of which verses are concerning you? Personally, I’ve read the bible numerous times. I think that charges brought against the Christian Bible as providing justification for sexism are spot on. Re: “Way too many people claim that the Bible has many contradictions, and that’s a lie.” I’m not sure which contradictions that we’ve been discussing here are concerning you – would you clarify? I actually don’t even see how it’s particularly relevant, however, to the question of the existence of the Christian God. If you provide good evidence for the existence of the Christian God, then we could go on to discuss how fallible the bible is or is not and why contradictions in the bible might matter. Regarding your further comments on how the bible must be interpreted by anointed ministers, may I point out that your beliefs are not representative of all Christians? Christians can’t even agree on who is to interpret the bible – laypeople or ministers – much less on what the bible actually says. You’d think that any omnipotent deity would be able to write a clear set of instructions – if he/she/it actually wanted them to be understood. As I mentioned, though, how the bible is to be interpreted is not particularly relevant unless good evidence can be produced for the existence of the Christian God(s). Show me the evidence!Re: “If you don’t believe in God, then why not rape and murder and steal every moment of every day? Seriously…why not?” Would you rape, murder, and steal every moment of the day if you didn’t believe in God? Is that the life you’d really choose for yourself? Do you really have that little empathy for your fellow humans? I don’t believe in deities yet I do not rape, murder, or steal. Why would I? First of all, the idea of hurting a fellow human gives me great distress – I’m even a vegetarian in order to decrease the amount of suffering that I cause to fellow creatures on this planet. There is no joy in harming another for most people who have been treated kindly as children and who have been raised to feel empathy for others. If for some reason I did enjoy raping, murdering, or stealing, there are civil penalties for these actions that I would not want to incur. If, despite the civil penalties, I still desired greatly enough to rape, murder, or steal that I was willing to do so, do you really think that God would make the difference? If so, why are there so many Christians in prison? I don’t doubt that religion makes a difference in the behavior of some people, but I do think that there are many ways to create good people without resorting to imaginary deities. And I think that religion itself causes enough violence that we should create good people through other means.

  • Pam

    Anonymous Jason,Nor does a reason for not committing suicide have anything at all to do with “justification” for existence. An atheist’s justification for existence is simply that (s)he was born, as a natural being in a natural world. There really isn’t a need for any more than that, and it’s perfectly logical and reasonable. If one has children, that adds another (quite logical) layer of reason to exist. If you want more, we go on living because we have a biological urge called the will to live. It comes with the package, genetically programmed by natural selection. Completely reasonable.Yes, we do enjoy life, even with its bad times. I can’t speak for everyone, but if my life became unbearably bad (constant and excruciating pain, no hope of recovery), I might well consider suicide – or hope for mercy killing. But until such a time, I will follow my natural instincts and go on living.Now, why don’t you tell us why *you* go on, when you believe that you’re going to “a better place?”

  • timmy

    Anon asked:”If He denies?”Yes. If God denies that he is a deity, he will be cool with me.Did you by any chance mean, if you deny it?

  • timmy

    Anon asked:”If He denies?”Yes. If God denies that he is a deity, he will be cool with me.Did you by any chance mean, if you deny it?

  • Pam

    “Why do you atheist guys get so hung up on designating God as a “deity” or a “supernatural being”? If He denies He’s either of those things, would He then be okay?”How about because his book says so?The only way he could deny it would be to appear (clouds part, voice issues forth, or unconsumed burning bush), but then that very act would negate his words, wouldn’t it?

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Mark: “What do you mean by accidental?” Nothing except that they simply happen to be true no thanks to Pam, irrespective on any action or will on her part. If that’s the wrong word, I’d be happy to amend.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Anonymous above is me, and obviously I meant “adversity”.

  • Pam

    Aahh, Paul, we thought you’d left us. :^)Well that’s just the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. If, as you said, “Biblical faith is something God grants to His elcet[sic], not something we posess[sic] in and of ourselves”, and it’s clear that some of us *lack* biblical faith, then isn’t it obvious that we’re not among the elect? So what would be the point of evangelizing us? If God has to give it to us, then why does he need you?

  • Anonymous

    Timmy, thanks for the heads up. Give me their numbers and I’ll get right on it.

  • timmy

    I love Paul’s “God’s elected ones” idea.

  • timmy

    I love Paul’s “God’s elected ones” idea.

  • Anonymous

    “Rationality suggests that we should avoid actions that we have not chosen consciously and for sound reasons. I’m not suggesting anything except that pure reason is insufficient (unless someone can actually answer the question). People fill in the gaps with SOMETHING, and if they eschew religious faith, they make up something that’s uncannily similar.”I think there is some sense to that. My point is that many religions often classify actions as sinful that do not cause harm to others. Some definitions of sin seem to be made for self-serving purposes. From what I’ve read about Catholicism, there is the hierarchy of mortal sins versus venal sins. George Carlin once pointed out that although the Church has relaxed the no-meat-on-Friday rule, there are still probably people in Hell doing time on the meat rap. The rule itself never made sense to me because fish (a source of meat) was not forbidden. I never understood why eating beef or pork was immoral but eating fish was moral. When I was growing up, my family attended a Lutheran church and we followed a no-meat-on-Good-Friday rule. That made even less sense. Here is the weird theory I had when I was a teenager – maybe the Apostles were worried that the Romans carrying out the Crucifixion might turn to cannibalism, and they didn’t want to eat meat from Jesus’ body by mistake. “This is my body,” indeed, almost like a George Romero version of the Last Supper.

  • Michael of Bowie, MD

    Wow. Gimme a break people. When I asked why not rape, murder, etc all day I was reaching into your hearts, and I though that you would tie your good behavior to fear of after-life consequences. I don’t think that prison is the real deterrent. The reason that I did not offer Biblical verses to challenge folk is because they already provided them. I was suggesting that interested parties grab a Bible and visit the text, because you can see for yourself. For example, the one about stoning the woman to death who did not cry out in the city. In the same string of verses that was quoted here (above), the man was also to be stoned to death. Why was that omitted from this conversation? A few verses later the “crying out “is explained. It says that if a woman is raped in a field where a cry for help will not be heard, then she is not at fault and not to be punished. The thing about being in the city simply means that she is not in a field, and is in a place where her cries will summon help. However, if a woman is “taken” and yet does not cry for help, then she probably wanted to be taken, and the man is probably not a stranger. This is early times pre-marital sex where the woman only pretends to say no. It’s different today because a gun in a woman’s face could keep her from calling for help. Back then it was a different story. So the point is not how loud the woman cries out. It was whether or not she does cry out.See how much writing that took to explain? I don’t want to blog the equivalent of 37 pages. All I am saying is when someone claims to quote the Bible you have to check it out yourself.Also, let’s please not do the name calling thing. I will not call any of you an idiot. We are all just trying to communicate in our individual ways. I admit that I am not a writing scholar OK.As far as hearing different things from different Ministers, it happens out the gazoo. That’s a fact of life. However, that is no excuse to turn from God. I took a while for me to find one’s who are right for me.By the way, women are not God’s hostages as the primary writer stated. He omitted that the same chapter and verses state that man is to love and respect his wife. And it says that man is to submit to his wife, because it says husbands and wives must submit to each other. Even if you are atheists, get yourself a Bible or even a Koran if you like, and check out these false claims.Finally, I came to God a few years ago after living life like the every one else for as many years as I wanted to have fun. I never hurt anyone. Then at some point I knew it was time to get real and to also think about the after-life. So, I began to read the Bible. Then things started to happen, my eyes were opened and God has given me wisdom to where I can now understand what I read in the Bible. However, sometimes I have to read the same verses a few times before I get it. But hey, you do your thing and I will do mine.So, if you cannot agree OK. I want an eternal after-life with God and so I am going after it. So you go on and ignore God and truth….it will not hurt me.

  • dahozho

    Hmmmm. Well, I don’t deal with Christian or Islamic texts, so those quotes don’t mean much to me– EXCEPT how they demonstrate humans have a tendency to do terrible things in the name of “tradition” and “religion.” The other quotes have problems in and of themselves. What translation is Sam using? Much of what christians call “Old Testament” has come down to their tradition through Greek, Latin, psuedo-modern English or other languages, and has enjoyed many adventures along the way. (So I’m a realist and recognize that humans are not going to be perfect and will translate to the benefit of their own beliefs & outlook.)So, yes, there has been much in patriarchal societies that is bad. However, I am not going to blame the Creator for our human failings and shortcomings. I’m also not willing to simply discard writings that have spoken to so many generations and address so many facets of the human condition. Humans have free will, and through this free will, intellectual discourse, and recognizing all humans as having equal interests in this life and future generations, we can continue to strive and become more than what we are. We also need to remember that intellectual liberty is intrinsic to our continued development and striving. This liberty is absent from the examples given at the beginning of the article. We, as human, may fail often, but the inquiry, derech eretz, and striving to be more MUST continue.

  • E. Favorite

    Bernie Bee -Thanks for the good laughBinary – rational people who are not religious don’t necessarily make all their decisions based completely on reason. Being human, emotions also come into play. So expanding on the “I don’t want to commit suicide” theme – are “I don’t feel like it” “It doesn’t appeal to me” “I’m enjoying life” “my family would be sad, “I have responsibilities and promises to keep.”I have some questions for you, Binary about this heaven that you’re so looking forward to: what does it look like? what will you do there? Who will you meet there? how will the society be structured? what language will people speak?

  • Tonio

    Michael,While I appreciate your good intentions, I don’t want anyone to come into my heart or head without being invited. I feel personally insulted by the suggestion that the threat of hell would be the only think keeping me from harming people. No one can really know another’s thoughts or feelings or motivations. “This is early times pre-marital sex where the woman only pretends to say no.”I don’t understand that sentence at all. Would you explain? How can anyone have known whether the woman was only pretending?

  • Tonio

    Oops, I misspelled “thing” in the second sentence of my previous post.

  • Kevin

    If the only thing keeping a person from raping, stealing, or murdering is an “All-Seeing Surveillance Camera in the Sky”, that is very revealing of that person’s morality.You’d basically be admitting that you would otherwise like to do these things, but you are afraid to do them because you’re afraid of getting spanked (for all eternity, apparantly).This is a truly loathsome morality, not to mention cowardly….and the Freudian overtones are immense.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    E, I don’t rightly recall saying anything about heaven, but obviously the language will be good, plain ol’ American, just the Holy Bible.I certainly concede that no one operates on pure reason, and indeed that’s precisely my point. However, in these discussions we hear many protestations to just that effect. I’m quite skeptical of those until I see somebody actually connect the dots and answer the question.”I don’t feel like it” and “I’m enjoying life” have already been tried. “It doesn’t appeal to me” is just a weaker form of “I don’t feel like it, ” is it not? In any case, not very compelling.The impact on others, or on commitments made, are the most substantive excuses offered so far. Congratulations!The question begged is, Who cares? Why? You’re outta here. You no longer exist, so no relationships you may have had during your brief existence can possibly still exist in any form (can they?). If yes, how’s that possible? If no, there’s no point wringing your hands over something that dies with you, is there? Surely you are relieved of any and all commitments by reason of non-existence, aren’t you? How irrational would it be to try to bind a non-existent person to a commitment?

  • Kevin

    “The question begged is, Who cares? Why? You’re outta here. You no longer exist, so no relationships you may have had during your brief existence can possibly still exist in any form (can they?). If yes, how’s that possible? If no, there’s no point wringing your hands over something that dies with you, is there? Surely you are relieved of any and all commitments by reason of non-existence, aren’t you? How irrational would it be to try to bind a non-existent person to a commitment?”Altruism is a pretty good answer for all of those questions.Plus, if a species was inclined en masse towards suicide (at least prior to procreation), that species would not have long survived the passage of time.

  • Anonymous

    “How about because his book says so?”Once again, we observe the absurd irony of atheists insisting on literalism.

  • Anonymous

    Kevin: “Altruism is a pretty good answer for all of those questions.”01: Sorry, but how’s that a purely rational justification? If you’re alluding to an innate impulse, we’ve already covered those: You’re perfectly free to override such an impulse. Kevin: “Plus, if a species was inclined en masse towards suicide (at least prior to procreation), that species would not have long survived the passage of time.”See above. Yes, we assume there is an evolutionary instinct for self-preservation (at least until offspring can survive independently). However, you are not at its mercy.

  • Kevin

    I am Anonymous immediately above

  • Anonymous

    “01: Sorry, but how’s that a purely rational justification? If you’re alluding to an innate impulse, we’ve already covered those: You’re perfectly free to override such an impulse.”Indeed you are perfectly free to override the life impulse, which explains the existence of suicide.Whether you are at its mercy is another question altogether.But the overwhelming majority of human life does not override the life impulse, so mustn’t assume that the abstract “decision not to kill yourself” is perfectly rational in the context of human behavior?Maybe I have misunderstood the question at the root of this sub-thread (lots of posts to sift through here)…is so, apologies.

  • Bernie Bee

    Don’t you worry Anon, for according to what was hammered into my Uncle Fergus in his early youth, Timmy and his like have got it coming to em!This is just an outline, the gist of it:Lift Up Your HeartsGETTING INTO HEAVENAtheismChristianityWhat Happens When A Christian Dies?THE CYCLE OF LIFE And yet Dave is a good name. Dave. Reliable, honest, Dave. Big Dave. Big, friendly, Dave. Not too bright, but he gets the job done. By Any Means Necessary.THE CYCLE OF LIFEGETTING OUT OF HELL To get out of Hell, you have to pass through a nun chute (monk chute for boys) and dance at a 50′s sock hop for ten days, non-stop. Imps and demons hang from harnesses, trying to hit you with flaming Nerfs, and Satan himself keeps popping up from manhole covers, trying to grab your feet. 240 hours later, you are free to pass through the redemption pipe, on condition that you get one True or False answer correct. The question is usually “Brian Clough was the manager of Nottingham Forest – true or false?” If you say true, Satan says “Ha ha, I meant the actual forest, not the football team – it’s back to hell for another eternity for you!” AYE, REPENT FOR THE END IS NIGH!

  • timmy

    So much verbosity for such a simple question.Killing myself is an action.That is the answer to the question “why not kill yourself?”If this answer does not satisfy you, then ask yourself this question.Why do you not go to Disneyland right now and paint your face blue?

  • timmy

    So much verbosity for such a simple question.Killing myself is an action.That is the answer to the question “why not kill yourself?”If this answer does not satisfy you, then ask yourself this question.Why do you not go to Disneyland right now and paint your face blue?

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Kevin, likewise, sorry if I did not make myself clear — you’re right, the format of this forum is a horrorshow.Kevin: “But the overwhelming majority of human life does not override the life impulse, so mustn’t assume that the abstract ‘decision not to kill yourself’ is perfectly rational in the context of human behavior?”01: Actually, the operative premise on this forum is that the overwhelming majority of human life is deluded and controlled by irrational religious faith, and almost all of that population regards suicide as a sin punishable by damnation. So I’d offer that we can draw no conclusions about the rationality of suicide from the behavior of this irrational majority (unless perhaps we consider the exact opposite hypothesis).01: Re: to clarify my response to your previous post. I thought perhaps you were suggesting a biological basis for altruism, which would inhibit you. The point simply is that it is a surmountable obstacle.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    “Why do you not go to Disneyland right now and paint your face blue?” I will if you pay.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Re: the ‘elect’Paul C. I should call you Phari C. for that is what you’re becoming! How could the God, in whom we live and move and have our being, how could He–the timeless one, the perfect Being–deny his grace to anyone? It is there, it is abundant.But you do have to be still…Don’t I recall a verse like “Be still and know I am God” or a variation thereof? Sometimes all you can hear is crickets! But I love that line. Crickets are God’s creatures, why not experience the wonder of Creation through the call of a cricket? When I wrote Mr Mark crickets were a start, I meant it.

  • Kevin

    I am suggesting a biological basis for altruism which would inhibit one from committing suicide. I would strongly suspect that this biological inhibition, along with the social consequences of suicide, have manifested themselves in the form of religious (as well as ethical, morale, civil, etx.) laws and taboos.It is a surmountable obstacle, but it is not a universally surmountable obstacle.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Timmy, as explained above, not killing yourself is equally an “action” — you continue to take up space, pollute the air and water, contribute to climate change, acquire and consume resources, incur risk and impose it on others, etc. etc. Your choice is not suicide or stasis.

  • wm

    Michael, Re: “I though that you would tie your good behavior to fear of after-life consequences” – as an atheist I do not tie my good behavior to fear of after-life consequences because I am not a believer – I have no good reasons to believe that there will be any after-life consequences for my behavior. But there are consequences in this life. I don’t doubt that believers fear after-life consequences for their behavior and for them this can be more of a deterrent than prison. Non-believers have other reasons for being good people – and they don’t have the convenient excuses for bad behavior that are provided by certain holy books.Of course it’s good to check out claims, whether for or against the Christian Bible. In that spirit … With respect to the biblical incident you discussed where a woman would be stoned if nobody heard her cry out in a city and she was raped, have you considered the possibility that her mouth may have been covered? That she may have been gagged? That nobody may have been around to hear her – even in a city? It seems pretty misogynistic to me to stone a woman just because there’s a possibility that she may not have been raped. With the man, it seems more likely that he would have deliberately been involved in the rape/committing adultery, so the standards are hardly the same for men and women. Apart from the misogyny issue, how can you hold a high opinion of a book that advances murder as the appropriate retribution for adultery anyway – particularly because later in the same book Jesus tells “he who is without sin to cast the first stone?” Re: “As far as hearing different things from different Ministers, it happens out the gazoo. That’s a fact of life. However, that is no excuse to turn from God. I took a while for me to find one’s who are right for me.” So what you are advocating is shopping for a minister who interprets the Christian Bible in a way that is palatable to you. Doesn’t that give you cause to consider that you are actually relying on your own sense of ethics and reason rather than the bible? You’re choosing which of the many interpretations works for you. If you’re actually relying on your own sense of ethics and reason, why claim to be following the bible or claim that the bible is the ultimate source of morality, as I assume you would, as so many Christians do? Re: “By the way, women are not God’s hostages as the primary writer stated. He omitted that the same chapter and verses state that man is to love and respect his wife. And it says that man is to submit to his wife, because it says husbands and wives must submit to each other. Even if you are atheists, get yourself a Bible or even a Koran if you like, and check out these false claims.” I have read these passages many times, and there is obviously a different standard for men than women. In fact, my father’s church explicitly used these passages and other similar ones – fully in context – to support the assertion that men are the head of the family, that women are to do what they say, and that women must not have any position of any authority over a man – to the extent that women could not even lead a choir. Their interpretation (or literal reading) of these passages was an entirely reasonable one, if one considers the Christian Bible the ultimate authority on how to live life. Re: “So you go on and ignore God and truth….it will not hurt me.” You are right – having people concerned with improving peoples’ lives in the here and now rather than in some improbable future life will probably even benefit you in this lifetime. Maybe we’re not as scary as you originally claimed. By the way … I’m still waiting for the evidence for the existence of the Christian God. Got any good evidence? Or is your assertion that atheists ignore “God and truth” groundless? Is it possible that you believe just because you want to believe? And that atheists aren’t ignoring “God and truth” – they are refusing to buy into lies and fiction?

  • Anonymous

    Got those clergy phone numbers for me, Timmy? Thanks.

  • Pam

    “01: Actually, the operative premise on this forum is that the overwhelming majority of human life is deluded and controlled by irrational religious faith, and almost all of that population regards suicide as a sin punishable by damnation. So I’d offer that we can draw no conclusions about the rationality of suicide from the behavior of this irrational majority (unless perhaps we consider the exact opposite hypothesis).”You’d offer. I’d reject.I notice that you ignored the part of my post that said that if life becomes untenable, I do consider suicide an option. Seems to me that that answers your question. I don’t fear divine retribution, as does your hypothetical population, so if suicide were ever to become a rationally desirable option, I might well take it.You keep insisting on putting people into philosophical boxes – empiricist, rationalist. I’m not so limited – dunno about you.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Pam, that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m just sincerely trying to understand how the non-rational part of your rationalization does not include faith or wishful thinking or whatever you want to call it. I just wonder what it is. What is it? (And don’t tell me what it’s not, I already know that.)

  • E. Favorite

    Michael of Bowie – I was happy to see your responses to some of the people here, but disappointed that you didn’t address the points I raised:…you really think God made the Bible hard to read to weed out the phonies?… Do you suppose he was trying to weed out people who never had the opportunity to learn how to read? or people with low reading comprehension skills? or people who didn’t have access to an anointed minister?I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.Binary – You’re right, after I’m dead, I wouldn’t know that people I left behind were sad. It’s as a living person that I’d make the choice to stay alive, in consideration of their feelings. I actually know a person who was considering suicide, who thought it would be cruel to end their own suffering in a flash (the person didn’t believe in an afterlife), while leaving family and friends to suffer for the rest of their lives. Good strategy, because the depression passed and now everyone is feeling fine.Regarding heaven – you only addressed the part of my question about language. What about the rest: What does it look like? What will you do there? Who will you meet there? How will the society be structured?I’d really be interested in hearing your thoughts on this. I won’t badger you further about it if you answer. Same deal with you, Michael.

  • Pam

    “Pam, that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m just sincerely trying to understand how the non-rational part of your rationalization does not include faith or wishful thinking or whatever you want to call it. I just wonder what it is. What is it? (And don’t tell me what it’s not, I already know that.)”Faith in what? Wishful of what? And don’t say making the question go away. If we wanted to avoid it, we could do so by simply ignoring it, but *many* of us have given you answers.We are animals. Evolution gave us a desire to live. Yes, we are *able* to override it, but doing so is so much against what natural selection has programmed into our brains, that it requires extremely compelling reasons to do so. Given those reasons, we sometimes *do* override the will to live. Absent them, we choose to live. And we enjoy it.Asked and answered – over and over again. Time to put this one to bed.

  • Willis Elliott

    I’m surprised that I took the time to read hundreds of comments on Sam Harris’ anti-religion screed. I’ve concluded that people are eager to talk about religion, and the “On Faith” column provides opportunity and encouragement. That’s on the plus side.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    E, thank you for the dialog. I honestly don’t want to be obtuse, but (a) I can’t imagine that anybody now living has the foggiest idea; and (b) your questions imply a weirdly literal interpretation that is way outside my frame of reference. I’m sure you realize my earlier answer was tongue-in-cheek (but nevertheless I guess I still felt this disclaimer was necessary).Perhaps if you could tell me why you ask or what you’re getting at, I’d be happy to discuss most anything. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Well said, Mr. Elliott. Thank you for your contribution!

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Pam, thank you for your reply.Pam: Faith in what? Wishful of what?01: That’s what I’d hoped you would answer for me — after all, it’s your faith and your wishful thinking.I don’t deny any actual biological imperatives, but the degree of determinism you suggest would drive me to suicide (which of course I’d then be utterly incapable of carrying out — talk about hell!) Yuck. No wonder people prefer fairy tales.Anyway, I understand we’re talking past each other and I won’t ask you again. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Pam’s faith is in evolution — the story she tells herself is, “It’s just the evolution talking — whaddya gonna do!” Her wishful thinking is that she’s helpless. It absolves her of responsibility for the decision.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy, if I’m going to speak with those clergypersons today, I need the numbers.Bernie, how’s Mr. Glenlivet?

  • Pam

    “One of my five earned degrees in religion is a PhD from the University of Chicago (no fundamental school!). For 60 years I have read the Bible daily in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and a modern language. Yes, it’s easy for atheists to wonder why so intelligent a person would waste so much time on the Bible–”Perhaps you are very intelligent, Willis, but what you’ve said here doesn’t prove that to me. Or even indicate it.Tell us how we should read things such as Isaiah 13:How is that not repulsive? What sort of interpetation or allegory can make that more palatable?

  • wm

    Willis Elliot: Re “the information level of the atheists is woefully low–and reflective of America’s declining level of education in religion” and “my wonder that people as intelligent as are some atheists could have given so little time to, and so be so ignorant of, the world’s most influential book.” Many of the atheists I’ve encountered seem to be much more well-informed on the bible than most Christians and that often this is why they became atheists. Personally, I belonged to two churches while I was growing up (my mom’s and my dad’s) and spent most of my weekend every single week reading the bible, talking about the bible (in the context of two very different churches’ takes on God and the bible), listening to “experts” talking about the bible and its ramifications on our everyday lives, and socializing with believers. In addition, I spent at least a half hour a day reading the bible with my family. If I hadn’t had SO much exposure to the bible, I may have been content to show up to my mom’s church on Sunday, spout platitudes about Jesus once in a while, and enjoy the social life provided by her church. As it was, I ended up having to really think about what I believed and why I believed it, which led to disbelief. Perhaps you could enlighten us as to which information atheists are missing out on that would give them good reason to believe that: a) that the universe was created by a deity and b) that the deity is the Christian God(s). Since you are interested in “how to read sacred literature,” perhaps you could answer E Favorite’s question: “…you really think God made the Bible hard to read to weed out the phonies?… Do you suppose he was trying to weed out people who never had the opportunity to learn how to read? or people with low reading comprehension skills? or people who didn’t have access to an anointed minister?”Re: “Yes, it’s easy for atheists to wonder why so intelligent a person would waste so much time on the Bible,” I don’t particularly wonder how an intelligent person could end up spending so much time on the Bible. And I wouldn’t necessarily consider that time wasted. The bible has a lot of beautiful and inspiring passages as well as what I consider a whole lot of nonsense and vileness. It is very interesting from a historical perspective as well. And intelligent people seem to want there to be more to life than our typical 70 years or so as much as anyone of less intelligence. So it’s no surprise to me that there are intelligent people who study the bible. I do wonder, however, why they actually believe that it is the word of the one, true god. Maybe you could tell us why you do (assuming you do)? I would be very interested in your perspective. Without good evidence that the bible is the “word of god,” I believe I have spent more than enough time reading it already. There are many other works of literature which I find much more inspiring and educational than the bible.

  • bd

    Dr. Elliott, I hope you’re the man that can explain the genealogy(s) of jesus. I remain confused.

  • Anonymous

    01 said:And Anony said:”Incapable”? “Helpless”? Boy, talk about people who lack critical reading skills! Maybe Willis can give you some instruction.I suspect, however, that you are being quite deliberately obtuse. “Faith” in evolution? Do you not believe, then, that evolution occurred? Now here at last is a meaty subject…

  • Gerry

    May I modestly voice that I am not interest neither in Heaven nor in Hell nor in any other fictitious sort of “Salvation”, punishment or reward or eternal life. The whole concept is non-existing in my very active, interesting and happy, already pretty long life, with its mixture of art and modern scientific thinking, with a fine family and a lot of wonderful friends, most of whom share my happily atheist attitude.I feel at least as much accountibility as any Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter or Ted Swaggard or the mass killer and born-again illusionist Bush. I have a deep sense of accountibility both for my own life and for the welfare of my surrounding. My morals stem from my social shaping and my deep hatred against stupidity. (Einstein: There are two things that are infinite: The universe and stupidity. And I am even not so sure about the universe).I am happy to have the privilege to be a part of the wonderful, inscrutable, miraculous universal consciousness for the time allotted to me – in the space-time frame nature works with through evolution and its generations. Reading some of the pious stuff, disguised in intellectual reasoning in these threads, I have an increased hope in a great further evolution of the human mind.Thus the petty quoting of atavistic scriptures, the senseless claim of their eternal “truth”, trying to convince somebody of any religion, does not play any part in my life. I know how it feels, of course, having been brainwashed like most everybody else in my childhood, so I can feel very well from own experience how some of the religious protagonists like Victoria et al. feel. I know the feeling, but I also know the feeling of freedom after having gotten rid of the bigotry.

  • Anonymous

    wm, the key words you use to describe your “education”: “while I was growing up”

  • Anonymous

    I do not “believe” in gravity. I do not “believe” that 1+1=2. I do not “believe” the earth has a moon. I do “believe” that water boils when heated. Knowledge is not belief. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy: Numbers, please!

  • wm

    Anonymous … yes, “while I was growing up” … during the first 18 most formative years of my life. While I was also learning subjects like calculus (in other words, my brain was as functional as it is now). If I couldn’t be sufficiently informed about Christianity during those years to be given good reason to believe in the Christian God, then given the amount of time and energy I dedicated to it at that time, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for anyone who doesn’t want to make the study of Christianity their full-time vocation. But I would be interested in hearing of objective evidence for the existence of the Christian God. Over the last couple weeks, while I have been reading “On Faith” posts, I have not yet seen the evidence. Show me the evidence!

  • timmy

    01010101010 JASON 010101010101Nope. Non action is not action. However, I’ll play if you answer the Disneyland question.Answer the disneyland question.

  • timmy

    01010101010 JASON 010101010101Nope. Non action is not action. However, I’ll play if you answer the Disneyland question.Answer the disneyland question.

  • timmy

    Anon,I asked for their phone numbers. They asked why I needed their number and who I was going to give it to?I told them all about you.They would not give me their phone numbers. They told me to tell you to come in and they would speak to you. They suggested that if you do not live in the Los Angeles area that you could go into any one of the many Christian churches where you are and discuss it with any of the ministers there.One of the ministers was anglican.They said that the equivalent clergy in your area would have the same answer as them on such a basic fundamental question.Let me know how it goes.Just to clarify, their answers were.

  • timmy

    Anon,I asked for their phone numbers. They asked why I needed their number and who I was going to give it to?I told them all about you.They would not give me their phone numbers. They told me to tell you to come in and they would speak to you. They suggested that if you do not live in the Los Angeles area that you could go into any one of the many Christian churches where you are and discuss it with any of the ministers there.One of the ministers was anglican.They said that the equivalent clergy in your area would have the same answer as them on such a basic fundamental question.Let me know how it goes.Just to clarify, their answers were.

  • Anonymous

    WM,There is no “Christian” God. There is only God.Whether God “exists” probably is unprovable and unknowable, but also not particularly important or interesting in and of itself. God never said, “I exist” — God said, “I am”.With my limited intellect I speculate about who I know God to be as follows.In the first instance, God is being itself, so that if anything is, God is.God is the really real, so if anything is real, God is.And God is life. Borrowing from a Khalil Gibran quote somebody cited previously, God is “life’s longing for itself” — a longing that is abundantly evident in nature and human nature.Above all, God is love, so to the degree I have a capacity to love, I abide in God and God in me.More than that I cannot say.

  • Bernie Bee

    Anon, there’s quite a few posting as ‘Anonymous’ so that it can be difficult sometimes to identify your posts. Provided ye change yer ID to Anonumpty or anything so we can tell it’s you, I promise to keep ye up tae date on the Glenfiddich front.As for our O so modest but learned Willis, maybe he can reconcile the Dilemma of Evil that has proved such a stumbling block for so many, seeing that it rules out of court all possibility of a Supreme Being that he has somehow found to be intellectually acceptable. The dilemma was apparently first formulated by Epicurus (c341-c270BC) like this:God either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able; or He is both willing and able.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy,I’m quite confident your newfound clerical chums have listed phone numbers, since it’s their job to be accessible. I’d be happy to look them up online if you will provide their names, or at the very least the names of their congregations. For the sake of intellectual integrity it’s essential I speak with these same individuals. Furthermore, I may need to perform telepathic exorcisms on them to rid them of their false beliefs.I already answered the Disney question above. You can look it up.

  • wm

    Anonymous, I appreciate your post. You are apparently not a Christian, so the questions for Christians about the Christian version of God would not apply to you. But one of my original questions is still unanswered, which is unrelated to Christianity: “how do you know there is any god?” I don’t see how your post answered that question (maybe you weren’t trying to?)

  • Anonymous

    ‘ave a wee dram f’me, wid’ye?

  • Bernie Bee

    God neither said ‘I exist’ OR ‘I am’!

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Hey, that question was addressed to me! But your answer’s correct, Anon!

  • L. Poirot

    Many “believers” do not see the fallacies of their holy books because they do not read them completely. We who are atheists, or maybe we should call ourselves rational thinkers, are in agreement that these holy books are superstitious hogwash. It’s showing that to the rest of society that is the problem before us. Sam in “End of Faith” suggests embarrassment might be a good tool. What say we organize loud public readings throughout our nation quoting these passages in the Bible and the Koran that are so obviously abusive and ignorant toward women as well as the passages that instruct how to handle slaves. How could the faithful object to reading directly from their holy books? And wouldn’t it shed immediate light on their unworthiness and irrelevancy?

  • Bernie Bee

    WM: Never, ever, should ye use that term ‘he or she or it’.

  • wm

    Hee hee hee … thanks, Bernie, for yet another laugh! Now I’m definitely going to continue using my favorite array of pronouns!

  • wm

    I like L. Poirot’s idea of publicly emphasizing the less than laudable sections of some holy books. This seems that it would be appropriately done in public political forums in which candidates/parties are attempting to make themselves or their policies appear more moral by invoking references to their God and his holy book.

  • Michael of Bowie MD

    A lot of you people are scary. It is unbelievable to me how many people are atheist when you live among all proof of God’s existence. Many, many of you who offer Bible text to support your claims have taken the text out of context, and/or you have omitted posting the previous or following verses that show the truth, which is opposite your claims many times. Way too many people claim that the Bible has many contradictions, and that’s a lie.I have found that it takes time to learn how to the read the Bible. I think that it is God’s way of weeding out the phonies. Those who are genuinely interested in learning God’s Will and Testament are rewarded with understanding as they read the Bible. It is also absolutely necessary to hear Bible teaching from annontend Ministers, from whom we can learn how to read the Bible. Yes, one has to learn how to read the Bible, as it is full of poetry, parables and layered truths. If you don’t believe in God, then why not rape and murder and steal every moment of every day? Seriously…why not?

  • R.Hong

    Regarding:From this perspective, rape is a crime that one man commits against the honor of another; the woman is merely Shame’s vehicle, and often culpably acquiescent—being all blandishments and guile and winking treachery. According to God, if the victim of a rape neglects to scream loudly enough, she should be stoned to death as an accessory to her own defilement (Deuteronomy 22:24).—–Though eloquently stated, I feel there are two things that should be clarified.In the first portion, you stated that the rape of a woman was basically a wrong against another man since the woman was like a man’s property. In legal terms, you call it a “Crime Against Property” rather than “Crime Against Persons”. But one thing you forget about Christianity is that worse than crimes against property or persons is the crime against God. In the bible, there are numerous accounts where someone who realizes the wrong they have committed to another states, “I have sinned against God”. It’s when mankind forgets that they can “sin against God” that those in religious settings can oppress groups of people. That’s what’s left of religion when God is absent, when God becomes a figurehead for some cause.Secondly, you quote Deuteronomy and state that God would condemn a woman for not screaming loud enough. But when you make this claim, you forget that God and man (even religious leaders) are very different in that God can see the heart and motives. So I must ask, though your statement seemed very cruel and fantastic, what if God saw the heart of each person and that verse in Deuteronomy only applied to those he saw were not sincerely innocent victims of rape? Would that verse seem so cruel then?I thought your piece to be very well written. But one thing I sensed was that you were writing a piece on religion, not theology (known or unknown to you). Religion is a human sociological study of higher powers. Theology is a study about God. I fear some readers may confuse the two and believe that God cannot exist because “how can a perfect God be so sexist”, or believe that all religions are hypocrisies though God may exist.Your piece did an excellent job of pin-pointing how man, even in religious settings, can be sinful and oppressive. But it failed to mention God and his qualities in any way. It was an excellent observation of man but blind to God.Once you factor God into your writing, it should lead to the same conclusion that the Bible states: Man has a sinful nature and is sinful in all his parts. It explains all the oppression and hypocrisy, even in religious contexts.The real question to ask is, is there a God and can I know this God (regardless of whether we say he or she)?

  • Tonio

    “Once again, we observe the absurd irony of atheists insisting on literalism.”Anonymous, while I’m not an atheist, I’ll answer your point. In my view, people new to reading scripture would have no way of knowing whether they are supposed to read it literally, allegorically, or metaphorically. From my reading, the Bible doesn’t have any suggestion of that type. So it’s perfectly reasonable for readers to attempt to read scripture literally. Scripture is religious instruction, the believer’s version of a textbook, and it would not occur to the average person to read a textbook metaphorically or allegorically.In fiction, the ideas of metaphors and allegories are well known. The meanings of the satirical allegories in Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” were obvious to readers of the time, since Swift was commenting on current or recent events. Modern readers who enjoy Swift might not immediately recognize the Big-Endians-versus-Little-Endians storyline as a specific satire on the English religious schism. But they would certainly find their own allegorical meaning in the storyline, since there will always be people fighting zealously over trivial differences. That’s not the case with scripture. The objective of scripture is to tell people what to believe, to teach them something instead of leading them to discover something on their own. People would only read scripture allegorically or metaphorically if they read it as fiction and not as instruction, or if some human religious authority says to use the allegorical or metaphorical approach. If the objective is to get people to believe something, why should it be necessary to have any guidance in reading scripture from some human religious authority?I’ve read the claim that the Sacrifice of Isaac story was intended to show the difference between Judaism and the competing religions that practiced child sacrifices. That would make sense if you’re reading the Old Testament as literary fiction instead of instruction, AND if you have a solid background in the history of the region. Otherwise, the reader concludes that God demands absolute obedience.

  • Anonymous

    Fresh bottle then, Bernie?

  • Tonio

    “Hell is full of pets. Because pets don’t have souls they cannot pass into the kingdom of our Lord. And because the conditions in hell aren’t particularly good the pets get really pissed off. That’s what hell is, a load of angry poodles, and a swearing mynah bird.”* satire alert * I beg to differ, sir! GOOD dogs go to heaven, like Labs and golden retrievers and blue tick hounds. There, they will be constantly scratched behind the ears and on their bellies. The BAD dogs go to hell, like the Rotties and Dobermans and pit bulls. Especially, any of the hairy-mosquito breeds that bark constantly and bite people – those get fed to Satan’s alligators.

  • Anonymous

    WM,Thanks for your reply. Actually, I am a small-o orthodox, traditional mainstream (non-fundamentalist) Christian.— WM says, “How do you know there is any god?”• I don’t. I can’t. But as I said, IF anything “is”, IF anything is real, IF life and love are real, then God is.— WM says, “How do you know God says ‘I am?’”• God’s name in the Hebrew Bible (the name disclosed to Moses), YHWH, is commonly rendered in English as “I AM HE WHO IS”, “I AM WHO AM” or “I AM WHO I AM”.— WM says, “What is the point of talking about God if you don’t ‘know’ (or have good evidence) that he/she/it exists?• Well, I don’t “know” that I exist (and have precious little evidence that you do). In any case, you can’t talk about anything that really matters, that has ultimate import, without referring to God, because God is ultimate reality.— WM says, “Regarding the rest of your post, you basically seem to be speculating that there is a God because you are defining him into being.”• Actually it’s pretty much standard Christian theology.— WM says, “As far as you find inspiration in life and love and don’t claim to personally know the creator and/or what he/she/it commands, I don’t think that we have any quarrel.”• The only thing that a Creator who created me for life and love and happiness would “command” is that I live and love and seek happiness in becoming who I was created to be. I have trouble imagining anything better, but I acknowledge my limited imagination.

  • Bernie Bee

    R Hong:

  • Anonymous

    bernie, after your last post, i’m losing faith in u

  • Anonymous

    Apparently this page will just grow ad infinitum — it’s up to 1.6 MB (before this post)! What a *stupid* system!

  • Bernie Bee

    I lost faith in you long afore you lost faith in me!

  • Anonymous

    how dare ye call me a numpty

  • timmy

    I am also in favor of L Poirots idea of public readings of the portions of the Bible that they don’t read in church.

  • timmy

    I am also in favor of L Poirots idea of public readings of the portions of the Bible that they don’t read in church.

  • E. Favorite

    Mary Cunningham – glad to see you back on a Harris thread, after leaving an earlier one saying you didn’t like it “here amidst the atheists.”Maybe you saw my response to you on that thread. I’m repeating an excerpt here, in case it applies to other religious believers on this thread: “I agree atheists – and all people, for that matter – can be nasty at times. I hope that doesn’t result in you writing off all atheists, any more than you would reject all Christians because you met a few when they were being nasty. Please consider that some of what you perceive as nastiness may be hearing things from a different perspective for the first time.”

  • E. Favorite

    Michael of Bowie – you really think God made the Bible hard to read to weed out the phonies? I thought religious believers thought God provided the bible as a road to salvation for all humans. Do you suppose he was trying to weed out people who never had the opportunity to learn how to read? or people with low reading comprehension skills? or people who didn’t have access to an anointed minister? As for not raping, murdering or stealing all day – you’re assuming that its only your religion that keeps you from doing those awful things. Please consider that that is not the case – that kindness, compassion, altruism, etc. are in-born adaptive human traits, irrespective of religious belief.

  • timmy

    Anon,I will do no more leg work for you. As for the deity question.

  • timmy

    Anon,I will do no more leg work for you. As for the deity question.

  • Anonymous

    Timster,Excellent answer!I bet that if you told your new clergyfriends that you would commit suicide if you weren’t too busy contemplating it, they could help you.BTW, waiting for their names or congregations. THX.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy, my recollection of the original question is:Why do you atheist guys get so hung up on designating God as a “deity” or a “supernatural being”?Not sure how we got from that to whether God is “real”. If anything is real, God is.Did I ever actually say God is not a “deity”? If I did, I was just making a point (I should have known you’d take me absolutely literally.)In any case, my point in asking the original question was that it is the comic book “God” that atheists love to hate. And that God really and truly is imaginary.In any event, if you were to go to ten liberal churches near you, you’d hear much wilder tales than you’ve heard from me.

  • NavynukeCDR

    Hello again everyone from somewhere in CENTCOM…can’t download the other post (now 1064 posts and counting) beyond the first 20-30 blogs, give Jason my best…I see that Victoria, despite having time to post a novella on her family history, once again refused to answer the questions posed to her about the misogyny of her chosen religions and used the old “look at what I posted on another site” defense….apparently, the ‘cut and paste’ function doesn’t work..For Paul C. Quillian…good sir, not all of us on this site/blog are atheists. I consider myself an agnostic — i.e. I don’t know. Although a practicing nuclear engineer in my opinion there are some things in life that are unexplainable by science — my love for my wife, the feeling I have after reading Churchill speeches or the speech by President Reagan after the Challenger disaster, the Eagles, Shakespeare, Mozart, how all this matter in the universe got compacted into the tip of a pinhead, what/who created the matter in the first place. Having said that, the primary focus most of the ‘non-religious’ at this site seems to be that we don’t care what you in your personal life believe — however, when you begin making public policy on the basis of an unprovable myth…or set up the Ten Commandments in the courtroom (see Judge Roy Moore) despite the prohibition in the First Amendment in the Constitution of the United States against mixing church and state…or when you use these texts to fly an airliner into a building or blow up a van outside a university OR assassinate an abortion doctor or insist public funds be used to teach abstinence only when clearly teens have always and will always have sex and need EDUCATION and the TRUTH about life to prepare to be adults — sir, that’s the problem here. Too many are using their religion to justify the subjugation of women…and we’re afraid to criticize. I leave you with this article I pulled from CNN.com…and ask you, why isn’t this more of a priority for the Holy Roman Catholic Church? Why isn’t this more of a priority from Focus on the Family leader James Dobson than getting Sen. Brownback elected? Why isn’t this more of a priority for the Phelps family in Kansas than protesting at soldier funerals because we ‘legitimize’ gays in this country? (Whatever that means). Why isn’t this more of a concern for Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell than whether two grown men or two grown women want to live together? JWRBy Dan RiversPHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) — At an age when most children might be preparing for their first day of school, Srey, 6, already has undergone trauma that is almost unspeakable.She was sold to a brothel by her parents when she was 5. It is not known how much her family got for Srey, but other girls talk of being sold for $100; one was sold for $10.Before she was rescued, Srey endured months of abuse at the hands of pimps and sex tourists.Passed from man to man, often drugged to make her compliant, Srey was a commodity at the heart of a massive, multimillion-dollar sex industry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.”It is huge,” said Mu Sochua, a former minister of women’s and veteran’s affairs who is an anti-sex trade activist.The precise scale of Cambodia’s sex trade is difficult to quantify. International organizations — such as UNICEF, ECPAT and Save the Children — say that anywhere from from 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are involved. An estimated 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh are under the age of 18, according to the United Nations. The actual figure may be much higher, activists say.Global sex industry”Trafficking for sexual exploitation also occurs within Cambodia’s borders, from rural areas to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh, and other secondary cities in the country,” the State Department wrote in a 2006 report. “The Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”Sochua said that with millions of Cambodians struggling to live on less than 50 cents a day, many women turn to the sex industry. Poverty is also often what drives parents to sell their child or themselves on the streets.”Always a child is left behind, often a girl, who is preyed on by traffickers,” Sochua added.An unlikely saviour”A lot of them, when they arrive, have psychological problems … very big problems. … And they never have love by the people, by their parents,” Somaly said.One girl at Somaly’s shelter appears especially disturbed. She was rescued after being imprisoned for two years in a cage, where she was repeatedly raped.She needs psychiatric care, but there is none available. Somaly says she does her best to give this girl love and support, but that it’s not easy with so many other needy children around.Somaly herself suffered terrible ordeals when she worked the streets, including seeing her best friend murdered. She is determined to build something positive out of so much despair.Her work has caught the attention of world leaders, celebrities and religious figures. Her office in Phnom Penh is adorned with photos of her meeting Pope John Paul II and messages of support from governments and charities.Despite the attention, Somaly said the situation on the street is not getting better. Gang rapes of prostitutes are becoming more common, she said, and many of the attackers don’t use condoms. Instead, they share a plastic bag.”Poor women, they have been raped by eight, 10, 20, 25 men … they hit them. They receive a lot of violence,” she said.HIV-AIDS also remains a persistent, though declining, problem among Cambodia’s female sex workers.About 20 percent of Cambodia’s female sex workers are HIV-positive, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Health. This compares with the 39 percent of sex workers who tested positive in 1996, according to the Health Ministry.To help sex workers transition to a more normal life, Somaly is hoping to expand her refuge in the countryside outside Phnom Penh, where former sex workers attend school and learn skills like weaving and sewing.Asked what the future holds for Srey, Somaly stroked the girl’s hair and paused.Srey is HIV-positive, she said.In such a poor country, without decent hospitals or medical care, Srey’s future is bleak. Somaly just hopes she can make this girl’s life bearable for as long as it lasts.

  • E. Favorite

    Hello Binary – I promised not to ask further if you answered my questions, but since you didn’t answer and instead asked me my motives, I feel free to respond.Given that so many religious believers seem so certain about an afterlife – specifically heaven – I figured they would have thought about the conditions of heaven quite a lot. You’d be spending eternity there, after all. I don’t recall anything in the Bible about the details of heaven (just “life everlasting”), but I haven’t read the bible that closely, either, so I thought you might be able to fill me in. Also, the cynical part of me doubted that there was much detail about heaven in the bible, or I would have heard chapter and verse about it by now. As I recall (again, I lack specifics) hell is pretty clearly spelled out – eternal hellfire and damnation. People screaming in the flames. But my only image of heaven is angels sitting on clouds playing harps, and I don’t think that’s in the bible.I appreciate you telling me that you haven’t the foggiest notion about what heaven is like. I thought that might be the case – simply because I’ve never heard anyone discuss the details of “life everlasting.” I still find it curious that people can believe in something so deeply without having any conception of what it’s like. Can you address that?I like the concept of some kind of eternal life too. I doubt it exists, but if it does, my guess is it’s there for everyone who ever lived – not just those for followed a certain god’s certain set of rules.

  • Bernie Bee

    Lemonade only Anon. Must say going by some of your posts you would appear to have been indoctrinated by the same teachers as my Uncle Gus with the difference that he eventually caught on! In the light of the free education your receiving in here perhaps there’s hope for you as well.Alas Tonio I’ve some sad news for you and there’s nothing satirical about it either.So there ye are. For dogs anyway, there’s not much difference where they end up! No doubt the same for us as well!

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Tonio,Thanks for your thoughtful post. Essentially you’ve recited an argument for fundamentalism, which is only one approach.Duck offers a reasonable description of scripture above. Where he errs is in equating myth with falsity. Anyone who reads any kind of fiction does so precisely because it contains truth — indeed if there were no truth in it, it would hold no interest. Now undoubtedly there are some individuals who are so literal-minded that they are quite unable to appreciate fiction (much less poetry, art, music and drama) and to derive truth from it. That’s sad.Unlike a novel authored by an individual, myths are epic stories, multigenerational conversations among members of a group or tribe as they wrestle with existential anxiety and the big questions of identity, meaning, purpose, value, and destiny. The conversation started by ancient Israel has continued down to the present day, with something more than half of the planet’s inhabitants now engaged in that conversation.As Duck points out, the people who started the ball rolling way back then had no knowledge of science or how nature works. Nor were the tools of philosophy available to them. But clearly a conversation among billions of souls over more than a thousand generations is not static. Over time philosophy and science have been brought into the conversation (although it must be said, as with any large group, not everybody is on board with that).Someone posted above, “There is no room for change in religion.” It should be obvious that quite the opposite is true — the Abrahamic conversation is the world’s biggest example of a herd of cats. Yes, the text of scripture was canonized at a certain point, but that barely slowed down the conversation. In a peculiar way, even the relatively recent advent of fundamentalism bears that out.On the other hand, it is quite wrong to think of the conversation-starters as so very different from ourselves. If you contemplate the possible variety of intelligent self-reflective life that might exist at some point among the billion billion planets of the universe, the idea that members of the same species — inhabiting the same planet, looking up at the same sky, separated in time by a mere four or five thousand orbits of that planet about its star — the idea that such people could differ all that much on a cosmological scale seems far-fetched to say the least. The likelihood is that they’re not all that different from us.Duck quotes the following: “Myth has been needed precisely because we were not in a position to understand the universe on its own terms, through the language of natural law and direct examination of its workings on a material, rational level. Once that process of understanding is completed – and we are well on our way to achieving that – the use of myth can be discarded.” The premise is that science can and will explain everything that matters — an absolutist assertion that demands a huge leap of faith. At the very least, it remains to be seen. It’s absurd to suggest that science will provide meaningful answers for the most important questions, for most people, anytime soon.To some of your specific points:You’re quite right that no one can make any sense of scripture just by sitting down and reading it cover to cover alone (as so many atheists insist they do). It is especially fruitless to approach it as if it were a modern science or history textbook (hint: it isn’t). Again, it is a collection of myths, but more than that, it is a collection of snapshots of an ongoing conversation from different perspectives and at many different points in time — but only up to the point in time at which the text was canonized. For the rest of the conversation you must look elsewhere.Tonio: “Scripture is religious instruction, the believer’s version of a textbook.” Again, not a textbook, not even a religious one.Tonio: “The objective of scripture is to tell people what to believe, to teach them something instead of leading them to discover something on their own.” No, actually even fundamentalists believe that the individual reader is led by the Holy Spirit to perceive the revealed truth for herself, and to appy it in her own circumstances.Tonio: “That would make sense if you’re reading the Old Testament as literary fiction instead of instruction, AND if you have a solid background in the history of the region.” I hope you can see how it might be “more” than “just” literary fiction, and still not simply be an instruction manual. And yes, it is essential, as with anything, to have an understanding of the cultural context and how a particular story would have been heard and understood in its milieu.

  • Anonymous

    $ome of you obviou$ly aren’t $o $ure that Je$u$ $aves, but who$e going to worry about the $alvation of your $oul.I $ugge$t a $olution. $end me $ome ca$h, and I will a$k Je$u$ to $pare you from eternal $uffering.

  • Tonio

    Binary, I appreciate your thoughtful reply.”The premise is that science can and will explain everything that matters — an absolutist assertion that demands a huge leap of faith. At the very least, it remains to be seen. It’s absurd to suggest that science will provide meaningful answers for the most important questions, for most people, anytime soon.”Without speaking for Duck, I saw no such premise in his statement about myth. My response has to do with Steven Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria. I see the origin of the universe and the purpose of life as two different questions, with two different sets of answers. Neither one of these completely covers “everything that matters.” The first question is a question for science to answer empirically. The second is most definitely not.You have an excellent point about myths as ways to The problem with non-overlapping magisteria is the one that Harris and Richard Dawkins have addressed. Religious dogmas won’t stay on their side of the fence. Dogmas attempt to treat the myths as literal truth instead of metaphorical truth, making claims about the real world. (One of my beefs with “intelligent design” is that it tries to empirically prove the existence of deity.)And that is why I have an issue with fundamentalist literalism. When fundamentalism claims that humans are inherently evil, I take that personally. When Augustine claims that all humans carry Adam and Eve’s guilt, I take that personally.With the Kansas debate as an example, why should the “big questions” you mentioned have anything to do with whether humans evolved or were created?

  • antonio

    I have it when people twist the bible to meet some sort of sick notion of what they wish to believe. First of all the woman was tricked and Adam sined. He is the one that carried the sin. Second woman was not to be treated as though she was worth less but was to be listened to Abraham. So maybe before you speak you should remember that the bible was written as a guide to how life was at the time. It was not written to explain God only to show that he would tolarate us not give us the go ahead to do as we pleased. That is the problem with religion they twist what they want you to believe but yet they have never truly studied the bible or the times that it was written.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Mark,It’s refreshing to find any point of agreement whatsoever.My post that you cite in turn quotes avowed atheist Pam, who was responding to my question: ‘Why do you atheist guys get so hung up on designating God as a “deity” or a “supernatural being’?In other words, she relied on her own hyperliteral reading of scripture to tell me what I believe, instead of simply asking me (which I have learned is a very common strategem among atheist apologists).

  • E. Favorite

    GOP: “To address those of you who say that people who believe in the ‘magical guy in the sky’ are not reasonable? Are you willing to go so far and say that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a reasonable man? Or that Mother Teresa is insane?”A person isn’t necessarily completely unreasonable just because he or she has one unreasonable belief. People can be completely sane and extremely bright and still be unreasonable about something – like being convinced that they’re ugly, when in fact they’re quite attractive, or being convinced that if they have to speak before a group, they will keel over dead (actually, a lot of otherwise perfectly reasonable people feel that way).In the case of religion, it’s even less likely that “belief” makes a person unreasonable in other aspects of life – because the idea of belief in a supernatural being that no one has ever seen is so accepted and widespread in our culture. In fact, it’s much more socially acceptable to state belief in such an unseen being than it is to be downright convinced that he’s not there, based on an extraordinary lack of evidence. I think it was Carl Sagan who said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  • E. Favorite

    Binary – regarding opera: Funny — I was just thinking the other day that church services were a lot like opera – great music, fabulous costumes, and high drama, but a rather thin, dubious plot. Opera’s better though, because you can just enjoy the show, without being expected to believe in it. Duckphup – sorry to hear you’re not an opera fan.

  • 01001010100101011110101011010110101010001100101101

    Duck,I’m not surprised that you distorted what I wrote. You ask, rather nonsensically, “Where did you ever get the idea that ‘truth’ must be ‘satisfying’?” To the contrary, why would you accept anything as true until you had satisfied yourself? By heart and soul I simply mean the totality of the human person in all his dimensions.If you think that poetry, art, music and drama necessarily concern themselves with reason and intellectual honesty; if you think they do not involve wishful, magical thinking and a willing suspension of disbelief (self-delusion, to use your term) in order to be operative; it you think they are not about truth; if you think they are merely a self-indulgent diversion; if you think they are not essentially and gloriously irrational; may I say you suffer from a horrifyingly impoverished understanding. This is a perfectly reasonable analogy to pose to the zealot who insists he’s waging holy war against unreason.”I don’t want to” is the same as “because I say so”, which was stipulated as disallowed. It’s a free-floating assertion, nothing other than wishful thinking (per your definition, faith). If you have a better answer, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, you clearly follow a religion, albeit a private and very lonely one.

  • Bobby

    MrMark, Not the same thing and YOU know it.There is a difference between focusing on a specific uttered quote and changing/adding the order of words in a quote.What I did was quote directly.What you did was change.

  • bd

    Bobby, you should be ashamed of yourself.Bobby wrote:

  • timmy

    Did anyone understand the point of Antonio’s post other than to provide clear definition for the term “self contradiction”?

  • timmy

    Did anyone understand the point of Antonio’s post other than to provide clear definition for the term “self contradiction”?

  • Bobby

    OK lets make things easier:MrMark:Do you believe that when comparing society to a computer, then religion is like a virus, with few redeemable qualities and a whole lot of hurt? Yes, No or otherDo you believe that in matters of religion, an atheist is much more likely to be superior intellectually than the average church goer?Yes, No or otherNoticed how you were silent on my claim that atheists continually ignore the claim that they quote the Bible out of context. Got it!

  • Mr Mark

    To Willis Elliot -For someone with such an impressive pedigree, it’s amazing that you direct your bile at atheists with statements like, “the information level of the atheists is woefully low–and reflective of America’s declining level of education in religion”I would imagine that most of us grew up with religion, and in mainline churches. I was raised a Lutheran, but I attended services of many other Xian sects – Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and any number of fundie churches – as well as Jewish High Holiday services (I’ll admit that I didn’t understand the Hebrew, but the prayer book always had an English translation in it, so I could follow along). My church attendance as a believer lasted well into my 30s, and I continued to attend church services as late as 2003 (I was a paid singer in a choir), even though I had been a confirmed atheist for many years.In that lifetime of church attendance, I cannot recall a single time that a minister or religious leader told me in any way shape or form that I needed a stack of doctorate degrees and a working knowledge of Greek, Hebrew or another any language outside of good old English to understand “HOW TO READ THE GOOD BOOK.” Sure, there would be the occasional sermon where the minister would tell us “this or that word in Hebrew is X, which means Y,” but in general, the ministers I’ve encountered didn’t feel a need to speak in tongues to get the message of the Bible across. For most of them, King James or the RSV was a good enough source for them to reference when revealing the mysteries of faith to their respective congregations.If at age 52 I now find myself to be one of those “atheists with a woefully low information level” that you scorn, I would ask you this: who’s fault is that? Is the fault mine for not earning the doctorates of a Willis Elliot, for not learning a couple of foreign languages in addition to French and German, or failing to pick up a copy of HOW TO READ A BOOK? Or, is the fault that of the employees of all of those mainline churches, you know, the ministers who failed to get the message across to me in all those years? That was their job, wasn’t it?Now that I think about it, here’s another thing: having read the Bible through a couple of times in my 20s, and having read many books on religion and commentaries on the Bible over the space of 30-odd years, am I to take from your post that the reason I became an atheist in my 40s was due to the fact that, as you put it, “the information level of the atheists is woefully low–and reflective of America’s declining level of education in religion”?If that’s the case, then I can at least take comfort in the apparent fact that that “delining level of education in religion” extends beyond the ineffective teachings and preachings of god’s appointed ministers and extends to those of us who tried in our feeble, un-credentialed way to self-educate ourselves in the mysteries of faith.Who knew that god’s word was hidden to us all those years and remains hidden now? And all because we didn’t earn the requisite doctorate degrees, learn the correct languages and – worst of all – never read HOW TO READ A BOOK.If the above holds true for understanding and enjoying baseball, I am really going to be pissed off!

  • Anonymous

    L. Poirot says, “We’re getting far away from the original debate.”Actually, Harris’ original proposition for this thread has to do with sexism, as follows: “If we ever achieve a civilization of true equity, respect, and love between the sexes, it will not be because we paid more attention to our holy books.” [You gotta love that creepy smirky term "holy book".]As it happens this provides a perfect illustration of the point we’ve been making about the criticality of genuine scholarship as against Harris’ mix of dilettantism and Coulteresque bombast.Feminist theologians have invested decades now in tearing open and analyzing in excruciating detail not only texts, both canonical and non-canonical, but also every religious development, personality, work, event, artifact or other phenomenon that has had any bearing whatsoever on the status of women over the millennia. At this point a rank amateur like Harris simply has nothing to add, and he certainly cannot be more critical than they have been.

  • timmy

    Mr. Mark.GREAT POST!I was just going to respond to that one, but you said it all.I’m guessing you understand baseball just fine.Cheers

  • timmy

    Mr. Mark.GREAT POST!I was just going to respond to that one, but you said it all.I’m guessing you understand baseball just fine.Cheers

  • timmy

    Bobby,Notice how when Mr. Mark accused you of taking him out of context he cited examples and showed what the out of context quote actually meant.Notice how you accuse us of taking Bible verses out of context and cite no examples or correct interpretations.Here I’ll do it right now and give you a chance to re-interpret.Lev 20:13Please put into the context from which I have taken it out of.

  • timmy

    Bobby,Notice how when Mr. Mark accused you of taking him out of context he cited examples and showed what the out of context quote actually meant.Notice how you accuse us of taking Bible verses out of context and cite no examples or correct interpretations.Here I’ll do it right now and give you a chance to re-interpret.Lev 20:13Please put into the context from which I have taken it out of.

  • timmy

    Bernie Bee,Maybe you can help us with cricket.I want to thank you for making me laugh often as I strain to read through all of these fascinating but sometimes verbose posts. I have made my living as a comedian for the last 15 years, and you get to a point where you don’t laugh at most peoples jokes anymore. So I really appreciate when I find someone funnier than me who can make me laugh out loud. If someone’s that funny, they’re either a professional, or a Scot. Actually there’s a group in Canada who give the Scots a run for their money. They’re called Newfies. If you ever get a chance to visit Newfoundland, you will have the jolliest of times I assure you. It’s one of my favorite places because everyone is funnier than me.Cheers

  • timmy

    Bernie Bee,Maybe you can help us with cricket.I want to thank you for making me laugh often as I strain to read through all of these fascinating but sometimes verbose posts. I have made my living as a comedian for the last 15 years, and you get to a point where you don’t laugh at most peoples jokes anymore. So I really appreciate when I find someone funnier than me who can make me laugh out loud. If someone’s that funny, they’re either a professional, or a Scot. Actually there’s a group in Canada who give the Scots a run for their money. They’re called Newfies. If you ever get a chance to visit Newfoundland, you will have the jolliest of times I assure you. It’s one of my favorite places because everyone is funnier than me.Cheers

  • Anonymous

    WM,Thanks for your note.WM — Is that just because you (plural, including some other Christians) say so? What is your justification for this?••• Christian theologians have been at it for a couple of millenia, and Jewish ones before that. We can stand on the shoulders of giants.WM — I experience life and love and beauty, yet haven’t experienced God.••• I’d say you have, because they have no reality apart from God.WM — If I did think that these things were God, how would I know which God?••• The Jews’ unique insight into the divine was to see that it is indivisible, and therefore there can be only “one true” God. There is also the idea that the divine is infinite, which implies that our efforts to contain it necessarily are futile. Many religions have some elements of truth, but all have only partial truth, since not even the most “true” religion can contain the infinite God. So at least in some sense it may be possible to approach God by different paths, but ultimately there is only one God.WM — … so God is because it is written in a book that he is.••• No, not simply because of words in a book, but on the strength of the powerful testimony of the Jews who entered into a covenant with God, and of the Apostles who knew God as a human being.WM — I manage to talk about things that really matter to me all of the time without discussing “cosmic energy?”••• Well, I mean the ultimate existential questions — meaning, purpose, origin, destiny — “why” and “why me” questions.WM — Is it the word of God, to be followed as perfectly as possible? Or is it a book of myth and allegory?••• Scripture is the word of God and reveals many truths. It is a primary but not the sole source of revelation. The ten commandments certainly are not suggestions, but in general, the truths of scripture are not revealed by reading it literally. It is a collection of myths, but more than that, it is a patchwork of snapshots of an ongoing conversation from different perspectives and at many different points in time — but only up to the point in time at which the text was canonized. For the conversation since then you have to look elsewhere.Hope I’ve made myself clear, and I look forward to the possibility of communicating again. Thanks!

  • timmy

    Anony,You too. You, more than anyone, have accused Harris and the rest of us of taking the Bible out of context and misinterpreting the scriptures.You say you are comforted by our ignorant discussion.

  • timmy

    Anony,You too. You, more than anyone, have accused Harris and the rest of us of taking the Bible out of context and misinterpreting the scriptures.You say you are comforted by our ignorant discussion.

  • Anonymous

    Pam says, “Isn’t that being awfully *literal*??”Pam, it is possible to make declarative statements about fictional characters. If I say, “Harry Potter excels at quidditch,” would you assume that I assume that young Harry is a flesh and blood human being who plays an airborne game on flying broomsticks?

  • Anonymous

    Again with the pro-ignorance arguments.Mark is quite right that much responsibility falls to religious organizations that are behind the adult education curve. However, Dr. Elliot acknowledged as much in his excellent post.No, not everyone needs a Ph.D. in theology. But on the other hand it’s absurd to think you go through life with a fourth-grade education. Now it’s one thing if you keep your opinions to yourself. But if you go spouting off in public when you don’t have a blooming idea what you’re talking about, and you insist your opinion’s as good as the next person’s because you went to Sunday School and decided you were an atheist at the ripe age of six — well, you deserve to be called out on it.

  • timmy

    Anon,”It is possible to make declarative statements about fictional characters. If I say, “Harry Potter excels at quidditch,” would you assume that I assume that young Harry is a flesh and blood human being who plays an airborne game on flying broomsticks?”Will you please help us convince all of the people, who believe in God, that he is a fictional character. Most of them don’t get it.

  • timmy

    Anon,”It is possible to make declarative statements about fictional characters. If I say, “Harry Potter excels at quidditch,” would you assume that I assume that young Harry is a flesh and blood human being who plays an airborne game on flying broomsticks?”Will you please help us convince all of the people, who believe in God, that he is a fictional character. Most of them don’t get it.

  • Anonymous

    Timmy,I applaud your initiative in seeking out the wise counsel of your three clergyfriends.Now, what do you think might happen if you took 1/10 of the energy you expend on snarky postings and actually applied it toward learning something about the subject matter at hand?

  • timmy

    Anon,Who are you addressing when you are talking about the one who turned to atheism at the ripe age of 6. The straw man by any chance. What about Mr. Mark and his extensive experience. Not good enough to lend comment?

  • timmy

    Anon,Who are you addressing when you are talking about the one who turned to atheism at the ripe age of 6. The straw man by any chance. What about Mr. Mark and his extensive experience. Not good enough to lend comment?

  • Pam

    “When I sin, I lose sight of God. Why? Because God and sin are incompatible. But as a Christian, I have Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love that allows me to repent and be resurrected from sin, washed whiter than snow.”Tough to do when you’ve been stoned to death.Why is Moses instructing people how to “discipline” other people who’ve sinned? Whatever happened to “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”?

  • timmy

    Bobby,Still can’t do it.You say the only way to understand these verses is to have a personal relationship with God. So we atheists need to find God and have faith in him or we can not interpret scripture? ad only when you understand scripture can you criticize it. So Atheists are only qualified to criticize God’s words if we give ourselves over and completely believe in him?You are saying that no matter how much an atheists studies the scripture and gets the advice of clergy as to their interpretation, we can not criticize it unless we become “not atheists”.Good one. Another excuse, justification, interpretation, lie, paradox to deflect the truth.Thanks for clearing up nothing. You said:You said it boy. Murder, steal, rape, molest children, so long as you repent on your death bed “You’re set”Repulsive.

  • timmy

    Bobby,Still can’t do it.You say the only way to understand these verses is to have a personal relationship with God. So we atheists need to find God and have faith in him or we can not interpret scripture? ad only when you understand scripture can you criticize it. So Atheists are only qualified to criticize God’s words if we give ourselves over and completely believe in him?You are saying that no matter how much an atheists studies the scripture and gets the advice of clergy as to their interpretation, we can not criticize it unless we become “not atheists”.Good one. Another excuse, justification, interpretation, lie, paradox to deflect the truth.Thanks for clearing up nothing. You said:You said it boy. Murder, steal, rape, molest children, so long as you repent on your death bed “You’re set”Repulsive.

  • timmy

    Anon,I did. I have studied history and religion extensively. I have read the Bible twice, cover to cove,r and parts of the Bible with the guidance of clergy. I have also read the Koran. I have also searched honestly for God and Jesus under the guidance of clergy.Will you give me your religious resume now?

  • timmy

    Anon,I did. I have studied history and religion extensively. I have read the Bible twice, cover to cove,r and parts of the Bible with the guidance of clergy. I have also read the Koran. I have also searched honestly for God and Jesus under the guidance of clergy.Will you give me your religious resume now?

  • Anonymous

    Timmy,”I became an atheist when I was six, though I didn’t know the word then. When I was 13 and had learned the word, I declared myself to my parents…” — Sally Quinn, On Faith moderatorThe idea that someone can “become” an atheist at the age of six or even 13 is just beyond silly.Susan Jacoby’s testimony of pledging her life to atheism as a young child is similarly absurd. And as I’ve said before, you read the same kind of thing over and over in these postings. They are far more hilarious than anything you’re liable to read in the Bible that ain’t necessarily so.

  • Anonymous

    Still awaiting clergyfriend contact info.

  • Pam

    I asked this of Willis:How is that not repulsive? What sort of interpetation or allegory can make that more palatable?Since Willis has apparently left the building, perhaps Bobby or Anony would care to field the question…? You are welcome to add any verses you like from before or after this section to make certain that it is “in context.”

  • timmy

    Anon,So you were addressing Mr. Mark’s post by talking to someone else???? That’s like a super straw man.

  • timmy

    Anon,So you were addressing Mr. Mark’s post by talking to someone else???? That’s like a super straw man.

  • Bobby

    TimmyI never said whether you can or cannot criticize Scripture. You can do anything you like but what I write offers an opinion, even if difficult to swallow, to some queries about believing in God and the Bible.Second, and more importantly, with regard to the Im-set commentary: I hope I made it crystal clear that it is AGAINST God to believe “as long as I commit atrocities and repent at the end I’ll be OK” Do you know why? Because on a minor point, we dont know when the end will be. On a major point that kind of thinking makes it oh so difficult to actually truly repent and convince God that you really want a personal, LOVING relationship. In the Bible Jesus said if u blashpeme against me its forgivable but unforgivable if u blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit is rejecting God’s spirit inside of you which is precisely what those who think that they can choose to sin all they like as long as repent just before the end.As for asking Christians whether Gandhi or others are in hell or heaven, these are trvial questions. One, a good Christian will not know the answer for sure, because that would be arrogance and pride. A true Christian may say “I cant imagine how he would but with God all things are possible even things I cant imagine”. A true Christians knows that himself and all other humans are unworthy of heaven even if they commit good deeds from birth till death. Our relationship with God, couple with good deeds gives us his grace that then opens His doors to us. Two, if u dont believe in God or heaven or hell, why should you give an iota of thought of where the spirit of a person long dead resides?God bless.

  • timmy

    Anon,Why are you waiting for contact info. I thought that you actually agree with them. God is real like crayons are real.

  • timmy

    Anon,Why are you waiting for contact info. I thought that you actually agree with them. God is real like crayons are real.

  • Mr Mark

    Anonymous wrote:”The idea that someone can “become” an atheist at the age of six or even 13 is just beyond silly.”Agreed. It’s as silly as a 13-year-old declaring themselves to be a Christian or a Jew, yet that’s the age I was confirmed in the Xian church, and it’s also when Jewish kids have their bar & bat mitvahs, IIRC.Maybe we should pass a law that says kids don’t get to declare a religion or non-religion until they reach voting age?

  • Anonymous

    Mark, I deeply regret that Timmy has miscontrued my remarks.

  • Anonymous

    I’m just interested in the reaction of clergypersons accosted by a godless comedian in a maple leaf jacket, chewing on a hockey puck and asking questions a bit beyond his depth. Probably could submit it to Readers Digest as an amusing anecdote.

  • timmy

    010101010 Jason 0101010 Anonymous 10101For someone who can’t give a straight answer to a single question to be concerned about the confusion of others towards his faith is quite laughable.Which is it Anon?God is real as crayons are real?You have made both arguments today. And everything in between.It seems that it is you who are most confused about your faith.

  • timmy

    010101010 Jason 0101010 Anonymous 10101For someone who can’t give a straight answer to a single question to be concerned about the confusion of others towards his faith is quite laughable.Which is it Anon?God is real as crayons are real?You have made both arguments today. And everything in between.It seems that it is you who are most confused about your faith.

  • timmy

    How can any of us be confused about Anony’s faith when he makes such clear statements like:Could a statement be more ambiguous?At LeastWhy don’t us morons get it?

  • timmy

    Anon,God is like a tea cup?Which is it Mr, walking contradiction?

  • timmy

    Anon,God is like a tea cup?Which is it Mr, walking contradiction?

  • Anonymous

    Pam, to advance the conversation I’ll stipulate that the passage you quote is repulsive and obscene. Help me understand where that takes us. Does it mean Harris knows what he’s talking about in any meaningful or substantive sense? Not.Darling Timmy, grownups have to learn to cope with ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction. It’s just a lesson you’ll have to learn for yourself.

  • wm

    That last post was from me.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous: thanks for your post. I hope that I’m not coming across as churlish with my many questions – you have been very gracious in sharing your beliefs and thoughts in this forum. I am trying to get at the objective evidence for these beliefs, and I haven’t seen it yet. There is one person who posted on this forum some time ago, whose posts did help me to understand that some believers’ beliefs come from a personal spiritual experience that is compelling subjective evidence for them. I can understand how a spiritual experience could be sufficient evidence to an individual – though personally I would tend to heavily weight the possibility that that our busy minds tend to “fit” spiritual experiences into religious frameworks with which we are familiar. I would be much more impressed, for example, if I had a spiritual experience of a deity that was worshipped by some group of people with whom I had never come in contact and if I could be very sure that I had never heard of the deity before than I would be if I was surrounded by Christians and had a Christian revelation or surrounded by Muslims and had a Muslim revelation or surrounded by Hindus and had a Hindu revelation, etc. So on to looking for the objective evidence for the god in whom Christians believe … ••• Christian theologians have been at it for a couple of millenia, and Jewish ones before that. We can stand on the shoulders of giants.WM — If I did think that these things were God, how would I know which God?WM — … so God is because it is written in a book that he is.••• Scripture is the word of God and reveals many truths. It is a primary but not the sole source of revelation. The ten commandments certainly are not suggestions, but in general, the truths of scripture are not revealed by reading it literally. It is a collection of myths, but more than that, it is a patchwork of snapshots of an ongoing conversation from different perspectives and at many different points in time — but only up to the point in time at which the text was canonized. For the conversation since then you have to look elsewhere.This is a lot of questions … and maybe some of them cannot be answered in paragraph or two. Is there a book that you could recommend that would address the questions pertaining to evidence for the divinity of Jesus?

  • timmy

    Believers, critical of Sam Harris,I have heard you criticize Sam Harris. How dare you criticize something you know nothing about. How arrogant and ignorant you are to assume that you know Sam Harris when you do not have a personal relationship with him. I don;t know how to explain Sam Harris to you unless you have a personal relationship with him as I do. No I have never spoken to Sam Harris but he has revealed himself to me through the words in his fine book. How could you possibly interpret his words correctly when you deny his truth. You quote him out of context, and you try so pathetically to interpret his words for yourself. You do not have an open mind. You are intolerant. You will never understand with your mind closed as it is. Once again I ask you read all of Sam’s words, and then sit quietly alone, and listen.You will be saved.

  • timmy

    Believers, critical of Sam Harris,I have heard you criticize Sam Harris. How dare you criticize something you know nothing about. How arrogant and ignorant you are to assume that you know Sam Harris when you do not have a personal relationship with him. I don;t know how to explain Sam Harris to you unless you have a personal relationship with him as I do. No I have never spoken to Sam Harris but he has revealed himself to me through the words in his fine book. How could you possibly interpret his words correctly when you deny his truth. You quote him out of context, and you try so pathetically to interpret his words for yourself. You do not have an open mind. You are intolerant. You will never understand with your mind closed as it is. Once again I ask you read all of Sam’s words, and then sit quietly alone, and listen.You will be saved.

  • Bernie Bee BA

    My goodniss there’s been a lot o’ heat generated in here since I last looked, even near anuff tae a Setterday night rammy at chuckin oot time in these parts!

  • wm

    Regarding the discussion on how much study is required to find good evidence of God’s (as defined by Christians) existence … I’d like to add another personal anecdote. My younger two sisters both attended a Lutheran college (my parents didn’t want them to become heathens like their first two kids). They both took mandatory classes on religion. When I asked them about the evidence on which they founded their beliefs and what they learned in college it was this:Sister 3: “I’m right because I’m right.” These were her actual words. (This after waffling around for a while over whether or not Catholics are Christians).Sister 4: Basically, “I don’t know” and “We didn’t study any religions other than Christianity” (and the Lutheran version of Christianity at that).Wouldn’t you think that upon graduating from a Christian college you would be able to say whether or not there is good evidence for God’s (as defined by Christians) existence and point to where to find it?

  • timmy

    WM,Were you talking about Bruce Burelson at the beginning of your last post? Sounds like it to me. Bruce for me is the shining light in all of this. His tolerance and open mind are truly an inspiration to me . He has changed my opinion that faith itself is the problem. I no longer feel that way. Believers like Bruce are the opposite of troublesome. They are the hope of the future. Bruce takes no offense to criticism of the Bible or the church. He criticizes them along with us, all the while maintaining his faith in the spirit that fills him. He attaches it to no one’s Dogma. But he did at one time. He moved away from that on his own, and allowed his experience on these Harris threads to move him further still away from all of that dogma, and closer to a personal definition of God. And a personal interpretation of the love and compassion message of Jesus. I respect Bruce’s faith. I respect Bruce. Bruce claims no moral authority for himself or for the church or the Bible. He exemplifies found the true spirit of Jesus. WM have you been invited to join the “Harris Group” on the website that Bruce set up for open minded and free discussions on this subject? If not I would like to invite you now. Click on my link and e-mail me if you would like to join. There is a lot of great discussion going on over there and you would be a welcome contributor. Mr Mark, Bernie, good anonymous, you are all invited as well. Bobby, Paul C , you are also invited. I would love to see you both discussing your feelings about faith with Bruce. He is truly an inspiration. He is a Christian who has enriched my life, and raised my hopes. If all believers were like Bruce, it would truly be a live and let live world where it applies to atheists and believers.Anon, sorry but I have seen nothing from you that indicates to me that you would be anything but a malicious distractor. I’m sure that you have no interest anyway.

  • timmy

    WM,Were you talking about Bruce Burelson at the beginning of your last post? Sounds like it to me. Bruce for me is the shining light in all of this. His tolerance and open mind are truly an inspiration to me . He has changed my opinion that faith itself is the problem. I no longer feel that way. Believers like Bruce are the opposite of troublesome. They are the hope of the future. Bruce takes no offense to criticism of the Bible or the church. He criticizes them along with us, all the while maintaining his faith in the spirit that fills him. He attaches it to no one’s Dogma. But he did at one time. He moved away from that on his own, and allowed his experience on these Harris threads to move him further still away from all of that dogma, and closer to a personal definition of God. And a personal interpretation of the love and compassion message of Jesus. I respect Bruce’s faith. I respect Bruce. Bruce claims no moral authority for himself or for the church or the Bible. He exemplifies found the true spirit of Jesus. WM have you been invited to join the “Harris Group” on the website that Bruce set up for open minded and free discussions on this subject? If not I would like to invite you now. Click on my link and e-mail me if you would like to join. There is a lot of great discussion going on over there and you would be a welcome contributor. Mr Mark, Bernie, good anonymous, you are all invited as well. Bobby, Paul C , you are also invited. I would love to see you both discussing your feelings about faith with Bruce. He is truly an inspiration. He is a Christian who has enriched my life, and raised my hopes. If all believers were like Bruce, it would truly be a live and let live world where it applies to atheists and believers.Anon, sorry but I have seen nothing from you that indicates to me that you would be anything but a malicious distractor. I’m sure that you have no interest anyway.

  • Pam

    “Pam, to advance the conversation I’ll stipulate that the passage you quote is repulsive and obscene. Help me understand where that takes us. Does it mean Harris knows what he’s talking about in any meaningful or substantive sense? Not.”The question was not whether you find the passage repulsive (as do I) – I should certainly hope that you do! Nor was I trying to make any point about Sam Harris’s bona fides.You (and Willis) have been telling us that we lack the education, and the ability to comprehend what we read, sufficient to discuss or form a valid opinion of the Bible or the question of the existence of God.I simply want to know how one is to read this passage. Is it to be taken literally? Allegorically? Metaphorically?How do *you* read it?

  • timmy

    Anon,”Darling Timmy, grownups have to learn to cope with ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction. It’s just a lesson you’ll have to learn for yourself.”I have been saying this exact thing to believers since the beginning. Uncertainty is a joy. Mystery is a joy.GOD IS TRUTH! (your words and caps lock, not mine)You won’t help me understand your faith because then you could no longer accuse me of ignorance of it. You won’t answer my simple question with anything but deflection. I will continue to assume about you. I have no choice. You won’t open yourself up at all. I’ll assume that you see God as both real like a soccer ball and fictitious like Charlie Brown.

  • timmy

    Anon,”Darling Timmy, grownups have to learn to cope with ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction. It’s just a lesson you’ll have to learn for yourself.”I have been saying this exact thing to believers since the beginning. Uncertainty is a joy. Mystery is a joy.GOD IS TRUTH! (your words and caps lock, not mine)You won’t help me understand your faith because then you could no longer accuse me of ignorance of it. You won’t answer my simple question with anything but deflection. I will continue to assume about you. I have no choice. You won’t open yourself up at all. I’ll assume that you see God as both real like a soccer ball and fictitious like Charlie Brown.

  • Bobby

    Your sarcasm is witty Timmy (re The Sam Harris as God post). When Sam Harris can touch my life, die to redeem me, be resurrected in 3 days and lead the world to salvation by defeating sin…well let me know:)Again, I have to say good evening.I leave with something Jesus said. I think this simple sentence reflects that sometimes things we may not understand but are asked to trust in nevertheless. The scene is a discussion between Jesus and Nicodemus, a wise Jewish elder. Jesus tells him that a man need to be born again (lets not go into the different interpretations between the denominations on this). Nicodemus does not understand and asks how can that be? Does a man have to climb back into his mother’s womb?Jesus answers: “”The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”I find strength in this verse (even as others are currently revving up their engines to tear it apart). Spiritual strength that is. When many of my questions are overwhelming, it dawns on me that I dont need to understand everything and have all the answers. It is more important for my soul that sometimes I let go and trust that all will be taken care of. This brings peace.To Timmy, Pam, MrMark and others: Do not think that Christians strong in their faith dont have questions or get puzzled every now and then with some of the verses in the Bible (especially in the OT). But our confusion is simply an obstacle that we muster the will and effort to try to understand it (prayer, reading, talking to clergy, all of the above, some of the above). It is a relationship, relationships are never easy and clear without hardships. But with loving relationships, such things are overcome with patience, hope and faith.Good night and God bless.

  • Pam

    “Well anyway, jist tae annoy Anonumpty and take a leaf oota Willis’s book am gonnae add BA tae ma ID fae noo on!”I’m sorry you explained that – I kind of liked the way I first read it – Bernie Bee-Bah. :^)

  • timmy

    Anon,You said:Is that one of the over one thousand Christian sects that currently exist, or did you make up your own, to confuse the issue further?

  • timmy

    Anon,You said:Is that one of the over one thousand Christian sects that currently exist, or did you make up your own, to confuse the issue further?

  • Anonymous

    Timmy darling, if you can make up your own religion, I can too.

  • Anonymous

    How does Anonymous know whether she or he is a Good Anonymous or an Evil Anonymous?

  • Anonymous

    Timmy says, “GOD IS TRUTH! (your words and caps lock, not mine)” — Darling Timmy, it wasn’t me, but what’s more I can’t even find it in this discussion?!

  • Pam

    I notice no one bothered to answer why it’s up to the people to redress all those sins listed in Leviticus.Done any stoning lately, Christians?

  • bobby

    mrMarkwe are back to square one and we are going in circles…I thought we clarified all this stuff, or at least clarified what Christians think about this…oy ve, help me out Timmy even if u dont agree with me!once again we are picking and choosing verses with no regard that some things in the bible are specific to the OT vs NT, specific to the environment and the history of the time, specific but still symbolic and relevant today and eternally. Not to mention that some things in the Law were changed by the coming and sacrifice of the Christ. Im gonna answer briefly and you can juxtapose my answers with my above posts to get a better picture of the response…homosexual relations in Xianity =sinthinking that my raise at work is the reason my life will be set=sinALL SINS ARE EQUALNow ALL sin are punishable by death, but that does not mean firing squad or the chair. To sin is to die, to repent is to live. How? Through the blood of Jesus and His resurrection.The price of ALL sin is death whether in the OT or the NTThat makes sense to you MrMark? Whether it does or does not thats the truth, maybe not a polished version of the truth but the truth nevertheless. Whether you agree or not, whether you use nuanced philosophical historical retorts.God bless

  • Anonymous

    Darling Timmy, God is not merely real, God is really real, God is ultimate and necessary reality. However, God is not “like” a soccer ball, except in the sense that material reality of which a soccer ball partakes is what it is because God is what God is.

  • Anonymous

    “Done any stoning lately, Christians?”Just when you think the dialogue finally has bottomed out…

  • Anonymous

    It’s a dream attributed to Isaiah about YHWH getting a little rough with the Jews’ evil neighbors. Have you never had nasty neighbors? I don’t get your difficulty.

  • Anonymous

    Above post is to Pam re: “I simply want to know how one is to read this passage.”

  • Tonio

    “Pam’s faith is in evolution — the story she tells herself is,’It’s just the evolution talking — whaddya gonna do!’ Her wishful thinking is that she’s helpless. It absolves her of responsibility for the decision.”Anonymous, if what you say about Pam is true, then that’s the fault of Pam, not of evolution. Any idea can be twisted and misused by people seeking to avoid responsibility. The Original Sin doctrine can be misused the same way. And Pam, please don’t read this post as an endorsement of Anonymous’ opinion of you.

  • Dave

    “I know I’d prefer to have had kindly, concerned, caring, same-sex parents than the total inadequates I had!”Dude, you got some mad issuesssss…….

  • Bernie Bee BA

    Dave (is that you Anonumpty under a new guise?) let’s compare issues.

  • Anonymous

    Bad parenting is a leading cause of atheism.

  • Anonymous

    Atheist: Bad past and no future.

  • timmy

    Anon,Of course you can make up your own religion. I was just asking if you did. I guess the answer is yes.There are thousands of Christian sects. How ever I interpret the scriptures, surely I must be right according to one of them. When I make such a criticism, you should not be offended. I was talking about another sect, and you should agree with me because you’re personal sect also disagrees with that interpretation.

  • timmy

    Anon,Of course you can make up your own religion. I was just asking if you did. I guess the answer is yes.There are thousands of Christian sects. How ever I interpret the scriptures, surely I must be right according to one of them. When I make such a criticism, you should not be offended. I was talking about another sect, and you should agree with me because you’re personal sect also disagrees with that interpretation.

  • timmy

    Anon,Of course you can make up your own religion. I was just asking if you did. I guess the answer is yes.There are thousands of Christian sects. How ever I interpret the scriptures, surely I must be right according to one of them. When I make such a criticism, you should not be offended. I was talking about another sect, and you should agree with me because you’re personal sect also disagrees with that interpretation.

  • Bernie Bee BA

    Y’know Numpty, ye keep coming on here like a cruel, scornful, bastard of a priest it was my misfortune to meet as a child.

  • timmy

    Anon,Of course you can make up your own religion. I was just asking if you did. I guess the answer is yes.There are thousands of Christian sects. How ever I interpret the scriptures, surely I must be right according to one of them. When I make such a criticism, you should not be offended. I was talking about another sect, and you should agree with me because you’re personal sect also disagrees with that interpretation.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know how to ca$h in on religious people’s remarkable gullability.Have any of the televangelists or ChurchMart pastors written any books on the subject?If the evidence presented on this board (and, indeed, this entire “On Faith” site) is representative of the market, than its pretty clear that a lot of people will believe and devote resources to just about anything.

  • timmy

    We get it Anony

  • timmy

    We get it Anony

  • Anonymous

    Timmy asks, “Why don’t us morons get it?”(Let us resist the cheap temptation to suggest it’s a self-answering question. Amen.)Timmy, my dear brother, I confess that with my own exceedingly finite intellect I cannot imagine approaching any idea that really matters without encountering ambiguity, uncertainty, and contradiction.I am NOT saying we should not seek to overcome them, only that we should not be surprised.If in my humble way I can assist you in any way to overcome any of them, please let me know. (Perhaps I could speak with your newfound clergyfriends on your behalf.)Blessings to you, dear funny godless brother!

  • Pam

    “It’s a dream attributed to Isaiah about YHWH getting a little rough with the Jews’ evil neighbors. Have you never had nasty neighbors? I don’t get your difficulty.”A dream? So you don’t believe in the prophets?I think that those of you who think you’re so brilliant as to be able to correctly “interpret” scripture, are nothing but cherry pickers. Have the courage to own it, or lose it.And no, I’ve never had neighbors so nasty that I’ve felt any need to run them through with swords or dash their babies to pieces. Nor non-neighbors, either.

  • timmy

    Bobby you said:Yes Bobby, this is exactly what I thought. Christians believe that killing your disobedient children and queers, and believers in other gods is not a moral that applies in today’s world, but it was a good moral standard for humans to follow 2500 years ago. God didn’t know that one day these ideas would be abhorrent principles. Funny. I thought he was timeless.The back pedaling and excusing and re-interpreting never ends.

  • timmy

    Bobby you said:Yes Bobby, this is exactly what I thought. Christians believe that killing your disobedient children and queers, and believers in other gods is not a moral that applies in today’s world, but it was a good moral standard for humans to follow 2500 years ago. God didn’t know that one day these ideas would be abhorrent principles. Funny. I thought he was timeless.The back pedaling and excusing and re-interpreting never ends.

  • timmy

    Thanks DyedinthewoolI knew I was vastly underestimating the number of Christian sects. It seems as though we’re heading to a point where the number of sects will equal the number of Christians.

  • timmy

    Thanks DyedinthewoolI knew I was vastly underestimating the number of Christian sects. It seems as though we’re heading to a point where the number of sects will equal the number of Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Mark, you make some good points and I regret any unintended offense.

  • Dyedinthewoolskeptic

    Yep. That number surprised me too.

  • bd

    Somebody’s “not reading it right” :-P

  • Bobby

    MrMark,Try to be little less hostile and judgemental with those who simply find more in common with those of their own faith,I’m noticing that you fly off the handle many times and religous posters have to apologize for offending you (including me, even when Im not sure I really did). How many times have you apologized for the countless times you have at least alluded that we are delusional, prejudiced and unreasonable.Before you talk about the speck in our eye, take the log in yours.

  • wm

    Timmy – yes, I was referring to Bruce Burleson in my post earlier today. I guess there aren’t very many Bruce-like people posting in this forum – too bad!Thanks for inviting me to the discussion you all are having, I’ll be right over (work permitting). I hope to see you there, Anonymous and others.

  • timmy

    Religion is failing.People generally feel good about charity and sharing their wealth. But when Lenin tried to make sharing a mandatory thing, he found that the good feeling of sharing was not enough to inspire. The only way to make everybody share everything was to point a gun at their head and say “Share those corn flakes or die in the gulag”.I don’t imagine there’s anyone who would say that they don’t like fun. Everybody likes fun. But I know several people (I am one) who aren’t fond of New Years Eve because it’s like forced fun. People want to party when they feel like partying. If New Years Eve happens to fall on a day when you don’t feel like partying, New Years Eve becomes a bit of a pain in the ass. Forced fun.Another example, you’re on a cruise ship and decide you’d like to relax ,on deck with a book. But as soon as you sit down, members of the entertainment crew jump you and say “Hey! ready to have some fun? We’re going to play deck games so you can get to know all of the other passengers. Even if you like deck games and socializing normally, right now you just want to read your book and relax. Damn that annoying cruise director and her stupid deck games. If she pesters you too much you might give her a piece of your mind and tell her to bugger off!Everyone likes fun. Nobody likes forced fun.People are truly charitable and loving and compassionate at heart. Everyone likes to be as moral as they can be according to what they feel is moral. But along comes religion with it’s forced morality. You will be moral in this way, at these times, and you will burn in hell if you don’t. But religion goes even beyond that. It’s not just forced morality, it’s forced spirituality, and forced meaning of life. People are starting to wake up and think for themselves, and realize that the “Hell” gun that is pointed at their head, isn’t actually loaded. The “Hell” gun shoots blanks. People are waking up. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are the alarm clock.Communism is forced charity.They are dying the same death, and for the same reason.Does anyone remember in high-school how the girls from the most strict Christian homes were the most delinquent. I do. That’s how I lost my virginity. The girl who’s Catholic parents told her to abstain from sex most stringently, is the girl who popped my cherry at the tender age of 16. I didn’t even have to put the moves on her. She came at me (and many other guys I found out) like the most motivated nymphomaniac I had ever seen. Because it was so forbidden. That turned her on. God bless her parents. She was a wild one, let me tell you.

  • timmy

    Religion is failing.People generally feel good about charity and sharing their wealth. But when Lenin tried to make sharing a mandatory thing, he found that the good feeling of sharing was not enough to inspire. The only way to make everybody share everything was to point a gun at their head and say “Share those corn flakes or die in the gulag”.I don’t imagine there’s anyone who would say that they don’t like fun. Everybody likes fun. But I know several people (I am one) who aren’t fond of New Years Eve because it’s like forced fun. People want to party when they feel like partying. If New Years Eve happens to fall on a day when you don’t feel like partying, New Years Eve becomes a bit of a pain in the ass. Forced fun.Another example, you’re on a cruise ship and decide you’d like to relax ,on deck with a book. But as soon as you sit down, members of the entertainment crew jump you and say “Hey! ready to have some fun? We’re going to play deck games so you can get to know all of the other passengers. Even if you like deck games and socializing normally, right now you just want to read your book and relax. Damn that annoying cruise director and her stupid deck games. If she pesters you too much you might give her a piece of your mi